Volusia Mall, Daytona Beach, FL: From Retail to Residential?

The Origins of Volusia Mall

Ah, the 1970s—a time of disco, bell bottoms, and the grand opening of Volusia Mall in Daytona Beach, Florida. On October 14, 1974, the mall opened its doors to the public, developed by the Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation. It was a big deal back then, offering a new shopping experience for locals and tourists alike.

The mall started with a bang, featuring anchor stores like Ivey’s and May-Cohens. Sears and JCPenney joined the lineup a bit later. These stores were the pillars that held the mall high in the retail sky. Imagine the buzz and the excitement as people flocked to these stores, bags in hand, smiles on their faces.

Located on a 93-acre site on U.S. Highway 92, the mall was strategically placed next to I-95 and U.S. 1. Accessibility was never an issue. You could easily make a day trip to the mall after a morning at the beach.

Ivey’s was one of the first to open, debuting in October 1974. May-Cohens followed in December of the same year. Sears opened its doors in February 1975, and JCPenney completed the anchor lineup in August 1975. It was like a retail symphony, each store playing its part.

The mall was not just a shopping destination but a social hub. People came to shop to meet friends, grab a bite, and enjoy a day out. It was a cornerstone of things to do in Daytona Beach, Florida.

So, what happened next? Well, the mall expanded, and how? But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. That’s a story for the next section.

The Golden Years of Volusia Mall

Fast forward to the 1980s, and Volusia Mall was living its best life. In March 1982, the mall expanded, adding two more anchor stores—Burdines and Belk-Lindsey. These additions made the mall even more appealing, drawing in larger crowds and increasing its retail footprint.

Volusia Mall
Volusia Mall” by George Miziuk Gamweb is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Shoppers had various options, from fashion to home goods and everything in between. The mall was a one-stop shop for all your needs. And let’s not forget the food court, which offers an array of culinary delights to satisfy any craving.

During these years, the mall underwent several changes in its store lineup. For instance, May Cohen’s changed to May Florida in 1987 and was later acquired by Maison Blanche. Dillard’s purchased Ivey’s in June 1990, Belk-Lindsey in November 1996, and Gayfers in 1998. The mall was constantly evolving, always adapting.

The mall had a unique feature that set it apart from others. It became the only mall in the country with three separate Dillard’s stores. Each Dillard’s focused on different departments: women’s, men’s and home, and juniors and children’s. It was like a Dillard’s universe within the mall.

The 1980s and 1990s were good for Volusia Mall. Business was booming, and the mall was the place to be. It was more than a shopping center; it was a community gathering spot where memories were made.

But as they say, all good things must come to an end. And so began the decline of Volusia Mall, which mirrored the changing retail landscape across the country.

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The Decline of Volusia Mall

The new millennium brought new challenges for Volusia Mall. One of the most significant blows came when Sears closed its doors on March 10, 2019. This was part of a plan to close 80 Sears stores nationwide. The giant had fallen, and its absence left a void in the mall’s retail lineup.

But Sears wasn’t the only one to say goodbye. Macy’s followed suit, closing its doors on March 21, 2021. This was also a nationwide strategy to close 46 Macy’s stores. The mall was losing its anchors and, with them, its appeal to shoppers.

The closures were not isolated incidents; they were part of a larger trend affecting malls nationwide. Online shopping increased, and traditional brick-and-mortar stores were struggling to keep up. The convenience of shopping from home was hard to beat.

The mall tried to adapt by bringing in a variety of new tenants. From Aeropostale to Applebee’s and H&M, the mall diversified its offerings. But despite these efforts, it was clear that the mall was not the retail powerhouse it once was.

Foot traffic decreased, and many stores reported declining sales. The mall was no longer the go-to destination for shopping and socializing. It had become a shadow of its former self, struggling to find its place in the modern retail landscape.

So, what’s next for Volusia Mall? Is there a way to turn things around? A glimmer of hope might come with a new development project.

The Mall’s Architectural and Design Features

Volusia Mall was not just about the stores but also the experience. The mall featured some architectural gems that made it stand out. One of the original tenants was a Walgreens pharmacy, and there was even a tri-screen movie theater. Imagine catching the latest flick right after a shopping spree!

The center court was home to a large fountain and wishing well. This wasn’t just any fountain; it was a couple hundred feet in size and featured multiple geysers. It was also used to stage special events. Kids would toss coins into the fountain, making wishes, while parents took a moment to rest their shopping-weary feet.

In 1997, the mall decided to downsize the fountain. While some were sad to see it go, the change made room for more retail space and new features. The mall always looked for ways to improve and offer a better shopping experience.

After Walgreens relocated outside the mall, its space was converted into another mall entrance. This made it easier for shoppers to access the mall from different points, reducing the walking distance from the parking lot.

The tri-screen movie theater also transformed. It became a storefront church, offering a different gathering space for the community. It was a sign of the times as the mall adapted to its patrons’ changing needs and preferences.

So, while the stores were the main attraction, the mall’s design and architectural features significantly made it a popular destination. It was all about creating an environment where people wanted to spend time.

The Future of Volusia Mall: A New Direction

In January 2023, news broke about a new development project near Volusia Mall. A 350-unit apartment complex called Legacy Daytona is in the works. Developed by Legacy Partners, the project aims to transform the area around the vacant Macy’s into a “multifamily community.”

The project is a big deal, with a price tag of $10 million. It’s not just about adding housing; it’s about reimagining the space around the mall. The idea is to create a community where people can live, shop, and dine, all within walking distance.

Legacy Daytona plans to offer a range of amenities, including a top-floor sky lounge, an outdoor living room, and a heated saltwater pool. There will also be a fitness center with yoga and spin studios. It’s like a mini-city within the city, offering a new way to experience the mall area.

It is a positive step, as many mall areas are reimagining themselves, turning storefronts into attractions, and adding housing options. It’s a trend gaining traction, and Volusia Mall is jumping on the bandwagon.

The project is still in the planning stages, but it has already generated a lot of buzz. It’s a bold move that could breathe new life into the mall and the surrounding area. Only time will tell if this is the change that Volusia Mall needs to regain its former glory.

So, is this the end of the road for Volusia Mall, or is it the beginning of a new chapter? One thing is sure: the mall is not going down without a fight. It’s adapting, evolving, and looking for ways to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world.


Volusia Mall has had quite a journey, from its grand opening in 1974 to its current transition state. It has seen good times and bad, expansions and closures, and everything in between. It has been a retail giant, a community hub, and potentially part of a new residential community.

The mall’s story is far from over. With the Legacy Daytona project on the horizon, there’s a sense of cautious optimism. Will it be enough to turn the tide? That remains to be seen. But for now, Volusia Mall is a testament to the ever-changing nature of retail and community spaces.

So, the next time you’re in Daytona Beach, why not take a trip down memory lane and visit Volusia Mall? Who knows, you might witness the beginning of its next chapter.

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