The rise and fall of Normandy Mall

October 1, 2017

While several former enclosed malls throughout Jacksonville have found new adaptive uses, the revitalization of Normandy Mall may be one of the most unique. The most interesting part of this redevelopment project was a mega church's decision to reopen the enclosed mall to serve as a catalyst for revitalization in the surrounding neighborhood, 13 years after it closed for good. While nonprofit entities being linked with for-profit concepts are common, it's rare to witness a project of this scale and scope being successful.





The Boiling Crawfish, a popular seafood restaurant and sports bar, occupies a section of the former mall that was redeveloped by Sleiman Enterprises during the mid-2000s.

During its heyday, the mall was home to 55 tenants including Gray's Drug Store, Halpern's Men's Shops, Vogue Shops, Kay's Jewelers, Edward's Men's and Boys' Shop, and Stand 'N' Snack. Despite the opening of Regency Square in 1967 and Orange Park Mall in 1975, Normandy Mall continued to hold its own. However, the mall fell into a period of decline with the closure of Jefferson Ward in 1985 and by 1991, the space was largely vacant.



In 1997, Sleiman Enterprises completed their redevelopment of Normandy's closed Montgomery Wards into a 65,000-square-foot Winn-Dixie and additional retail space.

At the age of 33, the mall closed its doors to the public in March 1994. A year later, Sam's Club closed its store. Adjacent to Murray Hill, Riverside and Avondale, the defunct shopping center would not sit entirely empty for long. In 1996, Sleiman Enterprises announced plans to remodel the former Montgomery Ward portion of the vacant retail complex into a strip shopping center anchored with a 65,000-square-foot Winn-Dixie grocery store.



Normandy Mall's former Sam's Wholesale Club is now occupied by The Potter's House Christian Fellowship. The Potter's House acquired the vacant mall for $4 million in 2002.

In 2002, the remaining portion of the closed mall was acquired by Potter's House Christian Fellowship for $4 million. The 4,000 member congregation then moved forward with the conversion of the mall's former Sam's Wholesale Club into a sanctuary seating more than 4,000 and a 600-seat children's church. At the time, the congregation planned to eventually convert the rest of the shopping center into a space for stores, social service agencies and a business incubator.



The Soul Food Bistro is a popular restaurant that anchors the west portion of the mall.

In 2005, Sleiman Enterprises acquired an additional 80,000 square feet from The Potter's House, including the mall's closed movie theater, with intentions to transform it into leasable retail space facing Normandy Boulevard.  Today, this portion of the shopping center is called Normandy Village and is anchored by a Marshall's and Boiling Crawfish restaurant. In 2007, The Potter's House completed their $10 million renovation of the remaining structure into a retail complex where all shops are compatible with a Christian-based mission.



King Pins, a bowling alley and arcade, anchors what was originally the mall's center court. Half of the enclosed mall was razed and reconstructed as Normandy Village shopping center by Sleiman Enterprises in 2005.

Called "Kingdom Plaza", King Pins bowling alley, Soul Food Bistro, and Temple Builders gym, all owned by The Potter's House, serve as the enclosed mall's anchors. Religious institutions are normally known for purchasing property to build larger facilities and parking lots, sometimes at the detriment of the surrounding urban context. The rise, fall and rebirth of Normandy Mall is a situation where a church has succeeded in bringing economic redevelopment and opportunity to neighborhood and commercial corridor surrounding it.



Marshall's anchors the portion of the property that was redeveloped by Sleiman Enterprises in 2005. This section of the property once housed the original mall's movie cinema.


Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Davis is a certified senior planner and graduate of Florida A&M University. He is the author of the award winning books “Reclaiming Jacksonville,” “Cohen Brothers: The Big Store” and “Images of Modern America: Jacksonville.” Davis has served with various organizations committed to improving urban communities, including the American Planning Association and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. A 2013 Next City Vanguard, Davis is the co-founder of Metro Jacksonville.com and ModernCities.com — two websites dedicated to promoting fiscally sustainable communities — and Transform Jax, a tactical urbanist group. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com

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