Court at King of Prussia

Bloomingdale's was one of three high-end anchors at the COURT AT KING OF PRUSSIA mall. The COURT complex was built as an upscale counterpart of the middle market KING OF PRUSSIA PLAZA next door.
Photo from / Joe Architect

West Delkalb Pike / US 202 and Goddard (Mall) Boulevard
Montgomery County (Town of Upper Merion), Pennsylvania

By the late 1970s, a second mall was being planned to serve as an upscale auxiliary to KING OF PRUSSIA PLAZA. A 30 acre tract, located adjacent to- and northeast of- the complex, was prepared for construction, which got underway in early 1980.

COURT AT KING OF PRUSSIA was also developed by the Philadelphia-based Kravco Company. The 2-level, fully-enclosed complex was dedicated with a lavish celebration held August 2, 1981. Singer-actress-comedienne Carol Channing officiated and cut the ceremonial, rhinestone-studded, ribbon. Fashion luminaries Bill Blass, Calvin Klein and Oscar de la Renta were also on hand, with music provided by the Bainbridge Brass Quintet. 

The new mall enveloped 902,000 leasable square feet and one hundred and twenty-five stores and services. It was anchored by a 3-level (248,000 square foot), New York City-based Bloomingdale's, 3-level (210,000 square foot), New York City-based  Abraham & Straus, and a 3-level (256,000 square foot), Newark, New Jersey-based Bamberger's (a Macy's subsidiary). Inline stores and services included Brookstone, American Vision, Spectrum Showcase and Henry Birks & Sons Jewelers. 

Shopping options in the vicinity of the KING OF PRUSSIA MALLS included PLYMOUTH MEETING MALL (1966) {5.7 miles northeast, in Montgomery County}, EXTON SQUARE MALL (1971) {12.8 miles southwest, in Chester County}, MONTGOMERY MALL (1977) {11.9 miles northeast, in Montgomery County} and WILLOW GROVE PARK MALL (1982) {14.5 miles northeast, also in Montgomery County}.

By the early 1990s, the COURT mall had become hemmed in, with no room for expansion. The economy was booming, with a greater demand for luxury goods. Kravco decided to change the marketing focus at the older mall next door, which was now officially known as PLAZA AT KING OF PRUSSIA. It would be remade into an even more upscale shopping venue than the COURT property.

A 185 million dollar renovation of PLAZA AT KING OF PRUSSIA was announced in March 1993. This would add 414,000 leasable square feet in a new South Wing. As a facet of the coming renovation, J.C. Penney had relocated into the old Gimbels / Stern's store in November 1992. With this move completed, most of the circa-1963 mall was demolished.

The South Wing housed one hundred and twenty stores and services. Three top-tier anchors were built; a 3-level (225,000 square foot) Nordstrom, 2-level (120,000 square foot) Lord & Taylor and 3-level (138,000 square foot) Neiman Marcus.

The newly-refurbished PLAZA opened November 2, 1995. It now sported six anchors, two large parking structures, stretched for 1,680,000 leasable square feet and featured over two hundred and forty stores and services.

In September 1995, John Wanamaker's PLAZA store was rebranded as an Arlington, Virginia-based Hecht's, an operative of St. Louis-based May Department Stores. Abraham & Strauss, in the COURT mall, had been rebranded by Philadephia-based Strawbridge & Clothier on March 7, 1988.

As a result of a July 1996 rebranding of the PLAZA Hecht's, by Strawbridge's, there were two "Strawbridge's" operating in the KING OF PRUSSIA MALLS. The Strawbridge's in the COURT was shuttered January 27, 1999.

A theatrical venue, the United Artists King of Prussia 16, was built on a pad located .4 mile northwest of KING OF PRUSSIA PLAZA. The first features were show April 21, 2000. The cinema was eventually expanded with an IMAX auditorium and became a Regal property in 2002.

The shiny new COURT AT KING OF PRUSSIA mall, in 1981. It encompassed over 900,000 leasable square feet of "luxury retail". The PLAZA AT KING OF PRUSSIA next door still had middle market stores such as J.C. Penney and F.W. Woolworth.