While several former enclosed malls throughout Jacksonville have found new adaptive uses, the revitalization of Normandy Mall may be one of the most unique. The most interesting part of this redevelopment project was a mega church's decision to reopen the enclosed mall to serve as a catalyst for revitalization in the surrounding neighborhood, 13 years after it closed for good. While nonprofit entities being linked with for-profit concepts are common, it's rare to witness a project of this scale and scope being successful.
An aerial of a largely abandoned Normandy Mall in 1994.
In May 1963, during a luncheon at Downtown Jacksonville's Robert Meyer Hotel, Montgomery Ward announced that it would open its second department store in the city, making Jacksonville the only municipality in Florida with two of the chain's stores. The new $2.6 million department store would be 5.5 miles west of downtown in Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation's proposed Normandy Mall.
An aerial of the redeveloped Normandy Mall in 2017.
The mall was the second enclosed mall to be developed by DeBartolo. Located near the intersection of Normandy Boulevard and Cassat Avenue, this shopping center would replace the former 37-acre Normandy Drive-In Theatre on the city's westside.
A view of Kingdom Plaza's north entrance. In 2007, The Potter's House reopened and rebranded the mall as Kingdom Plaza.
The 462,284-square-foot shopping center opened its doors in late 1963, becoming the city's first fully enclosed mall and Florida's second to be built as a fully enclosed structure behind Fort Lauderdale's Coral Ridge Plaza. It was said to "employ the newest concepts in suburban shopping facilities". Armed with 1,836 parking spaces and anchored by Montgomery Ward's 111,000-square-foot store, Normandy Mall also featured a 31,700-square-foot P.H. Rose (Roses) variety store, Food Fair supermarket and a 1,000-seat Kent Theatres twin cinema.
A view of Kingdom Plaza's west entrance. During the 1970's, this space was occupied by Roses, a North Carolina-based regional discount store. A competitor to Wal-Mart and Kmart, Roses returned to Jacksonville in 2011 and 2012, opening new stores in Arlington and on Lem Turner Road.
Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Davis is a certified senior planner and graduate of Florida A&M University. He is the author of the award winning books “Reclaiming Jacksonville,” “Cohen Brothers: The Big Store” and “Images of Modern America: Jacksonville.” Davis has served with various organizations committed to improving urban communities, including the American Planning Association and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. A 2013 Next City Vanguard, Davis is the co-founder of Metro Jacksonville.com and ModernCities.com — two websites dedicated to promoting fiscally sustainable communities — and Transform Jax, a tactical urbanist group. Contact Ennis at firstname.lastname@example.org