Florida's oldest shopping mall lives on

The heyday of the enclosed shopping mall in Florida is long gone. However, Florida's first shopping mall has weathered the storm and continues to survive.

Located 3.8 miles north of downtown Fort Lauderdale, Coral Ridge Mall holds the distinction of being Florida’s first enclosed shopping mall. The $8 million mall was developed by Coral Ridge Properties and Jack A. Cantor and celebrating its grand opening on October 15, 1962. Designed by Frank A. Mudano, the 437,000-square-foot shopping center opened with JCPenney and Britts department stores as anchors.

Other original tenants included Walgreen Drug, Gordon’s Jewelers, Thom McAn Shoes, Baker’s Shoes, Gaul’s Book Store, an S. & H. Green Stamps Redemption Center and J.G. McCrory 5 & 10. Predating the shopping mall, a Publix supermarket opened on the property a year earlier.

In December 1984, Palm Beach-based Gumberg Asset Management acquired the property. Under Gumberg Asset Management’s control, the mall transformed itself as retail trends changed throughout the region during the 1990s. Change began in 1992, when Britts closed its department store. This space was then subdivided to accommodate three new tenants, J.Byron, T.J. Maxx and an upper level nightclub.

That same year, McCrory’s was replaced by Marshalls in August. Two years later, Old Navy replaced Walgreens. Further change came with the closure of JCPenney in 1995 and J. Byrons in 1996. In 1998, T.J. Maxx relocated into a portion of the old JCPenney building. T.J. Maxx was joined by HomeGoods in 2000. Following T.J. Maxx’s relocation from the former Britt’s building, that space was razed and replaced by Target in 1999.

In 2014, the mall’s food court was replace by Ross Dress For Less. That same year, its movie theater was renovated and re-opened as the AMC Dine-in Theatres Coral Ridge 10.

While the majority of enclosed malls that once dominated Florida’s landscape have closed or are well on their way to closing, Coral Ridge Mall survives as a power center anchored with big box tenants that normally occupy strip centers.

Anchored by Target, Publix, T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s, the 58-acre shopping center is located at the busy intersection of of Federal Highway (U.S. 1) and Oakland Park Boulevard just one mile west of Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com