Ed Tombari's Commentary

Posted May 9, 2011 (user submitted January 13, 2005)

The Palm Beach Mall in West Palm Beach opened in 1967 as the largest enclosed Mall in Florida. It boasted three department stores, JC Penneys, Jordan Marsh and Richards, as well as a Woolworths, Walgreens and Pantry Pride.

Growing up in the 1970s and early 1980s, the mall was a major destination and source of entertainment and its somewhat V shaped concourse seemed vastly immense and endless. In the early 1980s, the mall added Burdines and Lord and Taylor, and Richards changed to Sears. Both Burdines and Sears relocated from their downtown locations.

The malls first blow was the opening of the Boynton Beach Mall in 1985, followed by a terrible 80's renovation replacing its rather chic 1960s interiors with a horror of Miami Vice pink, teal and polished gold, which looked dated within a few years. The gigantic Palm Beach Gardens Mall opened a few miles up I 95 in 1988, with a Bloomingdlaes, Macys and Sax, in the fast growing north county area, while the area around the Palm Beach Mall slowly declined and crime rose significantly. A high profile murder at the mall's Chick-Fil-A in the mid 1990s did not help matters. The mall did manage to add a Borders and an Old Navy in the late 1990s that hepled boost the mall a bit, and Dillards rebuilt at the closed Jordan Marsh site. However, the Lord and Taylor was demolished around 2002 and Old Navy closed in 2004. The mall is struggling from stiff competition with the area's five other mega malls and the trendy CityPlace outdoor mall in nearby downtown West Palm Beach, which has acquired all the market on the city's upscale stores.

The mall may be able to reinvent itself, but rumours have swirled that the entire site is to be razed and replaced with a power center of big box stores, due to the site's amazing visibility along I-95. Given the fierce competition of mall retail in this town, I feel this may be the mall's fate.

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