Western Hills Mall
Western Hills Mall is a 527,000 square-foot shopping mall located on the border of Midfield and Fairfield. When it opened in February 1970 it was the second enclosed mall (after Eastwood Mall) to be built in the Birmingham district.
The $10 million, 463,901-square foot proposed retail complex was first announced in 1966, with the anticipated name of Piccadilly Square Shopping Center. It was developed by James Grimmer's Fairfield Mall Inc. and designed by architect Evan Terry.
Also announced in 1966 was the main anchor tenant, a fifth store for Loveman's of Alabama. The mall's second anchor was J. C. Penney. It also boasted a Woolworth's discount store, a Britling Cafeteria and about three dozen specialty stores.
As is the case with many malls from that era, Western Hills Mall fell into a gradual decline. The Fairfield-Midfield area saw its fortunes fall with the decline and/or closing of numerous steel-related industries, particularly the nearby U. S. Steel plant. Britling closed, along with the rest of the chain, in the 1970s. The Woolworth location closed with the rest of the chain in the 1990s. After Loveman's ceased operation, the location became Pizitz and later Parisian, before finally closing in 2004. J.C. Penney finally closed its store in 2005. Most specialty stores went through numerous changes; those that were part of national chains had largely pulled out by the turn of the century. The stores that remain are mostly independent stores, and largely cater to the African-American community that now predominates in the surrounding area.
In 2006, Western Hills Mall underwent a major transformation. The Penney's location was completely demolished, with the mall building being truncated at the former Penney's entrance. In its place, a new Wal-Mart Supercenter was built, opening in 2006. The Supercenter replaced an existing standard Wal-Mart (itself a former Woolco location) across the street. The new store has been sought by Fairfield officials for many years; former Fairfield Mayor Larry Langford had conducted negotiations for a Supercenter during most of his time in office, and originally had made a deal for Wal-Mart to build on a former U.S. Steel office site about a half mile away, but that deal fell through after he was elected to the county commission.
The mall is owned and operated by Aranov Realty of Montgomery, one of Alabama's largest commercial developers. The Fairfield City Council renamed the former Weibel Drive, which runs in front of the mall, to Aaron Aronov Drive in honor of the developer.
- Loveman's (1970s), Pizitz, Parisian (-2004)
- J. C. Penney (1970-2005)
- Woolworth's (1970-1990s)
- Britling Cafeteria (1970s)
- Exchange-Security Bank (1973)
- Video Square (1985)
- Beiman, Irving (July 1966) "Loveman's to build in big new center." The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Rewound
- "Western Hills Mall" (November 6, 2006) Wikipedia - accessed November 6, 2006