Author Topic: The Rise and Decline of Gateway Mall  (Read 8364 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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The Rise and Decline of Gateway Mall
« on: July 12, 2017, 08:55:14 AM »
The Rise and Decline of Gateway Mall



As more modern facilities are developed across the country, many mid-20th century enclosed shopping malls are in a state of decline due to retailers abandoning these properties for new development. Many of these “dead malls” fail to attract new business and often sit unused for many years until restoration or demolition. Gateway Town Center is a local retail landmark and Jacksonville’s best example of a dead mall still in search for a magical rebirth.

Read More: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2017-jul-the-rise-and-decline-of-gateway-mall

spuwho

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Re: The Rise and Decline of Gateway Mall
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2017, 09:54:28 PM »
To me it comes down to, why did the area "decline"? Or " why was it allowed to decline"?

What was wrong with the demographics that would dissuade a retail chain?

Who scared away WalMart? The chain that never fears a demographic of any kind, would have to be pushed away to not happen.

And if the demographic cant support retail, why would one think a medical campus would?  Besides, isnt the UF Shands campus just down I-95?

Also the Spilvaks did pretty good with their investment. All the old topos show that property was undeveloped swamp/wetlands. No doubt purchased on the cheap, the swamp was filled in and voila! Instant mall property.

And for the history buffs, the housing land just south of Gateway was the place of the old racetrack. (Discussed elsewhere on MJ)

So is the same "lack of demographic" that impacts Gateway, the same lack that impacts Regency Center, Roosevelt Mall and killed Philips Mall?

Or was it lassez faire COJ land use policies of the 1950-1980 era?

If Gateway had true "potential", why doesnt any of our local strip mall gods like Slieman or Hakimian take an interest?

We rue the loss of these places, but it seems we wont let them go in our minds as to their ultimate purpose.

JaxAvondale

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Re: The Rise and Decline of Gateway Mall
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2017, 10:06:15 PM »
Re-purposing some of the property as residential would have gone a long way in helping that area.

JaxAvondale

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Re: The Rise and Decline of Gateway Mall
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2017, 10:12:13 PM »
To me it comes down to, why did the area "decline"? Or " why was it allowed to decline"?

What was wrong with the demographics that would dissuade a retail chain?

Who scared away WalMart? The chain that never fears a demographic of any kind, would have to be pushed away to not happen.

And if the demographic cant support retail, why would one think a medical campus would?  Besides, isnt the UF Shands campus just down I-95?

Also the Spilvaks did pretty good with their investment. All the old topos show that property was undeveloped swamp/wetlands. No doubt purchased on the cheap, the swamp was filled in and voila! Instant mall property.

And for the history buffs, the housing land just south of Gateway was the place of the old racetrack. (Discussed elsewhere on MJ)

So is the same "lack of demographic" that impacts Gateway, the same lack that impacts Regency Center, Roosevelt Mall and killed Philips Mall?

Or was it lassez faire COJ land use policies of the 1950-1980 era?


If Gateway had true "potential", why doesnt any of our local strip mall gods like Slieman or Hakimian take an interest?

We rue the loss of these places, but it seems we wont let them go in our minds as to their ultimate purpose.

Good point! The lack of foresight from city officials probably led to the downfall of these malls. Jacksonville has all of this land and the assumption that people would always live in the same area lacked vision.

thelakelander

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Re: The Rise and Decline of Gateway Mall
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2017, 10:18:37 PM »
Not sure COJ could have done much to stop their decline (Roosevelt is currently successful, due to a makeover). Old enclosed malls losing market share and dying is an issue that stretches well outside of Jax's borders. Heck, COJ offered JCPenney years of free rent to stay at Gateway in the early 1990s.....and they still left.
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spuwho

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Re: The Rise and Decline of Gateway Mall
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2017, 08:14:55 AM »
Not sure COJ could have done much to stop their decline (Roosevelt is currently successful, due to a makeover). Old enclosed malls losing market share and dying is an issue that stretches well outside of Jax's borders. Heck, COJ offered JCPenney years of free rent to stay at Gateway in the early 1990s.....and they still left.

If a municipality allows itself to over zone commercial retail, it becomes a zero sum gain, as your finite number of consumers simply shift their habits to the next new thing.

There is nothing wrong with clustering in zoning, it allows the entities to feed off each other. My concern is zoning that allows retail clusters to be too close to another.

I agree that the mall concept is in decay, some of that has been attributed to overbuilding. Municipalities allow development because they only seek the potential tax revenue it can bring.

