Dead Malls: Daytona's Sunshine Mall
A brief virtual look at the rise, fall and survival of Daytona Beach's first enclosed shopping center: Sunshine Mall
Sunshine Plaza is Daytona Beach’s oldest enclosed shopping center. The story of shopping center began with the opening of a one-level, 115,000-square-foot Woolco discount mart on September 30, 1970. On November 16, 1971, the first twenty stores of the 43-store Sunshine Mall opened just south of Woolco. Woolco was an discount retail chain founded in 1962 by the F.W. Woolworth Company. In addition to Woolco, original tenants included a Pantry Pride supermarket and the Trans-Lux Inflight Twin Cine (Blue & Gold) Theatre.
Within three years, the mall suffered from significant competition. In 1973, the larger Daytona Mall opened at the intersection of International Speedway Boulevard and Nova Road. A year later, Daytona Beach’s third and largest enclosed mall, Volusia Mall, opened near the Daytona Speedway on International Speedway Boulevard.
In 1983, Woolco, the mall’s main anchor, ceased operation as a result of the then struggling chain closing all 336 stores in the United States. At the time, Woolco’s liquidation was the largest in United States history. Unable to compete with Daytona Beach’s larger malls, Sunshine Mall was renovated into the Daytona Beach Outlet Mall during the mid-1980s. During this era, the mall’s anchors included Sears Outlet, Bealls Outlet and Duff’s Smorgasbord.
The Daytona Ice Arena was added in 1998.
By the time it was acquired by Kansas City, MO-based CS Capital in 1996, the mall was nearly vacant. The mall’s new owner changed the shopping center’s name to Sunshine Park Mall and added a free standing indoor ice skating rink in the parking lot in 1998. In 2003, the former Woolco building was largely demolished and replaced with new exterior facing retail storefronts and a Publix supermarket.
In 2004, the 300,000-square-foot shopping center was acquired by Port Orange-based Clark Properties. By 2015, the shopping mall was roughly 80 percent occupied with 35 tenants. In 2021, All Aboard Properties (formerly Clark Properties) sold the shopping center to Alpharetta, GA-based Octave Holdings & Investments.
Renamed Sunshine Plaza, today the enclosed shopping center isn’t necessarily dead mall but not “alive” either. While most of its leased retail spaces face the exterior parking lot, its now silent enclosed halls providing access to an interesting combination of non-traditional tenants including a church, bowling alley, post office and fitness center.