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 the dream of Charleston Mayor John Hutchinson, who thought that a shopping mall in town would help the city remain the retail hub for southern West Virginia. 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.
Inside the mall, three clay brick-tiled passageways lead 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 century. Facing increased competition from outlying shopping areas, Charleston Town Center underwent a $3 million renovation in 2003 and another extensive renovation in 2012.
Last Revised on June 29, 2012
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.