Skip Navigation

Sign In or Register

West-virginia-encyclopedia-text

SharePrint Charleston Town Center

Charlestontowncentermall-sjs-01_up_medium

When it opened in November 1983, the three-level Charleston Town Center was one of the largest indoor malls east of the Mississippi River. The mall, bounded by Quarrier, Lee, Court, and Clendenin streets, covers 26 acres and occupies an entire city block in Charleston. It lies two blocks west of Capitol Street, the traditional heart of the central downtown shopping district, and within sight of Interstates 64, 77, and 79. The mall shares interconnecting parking garages with the 352-room Charleston Marriott Hotel.

The center was built on the site of Charleston’s “Super Block,” a large area adjacent to the main downtown that had once had been part of the city’s multi-ethnic and multi-racial Triangle District. The shopping mall was the dream of Charleston Mayor John Hutchinson, who thought it would help the city remain the retail hub for southern West Virginia. However, the large area sat vacant for more than a decade. Finally, ground was broken in the early 1980s. The 931,000 square-foot structure was designed by the architectural firm RTKL of Baltimore, Maryland. Forest City Enterprises of Cleveland, Ohio, and Cafaro Co. of Youngstown, Ohio, built the $100 million regional shopping attraction, which was financed primarily by the developers. Federal grants totaling $14 million paid for the center’s two parking garages and the parking garage at the nearby Marriott. The city of Charleston obtained a federal Urban Mass Transit Authority grant to pay for a walkway from downtown Capitol Street to the new shopping center. In the end, the mall signaled the end for many longtime Charleston businesses.

Inside the mall, three clay brick-tiled passageways led past 130 specialty stores and three department stores, several restaurants, and a food court. From the mall’s opening until 2005, a three-story waterfall flowed over dark granite steps into a courtyard garden. Skylights let in natural light. Annual revenues from the mall were $200 million at the end of the 20th century. Facing increased competition from outlying shopping areas, Charleston Town Center underwent a $3 million renovation in 2003 and another extensive renovation in 2012. In January 2019 it was purchased by U.S. National Bank for $35 million. A number of stores in the mall closed during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and in May 2021 Hull Property Group, based in Atlanta, announced it had purchased Charleston Town Center.

In 2022, the city of Charleston and Kanawha County announced plans to renovate the former Macy’s Department Store and one of the parking garages into an $80 million multi-sports complex, the Capital Sports Center, in association with the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center. In 2023, the Sears building — another original anchor department store — was torn down. Only a few retail stores are still open in the mall, including one remaining anchor store, J. C. Penney. The West Virginia Music Hall of Fame occupies two large areas on the center’s second floor.

As the Town Center has declined, downtown Charleston’s traditional business district ironically has experienced somewhat of a rebirth.

Last Revised on October 31, 2023


Sources

Maurice, Johanna. Design of Mall Influenced by Works of Masters. Charleston Daily Mail, September 2, 1983.

Maurice, Johanna. Developer's Road to Town Center Began in Lumberyard. Charleston Daily Mail, 11/4/1983.

Cite This Article

e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "Charleston Town Center." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 31 October 2023. Web. 22 May 2024.

Comments?

There aren't any comments for this article yet.

West Virginia Humanities Council | 1310 Kanawha Blvd E | Charleston, WV 25301 Ph. 304-346-8500 | © 2024 All Rights Reserved

About e-WV | Our Sponsors | Help & Support | Contact Us The essential guide to the Mountain State can be yours today! Click here to order.