WEST SHORE PLAZA SHOPPING CITY
North West Shore and West J.F.K. Boulevards
Tampa, Florida

The first fully-enclosed shopping center in the Tampa Bay Area was designed by Boston-based Sumner & Schein, and developed by Boston-based Theodore W. Berenson & Associates and Philadelphia-based Strouse, Greenburg & Company.

WEST SHORE PLAZA SHOPPING CITY was built on a 50 acre plot, located 4 miles west of center city Tampa. The site was adjacent to the Interstate 4 expressway (which was redesignated as Interstate 75 in 1969).

A 3-level (238,000 square foot), Tampa-based Maas Brothers opened for business October 19, 1966. The mall's 2-level (209,000 square foot) J.C. Penney welcomed its first customers September 7, 1967. The single-level shopping facility was officially dedicated September 28 of the same year.

Enveloping approximately 623,400 leasable square feet, WEST SHORE PLAZA housed thirty-eight stores, including an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10, Walgreen Drug, Piccadilly Cafeteria and Pantry Pride supermarket. There were also freestanding Penneys and Firestone Auto Centers.

The region's second enclosed shopping center, GATEWAY MALL {9.8 miles southwest, in St. Petersburg} opened in March 1968. The third, SUNSHINE MALL {15 miles west, in Clearwater}, was dedicated in September 1968.

On the Tampa side of the bay, WEST SHORE PLAZA was joined by FLORILAND MALL {7.2 miles northeast, in Tampa} in October 1972. UNIVERSITY SQUARE {9.1 miles northeast, in Hillsborough County} opened in August 1974. TAMPA BAY CENTER {2.5 miles northeast, in Tampa} was dedicated in August 1976.

An expansion of WEST SHORE PLAZA had been announced in June 1972. A Northeast Wing was built, that was anchored by a 2-level (159,000 square foot), St. Petersburg-based Robinson's Of Florida. A multi-level parking garage was also constructed.

Robinson's opened for business in the fall of 1974, accompanied by twenty-five inline stores. These included Gourmet Wine & Cheese, Record Bar, Casual Corner and a Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour.

In 1980, a new expressway was completed through the eastern hinterlands of Tampa. It was designated as Interstate 75, with its original route (which passed by WEST SHORE PLAZA) being renamed Interstate 275.

The WEST SHORE PLAZA Pantry Pride had been shuttered January 27, 1979. The (22,500 square foot) space was incorporated into the interior mallway and divided into five inline stores; one being Oshman's Sporting Goods. This project was completed in the summer of 1980.

The Pantry Pride structure was expanded southward in the mid-1980s. This area, and a portion of a vacant Walgreen Drug, were built into a small Food Court. The mall now encompassed 869,000 leasable square feet and housed seventy-six stores and services.

The first anchor name change at WEST SHORE PLAZA got underway after the August 1987 acquisition of several Robinson's of Florida stores by Baton Rouge-based Goudchaux's / Maison Blanche. The locations involved operated as Robinson's-Maison Blanche until their conversion to bona fide Maison Blanche stores, on March 28, 1988.

Dillard's acquired -and rebranded- Central Florida Maison Blanche stores (including the West Shore Plaza location) in August 1991. Maas Brothers stores in the Tampa Bay Area were rebannered by Miami-based Burdines on October 20 of the same year.

Britain's Grosvenor ["grove-nir"] International acquired WEST SHORE PLAZA in 1990. In 1992, they started the first stage of a three-phase mall renovation. A 9 million dollar face lift rebuilt the complex in a Spanish-Mediterranean motif. Skylights, marble flooring, tile fountains and palm trees were installed in the interior.

Moreover, a 3-story bell tower was built over Center Court and mall entrances were remodeled. New stores were brought in, including Cache, Gymboree and Audrey Jones, with Bombay Company relocating into a larger space. The remodeling was completed in May 1993.

Woolworth's closed for good in January 1994. It was divided into two sections by a new east-west mall corridor. The remaining area was fitted with inline store spaces.

The second phase of Grosvenor's mall renovation was announced in April 1997. The 170 million dollar project added "South Parkade" and "West Parkade" garages. Moreover, a 2-level (101,500 square foot) Saks Fifth Avenue was constructed on the west side of the complex. The store's grand opening was held November 12, 1998.