I would be interested in knowing how many municipalities actually examine the biz cases of these efforts.

Right now (for example) the Southside has too many malls. Regency is about to lose its mall status shortly. (If not already)When the Durbin Crossing retail cluster opens and reaches maximum occupancy the first "victim" will be the Avenues.

Sears will close eventually and Belk will leave and downsize to a store like they built at Atlantic North, but at Durbin instead.

And once again, Jacksonville will have yet another mall with its sole anchor being JC Penney and perhaps Dillards. Just like Regency.


Tacachale

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Re: The Rise and Decline of Gateway Mall
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2017, 08:57:42 AM »
Gateway also had a demographics issue that some other retail venues didn't face. White flight and precipitous decline in the surrounding neighborhood set in as soon as it opened. Then it was leapfrogged by newer malls that opened in the places the whites were flying to (among all the other factors discussed by Ennis).
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thelakelander

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Re: The Rise and Decline of Gateway Mall
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2017, 09:24:25 AM »
Not sure COJ could have done much to stop their decline (Roosevelt is currently successful, due to a makeover). Old enclosed malls losing market share and dying is an issue that stretches well outside of Jax's borders. Heck, COJ offered JCPenney years of free rent to stay at Gateway in the early 1990s.....and they still left.

If a municipality allows itself to over zone commercial retail, it becomes a zero sum gain, as your finite number of consumers simply shift their habits to the next new thing.

There is nothing wrong with clustering in zoning, it allows the entities to feed off each other. My concern is zoning that allows retail clusters to be too close to another.

I'd argue that a municipality isn't adequately equipped or should even be in the business of attempting to determine the market. Guiding is one thing but assuming a public entity can keep track with changing consumer trends would most likely end up in disaster.  Downtown Jacksonville is a good example of an area where the public entity has had its hands in the cookie jar of revitalization, so much that's it's been more of a negative than a positive over the last four decades.  Hopefully, for downtown's sake, that's changing now.

Let's just assume, COJ decides there's too much retail and implements a development moratorium. That won't save existing retail centers from becoming obsolete to meet future consumer trends.  All it would do is send new jobs, construction and modern development cross county lines (ex. you'll get an Orange Park Mall or Durbin, etc.).  It also won't save existing strip malls from e-commerce giants like Amazon killing the brick and mortar market share.

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I agree that the mall concept is in decay, some of that has been attributed to overbuilding. Municipalities allow development because they only seek the potential tax revenue it can bring.

I'd argue the enclosed mall concept is in decline due to a change in consumer preferences. Big box chains like Walmart and Target continue to expand. E-commerce companies like Amazon continue to rapidly grow. On the other hand, traditional department stores (those that made the mall concept work), like Sears, Montgomery Wards, Furchgott's, JCPenney, etc. are closing left and right.  Nothing a municipality can do, in terms of zoning, is going to preserve the enclosed mall concept.

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I would be interested in knowing how many municipalities actually examine the biz cases of these efforts.

I'm not aware of any major cities attempting to use zoning as a way to limit private sector retail development within their boundaries.

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Right now (for example) the Southside has too many malls. Regency is about to lose its mall status shortly. (If not already)When the Durbin Crossing retail cluster opens and reaches maximum occupancy the first "victim" will be the Avenues.

There's nothing Jacksonville can do about Durbin. There's nothing Jax could have done to save Regency either.  Changing consumer trends and Regency ownership's failure to adapt to the evolution of the retail market doomed it. On the other hand, Roosevelt is still a viable center because it was retrofitted to meet modern market demands.  Now its on the verge of being retrofitted again because the market has changed from where it was at during the 1990s conversion.

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Sears will close eventually and Belk will leave and downsize to a store like they built at Atlantic North, but at Durbin instead.

And once again, Jacksonville will have yet another mall with its sole anchor being JC Penney and perhaps Dillards. Just like Regency.

When the time comes for Avenues to retrofit, ownership will have plenty of good and bad examples to follow.  Malls like Cumberland, just outside of Atlanta, have razed and replaced closed department stores with destination restaurant areas featuring outdoor café style seating. Others, like Westroads Mall in Omaha have replaced vacant retail space with food halls as a part of their recent makeovers. Sometime, retail is simply no longer viable in that particular location and it makes more sense to transition to a different use, like the mall FSCJ converted to a branch campus in Baymeadows.

http://www.wowt.com/home/headlines/New-Food-Hall-Opens-at-Westroads-Mall-363768891.html

Those that don't do anything, end up like Gateway and Regency.
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JaxAvondale

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Re: The Rise and Decline of Gateway Mall
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2017, 09:57:14 AM »
Gateway also had a demographics issue that some other retail venues didn't face. White flight and precipitous decline in the surrounding neighborhood set in as soon as it opened. Then it was leapfrogged by newer malls that opened in the places the whites were flying to (among all the other factors discussed by Ennis).

