Pinellas Square Mall opened on April 13, 1977 joining the ranks of six other malls in Pinellas County including two which had opened a few years before in 1974. At the time it opened, it was the newest major mall in the county. Despite being in a good location at Gandy Blvd (FL 694) and US 19 in a fast growing, high population county the area was already being overwhelmed with malls. It seemed at the time that every municipality in Florida wanted their own mall not just as a tax base but also as a "downtown" since suburban Florida in the 70's pretty much lacked any other form of central business district due to the lightning fast sprawl that took hold in the decades prior.
This is a view entering the mall from a lower level entrance wing. The first photo shows the center court, which was drastically modified from the original mall. Something tells me that used to be Morrison's Cafeteria on the left. Morrison's was gone in 1995, and that was about the time this mall was already in the toilet. This and all photos by id780 taken March 9th and 10th, 2004.
Another view of the same area. Photo by id780.
In the main mall, a very 70's method of escalators is used: up or down escalators no where near each other separated away from center court. The malls that still have these as a whole are not doing very well. Photo by id780.
Staircase with spooky abandoned store in the background. Photo by id780.
GNC: always the last to turn out the lights when the party is over. Photo by id780.
The mall was 70% leased when it closed, but much of those leases were filled by local shops such as this. When a mall talks about bringing in "more local stores" that is code for "we're losing national retailers and failing". Photo by id780.
Like so many malls that ultimately failed, Pinellas Square lacked any other draw but the mall itself. When it opened, it had three anchors: JCPenney on the east end, Ivey's on the north end and Montgomery Ward on the west end. It was hard to make the mall stand out when none of those anchors featured was a local store. Having Maas Brothers or Burdine's there would have helped for sure. This seemed to be a problem with DeBartolo malls as a whole: the fact they tended to choose terrible anchors. Regency Mall in Augusta, GA is the most glaring example of how far DeBartolo could go astray. The mall was also a pretty typical DeBartolo mall with lots of plain white, trees, built-in planters and fountains. The mall also originally featured sculptured water animals in the fountain in center court, which appeared to look like flamingos in a pond. I also noted that the mall has very little natural light, which I am sure did not help its appeal. About the only thing that truly stood out about Pinellas Square was that it was a two level mall in a region where one story malls seem to dominate.
This JCPenney outlet mall entrance rocks my world. It is about as dated as you can get right down to the diagonal wood and blonde brick. Those neon strips on the ceiling were an interesting way to bring a 90's flair to a mall still basically in a bad time warp. Photos by id780.
For some reason, the wood paneling doesn't show up on the second floor, but it looks a lot more spooky from this angle, especially with the letters burned out on the sign. Photo by id780.
A random view along the second floor. Notice the total absense of skylights. This mall was way too dark. Parkside Mall should have been nicknamed "Darkside Mall". Photo by id780.
A random second floor shot approaching the neon-filled center court and ice rink. Photo by id780.
This is hilariously corny...or should i say sticky sugary sweet? The excitement is building...a new shopping center when they tear this dump down? Photo by id780.
While Pinellas Square is gone today, it was not an innocent bystander in the great Pinellas mall race. Another older mall was located very close by known as Gateway Mall. Opening less than 10 years before, the older mall clearly catered to a slightly different demographic but it was without doubt that Pinellas Square had at least some affect on the mall. Gateway was eventually torn down in 1998. In the previous year, Pinellas Square received its final renovation after being purchased by John Hancock Insurance. The renovation replaced a more standard center court with an ice rink and added a movie theater with stadium seating in 2001. This is when the mall was also renamed Parkside Mall (actually ParkSide Mall, but I don't care for that spelling).
Looking down from the top floor. Despite their best efforts to remodel, I think they actually made the mall look worse than it did when it opened. Photo by id780.
Here are a couple rink area views. Note the mall's logo in the ice. Photos by id780.
This dark, spooky corridor ends at what was once Montgomery Ward. Unfortunately, no close-up is available of the mall entrance. Photo by id780.
Mall guide sign near the old Wards entrance. Dillard's was already gone when this was taken. Photo by id780.
The theater...one of the last things to open at the mall and the only thing still standing. This spot, however, is most definitely different looking now and likely outside. Photo by id780.
Views from the second floor including a mom 'n' pop "Optical Outlet" that apparently used to be Pearle Vision Centers. Photos by id780.
I'm not exactly positive what I am looking at here, but I know it's on the second floor. Photo by id780.
A couple retro storefronts. Photo by id780.
Side view of the one-way escalator. Since the mall is void of people who knows if it's up or down. There is no way to find out anymore. Photo by id780.
