SUNSHINE MALL
South Missouri Avenue and Lakeview Road
Clearwater, Florida

Ground was broken for SUNSHINE MALL, the Pinellas Peninsula's second fully-enclosed shopping center, on September 18, 1967. The official dedication for the complex was held September 26, 1968. The single-level -345,000 square foot- shopping venue was built on a 45 acre parcel, 1.8 miles southwest of Clearwater's urban core. It was developed by New Haven, Connecticut-based Gambest Associates and designed by Clearwater's Frank Mudano.

At the time of its dedication, the center was hailed as the third-largest interior mall in the state. However, with today's more comprehensive historical data, we can establish that, in late 1968, SUNSHINE MALL was actually Florida's seventh-largest enclosed shopping complex.

SUNSHINE MALL was anchored by a 2-level (135,000 square foot) J.C. Penney. There were a Pantry Pride supermarket, J.G. McCrory 5 & 10 and sixty-seven inline stores. The single-screen, Trans-Lux Theatre showed its first feature in October 1968. Charter tenants in the mall included Fremac's for Men, Stuarts Ready-to-Wear For Ladies and SupeRx Drug.

At the center of the center was a large court area with a waterless, Wonderfall fountain as its focal point. A smaller court area, facing the Trans-Lux Theatre on the north end of the complex, also included a Wonderfall waterless feature.

A 1968 account of the shopping center's grand opening mentions that Clearwater Mayor H. Everett Hougen and Sheri Kooken, "Miss Clearwater 1968", were on hand to cut the ceremonial ribbon. It goes on to say that "mini-skirted cowgirls" operated a shopper's shuttle between the parking lot and mall entrances and that traffic was backed up on South Missouri Avenue for 10 miles.

A single-level (60,000 square foot), Miami-based J. Byron opened, near the south entrance, in November 1970. At the time a freestanding structure, it was joined to the mall by a thirty-three store addition, which was completed in mid-1972. With this expansion, SUNSHINE MALL encompassed 470,000 leasable square feet and one hundred and ten stores and services.

The 1,200 seat Trans-Lux Theatre was twinned in 1977, and renamed the Sunshine Mall II. Its auditoriums were divided again in 1986, with the venue being renamed the Sunshine Mall V.

The days of SUNSHINE basking as the new mall on the block, so to say, were short. The center was joined by the 750,000 square foot CLEARWATER MALL {3.6 miles east, in Clearwater} in August 1973. An even larger venue, COUNTRYSIDE MALL {5.2 miles northeast, in Pinellas County}, opened in September 1975. BAY AREA OUTLET MALL / CROSSROADS MALL {4.4 miles southeast, in Largo} opened in 1984 and was demolished in 2005.

By the late 1980s, SUNSHINE MALL had become a dilapidated, poorly-maintained property. The New Haven, Connecticut-based Fusco Corporation, who had acquired the shopping center in March 1972, proposed a retail-centered redevelopment in early-1995. However, their big box-based SUNSHINE PLAZA plan did not pan out.

The virtually vacant shopping center was shuttered and demolished in July 1998. Clearwater-based Gulf Coast Consulting, Incorporated replaced the mall with RENAISSANCE SQUARE, a six hundred and forty unit residential complex.

Sources:

St. Petersburg Times
The Evening Independent
Comment post by "Anonymous"
http://www.clearwater-fl.com/
http://www.cinematreasures.com/


THE LARGEST FULLY-ENCLOSED
SHOPPING MALLS IN FLORIDA (December 1968):

1. PALM BEACH MALL [1967], West Palm Beach (860,000 square feet)
2. COLONIAL PLAZA [1956-1962], Orlando (693,000 square feet)
3. REGENCY SQUARE [1967], Duval County / Jacksonville (670,000 square feet)
4. LAUDERHILL MALL [1966], Lauderhill (650,000 square feet)
5. WEST SHORE PLAZA SHOPPING CITY [1967], Tampa (623,400 square feet)
6. WINTER PARK MALL [1964], Winter Park (377,600 square feet)
7. SUNSHINE MALL [1968], Clearwater (345,000 square feet)
8. GATEWAY MALL [1963-1968], St. Petersburg (340,000 square feet)
9. HOLLYWOOD MALL [1964], Hollywood (310,000 square feet)


FAIR USE OF SUNSHINE MALL IMAGES:


The graphics and renderings from The St. Petersburg Times 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.

43 comments:

Connordog said...

I used to get my shoes at the Buster Brown in Sunshine Mall. Those were the days.

The Curator said...

