It’s about Spring break time, so we’re headed south to the original Spring break destination of Fort Lauderdale, and to a little mall just to the west in suburban Lauderhill. Walking into Lauderhill Mall is like walking into a time vacuum and being sucked back 30 (or more?) years. It is not only a wonderfully-preserved example of retail times gone by, but it is possibly the most reliced property we’ve featured on this site which is still open – and not dead. At any rate, we feel that Lauderhill is an appropriate foray into the retail scene of south Florida, a rapidly changing and exponentially growing place with a rich and unique retail history.
This amazing relic sits on 40 acres of property along State Road 7 just north of Sunrise Boulevard in the small village of Lauderhill, just west of the city of Fort Lauderdale. Opened in 1966, it was billed as the first air-conditioned mall in the southeastern United States. Since opening, Broward County and south Florida in general have changed dramatically. For one, the population of Broward County was only 350,000 in 1966. Today it is 1.8 million and growing rapidly. In addition, with the massive population growth came larger, more modern malls and big box centers. These have effectively outmoded Lauderhill Mall and it has far outlived its original purpose. The only reason it still exists is because it was purchased decades ago by a privately held Canadian partnership which has done very little to the mall at all, leaving it looking almost exactly the same today as it did the day it opened. They do keep the place clean, however.
As far as tenants, or general information about the mall in general, little information is available. As the mall lacks a website, even current information is relatively difficult to find. Upon visiting the mall in January 2007, we discovered it was tenanted with many local and national retailers, many of which cater to an urban, lower-income market. Despite no longer having anchors, Lauderhill Mall has a low vacancy rate.
Clearly, the main event of this mall is its sheer existence in the face of obsolescence. We’re talking stores with cedar shingles, an ancient directory which is possibly several decades old and even yellowing due to age, mirror-backed storefronts, and wooden-flanked conversation areas with planters staged throughout the middle of the mall walkway. There is nothing modern about this mall, and it is possibly one of the best-preserved retail relics still open today.
But this won’t be the case for very long.
As the story commonly goes for outdated retail, massive changes are afoot for Lauderhill Mall. Announced in September 2006, it appears the wave of “new urbanism” will flood Lauderhill with new residential, office, and retail. This would, of course, involve tearing down most, if not all, of the 650,000 square-foot mall and replacing it with over 1 million feet of new space. The demolition could start later this year, and is considered a vital linchpin in the revitalization of the Route 7 corridor between Miami and Broward County and points northward. This redevelopment is all the result of the acceptance of an unsolicited offer to the Canadian partnership from a south Florida firm.
So say goodbye to Lauderhill Mall, at least the Lauderhill Mall which has existed for more than four decades. It’ll be gone after this year, but not before being documented here for perhaps the very first time. That’s what we’re here for, anyway. The pictures here were taken in January 2007 (though I probably could have told you 1977 rather convincingly). If you know anything about the mall, specifically about the history and the anchors here, leave some comments and let us know.