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

Greater Miami's first fully-enclosed shopping complex was officially dedicated in November 1970. MIDWAY MALL, designed by Miami's Donald Reiff, was developed by Herbert Sadkin and Edward M. Strawgate. This team had just completed LAUDERHILL MALL, in Broward County, Florida.

MIDWAY MALL was so named due to its central location in the western environs of Greater Miami. The 7 million dollar facility was situated on a 55 acre site, located 7.7 miles west of the Miami CBD. At its late 1970 grand opening, the shopping hub encompassed approximately 800,000 leasable square feet.

A 2-level (146,700 square foot) J.B. Hunter, had been christened in August 1970. The complex was also anchored by a 1-level (105,100 square foot) Woolco and 2-level (136,000 square foot), Miami-based Richards.

Among the sixty-seven original inline stores were Pinky's Palace, Universal Record Shop, GNC, The Plum Tree gifts, Miles Shoes, 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 CENTER / 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, on 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 early 1983. 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 Woolco / Winston's re-opened as a Home Depot. Miami-Lakes-based L. Luria & Sons dedicated a new large-format superstore on 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.

Further demolition was done at the mall in 2015. 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 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