ConnorD,

Thanks for relating the SUNSHINE MALL memories.

Cheers,

Telaryn said...

This is one of the reasons I love the internet. You do a Google search to find a small piece of information and instead find a wonderful tribute to a part of your family's history.

Lisa Mudano Dalton

The Curator said...

Lisa,

I am very pleased that you posted!

Moreover, I enjoyed putting together this section of the MALL HALL OF FAME that features three of your father's shopping mall projects.

He was obviously THE shopping mall architect in the Bay Area.

Cheers,

Anonymous said...

I remember when the cinema became a $1 house and it was also considered haunted. I also found someone pooping in the urinal :(

-Clearwater resident

Judy said...

I was a teenager when the Sunshine Mall was built. It was where we all wanted to go to meet up with our friends. The most memorable items to me were the décor structures in the middle of the mall’s hallway. They were arrangements of artificial plants surrounded by many lines of wire that started at the ceiling and came down to the floor in a cone shape about a foot apart. Then there were drops of water (or oil) running down the wires creating an unusual effect. Later the same idea was used on a smaller scale in the 70’s on lamps. Does anyone else remember these fixtures?

Telaryn said...

Judy - somewhere in my father's old files, I actually have photos of that piece.

The Curator said...

First...

JUDY,

Thanks so much for posting. Apparently, these waterless fountains (technically refered to -back in the days- as "Wonderfall Fountains") were quite the rage in mid-to-late 1960s shopping malls.

I have photos of "Wonderfall Fountains" in the brand new (posted yesterday) article on Tallahassee's NORTHWOOD MALL [January 2010], in the PALM BEACH MALL article [October 2008 archive] and -also- in the MALL AT GREECE RIDGE CENTER/GREECETOWN MALL article [October 2007].

There is also mention of one in the BEAR VALLEY MALL (Denver) article....

So, these waterless fountain features were very popular and are remembered fondly by many.

Thanks again for posting.

TELARYN / LISA,

It would be "boss" and cool were some of these Frank Mudano mall photos to be posted on the internet for posterity. I would be more than glad to add them to any of the Lost Malls of Pinellas section here.

Do you, perhaps, have a scanner?

Cheers and thanks much for posting.

Kathleen said...

I would love to see some pictures of the fountains. My favorite store was called, "Jems & Junk". I always looked in that store for the latestest posters, funny greeting cards, beaded curtains and T-shirts. Their prices were low so I usually could find something to buy. Great Memories.

The Curator said...

And memories are what this site is all about!

Thanks much for posting.

Cheers,

Chris said...

I'm actually posting this from an apartment on the property where this mall once stood.

Let's see if I can unpack some memories here...

- I bought my first stereo at Sunshine's JC Penney. The salesman's name was Gus. I put it on lay away with my first ever paycheck and picked it up 4 weeks later.

- I first played Atari's Adventure on a 2600 console that Penney's had out for display.

- Shooter's Shack!

- My dad took me to my first movie there, Disney's Pinnochio. Other movies I've seen there include The Apple Dumpling Gang, Hawmps, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Empire Strikes Back, and Poltergeist.

- An ex worked for a short while at Penney's selling ladies apparel.

- A buddy and I once bought warm generic root beer at the Pantry Pride (11 cents a can), then sat on a bench in the mall guzzling the stuff just to see how much it could make us burp.

- Bumper cars!

crevette said...

My husband and I used to hang out at the video game arcade in Sunshine Mall and play pool and air hockey, back when we were dating.

And later, I shopped at Phar-mor, which was the last store standing before the building went down. I drive past the apartment complexes there now every day and smile when I think about the mal.

crevette said...

Also, small internet that it is, Telaryn/Lisa is my BFF. I will have to ask her if she ever got you her dad's photos...

The Curator said...

CHRIS & CREVETTE,

How ironic it is that the two of you were posting comments about the very same mall within munites of each other!

Anyway, thanks much for the SUNSHINE MALL memoirs.

And thanks, as well, for perusing the site.

I still haven't seen the Frank Mudano pics...but would love to.

Cheers,

Lisa F. said...

Thank you so very much for bringing some of myfavorite childhood memories back to life! Sunshine Mall was great! I remember it from it's later days, but it was still great.

I can't remember the name, but there was a toy store crammed with dolls from ceiling to floor. It was almost spooky. Many of the toys were probably 30+ years old and many weren't even for sale.

The center area was always lined with rows of metal fielding chairs were seniors would sit around talking. Buster Browns was where I always got my shoes. The post office. The hearing aid place. The dentist. Pharmacy. A terrible petstore. A Fantastic Sams. Later came Jose's and a wonderful bakery!

