Thursday, July 13, 2017

Aventura Mall, Aventura (Miami), FL

     Located in the heart of Aventura, Florida, Aventura Mall, 17 miles northeast of the downtown Macy's store, Aventura Mall was one of the first "megamalls" of the US. Soon to be the second largest mall in the US, the mall has had quite a history and *slightly* humble beginnings. Truly a "tourist trap", Aventura Mall mixes elegance, practicality, and wealth, forming a massive, upscale "supermall". Now before I sound like the mall website, let's get into the history.

The only way to describe the size and shape of the mall is Shopping Mall Museum site plans.

Wikipedia logos of the original anchors

     Aventura Mall opened up shop with over one million square feet, 154 stores, and four anchors. A 252,000 sq. foot Macy's was the Cincinnati chain's first Florida venue. A large 18-bay food court was at the center of the original mall.  In its early years, the mall was a hotbed of wealth and celebrities. This would propel the center above the large number of nearby shopping centers. The Mall at 163rd Street, Omni Int'l Mall, and then-Midway Mall would be knocked out after Aventura's opening. The man who started the mall, Donald Soffer, broke off from his original employer and created Turnberry Associates, a Miami-based unit who owned and still owns the center.
     Life went on for the center for another ten years before the first major changes. The area surrounding the mall became Aventura, Florida, an incorporated city, in November 1995. DeBartolo Realty, an original minority investor, merged with Simon, and Simon became the minority investor. Shortly afterward, a $90 million dollar renovation was planned and happened. Baltimore's RKTL Associates and ATL's Cooper Carry Associates would double the size of the mall, adding Miami's Burdines chain and Macy's more upscale sister Bloomingdales.

Bloomingdale's Logo.svg
The new anchors of Miami's Aventura Mall. Wikipedia

A year 2000 plan of the megamall. All in gray is new. Shopping Mall Museum
     Other results of the expansion were a 24-screen AMC operation, an expanded L&T, and new parking garages. Opening with it was a 2-story Rainforest Café, which closed 3 years later, becoming a Zara clothing store. Aventura Mall encompassed 2.1 square feet at the time. Bloomingdales first opened in 1997, with Burdines finally joining the mix in 1999. The expanded L&T became their "Florida Flagship." JCPenney expanded vertically two stories. There was now a grand total of 250 stores. The mall surpassed the 1.3 mil sq. feet Dadeland Mall, becoming Miami-Dade's largest mall. It would be Florida's largest until Sawgrass Mills underwent expansions.
     Lord and Taylor retreated from Florida between 2003 and 2006, only leaving it's Plaza Real store open. Aventura's operation closed in Fall 2003, and would never be replaced, being demolished with a later expansion. Shortly afterward, hometown -and very loved- Burdines was merged with Macy's, forming Burdines-Macy's, then full Macy's. This created a Macy's "double-header", or even a "triple-header", if you count Bloomingdales.
     $44 million dollars were dropped on the mall in 2005-2006, with an expansion and renovation. Nordstrom demolished the vacant L&T, creating a Northwest Wing, with thirty stores and Nordstrom.

Shopping Mall Museum's 2010 view. Gray is new. 

Nordstrom wing with adjacent court. Personal photo.
     Shortly after, the rest of the mall was fitted in with the new wing, in the form of a renovation. The center now contained 2.7 million square feet. The mall wasn't big enough though. In 2014, a new three-story corridor was planned between the existing Penney's and original Macy's. Construction started that year, and will be finished by Winter 2017. When it is dedicated, the mall will hold a whopping three-hundred and forty tenants. Yet that was not enough for the mega center.

TOP : Construction of the new wing.
BOTTOM : Closing Sears with a play area in front. 

    Sears announced the closing of its store in 2017. When I visited, the store was closing in a week. The oft-renovating center announced plans for the vacancy. The store would see the wrecking ball, and become a lifestyle center containing a hotel. These expansions would turn the former one million square foot center into the US's second-largest, with over three million square feet.

A contemporary site plan of the massive center. Shopping Mall Museum
     Today's Aventura Mall has something for everyone. The famous have a Nordstrom, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Unknown - a designer shoe store -, and more, at their disposal. Apple and Microsoft are there for electronics. Sportswear and shoe enthusiasts have Unknown, Champs, Adidas, Nike, Foot Locker, and other shops for their trade. And your traditional person still has Banana Republic, J. Crew, Kay Jewelers, Penney's, and the Federated Triplets for their wardrobe.

     As you view these photos, note the elegance, architecture, shops, and art the mall has to offer.

Donald Baechler's Walking Figure

Penney's court.

Only at Aventura Mall would Lambo's be displayed.

To the right is Jaume Plensa's Florida's Soul. Koi fish are in the pool around the statue.

Reads "Acquired , I play within the scope possible"

The stars that come down from the roof : Jorge Pardo's Untitled.

Directory photos.

Ugo Randinone's Moonrise, East. Two other art pieces are in mall proper, but aren't photographed.

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