Looks like we spoke too soon in our 2008 report on the saga of the Palm Beach Mall. Shortly after the demolition was announced, the financial markets collapsed, Simon Properties defaulted on the loan taken against the mall property, and any planned redevelopment of the Palm Beach Mall property was shelved indefinitely. Now, as of late 2009, the loan holder has taken control of the mall and as of January 31st, 2010 only JC Penney, George's Music, and the Firestone outparcel will remain. The interior of the mall will be closed forever! Allegedly.
2008 Update: Just when you think a mall can't get any more ghetto, BAM! it turns into a flea market. Okay, not really, but it sure has that atmosphere. All of the big warehouse-size stores at the one end are gone, leaving JC Penney and Radio Shack in a huge echoing hall. I didn't even venture through the rest of the mall. I don't know what's going on with the pending demolition, but it can't come soon enough.
UPDATE: Well, this is it, folks: the "Historic" Palm Beach Mall is scheduled for demolition. Check it out before this little piece of Palm Beach history goes up in dust.
When I moved to West Palm Beach in 1986, the Palm Beach Mall was The Place To Be. The mall featured all of the popular chains (including my favorite, the since departed Benetton), many yummy eateries (who didn't love Taco Viva?), and even an old-school stream-and-fountain set-up as the centerpiece. I shopped for all of my clothes here. I bought big salted pretzels from Woolworth's. I ate lunch here after graduation rehearsal. Nearly everyone I knew worked here (including myself, at Art Explosion, The Gap, and The Flower Exchange) at some point. It was a standard DeBartolo mall, and it reminded me of malls at "home" in Pittsburgh.
I'll be honest, I haven't been to the Palm Beach Mall in over a year. Frankly, it was getting scary. Shortly after my arrival in Florida, there was a major renovation, which did greatly update the look of the shopping center. The major chain clothing stores of the time (GAP, The Limited, Chess King, and Contempo Casuals) were still there, along with faithful anchors like JC Penney, Sears, Burdines, and Jordan Marsh. Slowly over the years, stores have pulled out, being replaced by lesser known chains and single, privately owned shops. Another renovation around 2000 hoped to revive the mall, now owned by Simon, but the downward slide continued. Anchors and major chains pulled out. Walgreens was gone. Slummy stores selling disposable clothing took their places. An Old Navy briefly occupied a large section at one end, but that has been replaced with a furniture store. That particular end of the mall is almost like an outlet mall now, with a big Border's book store and a huge discount shoe place. MARS music once occupied the vacant Woolworth's space, but that was bought out, and now some crappy poorly-stocked music supply store occupies the same space. This mall seemed to be going the way of the Cross County Mall on Okeechobee Blvd., which was torn down quite a while ago and replaced with a much more popular strip mall with lots of restaurants and stores in outparcels.
The mall currently houses anchors JC Penney (the only original store still in the mall), Macy's, Sears, and Dillard's. Here are what remains of chain stores:
Sunglass Hut International (a kiosk)
Borders Books & Music Cafe
Kids Foot Locker
Borders Books & Music Cafe
Bath & Body Works
Champs Sporting Goods
DSW Shoe Warehouse
Kids Foot Locker
Rack Room Shoes
The Athlete's Foot
Barnie's Coffee & Tea Company
And that's out of over 125 stores. There are also plenty of cell phone stores and kiosks.
Last time I was there, the food court had as many empty spaces as occupied ones. Nothing seemed all that appetizing, just the standard mall Chinese and some sandwiches.
I suppose the Palm Beach Mall deserves a little respect, being the first in South Florida, built in 1967 (before I was born!). Many people credit its decline to the opening of the likes of the nearby Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens, and to the general degradation of the surrounding area. Sorry, but I'd shop at the Wellington Green Mall first any day before going here.
Location:1801 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd
West Palm Beach FL 33401
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