The Story of Phillips Highway Plaza

April 10, 2013 28 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The story of Jacksonville's first enclosed shopping mall begins with Austrian-born architect Victor David Gruen. An advocate of prioritizing pedestrians over cars, Gruen is best known today for his pioneering design of shopping malls in the United States. Gruen, who described suburbia as being 'souless" and "in search of a heart," saw his mall concept as a method to create better versions of the American downtown in outlying areas.

Metro Square Office Park Today

Today, the former mall consists of seven structures.  During the conversion from mall to office park, the roof over the mall's promenade was removed.

Building A

Building A served as the front of Phillips Highway Plaza.  Liggett Drugs, was located at the mall's main entrance. Liggett later became Revco Drugs. Today, the Bistro occupies a portion of this space.

Building B

S.H. Kress, the mall's original north anchor, occupied building B. Food Fair Properties eventually replace S.H. Kress with a much larger J.M. Fields Department Store. Today, it's occupied by Baptist Health.

In the 1980s, a 101,000 square foot Sam's Club was constructed in the parking lot behind Building B.  An indoor ice skating rink called Stake World, opened in the vacated Sam's Club building in 1993. Today, the structure is home to the Jacksonville Ice & Sportsplex and Ice Rink.

Building C

Building C was originally mall shops between Montgomery Ward and S.H. Kress.  Retailers located in this building included Vogue, Grayson Robinson and Kinney Shoes.

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