Chambersburg Mall lures store from downtown

March 06, 1997


Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The downtown's loss is about to be the Chambersburg Mall's gain.

The mall, which opened 15 years ago this week, will celebrate its anniversary Saturday with the grand opening of a new J.C. Penney store that's moving from downtown Chambersburg.

Kenneth Hartman, J.C. Penney manager, said the store is moving from its downtown location, where it had been since 1969, to space at the mall made vacant in late 1995 when Hess's department store moved out.

Ron Formosa, senior regional general manager of the mall, said Hess's was one of two original anchor stores when the mall opened in 1982 with nine specialty stores.


The mall covered 426,000 square feet in those days. Today it has four anchor stores and 62 other shops covering 536,000 square feet, Formosa said.

"We have a much more upscale tenant mix and wider selection of stores now," Formosa said.

He said Bon Ton added more than 54,000 square feet of retail space when it came to the mall in 1985 and Sears added another 56,000 when it arrived in 1990, Formosa said.

Hartman said the 60,000 square feet that Penney's will occupy will increase the store's retail space by more than 20,000 square feet over its downtown location.

There has been a J.C. Penney's store in downtown Chambersburg for most of this century.

Penney's will add 10 employees in the move, bringing its total employees to more than 100, Hartman said. That will bring the mall's total employment to more than 1,000, Formosa said.

He said the mall will be able to expand even more once the state expands the bridge on Pa. 997 that runs over Interstate 81. The two-lane bridge causes a traffic bottleneck for vehicles entering the mall and contributes to rush-hour backups, Formosa said.

He said Crown American, owner of Chambersburg Mall, will put in about $1 million toward construction costs. The money will improve the entrance to the mall.

A PennDot spokesman said the bridge expansion project, at an estimated cost of about $8 million, will increase the number of lanes from two to five with room to add a sixth later if needed.

The project includes widening of the approaches on both sides.

Construction is scheduled to start in the spring of 1998 with completion later that year, the spokesman said.

Formosa said that once the bridge expansion is completed the mall will again be able to expand. Crown American owns about 160 acres at its Exit 8 property, about half of which is taken up by retail and parking space.

Some of the property will be sold off for restaurants and other businesses, Formosa said.

Plans this year call for increasing the number of movie theaters at the mall from four to seven.

J. C. Penney's and the mall will celebrate the store's opening and the mall's 15th anniversary on Saturday with sales and promotions.

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