Opened in 1967 as Palm Beach Mall, it was the first fully enclosed, climate-controlled mall developed in Florida. Despite clear visibility from Interstate 95 and two major renovations, strong competition from newer shopping destinations, high area crime rates, and ultimately tentative speculation on redevelopment, the shopping center was perceived as a dead mall, and closed in early 2010. Three stores remained open until 2013: J. C. Penney and George's Music which had outdoor entrances, and a Firestone outparcel.
Palm Beach Mall early years
When the mall originally opened on October 26, 1967, it was touted by its developer, the Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation, as the largest mall in the Southeastern United States. The founding anchors included J.C. Penney's, which moved from its historic store downtown on Clematis Street about three miles (5 km) southeast, Jordan Marsh and Richards. By the end of the decade, the mall also featured Walgreens, Lerner Shops, Food Fair, Woolworth, and The Mall Cinema 1-2-3-4 quadraplex.
The Palm Beach Mall was expanded and renovated in 1980, in conjunction with the addition of Burdines (which also previously had a presence downtown) sporting a parking garage and Lord & Taylor. Also in 1980 Sears moved into the space previously occupied by Richards, which had closed the same year following a statewide liquidation. The shopping mall's terrazzo floor was replaced with tiles at this time.
Furthermore, when Pantry Pride (formerly Food Fair) closed in 1987, a food court called Treats was developed from its space. Design features popular in the 1980s, including skylights and a lofty ceiling, were introduced to the Mall at this time.
The 2000 renovation replaced most of the mall's interior fixtures, redesigned the food court (this time calling it "Sea Side Café), and replaced the Wonderfall in center court with a much more modern fountain sporting a seahorse theme.
Palm Beach Mall's Decline
On May 1, 1999, Nicholas Megrath, an 18-year-old manager at the Chick-fil-A restaurant then located in the mall's Treats food court was murdered execution-style by Jessie Miller Jr. Investigators said Miller entered the store, gagged and bound Megrath to a chair with duct tape and unsuccessfully attempted to open the store's safe. Investigators claimed that then Miller became frustrated and fired a bullet into the 18-year-old's temple. Miller and his gang fled the scene with about $500 in cash. Miller was sentenced to life without parole in 2009.
The mall faced stiff competition after the turn of the century with CityPlace opening in downtown in 2000, and The Mall at Wellington Green opening up in 2001 in nearby Wellington. The mall also had to contend against increasing crime rates in the mall's surrounding area. Stores ran on shorter leases, and more left the mall entirely due to decreasing traffic. To bring business back to the mall, plans were devised but never executed to redevelop the property into mixed-use development; one proposal was a Script error IKEA. In addition to this Script error of retail, Script error office space, and 500 residential units were considered.
Owing to the decline of business at the mall, Dillard's abruptly closed on October 31, 2008. Macy's announced as of January 8, 2009 that its Palm Beach Mall location would close due to under-par performance. On March 9, 2009, the mall started opening during reduced hours to mitigate the effect of lower foot traffic.
On April 14, 2009, banking firm JPMorgan Chase filed for a foreclosure suit against Simon for failure to repay a $55.4 million loan used on the shopping center. The proposed foreclosure sought the sale of the mall to satisfy the mortgage. As of July, 2009, Washington-based Madison Marquette was temporarily operating the mall by a circuit court judge's decision.
David Simon, CEO of Simon Property Group, claimed in July 2009 that the mall would remain open in its present form and that his company would continue being dedicated to making the aging mall a viable place to shop.
In the first week of November 2009 J.C. Penney closed off its entrance to the mall. The reason was that the store continued to see heavy use but the air-conditioning in the respective wing of the mall had been turned off due to vacancies. Sears closed on January 17, 2010, announcing liquidation sales to start November 19 of the preceding year.
Closure and redevelopment
On December 5, 2009, the mall's court-appointed receiver announced that the Palm Beach Mall would officially close on January 31, 2010 with the exception of J. C. Penney, George's Music and Firestone, which have outdoor entrances. Upon foreclosure under Simon ownership, Orix seized ownership of the Mall in December 2009, and along with the City of West Palm Beach, was looking into luring IKEA and Bass Pro Shops to occupy the site. The mall was eventually acquired by New England Development transforming the Palm Beach Mall into Palm Beach Outlets, an open-air outlet mall beside a strip of big box stores. The mall was developed on the 80-acre property by New England Development, Eastern Real Estate and Lubert-Adler. It was announced in February 2013 that Whole Foods Market would open in its own facility towards the back part of the property behind the mall.
