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Reporter’s Blog: Memories of the City Centre Mall (now Elm Place), Sudbury.com’s new home

True story: I got my first bra at the former Eaton’s, which was located just a few floors down from what’s now our newsroom

Time flies, and we’ve already been in our new home in the office tower at the Elm Place mall for six months. 

I’ll always have a soft spot for our former office on Elgin Street, which has so much history as the home of Northern Life and many other publications, and as the birthplace of Sudbury.com.

But I definitely have gotten used to the renovated, modern comforts of our new office, most especially the lack of mice, very quickly. (I wonder if the Elgin Street mice miss us journalists and our leftover Timbits?).

The mall office tower has its quirks, too. An example is the rather windy, whistling elevator system (not sure how else to describe it) that my colleague Jenny has nicknamed “Wailing Wanda.”

As a Greater Sudbury local, Elm Place, a.k.a. the Rainbow Mall, a.k.a. the City Centre Mall, definitely holds some nostalgia.

The downtown mall, whatever name you use for it, was constructed in the 1970s as the result of urban renewal in what was the Borgia area. (You can read more about this period in Sudbury’s history in this column by Bruce Bell).

Looking back on when I was a kid in the 1980s and 1990s, the City Centre was still much more of a traditional mall than it is now.

I remember going with my friends as a tween to the dollar store (the first one I can remember visiting), the It Store (which sold novelty items), the pet store and the food court on the upper floors and the oh-so-delicious Saint Cinnamon (cinnamon bun store).

We sometimes went to the movie theatre in the City Centre, and that’s still there in the form of Imagine Cinemas’ Downtown Movie Lounge, with its luxe seating.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the lynchpin store in the City Centre was the Eaton’s department store, as I’m sure most of you of a certain age remember. 

True story: I got my first bra as a 12-year-old at Eaton’s in this mall. I remember being so embarrassed to actually need a bra. There’s been a lot of water and cup sizes under the bridge since then.

In my years as a local journalist, the Elm Place mall has been the venue for the yearly celebrity blueberry pie-eating contest. We’ve always delighted in cheering on the latest victims.

The Elm Place mall still has some retail and restaurants, which my coworkers and I have been frequenting as the need arises. 

There’s still a dollar store, which I visit pretty often, and I ordered a salad for lunch from Mr. Sub the other day.

A coworker who had worn his shoes into holes and stepped in a puddle on a recent rainy day bought a new pair at the Hart department store without even having to step foot outside again. 

Also, a shout-out to Mohammad Abdollahzadeh, the owner of the Eyvan Persian restaurant in the food court, who gives a discount to people who work in Elm Place, as well as students.

Now renovated to hold much more office space, Elm Place looks extremely different from my youth.

Even so, having visited this mall my whole life, I can still pretty much figure out where I am if I think about it carefully enough. (And that became necessary this week, when I was forced to use a different entrance than usual).

Same thing with the parking garage, which goes back to my earliest days as a driver. If I could successfully navigate the ramps with my parents’ old Aerostar van as a teen, I can easily navigate them now with my Civic.

So here’s to our new office at Elm Place. It’s a location that already holds some memories for me, and we’re building more by the day.

Heidi Ulrichsen in Sudbury.com’s associate content editor.