I used to get my brownie girl scout uniforms at jc Penney. And once for my mom's birthday, my dad and I bought her the two most, at least my six year old imagination believed, luxurious mauve (remember when mauve and teal were IT?) throw pillows.

I have so many memories of the different stores my mom and I would explore on our afternoons together, but my absolute favorite is one day at McCrory's! Boy, I miss stores like this! It was around Christmas time and my mom and I were killing time before we had to pick my dad up from work in downtown Clearwater. The store was decorated in their beautifully ancient decorations and filled with cheap trinkets and housewares treasure by kids my age.

After looking around for a while, my mom bought me an ice cream sundae from the lunch counter. I can still seen everything that happened that day-the store, the spark making toy i played with, the waitress. Even at the time, I knew it was going to be cherished always in my memories.

Thanks so much for bringing this all back!

The Curator said...

Lisa,

I thank you for posting. This was a wonderful message to read.

I'm pretty amazed by your keen memories. I only wish that my capacity for recall was so sharp.

(Senility setting in here, hee hee).

Cheers,

Anonymous said...

One point of correction to the above article.

I lived 2 blocks from the Sunshine mall 1979-1983. During that time I went to the Sunshine Mall theaters every weekend. For that entire time the mall Theatre had 2 screens, not five. It must have split into 5 theaters afterwards. I remember they did a Rocky Horror Picture Show every Friday at midnight. They would play a "B" movie or unrated movie or occasionally an X-Rated movie on the other screen at midnight.

The Curator said...

Anon,

You are exactly right here. I re-researched the theatre, the Trans-Lux, with newly-found info.

The cinema opened in late '68 as a single-screener. It was twinned in 1977 and made into a 5-plex in 1986.

Thanks much for posting.

Steve-O said...

Yes, I remember the the Wonderfalls, Jems and Junk (where we got our black light posters and incense). Used to ride the PCTA bus when we were 13. Have photo booth pics somewhere. We saw Blues Brothers in the theater.

The Curator said...

Steve,

Thanks for posting the SUNSHINE MALL memories.

Cheers

phil said...

I remember going to Sunshine Mall in the early 90's with my mom and grandma. My brother and I felt like we were being punished when we had to spend an afternoon there. It might have been nice at one time but my memories of Sunshine Mall are very depressing...

The Curator said...

Yup,

I would imagine that, by the 1990s, SUNSHINE MALL was pretty dreary and empty.

Thanks for posting

Barry said...

I was reminicing and thinking about this mall, wondering when it was torn down (because I lived out of state at that time). I also have great memories of that place and malls across Pinellas and Hillsborough counties since my very first real job (1977) was to deliver organs and pianos for Fletcher's Music Centers and they had many stores in many malls across those two counties.

Barry said...

Oh, by the way, in the shopping center across from Sunshine Mall I used to go to Paperback Palace bookstore, which as far as I know is still there.

The Curator said...

Barry,

Thanks much for posting the SUNSHINE MALL memories. This one has received a LOT of comments...it must be remembered fondly by many.

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

I remember going to the grand opening with my grandmother, the only thing I recall at that age was how many people were there. My first Job was a dish washer and busboy at Roberts Cafeteria in late '70s...Plus, I spent many of weekend midnights at the theaters watching Rocky Horror Picture Show with my friends.

The Curator said...

Anon,

Thanks for posting the SUNSHINE MALL memories.

Cheers,

George R. Miller said...

Found a complete listing of all the original stores today for Sunshine Mall - thought your followers would like to see:

Squire Formal Shop
Squire Barber Shop
Squire Ties, Ltd.
Houston’s Hickory House
Cake Box Bakery
Sunshine Beauty Lane
Bressler’s 33 Flavors Ice Cream
Ranch House Restaurant
The Slack Bar
DiPaolo’s Delicatessen
Clearwater Sun
Ron Fisher & Associates
Mall Optometrist
Landy’s Flowers & Gifts
La Beautique, Holiday Magic Cosmetic Distributors
Photographic Arts
Margie’s Fashions
Travel Agency
Karousel Children Care Center
Pantry Pride
Trans Lux Theatre
J.C. Penney Co., Tire, Battery and Accessory
Clearwater-Largo Real Estate
Christian Science Reading Room
Global Décor
Leopard Lounge
Baker Shoes
Nobel Jewelers
Griffin’s Candy Shop
Showcase Gifts
Gulf American Corporation
Buster Brown Shoes
Economy TV
12-1/2 to 24-1/2 Dress Shop
Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio
Gulf Uniform
Nacol Jewelers
Singer
Vogue Ladies Shop
Super X Drugs
Kiddy Land
The Red Gate Jr. Fashions
Wig Town
Garden Gate Restaurant
Fabric Garden
Tax Masters, Inc.
Sounds Of Music
So-Fro Fabrics
Thom McAn
Deans Canterbury Shop
J.C. Penney Co.
Russell’s Ladies Wear
Fremacs
R.C. Miller Men’s Wear
Stuart Ladies Ready To Wear
Jim Stewart Shoes
Imperial Gifts
McCory
Cobbs Cupboard
Hillsboro Finance
Sunshine Fabric Care Center (Coin Laundry)
Goodbody & Company
Richard A. Leandri Associates
Community Room
City National Bank
2nd National Bank
Aloha Cafeteria
Ryans Gems And Junk

