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Eastern Hills Mall
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Location Harris Hill, New York, United States
Coordinates Coordinates: 42°58′19″N 78°41′35″W / 42.972°N 78.693°W / 42.972; -78.693
Opening date 1971
Developer Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation
Management Mountain Development Corp.
Owner Mountain Development Corp., Uniland Development
No. of stores and services 64
No. of anchor tenants 5
Total retail floor area 1,000,000 square feet (92,903.0 m2)
No. of floors 1 (2 in former Sears, closed 2nd floor in Niagara Emporium and Raymour & Flanigan, staff mezzanine in JCPenney)

Eastern Hills Mall is a shopping mall located 11 miles northeast of Buffalo, New York on the western border of the Town of Clarence in Erie County, New York, United States. It lies on Transit Road (New York State Route 78). The mall is north of the junction of NY-78 with NY-5, and Main Street. The name "Eastern Hills" refers to the very low hills that contribute to a slightly higher elevation than the bordering areas along the Onondaga Escarpment. Eastern Hills Mall is part of a long commercial strip on Transit Road. It consists of two long wings running north and south and one short wing running east and west, which connects the north-south wings in a "double L-shaped" formation. A major department store is at the end of each wing. A food court is located adjacent to the end of the long south wing. A three-screen movie theater showing mainly independent films is also located in the mall, as well as a small New York State Department of Motor Vehicles office. The ratio of the mall is so large, it provides the highest parking ratio of any Buffalo area mall. Eastern Hills Mall is currently at approximately 50% occupancy.

Currently the mall is anchored by JCPenney, Niagara Emporium, Orvis, Raymour & Flanigan, and The BFLO store.

History

The Eastern Hills Mall was developed by the Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation. The mall was originally to be named "Buffalo Mall", but the name was changed to Eastern Hills Mall at the request of the town of Clarence. Construction began in 1969. Fourteen stores opened by November 8, 1971, and the mall was completed by 1972. The original anchors were AM&A's, JCPenney, Sears, Jenss, Woolworth and Hengerer's. Hengerer's became Sibley's in 1981. The mall underwent an extensive overhaul in 1987 that added a food court. The only other expansion the mall sought was a Lechmere store next to JCPenney, but never opened. Originally the largest mall in the Buffalo, NY area, the mall lost that title to the Walden Galleria in 1989. Sibley's became Kaufmann's in 1990. AM&A's became The Bon-Ton in 1994. By the 1990s the mall was in a state of decline losing many national tenants. In 1997 after ceasing operations, Woolworth closed their store and later that year Jenss closed. In 1998, Burlington Coat Factory moved into the former Jenns location and remained open until 2005. Another renovation to the small east-west center concourse and food court took place in 2005, largely cosmetic in nature. New floor tile was installed in both the center concourse and food court, and imitation fireplaces, small flat screen televisions, and new seating were installed. The longer north-south concourses remained untouched during this second renovation, causing a break in a pink zig-zag floor tile line pattern, which prior to the 2005 renovation could be followed through the entire mall from end-to-end, but now remains only in the north-south concourses, broken by the new tile in the center concourse. In 2006, Federated Department Stores acquired May Company and converted all local Kaufmann's stores to Macy's. By this time, the mall was seeing a minor revival in foot traffic and featured many younger national chains. Many of these storefronts remain empty and only some have been replaced by mom-and-pop stores. Television station WBBZ-TV established its broadcast studios at the mall in 2012.

In line with the rest of the nation, the Eastern Hills Mall began experiencing an exodus of retailers in the retail apocalypse. In 2015 Dave & Busters shut its doors to move to the nearby Walden Galleria. On January 6, 2016, it was announced that Macy's would be closing as part of a plan to close 36 stores nationwide. The store closed in April 2016. In April 2017, Sears closed their Auto Center. In June 2017, Niagara Emporium opened in the former Hengerer's/Sibley's/Kaufmann's/Macy's space on the first floor, and stating later that they may open on the second floor in the future.

On April 18, 2018, it was announced that The Bon-Ton would also be closing as it was going out of business. The store closed on August 29, 2018. On July 27, 2018, it was announced that Raymour & Flanigan would be opening in the former Bon-Ton in 2019. On September 19, 2018, Sears had sold its location in the mall back to the developers. On September 25, 2018, Sears announced that they would be closing as well as part of a plan to close 12 stores nationwide. The store closed in December 2018 after 47 years of operation. As of 2021, JCPenney is the final remaining original mall tenant.

BFLO, a locally themed upstart department store being launched by 25-year-old Nathan Mroz, will replace Sears as an anchor tenant in 2019.

Non-commercial activity

After the October Storm of 2006, which devastated much of the surrounding area, the parking lot of Eastern Hills served as a focal point for clean up and restoration of services. Many utility companies used the parking lot as a ramada for parking vehicles at night and a dispatch point by day. In addition, part of the lot was used for storing materials used to restore power to the area.

Future

In March 2018, Uniland Development, a local commercial development company, agreed to purchase a stake in the mall's equity, sharing co-ownership with current owners Mountain Development Corporation. Uniland's long-term plans for the mall are to convert some of the mall's space to residential apartments and create a mixed-use development that it dubbed a "lifestyle center." The Clarence Town Board approved plans for the lifestyle center in August 2018.

Uniland and Mountain Development attained the services of Gensler in January 2019. Similar projects they have worked include The Domain, Legacy West, and River Oaks Shopping Center. The first updates were unveiled in March 2020, with the addition of a hair salon, home decor store and event space; additional operations to be added in the coming months include a bakery, full-service bar and Polish restaurant.

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