Extinct, Refurbished, and Classic Malls of South Florida.

December 18th, 2014

The holidays are fast approaching! Tis’ the season to send festive cards, spend time with loved ones, and make mad dashes to shopping malls. So grab your shopping list as we head over to some of the extinct, refurbished, and classic malls of South Florida.

 miracle Mile

Photo courtesy of the Florida Archives

Miracle Mile

Miracle Mile was designed by real estate developer George E. Merrick and built in the 1950s. It was envisioned as a pedestrian shopping center located in Coral Gables between LeJeune Road, and Douglas Road. Merrick designed Miracle Mile so that every business in Coral Gables would be within less than a four-block radius. Today, Miracle Mile remains a popular business district and shopping destination.


Bakery Center, 1986

 Photo coutesy of History Miami.

The Bakery Centre

“The Bakery Centre” was constructed on the site of a former Holsom Bakery. Because of the South Miami Metrorail station, the property at US1 and Red Road was thought to be an ideal location for a shopping complex. Developer and art collector Martin Margulies built the retail complex in 1980s. The structure was meant to serve as both a mall and an office space complex and was expected to create approximately 4,200 jobs within the community.

Unfortunately, the shopping center was unable to attract consumers due to its poor architectural design and shortage of retail options. In 1994, the mall was sold for $11.2 million to Simon Property Group. The Bakery Centre was demolished 1996 and replaced three years later with a new open air shopping center that became “The Shops at Sunset Place.”



 Photo courtesy of the Florida Archives

Omni International Mall

From the 1920s to the 1950s, the Omni area was a high-end shopping district with several major department stores located along Biscayne Boulevard. All of the buildings along the Biscayne corridor from NE 13th to NE 16th Street were designed and built by the Biscayne Boulevard Company in the Art Deco architectural style. One of the structures, the Sears and Roebuck Company’s Tower has now been incorporated into the design of the Adrianne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. As the popularity of this shopping district grew so did the need for more retail space.

In the mid 1970s Miami’s Tibor Hollow and Atlanta’s Maurice Alpert developed a suburban shopping complex named the Omni International Mall. The retail center opened in 1977 and replaced most of the high-end boutiques along Biscayne Boulevard.

The interior of the shopping center contained a large atrium, a two story discothèque, a ten theatre megaplex, an arcade, and an ornate two story Italian carousel. The mall also featured chic retailers Emilio Pucci, Givenchy and Hermes. By the 1990s, the mall fell victim to urban blight. In 1991, major retailer Jordan Marsh closed and was replaced by Burdines which closed a year later. In 1998, JC Penney the last remaining major retailer at the Omni, also departed.

In 2000, the shopping center closed, and the building was converted into offices in 2007. Today, the former mall retains a number of tenants including the Miami International University of Art and Design. It is also the location of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.

 -Ursa Gil

Buena Vista’s History of High End Design.

December 8th, 2014

  Photo courtesy of LG Realty Group. Miami's diversified art scene has swiftly developed into a creative mecca for emerging artists and art connoisseurs. Over a twenty year period, neighborhoods like the Design District and Wynwood have provided working studios and gallery space for established and emerging artists Read More...

Miami Beach Convention Center to Undergo a Major Overhaul

November 24th, 2014

Photo courtesy of the Miami Beach Convention Center.  Over the past 50 years, the Miami Beach Convention Center has been the epicenter of South Beach. Originally named the “Miami Beach Exhibition Hall,” the center was built in 1957 to accommodate 15,000 people and had doubled in size following its first renovation in 1989 Read More...

The Haunted History of the Biltmore Hotel

October 27th, 2014

  State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables is currently celebrated as an opulent resort. It has persevered through storms, organized crime, bankruptcy, abandonment, and is also rumored to be haunted. The Biltmore Hotel was the brainchild of John Bowman of the Bowman-Biltmore Hotels Corporation, and Coral Gables real estate developer, George Merrick Read More...

Piecing Together The Ancient Spanish Monastery

October 8th, 2014

Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida. Time Magazine called it “the biggest jigsaw puzzle in history.” Saint Bernard de Clairvaux church, now known as the Ancient Spanish Monastery, is the oldest building in the western hemisphere. It was originally built in 1133 AD in Sacramenia, near Segovia in northern Spain and Completed eight years later in 1141 Read More...

The Dade County Courthouse: A Beacon of Justice

September 22nd, 2014

  Photo courtesy of the Florida Archives. A beacon of justice, the Dade County Courthouse has had an illustrious past spanning over 80 years. This historical building was the first high-rise built in downtown Miami. It was also Dade County's third courthouse. Standard Oil tycoon Henry Flagler donated the land at 73 West Flagler Street where the second courthouse, built in 1904, once stood Read More...

All Aboard the Rebirth of Flagler’s Railroad

September 5th, 2014

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iz8pjfyxjDU&feature=youtu.be "It's Coming Down This Week!" read the newspaper headlines in 1963. The City of Miami decided that the downtown Miami Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) station needed to be demolished. Continuing labor strikes had disrupted passenger service for years Read More...

The Vagabond Motel Reopens

August 26th, 2014

  The Vagabond is arguably one of the most conspicuous buildings along Biscayne Boulevard's MiMo district. After being abandoned for over a decade, the 1950's motel located at 7301 Biscayne Boulevard officially reopened on August 18, 2014. This retro motor lodge is an iconic example of Miami Modernist Architecture,also known as MiMo (a term coined by a Miami Beach resident named Randall C Read More...

Sidetracked with Broward County Roadside Attractions

August 13th, 2014

As the summer slowly comes to an end and the Learning from Miami road trip makes its way south, we visit several of the gone but not forgotten roadside tourists attractions throughout Broward. Long before Mickey Mouse and his gang delighted visitors at the Walt Disney World Resort, which opened in October 1971, locals and tourists, both young and old, enjoyed many themed amusement parks off of the highway Read More...

Mar-a-Lago: “Jewel of Palm Beach”

July 23rd, 2014

From St. Augustine down to Palm Beach, the historic summer getaway tour makes a quick rest stop at a one-of-a-kind lavish estate fit for a queen. The 20-acre property was originally the winter home of Majorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post cereal empire and prosperous businesswoman. These days, Mar-a-Lago is an exclusive private club at the heart of Palm Beach County, between Lake Worth and the Atlantic Ocean Read More...