The Curator said...

George,

Thanks so much! Hope you're having a great week. Cheers.

matt said...

My brother, sister and I used to ride bumper cars in Sunshine Mall, for a while they actually had a section of the mall cordoned off for them.

The Curator said...


Matt,

Thanks much for posting. Hope you're having a great week. Cheers,

Tom Class of '80 said...

Wasn't there a store next to Gems and Junk called Imports from All Ports? I didn't see that in the list. I remember before the mall opened we always either went to Sears Town or Montgomery Ward just up Missouri. This mall was a great addition for that time.

The Curator said...

This store wasn't in the 1972 addition (on the south end of the mall) was it?

Anonymous said...

Anacronism hobby shop.. On the north end of the mall, near Sports Unlimited, across from where the arcade was at that time.

andrewmacklem said...

My father Les Macklem was the artist who created the Murals and sculpture for the Sunshine and Seminole Malls. I have original photos, drawings, and brochures from these projects. Is there a place to donate these where they could be enjoyed as historical materials from the Mall?
Thanks,
Andrew

Telaryn Dalton said...

OH MY GOD ANDREW - Please contact me at telaryn at gmail dot com. We have some of the original photos as well, and I would love to see what you have.

Do you have any photos of your father's work from Seminole Mall...or of even more personal interest, our family home? (I'm Frank Mudano's daughter).

The Curator said...

Andrew,

Have you talked to the Pinellas County Historical Society in Largo?

[http://www.pinellascounty.org/Heritage/historical_society.htm]?

I do believe that two of your father's SEMINOLE MALL murals are represented in photos in the SEMINOLE MALL article here (I will add his name to the captions.

I'm sure a lot of people that peruse this site would like to see more of his "mall-related" artwork...especially ANYTHING taken inside the SUNSHINE MALL in Clearwater (I have found no interior photos of this -now demolished- mall).

Are any of these photos or brochures scanned?

If so, you could create a tribute website for your father's work (a Blogger site -like this one here- is completely free-of-charge and can be adapted to this purpose...at least I have figured out how, LOL). If you did such a site, I would be more than glad to link to it.

I would be honored to add more images of his work to the existing mall articles on this site, BTW.

Cheers,

Telaryn Dalton said...

Also as an interesting side note - the murals at Seminole Mall still exist, although I don't know who currently owns them. When they were installed they were not painted directly onto the wall - they were painted on canvas that was then affixed to the wall, so that in the event the mall was ever renovated (as happened in 1987), Les' artwork would not have to be destroyed.

andrewmacklem said...

Thanks for the great ideas I will look into the blog posting and provide a link and post here. I did see the Seminole Mall pictures, My photos and brochures might have better quality. I'll gather it together and post when I can.
I probably need to put all of the info on web.
Thanks again,
Andrew

Carl H. said...

I remember going to Sunshine Mall in the mid 70's and playing pinball at the arcade. It was better than playing pinball at the mini golf place on Gulf to Bay or the one pinball machine at Bellas Hess which were both closer to my house.

The Curator said...

Carl,

Thanks much for posting. Cheers.

Todd N said...

WOW.. This makes me miss my childhood .. Times were so good back then. I remember going to Sunshine Mall to go to J Byrons, Shooters Shack , World Bazaar and of course at the other end was Sports Unlimited. The last movie I saw there was Robin Hood with Kevin Costner. Thanks so much for posting all the info about this mall for others to relive yester year. Pics would be GREAT!!

The Curator said...


Todd,

As you can probably guess, I'd love to find good quality pics of Clearwater's SUNSHINE MALL. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of info and images of this mall anywhere on the internet.

Cheers