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Final Days of "Old" Westdale Mall

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) -- The Westdale Mall will officially close down at the end of this month for demolition and renovation, and shoppers and store owners are taking advantage of the 35-year-old mall beforehand.

By this summer, the entirety of Westdale Mall, except for JCPenney and Younker's, will be demolished.

That will make way for a lot of changes for the property on the west side of Cedar Rapids, but the consensus among shoppers is clear: they are sad to see it go.

"Well, I hope that with the closing, it will revitalize it and bring it back to what it used to be like," said long-time mall walker Barb Dauenbaugh.

The currently shuttered storefronts and close-out sales certainly are not the Westdale Dauenbaugh remembers.

"I could remember 35 years ago when you were out here and you couldn't walk out here, it was so busy and stuff out here. And I miss that," she said.

Now, there is plenty of space to walk -- and a lot of people get their exercise inside the mall every day.

"I'm kind of sad because I always walk out here, winter and summer," said mall walker Pearlie Griggs.

The mall has also been a place for multiple generations to build memories. It was the place where Savannah Tesdahl's mom made memories as a kid, and she's been doing the same thing with Savannah, 8, until now.

"I miss Claire's, I miss walking around, I miss just looking around and seeing all the neat things here and it's pretty big and I don't know why they're closing it down," said Tesdahl.

It is a fair concern, but the demolition and remodeling will make way for a new open-air concept with a two-acre park in the middle and 1 million square feet of stores.

This is not a phenomenon exclusive to Westdale -- there has not been a new enclosed mall built in the United States since 2006 -- and 50 percent of the current enclosed malls are expected to be demolished in 10 years.

The new plans for Westdale have spurred ideas for what shoppers would like to see in the remodeled mall.

"I would put a pizza place since I love pizza," Tesdahl said.

But some shoppers don't know if they'll be back at the new shopping center.

"It all depends on what they put out here," Griggs said.

"I think tearing it down is tearing down a really important past of Cedar Rapids," Dauenbaugh said. "I hate to see it go, but what can you do? Nothing."
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