SOUTHGATE MALL
Woodward Avenue / US 72 and 43 and West Avalon Avenue
Muscle Shoals, Alabama

The first mall-type shopping complex in Northwestern Alabama was designed by Pearson, Tittle & Narrows and developed by Aranov Realty; both of these firms being based in Montgomery, Alabama.

Plans were formally announced for SOUTHGATE MALL in March 1967, with construction commencing the following summer. Consisting of a single level of retail, the complex occupied an 89.2 acre site, located 3.4 miles south of downtown Florence. The plot was entirely within the city of Muscle Shoals.

SOUTHGATE comprised 250,000 leasable square feet and thirty-six store spaces. It was anchored by a 1-level (80,500 square foot) Woolco discount mart, which held its grand opening May 22, 1968. The second anchor, a 1-level (45,400 square foot), Florence-based Rogers, was dedicated along with the mall on August 14, 1968.

Charter tenants included Jacobs Drug, Best Jewelers, Eleanor Shop, Singer Sewing Center, a V.J. Elmore 5 & 10 and mall-connected A & P and Winn-Dixie supermarkets.

SOUTHGATE was the only mall on the block, to to say, until it was bested by REGENCY SQUARE {6.4 miles northeast, in Florence} in July 1978. Within a few years, the older and smaller shopping venue was in a downward spiral.

Following Woolco's January 1983 demise, its space at SOUTHGATE was taken by Wal-Mart, who opened their store in July of the same year. The mall was given a makeover between the months of September and November 1989. During the 1 million dollar project, a marble fountain was installed in Center Court, pastel tile floors were laid, skylights placed and new signage and landscaping added.

19.7 acres at the northwest corner of the mall site were sold to WalMart in 1994. They moved into a new -freestanding- SuperCenter in September 1995. The old Woolco-WalMart space sat vacant for nearly 9 years. During this time, the complex began to be marketed as SOUTHGATE CENTER.

New tenants were finally signed for the empty Woolco-WalMart. Walgreen Drug opened a (47,700 square foot) Customer Care Center in July 2004. Six small store spaces were also created. The remainder of area was leased as a Brentwood, Tennessee-based Tractor Supply Company. Their store commenced operation in June 2005.

Space in the northwest corner of SOUTHGATE CENTER was gutted and rebuilt into a Bradenton, Florida-based Burke's Outlet. The (20,000 square foot) store opened for business in October 2006. Rogers, the mall's last remaining charter tenant, shut down September 13, 2007. Walgreen's expanded their Customer Care Center into adjoining store space in 2012. The call center now encompassed 62,000 square feet.

Today, SOUTHGATE CENTER is owned and operated by an Atlanta-based entity known as Colbert Community Builders. There are approximately ten leased spaces in the shopping complex, which houses a total of thirty-two.

Sources:

The Times Daily
www.aranovproperties.com
www.rics.org
http://mallmanac.blogspot.com
Colbert County, Alabama tax assessor website


FAIR USE OF SOUTHGATE MALL IMAGE:

The graphics from The Florence Times-Tri Cities Daily 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.