I''m not sure that I would attribute Gateway's issues to demographics. I can remember in the late 80s they had a lot of stores open and seem to be doing really well.

thelakelander

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Re: The Rise and Decline of Gateway Mall
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2017, 10:28:47 AM »
By the late 1970s, white flight had pretty much already happened. I remember visiting Jacksonville as a kid during the early 80s and Gateway was basically a regional mall catering to the city's black population. Avenues wasn't around back in those days, we rarely crossed the bridge to go to Regency and never went to Philips, Roosevelt, Normandy, Orange Park, etc. We went to Gateway because (being black), the stores carried merchandise and clothing styles that the other malls did not. IMO, that was an example of Gateway ownership modifying the center to respond to a change in consumer demand and needs at that point in time.

I recall Gateway's downfall really occurring in the early 90s with the closure of several of its major anchors like May-Cohens, Service Merchandise and finally JCPenney....which pulled a Regency Belk and moved to a new outdoor strip mall off Dunn Avenue. Without the anchors, the smaller shops closed.  That particular JCPenney just closed this year, so Northside demographics wasn't the reason they left Gateway.  It was a combination of things that led JCPenney (like Regency's Belk) to believe Gateway was no longer a viable regional retail center. Those things probably included it being an older mall, their store being more expensive to maintain (an aging multi-level store) that was surrounded by decline (the majority of the other anchors closed for reasons that had nothing to do with Gateway). That pattern pretty much happened where I grew up in Central Florida as well. The malls built in the 60s and 70s went down the tubes when their anchors either relocated to larger regional centers or closed as a part of companywide bankruptcies.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2017, 10:33:17 AM by thelakelander »
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Wacca Pilatka

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Re: The Rise and Decline of Gateway Mall
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2017, 11:00:25 AM »
White flight certainly didn't deter May Cohens from opening a store at the mall in 1978.  That further supports the argument that demographics did not lead to Gateway's decline.

Several times I've seen the statement that the first Publix in the Jacksonville market opened at Gateway.  Does anyone know when that took place?  I knew about the Food Fair, Pantry Pride, and Winn-Dixie in the center's past but not about the Publix history, other than the current Publix that opened in the late 90s when Gateway was redeveloped.

I remain perplexed as to why the deals with the discount stores in the late 90s/early 00s fell through.  I remember there was a proposal to open a Magic Johnson Theatres location at Gateway around that time as well.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2017, 11:04:04 AM by Wacca Pilatka »
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JaxAvondale

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Re: The Rise and Decline of Gateway Mall
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2017, 11:08:14 AM »
After JCPenney moved, I thought the property went up for sale and that one of the investors wanted to convert some of the land to residential which could have saved that area. I can remember there being a high-rise hotel next to the mall in the late 80s. In hindsight, that property could have been easily retro-fitted for residential which would have helped the city tremendously at the time because by th early 90s a lot of people near the stadium (A Philip Randolph) were being displaced because the Jags & the city needed the land. This is where I blame the city officials at that time for having poor foresight. That move or lack thereof probably is one of the contributing factors why areas like Springfield has been slow to grow.

Adam White

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Re: The Rise and Decline of Gateway Mall
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2017, 11:17:14 AM »
As an aside, "The Rise and Fall of Gateway Mall" has a nice ring to it. You missed a trick there :)
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Wacca Pilatka

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Re: The Rise and Decline of Gateway Mall
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2017, 11:20:06 AM »
^ Right, there was a 9-story or so hotel next to the mall.  I think it was originally a Howard Johnson?  In the 80s and early 90s it was a Clarion.  As I recall, it was torn down because it was perceived as a den of illicit activity after the hotel was closed.
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thelakelander

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Re: The Rise and Decline of Gateway Mall
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2017, 11:21:51 AM »
I remain perplexed as to why the deals with the discount stores in the late 90s/early 00s fell through.  I remember there was a proposal to open a Magic Johnson Theatres location at Gateway around that time as well.
A lot of that involved city incentives and council approval. Not sure how that played into market conditions. Especially since discount stores aren't good replacements for traditional department stores as anchors in enclosed malls.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali