The Many Faces of Dadeland Mall: A Kendall, FL Legacy

The Origins of Dadeland Mall

Dadeland Mall opened its doors on October 1, 1962, quickly becoming Kendall, Florida‘s cornerstone. Developed by Joseph Meyerhoff, the mall initially sprawled across 535,000 square feet as an open-air complex. With 60 stores and services, it was a bustling hub for shoppers right from the get-go.

The original anchor store was Burdine’s, a name that resonated with shoppers for years. Alongside Burdine’s, the mall also featured a Food Fair grocery and a full-service Gray Drug. Dining options were not left behind; the Summit Restaurant, Lounge and Cafeteria, later known as The Forum, was a popular spot for families and friends to gather.

In November 1966, the mall welcomed a new anchor store, Jordan Marsh, to its west end. This addition further solidified Dadeland Mall’s status as a shopping destination. The mall was more than just a collection of stores; it was a community gathering place where people came to shop, dine, and socialize.

Dadeland Mall continued to evolve as the years passed, but its original charm remained intact. The mall symbolized the community’s growth and prosperity, where memories were made and traditions were established.

The Expansions and Renovations of Dadeland Mall

The late 1960s marked a significant turning point for Dadeland Mall. A major construction project initiated in late 1969 doubled the mall’s size. The expansion added a fully enclosed retail wing to the east end, leaving the enormous Burdine’s store in the middle.

The expansion was completed with the opening of JCPenney as the new east anchor store in early 1971. This addition brought a new level of diversity to the mall’s retail offerings. The existing courts and concourses were also fully enclosed and air-conditioned, making the shopping experience even more comfortable.

Fast forward to 1983, another expansion added Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor to the mall’s south-facing front. A food court also opened in the shuttered Pantry Pride supermarket, offering a variety of dining options to shoppers.

These expansions and renovations were not just about adding more retail space; they were about enhancing the overall experience for visitors. Each renovation brought something new, yet the mall’s original essence was carefully preserved.

Timeline of Major Events at Dadeland Mall

Year Event
1962 The mall opens as an open-air complex
1969-1971 First, expansion and enclosure
The early 1980s Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor added
1984-1987 Massive renovation project
1997 Simon Property Group begins managing the mall
2021 AC Hotel Miami Dadeland opens

Dadeland Mall has been a shopping destination and has made its mark in popular culture. The mall was featured in the 1985 Chuck Norris film “Invasion U.S.A.” and the 1990 Alec Baldwin film “Miami Blues.” These appearances added a layer of cinematic allure to the mall’s already vibrant atmosphere.

However, not all attention was positive. The mall gained notoriety in 1979 during Miami’s “Cocaine Cowboys” era. A drug-related shooting spree occurred in broad daylight, leaving two men dead and the store clerk wounded. This event shocked the community but became part of the mall’s complex history.

Despite these ups and downs, Dadeland Mall has remained a staple in Kendall’s community life. It’s a place that has witnessed both the good and the bad, making it a complex but enduring symbol of the area’s diverse experiences.

For those looking for things to do in Kendall, Florida, visiting Dadeland Mall offers shopping and a walk down memory lane, revisiting scenes from movies and events that have become a part of local folklore.

Dadeland Mall’s Architectural and Design Evolution

In the mid-1980s, Dadeland Mall underwent a significant design overhaul. Orchestrated by architect Dick Johnson, the renovation saw the removal of aging animal statues and a drop ceiling. This was considered a new approach and modernized the entire mall.

Iconic animal statues and geometric slides were eventually donated to Miami-Dade County. They can be seen today in Dante Fascell Park in South Miami and at the Miami-Dade County Children’s Daycare Center play yard east of Jackson Memorial Hospital.

One of the mall’s unique trademarks is the concrete tower adorned with a giant “D” at the top. This local landmark has been there since the mall’s inception and is a recognizable feature.

These architectural elements and design features have made Dadeland Mall more than just a shopping center. They have turned it into a place with a unique character and style that stands out in the memories of those who visit.

The Current Landscape of Dadeland Mall

Today, Dadeland Mall is managed by the Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group in partnership with Morgan Stanley. The mall boasts an impressive lineup of anchor stores, including Florida’s largest Macy’s, JCPenney, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

The AC Hotel Miami Dadeland welcomed its first guests on October 13, 2021. This hotel was constructed with European design and flexibility, offering amenities like a pool, lounge, and fitness center. It adds another convenience layer for visitors, making the mall a more comprehensive destination.

The mall has many tenants, from Apple to The Cheesecake Factory. While the list is extensive, each store and restaurant adds to the mall’s eclectic mix, offering something for everyone without sounding like a sales pitch.

The mall’s location is also strategic, situated between South Dixie Highway and the Palmetto Expressway. It’s easily accessible via the Dadeland North Metrorail station, making it a convenient stop for locals and visitors.

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Dadeland Mall

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted retail spaces, and Dadeland Mall was no exception. On May 7, 2020, Nordstrom announced its closure due to the pandemic’s economic toll.

Despite this setback, the mall has shown resilience. Discussions are underway for replacement tenants, signaling a hopeful future. The mall has adapted to the new normal, implementing safety measures to ensure a secure shopping environment.

While the pandemic has posed challenges, it has also highlighted the mall’s adaptability. Dadeland Mall has weathered various storms over the years, and the pandemic is just another chapter in its long history.

The mall continues to be where people can shop, dine, and enjoy themselves despite unprecedented challenges. It is a testament to the community’s resilience and the enduring appeal of physical retail spaces.

Conclusion

Dadeland Mall has come a long way since its opening in 1962. From its humble beginnings as an open-air shopping complex to its current status as a bustling retail hub, the mall has continually evolved while retaining its original charm.

The mall’s history is rich and multifaceted, marked by expansions, renovations, and moments of notoriety. Yet, through it all, Dadeland Mall has remained a beloved part of the Kendall community.

Its architectural elements and design features add a unique flair, making it more than just a place to shop. It’s a place where memories are made, which has stood the test of time.

Dadeland Mall continues to adapt and grow as we look to the future, proving that some things remain constant even in an ever-changing retail landscape. Here’s to many more years of shopping, dining, and making memories at Dadeland Mall.

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