Phase Three of the WEST SHORE PLAZA remodeling came with a price tag of 85 million dollars. This endeavor, which  got underway in the year 2000, rebuilt the southeast corner of the mall. The 1980s-vintage Food Court was relocated eastward (into the old Pantry Pride structure). The new facility incorporated nine fast food vendors and included Little Tokyo, Jus d'Orange, Twin Cactus, Max Orient, Bourbon Street Cafe, Le Petite Bistro and Cafe Sbarro.

75,000 square feet of new retail space was constructed, which housed eighteen stores. A 1-level (25,000 square foot) Old Navy opened for business November 10, 2000. The American Multi-Cinema Westshore 14, built in an upper level, also opened on November 10.

Two Streetscape-type restaurants were part of the addition. Maggiano's Little Italy made its debut June 28, 2001, followed by The Palm (Steak House), which served its first meals on July 26 of the same year.

As part of the Southeast Wing renovation, the official name of the mall, WEST SHORE PLAZA (three words), was altered to read WESTSHORE PLAZA (two words).

A major rival, INTERNATIONAL PLAZA {1 mile northeast, in Tampa} was dedicated in September 2001. The uber-upscale shopping hub snatched the WESTSHORE PLAZA Dillard's, which was shuttered September 13, 2001. Its space re-opened, as a Sears, October 17, 2002. This store had been taken from an already-ailing TAMPA BAY CENTER, leaving that mall anchor-less.

The Columbus, Ohio-based Glimcher Realty Trust purchased WESTSHORE PLAZA in August 2003. By this time, the complex encompassed 1,059,000 leasable square feet and housed one hundred and twenty-four stores and services.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro, added to the mall's existing Streetscape, opened in February 2003. In the next year, Tampa area Burdines stores were rebranded. The conversion was done in two stages; Burdines-Macy's debuted on January 30, 2004, with the bona fide Macy's brand appearing March 6, 2005.

In March 2010, it was announced that the Glimcher Realty Trust, which had become financially strapped as a result of The Great Recession, was entering into a two-mall, joint venture arrangement with the New York City-based Blackstone Group.

The two shopping centers involved were LLOYD CENTER {in Portland, Oregon} and WESTSHORE PLAZA. In mid-2013, Glimcher established full ownership of the WESTSHORE property and relinquished its ownership interest in LLOYD CENTER.

Indiana's Simon Property Group created a spin-off Real Estate Investment Trust in May 2014. Known as the Washington Prime Group, it assumed ownership of several of Simon's "Grade B" malls. The WPG merged with the Glimcher Realty Trust in early 2015.

Meanhile, on May 4, 2013, Saks Fifth Avenue at WESTSHORE PLAZA was shuttered. The building was renovated and re-opened, as a Dick's Sporting Goods, April 25, 2014. Around this time, two new Streetscape restaurants had debuted. Seasons 52 was dedicated February 15, 2010. Besito Mexican Grill, taking the place of The Palm (Steak House), welcomed its first diners on April 8, 2015.

Sources:

Malls Of America Blogspot / Keith Milford webmaster / "WestShore Plaza" post
The St. Petersburg Independent
The St. Petersburg Times
"Remembering Maas Brothers"/ Micheal Lisicky
"West Shore Plaza Expansion Study" / Robert Jay Colestock & Erin O'Leary Barker / July 1993
http://andelman.com / Bob Andelman
http://nreionline.com / National Real Estate Investor / August 1998
Interstate275florida.com
www.bizjounals.com
www.glimcher.com
http://westshoreplaza.com


FAIR USE OF WEST SHORE PLAZA SHOPPING CITY IMAGES:

The graphics and renderings from The St. Petersburg Times and St. Petersburg Evening Independent illustrate a key moment in the mall's history that is described in the article. The images are of lower resolution than the originals (copies made would be of inferior quality). The images are not replaceable with free-use or public-domain images. The use of the images does not limit the copyright owners' rights to distribute the images in any way. The images are being used for non-profit, informational purposes only and their use is not believed to detract from the original images in any way.