During the 20 years following the creation of the country’s first enclosed regional mall in 1956, so many were built in Florida that they started to cannibalize each other.
Here’s a walk down memory lane at 10 once-popular enclosed malls around the state that don’t exist anymore.
Gateway Mall, Jacksonville
Developed by Sam Morris Spevak, Gateway Shopping Center originally opened as an open-air strip shopping center in 1959. In 1967, it was expanded to include a 300,000 square foot indoor mall anchored by JCPenney and Montgomery Wards.
Gateway’s days as a regional shopping mall peaked in the late 1970s. Recognized as the city’s premier African-American retail destination by this time, the mall’s anchors included JCPenney, May Cohens, Service Merchandise and Jefferson Ward.
Despite a major renovation in 1985, Gateway struggled with a rash of major closings, the expansion of Regency Square Mall and the opening of The Avenues Mall during the 1980s and early 1990s. Jefferson Ward closed in 1985 (replaced by Zayre) and Maison Blanche acquired and closed May Cohens in 1988.
The most devastating blow came in 1992, with the closing of Service Merchandise and JCPenney, leaving the center with no major retail anchors. In 1997, the largely vacant mall was purchased by Gateway Center Economic Development Partnership, with the goal to change the focus from a regional orientation to a neighborhood center.
Rebranded Gateway Town Center, the outdoor portion of the shopping center survives with a few neighborhood retailers and a Publix Supermarket, while the enclosed mall sits abandoned and waiting for a new lease on life.