CLEARWATER MALL
Gulf-To-Bay Boulevard and US 19 North
Clearwater, Florida

Ohio's Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation decided on Florida's Pinellas Peninsula for the location of a new, fully-enclosed mega mall. St. Pete's TYRONE SQUARE, was dedicated in October 1972. The second major mall on the peninsula was built on a 72 acre plot, located 4.4 miles east of downtown Clearwater.

Plans for CLEARWATER MALL had been announced in May 1968. The complex would be developed by Clearwater's William and Wallace Blackburn, with its design handled by local architect Frank Mudano. The center was implemented in three phases, with work on the first commencing September 8, 1971.

A 1-level (75,000 square foot) convenience center, known as The Square, was built at the northwest corner of the site. Its first tenants opened for business August 18, 1972. These included a Pantry Pride supermarket, Fairco Drug, Firestone Tire and the American Multi-Cinema Clearwater 4 Theatres.

Work got underway on Phase Two (the mall proper) in mid-1972. Predominantly a single-level structure, there would be a small (incomplete) upper level at its center. The complex was built using a Spanish Colonial motif. A peacock graphic symbol was used throughout the mall's courts and concourses and on its exterior.

The first operational store, a 2-level (148,600 square foot), Mobile-based Gayfer's, began business in April 1973. A 2-level (127,000 square foot), Charlotte-based J.B. Ivey held a preview opening August 3, 1973. The mall's 2-level (126,000 square foot) Montgomery Ward held its grand opening August 22, 1973.

The 750,000 square foot CLEARWATER MALL was officially dedicated November 8, 1973. Inline stores included National Shirt Shops, Waldenbooks, Kinney Shoes, Zales Jewelers and a Polly Davis Cafeteria.

A glass-enclosed elevator was the focal point of the Ivey's anchor store. There was also an 80' by 200' bird aviary in the Court of the Peacocks (in front of the Ivey's entrance), as well as an Aquarium Court (which faced the Montgomery Ward mall entry) and the Court of the Four Seasons (in front of the Gayfer's entry).

Phase Three of the mall, a single level Northeast Wing, opened to the public September 19, 1975. This was anchored by a 2-level (160,000 square foot), Miami-based Burdines. With this addition, CLEARWATER MALL encompassed 965,000 leasable square feet and contained one hundred stores and services. By mid-1978, this number had increased to one hundred and twenty.

The incomplete upper level at the center of the center was filled with a "mall within a mall" area known as the International Bazaar. This was officially dedicated October 13, 1977. Its ten tenants included the Crepe Escape restaurant, Adobe Hut, Deannie's of Sarasota, Asian Pavilion, Tropicurio, Oriental Gift Bazaar, Terry's T's (T-shirts), Stax of Wax Candles and the Come Fly A Kite Shop.

A major rival, COUNTRYSIDE MALL {4 miles north, in Pinellas County}, was completed in September 1975. This was followed by INTERNATIONAL PLAZA {9 miles east, in Tampa} in September 2001. Also is the vicinity were SUNSHINE MALL (1968-1998) {3.6 miles west, in Clearwater} and BAY AREA OUTLET MALL / CROSSROADS MALL (1984-2005) {2.8 miles south, in Largo}.

The first anchor change at CLEARWATER MALL transpired June 4, 1990, when Dillard's rebranded the Ivey's location. Dillard's purchase of the Mercantile Stores conglomerate, in August 1998, added the Gayfer's chain to Dillard's holdings.

Rather than establish a "double-header" at CLEARWATER MALL, with rebranded Ivey's and Gayfer's stores, the Arkansas-based chain decided to shutter the Ivey's / Dillard's location. This took place October 11, 1998. The Gayfer's then re-opened as a Dillard's Clearance Center, which was only in operation until January 1999.

Burdines pulled the plug on their CLEARWATER MALL operation January 25, 2001. The last of the shopping venue's four anchors, Montgomery Ward, closed (along with the entire chain) in March 2001. This left the retail hub completely anchor-less. It closed for good February 1, 2002.

Meanwhile, a joint venture had been formed between the New York City-based New Plan Excel Realty Trust and St. Petersburg-based Sembler Company. The "irrelevant" mall was demolished between April 2002 and January 2003.

Not surprisingly, an open-air power center was built on the site. Encompassing 795,100 leasable square feet, the "value-oriented, big-box dominated" center was anchored by a 1-level (138,500 square foot) Costco, 1-level (140,000 square foot) Lowe's and 1-level (185,000 square foot) SuperTarget, with inline stores such as Borders Books, Ross Dress For Less and PetSmart.

Also known as CLEARWATER MALL, the complex was formally dedicated November 6, 2003. The Australia-based Centro Property Group acquired the holdings of the New Plan Excel Realty Trust (which included CLEARWATER MALL) in May 2007.

In June 2011, the United States holdings of Centro were sold to New York City's Blackstone Real Estate Partners. They formed a new retail management entity, known as the Brixmor Property Group, in September 2011.

Sources:

St. Peterburg Times
www.hawkinsnet.com
www.kearnydev.com
http://www.sembler.com


FAIR USE OF CLEARWATER MALL IMAGE:

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