Janesville Mall is an enclosed shopping mall located in Janesville, Wisconsin, United States. Opened in 1973, the mall has more than 68 tenants, including Dick's Sporting Goods and Kohl's as anchor stores.
In 1970, developer Roger Benjamin began scouting a site to construct a strip mall featuring Welles, a Midwestern department store chain. Flying over southern Wisconsin, he identified acres of open land in the Town of Harmony along Milton Avenue, between the main downtown streets and Interstate 90. Benjamin determined that with nearly 200,000 people, the Janesville trading area had a large enough population and sufficient financial resources to support a mall. Montgomery Ward had already begun to open on one of the sites he was considering.
Benjamin and two partners created Janesville Properties Company, which purchased 40 acres (160,000 m2) of land adjoining the Montgomery Ward site, and began planning the development. With the agreement of Montgomery Ward management, Benjamin modified his original plan for a strip mall in favor of an enclosed mall where Welles and Montgomery Ward would serve as anchor stores. Within a year, Rockford-based department store Charles V. Weise (owned by Bergner's) signed on to become a third anchor; its store was located midway between the other department stores, and a prominent central courtyard was constructed outside its entrance. Plans to construct the $10 million enclosed mall were announced in November 1970 with groundbreaking set for spring 1971.
In early 1973, the Miller-Wohl Company (which owned the Welles chain) declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy and terminated its plans to open a store in Janesville. The sudden loss of Welles forced a search for another tenant to occupy the partially constructed north anchor slot. Mall developers approached Sears, which operated a store in downtown Janesville. Sears declined, as it already operated a mall location in nearby Beloit Plaza. JCPenney (which also owned a small store in downtown Janesville) agreed instead to fill the already-built Welles space, which was subsequently enlarged at JCPenney's request.
1970s and 1980s
Janesville Mall opened in September 1973, featuring the three anchor stores and 12 other tenants. Unlike nearby Beloit Plaza in Beloit, the newer mall was enclosed, and thus considered more desirable in Wisconsin's often cold climate. The remaining interior spaces of the mall soon filled up with national chain tenants.
In 1985, Illinois-based Bergner's acquired the Boston Store chain and then re-branded the Charles V. Weise stores as Bergner's. Montgomery Ward closed its store at Janesville Mall in the 1980s, with Milwaukee-based Kohl's taking its place. Mall management undertook a multimillion-dollar remodeling in 1986, refinishing the mall courts with new flooring, new benches, and live fig trees.
The nearby Beloit Plaza began losing stores because of competition from the upgraded Janesville Mall. When Bergner's declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1991, its store at Beloit Plaza was closed, and the Bergner's at Janesville Mall was re-branded to Boston Store. The mall was remodeled again in 1991, this time featuring a brighter, pastel-based color scheme; the fig trees were removed.
Janesville Mall's management approached the Sears chain again in 1996 in a second attempt to bring a Sears anchor to the mall. This time, Sears was offered the opportunity to shutter its Beloit Plaza store in favor of a new store at Janesville Mall; various financial incentives, including tax breaks, were also part of this deal. Sears accepted the offer and, by 1997, a new 110,000-square-foot (10,000 m2), two-story Sears was built onto Janesville Mall as a fourth anchor, while the older Beloit Plaza Sears was closed.
In 1998, the mall was acquired by CBL & Associates Properties, Inc., a trust based in Tennessee. That same year, Kohl's expanded its store into what had previously been smaller mall shops. The mall's movie theater closed, with Chuck E. Cheese's taking its place.
2000s and 2010s
Since the addition of the Sears anchor, the mall has been 627,128 square feet (60,000 m2) in size.
On May 3, 2014, the Janesville Mall JCPenney anchor closed, one of 33 closures nationwide by that chain. In December, 2014, JBL announced plans for a multimillion-dollar renovation of Janesville Mall. On October 2, 2015, Dick's Sporting Goods opened in 40,000 square feet of the former J. C. Penney space.
On July 27, 2018, CBL sold Janesville Mall to Houston-based RockStep Capital for $18 million, after paying $33 million to buy the mall in 1998.
The Boston Store anchor closed in August 2018 as part of the closure of the entire The Bon-Ton department store chain.
On November 8, 2018, Sears Holdings announced that the Sears anchor and the Sears Auto Center would close by February 2019. Unlike the JCPenney and Boston Store anchors, Sears owns both the mall anchor and the Auto Center.