SOUTH SHORE PLAZA
Granite Street and Interstate 93
Braintree, Massachusetts

The third regional-class shopping mall in Greater Boston was designed by Victor Gruen Associates, developed by Seattle's Winmar Company and built on part of a 125 acre plot, located 11.8 miles south of the Massachusetts State House. The site was adjacent to the southern segment of State Route 128, which had opened to traffic in 1959.

SOUTH SHORE PLAZA was originally an open-air shopping center. Dedicated February 20, 1961, it consisted of a main retail level and service basement. The shopping hub was anchored by a 2-level (120,000 square foot), Boston-based Filene's. A 2-level (85,000 square foot), Boston-based R.H. Stearns began business October 30, 1962.

Among twenty-eight initial tenants were Chas B. Perkins Tobacconist, Fanny Farmer Candies, Kennedy's of New England, Thayer-McNeil Shoes, Wilbar's, a Stop & Shop supermarket and S.S. Kresge 5 & 10.

A 3-level (311,000 square foot), Boston-based Jordan Marsh was added to the mall's east end along with two dual-level store blocks. "Jordan's" store opened for business on September 30, 1967. With the completion of the new East Wing, the mall encompassed approximately 757,000 leasable square feet and housed seventy-two stores and services.

The mall proper did not have a movie theater. However, the General Cinema Corporation South Shore Plaza Twin Drive-In was situated .5 mile southwest. It had showed its first features July 22, 1960. The drive-in was joined by the General Cinema Corporation Braintree Cinema I & II, which was built on a pad situated .4 mile southwest of the mall. This theater was dedicated November 10, 1966. It was eventually reconfigured as the South Shore Cinema I-II-III-IV.

SOUTH SHORE PLAZA, a regional-class shopping venue, had no sizable competition in its vicinity. DEDHAM MALL (1960) {7.6 miles northwest, in Dedham}, WESTGATE SHOPPERS' PARK (1963) {8.6 miles south, in Brockton} and HARBOURLIGHT MALL (1976) {4.5 miles northeast, in Weymouth}, were smaller, community-type shopping malls. In fact, the entire leasable area of the DEDHAM or HARBOURLIGHT centers could have fit into the Jordan Marsh at SOUTH SHORE PLAZA with room to spare.

A more formidable rival, the regional-class HANOVER MALL {10.3 miles southeast, in Hanover}, came on the scene in 1971. In order for SOUTH SHORE PLAZA to remain competitive, a large-scale renovation was required.

This 2-phase project got underway in August 1976, with courts and concourses being fully-enclosed. Filene's was enlarged by expanding into the R.H. Stearns store, which had been shuttered September 1, 1977.

Phase Two extended the mall's South Wing to a 2-level (123,000 square foot) Lord & Taylor, which welcomed its first shoppers in April 1979. A new North Wing was anchored by a 2-level (210,000 square foot) Sears, which debuted October 11, 1980. An adjacent parking garage was also built. SOUTH SHORE PLAZA now housed over one hundred stores and services.

The South Shore Cinema I-II-III-IV was shuttered in 1992 and demolished. It was replaced by the General Cinema Corporation Braintree 10 megaplex, which opened in May 1993. The theater was rebranded as an AMC venue in 2002.

Meanwhile, a third mall renovation was announced in December 1993 and was underway by May 1995. Mall concourses were double-decked. Fifty-four stores were added, including The Boardwalk Cafes, an 11-bay food court. A second parking garage was built.

Filene's was enlarged, into a 227,000 square foot store, with a western addition. The renewed SOUTH SHORE PLAZA was officially dedicated on February 6, 1997. The complex now encompassed 1,200,000 leasable square feet, contained one hundred and eighty stores and services, and was the second-largest mall in Massachusetts (following NORTHSHORE MALL, in Peabody).

The Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group acquired SOUTH SHORE PLAZA when it bought the twenty-three-mall portfolio of New York City's Corporate Property Investors, in 1998.

Jordan Marsh had been converted to the Macy's masthead on March 31, 1996. Anchor store rebrandings continued into the 21st century. Following the Federated / May merger of 2005, Filene's ceased to exist. The SOUTH SHORE PLAZA location closed in March 2006 and re-opened, as a Macy's, in May. The original Macy's (in the old Jordan Marsh) was shuttered in July.

A fourth major renovation of SOUTH SHORE PLAZA began in May 2007. The vacant Jordan Marsh / Macy's was razed and a 3-level East Wing built. This was anchored by a 3-level (150,000 square foot) Nordstrom, that was dedicated March 26, 2010.

In addition, a 1-level (150,000 square foot) Target, situated in the mall's basement level, opened in October 2010. As part of the renovation, the existing mall was given an interior makeover, with new soft seating, skylights and a remodeled Food Court.

With this expansion, SOUTH SHORE PLAZA encompassed 1,589,000 leasable square feet and assumed the position of third-largest retail hub in Massachusetts (following the NATICK and NORTHSHORE malls).

In 2009, SOUTH SHORE PLAZA faced a new lifestyle-type rival. Stores at LEGACY PLACE {7.6 miles west, in Dedham} opened for business between July and August. Construction on another potential lifestyle-format competitor was put on hold, due to The Great Recession.

In April 2012, it was announced that a prospective WESTWOOD STATION {6 miles southwest, in Westwood} would be renamed UNIVERSITY STATION. The mixed-use complex was completed in March 2016.

Ireland's Primark chain began opening United States stores in late 2015. The bulk of these were installed in downsized Sears locations at various East Coast malls. A SOUTH SHORE PLAZA Primark, occupying 41,000 square feet of Sears' upper level, opened for business June 15, 2017.

Sources:

The Boston Globe
Norfolk County, Massachusetts tax assessor website
www.cinematreasures.org
"Paragon On The Blizzard" by Mark Snyder
Carter & Burgess Construction website
"Northshore Center" article on Wikipedia
www.simon.com (Simon Property Group)