Well. What do we do with closed malls in South Florida? YAFULC ‘EM!!! Yet Another Fucking Urban Lifestyle Center, GO! This one calls for 750 residential units and an amazingly generous TWO possible entrances and exits – one of which puts you in a neverending traffic jam on University Drive, the other dumps you to a two lane residential street that serves thousands of other residential units in other complexes. Same shit, different toilet, and much like the American [Wet] Dream project, it’s Made In China.
Located near the interchange of the Palmetto Expressway and the 836, southwest of Miami International Airport and minutes* from the busiest Walmart in the United States, this 1970 mall, originally known as the Midway Mall, is still just kinda hanging on. It was renamed to Mall of the Americas in 1987 and redecorated after it started dying for the first time. I recall it at least having a very active food court area around 2004. TigerDirect first moved in somewhere in the early 2000s with a small cramped outlet store and offices in a space that’s now a Ross store, accessible only from behind the mall (you kind of just had to KNOW it was there).
The headquarters of Systemax, parent company to TigerDirect and CompUSA, is located within former anchor space of the mall, as is the TigerDirect outlet store. (TigerDirect appears to be cutting ties with the old CompUSA name, as they’ve let the compusa.com domain go to squatters.)
Yes, this is the same place where some lady set herself on fire as she walked through the mall. Look carefully in some places near the southern entrance and you can actually still see soot stains on ceiling tiles. A lot of stores at that time were very small family run businesses and the incident freaked out some of the owners, prompting them to leave. The later economic crash in 2008-2009 didn’t help either. It kind of looks like there was some slight effort made to bring in national chain businesses, but it hasn’t been very successful. It looks as though the AMC theater hasn’t been open for business for a while after closing abruptly… power is still on to point of sale machines, but the movie posters are old and the whole place has lost that popcorn smell!
Current tenants include a Radio Shack store which is an outlet store; they tend to have stuff that none of the other stores in the Miami area still stock. There’s also a dollar store (textbook sign you’ve stepped into a dead mall) and a barber shop, and a fairly large store location behind the food court is now occupied by a Department of Motor Vehicles office. I think it USED TO be a Marshalls.
Will this mall survive? Who knows. It’s down the road from the busier Dolphin Mall and Miami International Mall, but has always had its regular visitors. It’s also located in a high density residential area. Parking is a major hassle, but it’s a transit hub where several bus routes intersect including 87, 11, 24, and 7 (oops, this one’s also known as Cellblock 7 among Miami-Dade Transit drivers). I could see it perhaps working as an indoor flea market – this worked with resounding success for the Festival Flea Market Mall. Just don’t turn it into a “power strip” or YAFULC, and I’ll be happy.