Category:Lehigh Valley Mall

Lehigh Valley Mall (en) Einkaufszentrum in den Vereinigten Staaten (de); winkelcentrum in Pennsylvania, Verenigde Staten van Amerika (nl)
Lehigh Valley Mall 
Lehigh Valley Mall lifestyle center entrance.jpg
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Instance ofshopping center
Location Pennsylvania
Owned by
  • 1976
Date of official opening
  • October 1976
official website
40° 37′ 51.6″ N, 75° 28′ 48″ W
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The idea for a major shopping mall on MacArthur Road, south of Grape Street in South Whitehall Township began in December 1958, when Max Hess, Jr., purchased a 50-acre tract of land north of the US 22 Thruway, the present location of Lehigh Valley Mall. Along with the undeveloped farmland, it included the 18 acre the Breadon Field baseball stadium. The stadium was the home at the time, of the Allentown Red Sox, a AA-class minor league baseball team. Hess has purchased the land and stadium ith plans to build a Hess Brothers suburban store and shopping center.

Breadon Field was opened in 1948 for the Allentown Cardinals, who left town in 1956. The Syracuse Chiefs, an unaffiliated minor league team moved in during July 1957, and in 1958 were replaced by a farm team of the Boston Red Sox. However, the A-Sox, as the team was known, did not make a profit in Allentown, and at the end of the 1960 season, left town. For the next several years, Hess put most of his efforts into getting the shopping center built but was unable to get the financing together along with other issues. He paid lip service to baseball, on one hand saying he was trying to get another team, but on the other hand he didn't really want baseball to resume again because then he would be in a position to have to evict the club when his shopping center started construction. Finally in 1964, with the stadium deteriorating and plans for the shopping center languishing, Hess sold the tract to the Jarpend Company of Philadelphia for $2.2 million, and abandoned his expansion plans for the site. In the summer of 1964, without any tenant, the Breadon Field baseball stadium was torn down.

In September 1966, John A Robbins of Japrend presented preliminary plans to the Whitehall Township Planning Omissions to build an enclosed shopping mall on the site. The Whitehall Mall had just opened to the north of Grape street a month before. Robbins predicted completion of the mall by September 1968. The Jarpenn plan called for a Y-shaped mall, with three anchor department stores at each end. It would have three levels, and would have had 1.2 million square feet of shopping with parking for 10,000 cars. In addition to the mall, a combination apartment/motel complex was planned.

Financial issues plagued Jarpend looking for capital and tenants for the proposed mall. By August 1969, the planned Apartment/Motel complex on the site was dropped. During 1969, the three-lane MacArthur Road was undergoing an expansion project to a divided 6-lane highway. As part of the construction, a 100-foot long, 10-foot high tunnel was constructed underneath the road to allow southbound traffic on the widened MacArthur road access to the proposed mall. The tunnel was paid for by Jarpend then sealed after construction and was not opened to traffic. In 1971, Wanamakers, one of the scheduled tenants of the mall, pulled out of the deal along with J C Pennys.

By late 1971, most of the preliminary work had been completed and site excavation and grading was almost finished. Utility and sewer lines had been put in along with storm drains. Jarpend, however, was in serious financial trouble and was planning to scrap the entire project and in December all work on the site had stopped. Lawsuits were filed against Jarpend for payment on contracts for work issued as well.

The project sat until December 1972 when the Kravitz Company from King of Prussia, PA, purchased the land from Jarpend for $3.7 million. Kravitz proposed a two-story mall in a crescent-shaped structure with four anchor stores. In addition there would be at least six separate, satellite structures. Those buildings would house accessory stores and a movie theater. The mall would be about 860,000 square feet in size, and parking for about 6,600 cars. A major, unresolved issue remained with regards to traffic and the impact that would have in the area. In July 1974, the suits against Jarpend were settled and traffic issues with the township were resolved. In September 1974, the mall was approved by Whitehall Township, and an opening date of late 1975 or spring of 1976 was planned.

A citizens group appealed the approval in January 1975 which delayed construction again. Various appeals and hearings were held during the year until final approval was obtained for construction, which began on the mall in December 1975. The mall as built was altered to be a three--anchor store mall, rather than four. Another major change was the abandonment of the Jarpend MacArthur road underpass for mall access. A traffic signal was placed on the road to accommodate traffic exiting the mall to go southbound, and a right-turn lane was added to MacArthur road north for entrance. All other access in and out of the mall would be though Grape Street. Parts of the mall were opened to the public in August 1976, the formal opening was held on October 2nd, 1976, however only two of the three anchor stores (J C Penny, Bamburgers) were open at the time. The third anchor (John Wanamaker) would not open until August 1978.

Over the years, Bamburgers was replaced by Macy's in November 1986; Wanamakers by Hecht's in September 1995, Strawbridge's in April 1996, and lastly Boscov's in February 2006. J C Penny is still an anchor store. In 2007, the Lehigh Valley Mall Lifestyle Center was built in the southwest corner of the mall parking lot, giving shoppers an outdoor "downtown" shopping experience with standalone stores adjacent to the indoor mall.

Lehigh Valley Mall CinemaEdit

The Lehigh Valley Mall Cinema opened on February 6th, 1977 at Lehigh Valley Mall in Whitehall Township. It was located in a satellite building at the mall, in the northeast corner of the parking lot accessed through the Grape Street entrance. It was in a strip center outside of the ring road that surrounded the mall. It was the first theater of its kind in the region.

The theater opened as a tri-plex. The entrance lobby was at the extreme left side of the theater property. The entrance doors were flush with the building line. You then entered a shallow vestibule and went through a 2nd set of doors into the main lobby. Just inside the doors was a large island type open counter box office. The lobby was L shaped and went off to the right behind the oriental restaurant. The original refreshment stand was around the corner to your right as you made the turn into the L. The 3 auditoriums were then to your left. If you continued on to the right beyond the concession stand there were stairs that took you up to the rest rooms. The largest auditorium was straight ahead behind the box office area and sat over 500 people. The other two that were to the right that held between 250 and 350 people.

On opening day, the first films shown at the multiplex were "Freaky Friday", "The Seven Percent Solution", and "The Cassandra Crossing". In March 1978, a Friday midnight show of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", was added, which was shown continuously once a week for "Freaky Friday".

The theater was expanded over the years to 5-screens in 1980, and 8-screens in 1984. With the additional three screens, it was remodeled with an addition being added creating an entirely new entrance and lobby. The entrance was on the corner with a conventional box office with a window to the outside, and entrance doors on either side. The original entrance to the theater was used as an exit only to keep most of the exiting traffic out of the new lobby. They added a first floor handicap rest room at this time as well. In the 1990s, the theater was remodeled and the lobby was re-carpeted with a dark blue carpet and the ceiling tiles were also painted a dark blue and the lobby was literally filled with video games giving it the feel more of an arcade than a theater lobby.

Along with the movies, the theater was the home of the Hope Wesleyan Church, which conducted services in the theater starting in September 2000 for a 10:00am Sunday service; the theater seats were the pews and religious slides and films shown on the screen during services.

In March 2002, the theater was renamed Lehigh Valley Mall 8 when it was purchased by AMC Entertainment when General Cinema went bankrupt. However after 24 years, it became a dinosaur in a world of stadium-seating theaters with digital sound and pictures. There was another AMC 14-plex nearby, and the company believed an n 8-plex was becoming obsolete in the new millennium.

The theater closed its doors for the last time on January 5, 2003 and was torn down. It was later replaced by an H H Greg Appliance store. That closed in 2017 and was replaced by a Bob's Discount Furniture.

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