This one was truly amazing. Located along Okeechobee Road in the west part of Fort Pierce, Florida, Orange Blossom Mall sat for decades. It seems to have died a slow, drawn out retail death, leaving behind a massive hulking structure which was open to walk but not really to shop. When I visited in May 2001 only a few stores were operating. The mall was, at one point, anchored by Sears and a Belk-Lindsay, so says the mall’s directory. Both were shuttered by the time I visited the mall in 2001. Also unique about the directory is the notation of ‘future dept. stores’ and ‘future expansion’, spelling out a woeful tale of unrealized glitz and glamour. Check it out below.
The mall’s interior corridor was shaped in a ’9′ figuration, and was listed at 423,000 square feet in 1998. Upon my visit in 2001, Sears was closed and the east end of the mall was inhabited by a Cincinatti-based call center, Convergys Inc. In 2005, Convergys Inc. closed their location at the Orange Blossom Mall, leaving it even more dead if that’s possible.
As you can see in the pictures below, the Orange Blossom Mall’s condition was horrendous. The number of retail stores operating is listed beside the directory. I count 10 of them and no anchors. There was also a gym called Barbell’s (I think? It was over five years ago) operating at the west mall entrance closest to the former Sears. Of note, check out the Labelscar for The Gap! For all who don’t know or remember, this was their ancient logo before the ‘Gap Classic’ stores emerged in the early 1990s. Does anyone have any information about any of these older Gap stores still in operation? I remember shopping at one as a small child in the Machesney Park Mall near Rockford, Illinois, sometime in the late 1980s. Also, check out all the other dated storefronts. Maybe some of you will clue us in as to what they were.
A bit more about the known history of the mall. From what I could dig up, the mall was sold in 1998 by Met Life (who also owned many beleagured malls at the time, including Euclid Square Mall in Ohio and Rhode Island Mall) to a company called Zamias Services, who managed it for a while and then divested it. It currently operates as Orange Blossom Office Center, but I’m not sure if any conversions or demolitions of the structure have taken place yet. Does anyone know if most of the mall is still standing or able to be walked? I returned to visit a year later in June 2002 and the mall was in virtually the same condition, but I have not been back since.
Also, we’re wondering about the mall prior to present times. I can conjecture that people abandoned the mall to shop at the nicer Treasure Coast Square about 20 miles away in Jensen Beach or the massive retail strip along Route 1 up and down the Treasure Coast. In addition, Fort Pierce is itself a marginally depressed city, economically, and that probably also contributed to the mall’s demise. Demographically, the city has a very diverse socioeconomic makeup much different from that of the surrounding metro area. The metro area includes St. Lucie, Florida, which was named in 2006 as the fastest growing city above 100,000 in the country. It shot up from 88,000 in the 2000 census to an estimated 150,000 as of early 2006. Wow! We’d like to hear from some people who know more about the area than we do. When did the mall die? Was it ever successful? As always your comments are appreciated.