SEMINOLE MALL
Park Boulvard North and 113th Street North
Pinellas County (Seminole), Florida

Ground was broken for Pinellas County's SEMINOLE CENTER on April 13, 1965. The twenty-seven-tenant strip complex was was built on a 39.3 acre plot, located 10.6 miles northwest of center city St. Petersburg.

At the time of its official dedication, on November 4, 1965, the retail hub was entirely within unincorporated Pinellas County. The city of Seminole, which took in the mall site, came into existence November 15, 1970.

The original strip complex encompassed 75,000 leasable square feet and was anchored by a Publix supermarket and Driftwood Cafeteria. Developers Jesse W. Johnson, Richard C. Johnson and Stuart S. Golding decided to expand the complex into a semi-enclosed mall, which was to be added northeast of the existing structure. Construction commenced in February 1969.

The 340,000 square foot SEMINOLE MALL was designed by Frank Mudano of Clearwater. He had also envisaged GATEWAY MALL {in St. Petersburg} and SUNSHINE MALL and CLEARWATER MALL {in Clearwater}.

Housing sixty-two stores and services, SEMINOLE MALL was dedicated February 12, 1970. Its first anchor, a 1-level (60,000 square foot), Miami-based J. Byron, opened at this time. A 1-level (115,000 square foot) Woolco discount mart began business March 11, 1970.

Charter stores and services included GallenKamp Shoes, Fremacs For Men, Dipper Dan Ice Cream Shoppe, Gilberg's Fabrics, Import World, a J.G. McCrory 5 & 10, and Kansas City, Missouri-based Bellas Hess department store. The American Multi-Cinema Seminole 1 & 2 showed its first features in June 1970.

Commercial competition was fierce on the over-malled Pinellas Peninsula. The primary retail rivals would have been TYRONE SQUARE (1972) {4.6 miles southeast, in St. Petersburg} and PINELLAS SQUARE (1977) {6.3 miles east, in Pinellas Park}.

The SEMINOLE MALL Woolco was shuttered on January 31, 1983. Two Framingham, Massachusetts-based retailers were recruited to fill the vacancy. Zayre, occupying a majority of the structure, opened in August 1983. T.J. Maxx began business in March 1984. An outparcel movie house, the American Multi-Cinema Seminole Cinema 8, was dedicated July 25, 1986.

In October 1988, Rocky Hill, Connecticut-based Ames absorbed the Zayre discount chain. The SEMINOLE MALL Zayre was rebranded -as an Ames- in early 1989. This store closed in 1990. T.J. Maxx had been shuttered by early 1992. The entire building was then leased to Kmart, which opened its doors in the Autumn of 1992.

Miami-based Burdines and Jordan Marsh of Florida had considered adding stores to SEMINOLE MALL in the late 1970s...but decided against doing so.

A mall renovation, started in 1980, enclosed a small, open-air segment of mallway at the front of the complex. The center was expanded with fourteen inline stores in May 1984, with its GLA increased to 425,200 square feet. A Food Court, refitted into existing mall space, was dedicated March 15, 1986.

A 6 million dollar renovation, consisting of new exterior facades, entrances, landscaping, an interior face lift and parking lot improvements, was completed in 1991. Meanwhile, stores came and went.

Bellas Hess was gone by 1976. J. Byron was shuttered in July 1996. Its space re-opened, as a Norcross, Georgia-based Uptons, in August of the same year. This store was rebranded by Bradenton, Florida-based Bealls ["bellz"] in November 1999.

A Myrtle Beach-based Waccamaw's HomePlace (in the old McCrory spot) morphed into a Pleasanton, California-based Ross Dress for Less in 2003. Jacksonville-based Stein Mart opened April 2, 1998, taking space originally occupied by Bellas Hess.

SEMINOLE MALL had been in a downward spiral since the 1990s. In December 2006, the struggling center was acquired by El Paso-based Hunt Management Investment, under the auspices of an entity known as Downtown Seminole, Limited Liability Company. Their "dated indoor mall" became the subject of much discussion.

A redevelopment was envisaged, whereby the complex would be largely demolished and replaced with a big-box-based "town center". Costco and an 18-screen multiplex were mentioned as potential anchors. However, the mall's owner balked at this plan.

The Tampa-based RMC Property Group was brought in, in the interim, to manage the property. Publix, a 1965 charter tenant, pulled out in December 2009 and moved into a vacant Alberstons across the street. Dollar Tree went dark in January 2011. SEMINOLE MALL, with ninety retail spaces, now had thirty-one operational stores.

As a result of The Great Recession, the owners of SEMINOLE MALL were left with an upside down mall mortgage. 26 million dollars was owed on a shopping complex assessed at 12 million. The property was foreclosed on in February 2011, with an auction arranged for the following October.

At the last minute, the property was pulled from the auction, leading observers to conclude that some type of resolution had been reached. Meanwhile, the mall's Kmart was shuttered on September 30, 2012.

In October of the same year, it was announced that the mall had been sold to an entity known as Seminole Mall, Limited Liability Company. A joint venture was formed by Primerica Group One and the North American Development Group.

In October 2013, two office buildings adjoining the mall were acquired; this to consolidate all land parcels and expedite redevelopment. A further step was taken the following November, when the Seminole City Council voted to designate the property as "blighted and contaminated". This was done to help secure state funding for an environmental clean up of a former gas station and dry cleaner on the property.

Demolition commenced on the mall's freestanding cinema in April 2015. The wrecking ball began tearing away at the mall structure itself in July 2015. Construction soon got underway on an open-air power center. Known as SEMINOLE CITY CENTER, it would be anchored by a state-of-the-art cinema megaplex.

Bealls, which relocated from a SEMINOLE MALL store, became the first operational CITY CENTER tenant on April 1, 2016. Stein Mart, who had also been a part of the mall, began business on October 27 of the same year.

Earth Fare, a North Carolina-based organic grocer, dedicated a SEMINOLE TOWN CENTER location on September 28, 2016. Ulta Beauty welcomed its first customers October 21, with LA Fitness opening on June 10, 2017. Dallas, Texas-based Studio Movie Grill, a full-service, in-theater dining exhibitor, dedicated the SMG Seminole 12-plex on November 9, 2017.   

Sources:

St. Petersburg Times
www.tampabay.com
www.seminolemall.net
http://tbnweekly.com
The Tampa Bay Times
seminolechamber.net
http://www.seminolecitycenter.com


FAIR USE OF KMART, ROSS and PUBLIX TRADEMARKS:

The graphic trademarks from Kmart Corporation / Sears Holdings, Publix Supermarkets, Inc. and Ross Stores, Inc. help illustrate a key moment in the shopping mall's history that is described in the article. The imagers 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.

FAIR USE OF SEMINOLE MALL IMAGES:

The graphic and rendering 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.