George's Music relocated to nearby Rivera Beach, closing their mall location on June 30, 2012, intending to return with the opening of Palm Beach Outlets, however, no official plans were announced. JC Penney and Firestone were planned to be included in the Palm Beach Outlets with their original buildings, but due to company downsizing, closed the location on May 1, 2013.
- Off Fifth
Former anchors (Palm Beach Mall)
- Borders Books & Music (opened in 2000, closed in 2008)
- Burdines (opened in 1979, converted to Macy's in 2005)
- Dillard's (opened in 2000, closed in 2008)
- Firestone (opened as Penney's Auto Center in 1967, became Firestone in 1980 after Firestone's acquisition of J.C. Penney Auto Center; closed in 2013)
- Food Fair (later became Pantry Pride, closed in 1987, became Food Court)
- George's Music Superstore (opened in 2002, closed in 2012)
- J. C. Penney; Script error (opened in 1967, closed in 2013)
- Jordan Marsh (opened in 1967, closed in 1992, became Mervyn's)
- Lord & Taylor (opened 1980, closed 2001, store demolished)
- Macy's (converted in 2005 from Burdines, closed in 2009)
- Mervyns (opened in 1992 in former Jordan Marsh space, demolished in 2000, became Dillard's and additional mall store space)
- Richards (opened in 1967, closed in 1980, became Sears)
- Sears (opened in 1980 in former Richards space, closed in 2010)
- Woolworth's (opened in 1967, became Borders in 2000)
- Walgreens (opened in 1967 ,closed in 2002)
- "JCPenny survives", The Palm Beach Post, 2011-05-11. Retrieved on 2011-05-11.
- Williams, Elisa. "Competition inspires older mall's new look" The Palm Beach Post Sept 26, 1988
- "Jurors Reach Verdict In Chick-fil-A Murder Trial", WPBF, 2009-07-24. Retrieved on 2009-12-06.
- Owers, Paul. "Palm Beach Mall loses Dillard's, may get Ikea after overhaul", TCPalm, 2008-09-23. Retrieved on 2009-02-16.
- Ostrowski, Jeff. "West Palm Dillard's closing, laying off 109", The Palm Beach Post, 2008-08-29. Retrieved on 2009-02-16.
- Jeff and Allison Ross. "Macy's to close Palm Beach Mall store, 10 others after poor holiday sales", The Palm Beach Post, 2009-01-08. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
- Ross, Allison. "Palm Beach Mall to cut hours next month", The Palm Beach Post, 2009-02-25. Retrieved on 2009-02-20.
- Clough, Alexandra. "Palm Beach Mall in West Palm Beach slapped with foreclosure suit", The Palm Beach Post, 2009-04-20. Retrieved on 2009-04-20.
- Clough, Alexandra. "Palm Beach Mall's 'new sheriff in town' to ensure lights stay on during foreclosure", The Palm Beach Post, 2009-06-07. Retrieved on 2009-07-01.
- Clough, Alexandra. "Simon's redevelopment of Palm Beach Mall derailed by downturn", The Palm Beach Post, 2009-07-19. Retrieved on 2009-08-10.
- Ross, Allison. "J.C. Penney separates itself from the Palm Beach Mall", The Palm Beach Post, 2009-11-17. Retrieved on 2009-11-18.
- "Another Anchor Store At Palm Beach Mall To Close", WPBF, 2009-10-16. Retrieved on 2009-10-16.
- Abramson, Andrew. "Last call: Palm Beach Mall closing forever after Sunday", The Palm Beach Post, 2010-01-28. Retrieved on 2010-01-28.
- Abramson, Andrew. "Palm Beach Mall's Last Christmas", The Palm Beach Post, 2009-12-21. Retrieved on 2009-12-21.
- Whole Foods coming to Palm Beach Outlets next year, "The Palm Beach Post", 2013-02-15
- George’s Music to relocate during Palm Beach Mall demo
- JCPenney to close store at old Palm Beach Mall
- Palm Beach Outlets ready to open on Feb. 14, says management
- Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th to open at Palm Beach Outlets
- Fashion outlets on their way to neglected Palm Beach Mall, developers say - The Palm Beach Post
- Palm Beach Mall History
- Palm Beach Mall - Labelscar.com
- Memories of the Palm Beach Mall - The Palm Beach Post
- Palm Beach Outlets
- Remnants of the mall: A look inside the abandoned Palm Beach Mall
- A week before demolition, a last look inside the Palm Beach Mall