MIDWAY MALL
West Flagler Street and Northwest 79th Avenue
Dade County, Florida

In late 1970, Greater Miami's DADELAND CENTER was being enclosed. At the same time, Metro-Dade's first shopping complex built as a fully-enclosed structure was dedicated.

MIDWAY MALL, so named due to its central location in the western environs of Greater Miami, was situated on 55 acres. The site was located 7.7 miles west of the center city, in unincorporated Dade County.

The single level shopping venue held its grand opening in November 1970, although its south anchor,  a 2-level (146,700 square foot) J.B. Hunter, had been in business since August. Encompassing approximately 800,000 square feet, the 7 million dollar center was designed by Miami's Donald Reiff and developed by Herbert Sadkin and Edward M. Strawgate. This development team had just completed LAUDERHILL MALL, in Broward County, Florida.

In addition to the aforementioned J.B. Hunter, MIDWAY MALL was anchored by a 1-level (105,100 square foot) Woolco and 2-level (136,000 square foot), Miami-based Richards.

Among the seventy original MIDWAY MALL stores were Pinky's Palace, Foxmoor Casuals, House of Pianos, Docktor Pet Center, Bertram's Restaurant, National Shirt Shops, Trail Music, an Orange Bowl snack bar, F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 and freestanding Winn-Dixie supermarket. The Holiday Theatres Midway Mall Theatre opened in 1970.

The mall's primary competitors were DADELAND MALL (1962) {5.6 miles south, in Dade County}, WESTLAND MALL (1971) {6.4 miles north, in Hialeah}, MIAMI INTERNATIONAL MALL (1982) {2.7 miles northwest, in Doral} and DOLPHIN MALL (2001) {3.4 miles northwest, in Dade County}.

MIDWAY MALL was only 4 years old when its first anchor rebranding took place. The J.B. Hunter chain was acquired by Miami-based Jefferson Stores. The MIDWAY MALL J.B. Hunter re-opened, as a Jefferson Store, in the fall of 1974 and received a Jefferson Ward nameplate in April 1980.

Promoted as an "upscale discount store", the Jefferson Ward chain was to operate twenty-two locations in the Sunshine State before its demise in the mid-1980s. The shuttered MIDWAY MALL store re-opened as a short-lived Montgomery Ward Clearance Outlet November 29, 1985.

By this time, Richards was history, having been shuttered January 11, 1980. Woolco closed (along with the three hundred and thirty-six store chain) in early1983. Its spot, on the north end of the mall, was retenanted by a Winston's Discount Fashions, which utilized two thirds of the existing floor space and opened for business in October 1983.

MIDWAY MALL had been struggling for some time. A marketing shift toward "offprice retailing" got underway in July 1983. A 4 million dollar face lift, announced in August 1983, brought new landscaping, benches and terra-cotta floors.

In December 1986, the partially-vacant mall was sold to a joint venture of Miami's Sid Levy and James Schlesinger and Skokie, Illinois-based Balcor Development. The new owners announced a major renovation in early 1987, which included a second interior face lift. This added pink and mirrored surfaces, fountains and waterfalls.

The first floor of the vacated Richards was divided among a (27,000 square foot) Marshalls and (22,000 square foot) T.J. Maxx. In other areas of the mall were Linens 'n Things, Oshman's Super Sport USA, Santa Cruz Furniture, Kay-Bee Toys and La Fogata Latin Grill.

As a facet of the 25 million dollar renovation, the name of the complex was changed to MALL OF THE AMERICAS on June 11, 1987. Soon after, the vacant north anchor, previously a Woolco and Winston's, re-opened as a Home Depot.

Miami-Lakes-based L. Luria & Sons broke ground on a new large-format superstore. It was dedicated October 16, 1987. The American Multi-Cinema Mall of The Americas 8 made its debut November 25, 1988.

By January 1990, it was clear that the mall's redevelopment had paid off. It was fully-leased for the first time in years. The existing 8-plex movie house was expanded in 1992. Six auditoria were added, with the complex renamed AMC Mall Of The Americas 14.

San Francisco-based RREEF Funds bought the shopping hub in October 1994. In July 2004, they sold the property to the Palm Beach-based Sterling Organization.

The Winn-Dixie building, in the northwest corner of the mall site, was demolished in May 2002. A 1-level (115,300 square foot) Home Depot was built, which replaced the old Woolco building store. The new location was open for business by December 2002. The vacant Woolco was then demolished, with a new Mall Entrance built in its place.

In 2015, more mall demolition was done. The 14-plex cinema showed its final features December 25, 2015. Soon after, the entire north end of the mall was bulldozed.

A 1-level (151,100 square foot) Costco was built, which now anchored the north end of MALL OF THE AMERICAS. The store made its debut on April 6, 2017. With its dedication, the mall proper spanned 672,500 leasable square feet and housed sixty-one store spaces.

Sources:

The Miami News
The Miami Herald
www.sterlingorganization.com
http://therealdeal.com
http://malloftheamericas.com