I cannot quite place what this was, but it looks like food. Arby's? Checkers? Photo by id780.
To all appearances, Pinellas Park Mall never really did catch on. Their problems simply went from bad to much worse in the late 1990's but became terminal when unbeatable competition opened in Tampa. The only previous competition was older Westshore Plaza, and the two malls at that point seemed to compliment each other. This was not the case when International Plaza and Bay Street opened in 2001. This super high end mall was very destructive in that several malls died because of it. It is without a doubt that this mall along with expansions to Westshore Plaza had an effect. Suddenly the 10 mile trek across the Gandy Bridge was even less appealing for South Tampa residents and the slightly longer trek back across the Frankland Bridge (I-275) was much more appealing for residents of St Petersburg. Parkside Mall began to fail during this time. In early 2004 Dillard's, which was Ivey's until 1990, closed. This was the final nail in the mall's coffin.
A couple more views of the ice rink from the lower level this time. Photos by id780.
Here, the photographer is walking along the Dillard's/Ivey's wing. Photo by id780.
Considering that this used to be Ivey's, of course the mall entrance is classy. Ivey's had pretty sleek looking stores even for the bland 70's modern era. Photo by id780.
A side view of the Ivey's/Dillard's mall entrance and adjacent shops. Note that this wing retains a few of the original planters. Photo by id780.
The other end of this wing features the mall's elevator in a rather strange spot. Most likely it used to be in center court. Photo by id780.
In all, it still really does not completely make sense why Pinellas Park Mall failed the way it did. I tended to believe there was something more to it, and what appears to be the most likely scenario is the age demographics. Currently, nearly 50% of the population is over 45, this is about the only other possibility I can think of: that the mall was not able to draw the young crowd necessary to survive. The only other possibility is that shoppers simply liked the older Tyrone Square Mall better. Tyrone Square features more anchors than Pinellas Square ever had, and it is better situated not to compete with any of the Tampa malls meaning it likely had the better stores all along.
This view is looking back the way that id780 came in with the mysterious second run store (Morrison's?) on the right. Photo by id780.
Dairy Queen/Orange Julius/Karmelkorn combination. My mall used to have one of those, and it sadly closed a couple years ago. The rainbow colored candy coated popcorn was fun, and who doesn't like Orange Julius? I know you're out there but nobody understands you, either. Photo by id780.
The 80's and 90's were big on color because the 70's were not. I am sure the original entrance was probably just a box. The entrance here remodeled to 1997 specs features a blend of mango and avocado colors, which would taste absolutely disgusting together. Photos by id780.
JCPenney Outlet Store featuring palm trees, mildewed brick and some sort of see-through screen thingy that is not the worst I have seen them do. People like warm tropical breezes. So does mildew. Photo by id780.
Whatever it was that killed Pinellas Square Mall, it was not entirely vacant when it was demolished. A local developer purchased the mall in 2003, and his plans were set to demolish the mall before the mall closed on its own. After Dillard's closed, the bulldozers arrived by May or June of 2004 and demolished all of the mall except for the nearly new theaters. The mall was then converted to just a strip mall incorporating the mall's theaters into the center of the new development. The new strip mall that took its place is known as "The Shoppes at Park Place" and feature stores such as Target, Marshall's, Michael's, Office Depot and Petco. In all, it is just a typical modern big box strip center now.
Wards MORE than made up for Penney's lack of outlandish, imposing architecture that was dated by the day it opened on their store at the mall. This relic was on the west end of the mall and somehow came back to life for awhile as a local clothing outlet. Photo by id780.
The ghost of Wards visible through the mold says "boo". Photo by id780.
I cannot deny I dig the way this place looks no matter how weird it is. Photo by id780.
The photographer could not get enough of Wards. I can't either. Photo by id780.
Ivey's was quite interesting itself with this big arc-shaped side. Apparently Dillard's saw no need to transform this store into their trashy stucco arch design they got hung up on in the 90's. It was nice in the days that anchors mattered so much that each store looked different with a personality all its own. Photo by id780.
I know this is not the original mall logo, but I like the whimsical style of it. It at least portrayed a carefree, lighthearted side to the 90's. Cheap gas would make you feel that way. Photo by id780.
The demalling of Pinellas Square to a strip center joins the many other lost malls of the peninsula, and it serves as a painful reminder of the problems that come with overbuilding and rapid suburbanization. Perhaps if Pinellas County had only had about three malls further apart from one another, they would all be thriving today. It is clear it was just one of those malls that could never be saved and probably never should have been built. Also see the YouTube video below published by id780 for more pics.
The photographer, id780 also published this YouTube video of the mall with his collection of still shots including some I did not publish here.