The proposed Apple Valley Mall on the Southington-Cheshire line consisted of nearly a million square feet of high-end retail with Nordstrom briefly committed as an anchor. Despite interest from a prominent national mall developer, plans ended in foreclosure after years of effort.
The proposed mall would have been built on nearly 100 acres of land in the two towns right off Interstate 691.
John A Errichetti, a Waterbury developer, received planning approval for the 90-acre property in 1985. Renderings show tree-lined sidewalks leading to a multi-story building topped with flags.
Three years passed with little progress until Edward DeBartolo Sr., a development mogul, joined Errichetti on the project.
“With DeBartolo as a partner, you can almost guarantee several top-notch anchor stores and specialty stores will be there in the mall,” said Don Pendley, of the International Council of Shopping Centers, in a 1988 Record-Journal article. “The history of the company is one of success after success.”
The next year Errichetti and DeBartolo announced that Nordstrom would be an anchor store. It would have made Cheshire the first New England location for the Seattle-based chain.
In 1991, both DeBartolo and Nordstrom left the deal. The Bank of Boston started foreclosure proceedings against a nearby property partially owned by Errichetti, but the developer’s attorney assured town officials that the mall deal was still moving forward.
More bad news followed in 1992 when Westfarms mall, where Nordstrom decided to locate, announced a $100 million expansion. Economic experts speculated that would pose a major problem for the floundering Apple Valley mall project.
Lou Perillo, Southington’s economic development coordinator, remembers meeting an attorney working on the project although he wasn’t working for the town at the time.
“They tried,” Perillo said of the mall’s developers.
Perillo said there was a major market drop in the late 1980s that hit the real estate market in Connecticut particularly hard. That made financing more difficult to get as banks and lenders held on to cash.
Had it been built, the mall may have drawn off franchises and stores that were to populate Queen and West streets in Southington, according to Perillo.
Errichetti got a boost in 1995 when he brought on W/S Development Associates, but the permit deadline to begin work on the mall came and went in 1996. The addition of the development company didn’t prevent foreclosure against Errichetti, who lost the property in 2000. He died in 2001.
Jerry Sitko, Cheshire’s economic development coordinator, said in 1996 that the project was a “victim of circumstances” but remained one of the best sites in southern New England.
A Waco, Texas-based company paid the back taxes on the property which totaled about $27,000. It then sold the land three years later to Tri-Star Development for $1.7 million.
W/S and Tri-Star had plans for the property that included a hotel, shopping center and apartments. The $100 million project would have brought 65 stores to the area but was proposed shortly before the economic downturn of 2008 which stalled development on the site once again.
W/S left the project in 2015 after failing to attract retailers. The bulk of the former mall property is in Cheshire and still undeveloped.