Orange Park Mall; Orange Park, Florida

Orange Park Mall Food Court in Orange Park, FL

The Jacksonville region, also known as Florida’s First Coast, is home to over one million people and the anchor city for a large geographic area in northeast Florida and southeast Georgia.  The region is not only the coastal gateway to the state of Florida, but also a tourist destination known for its sandy beaches, warm climate, and numerous cultural amenities.  In addition, the city of Jacksonville is the largest city in geographic area (758 square miles) in the continental United States; only Juneau, Alaska is bigger.          

Built in 1975, Orange Park Mall has been the anchor shopping center for a suburban area of Jacksonville south and west of the St. Johns River for over three decades.  In fact, it is the only large, regional mall on the west side of the river in Jacksonville; Regency Square (opened 1967), The Avenues Mall (opened 1990) and St. John’s Town Center (outdoor, opened 2005) are all on the east side of the river.  Other smaller malls have also come and gone in Jacksonville, including Normandy Mall, Gateway Center Mall, and Roosevelt Mall, but these were always local, neighborhood-oriented malls and have either mostly been disenclosed or put to other uses. 

Orange Park Mall in Orange Park, FL Orange Park Mall Belk in Orange Park, FL

Orange Park Mall, according to one user on Yelp, “is just your average suburban shopping mall,”  and we couldn’t agree more.  Malls like Orange Park offer a very typical middle-of-the-road retail experience, and are common across the nation, mainly in middle class suburban enclaves surrounding large cities.  Typically, one (or more, if the metro is large enough) shopping center will have unquestionable dominance in a market big enough for several malls.  Some examples of this are Woodfield Mall near Chicago, King of Prussia Mall near Philadelphia, and the Galleria in Houston.  While these malls remain the super-regional draw in the metro, other regional malls may also exist in the market, typically serving a geographical “side” or area.  And, if this area is middle class through and through, these malls tend to reflect this in their stores and services.  Orange Park Mall is a great example of this.  The mall is popular mainly because of its location; its proximity to shoppers is its main value because the mall is closer to them than other malls on an equal or better footing, and as such store vacancies are low and the mall is filled with many mid-line national and regional chains.  It may have Hollister and Old Navy, but it probably won’t have Fendi or Lacoste. 

Orange Park Mall directory in Orange Park, FLIt is because of this that we dub Orange Park Mall the official middle-of-the-road Everyman’s Mall of our site.  Take a look; it doesn’t get any more average than this.  Now, we impart no negativity on this distinction; it is what it is.  It’s a utilitarian place for regional shoppers, offering few frills yet it’s still a large, enclosed, packed suburban icon.  This is your everyday, typical suburban mall.      

Orange Park Mall is currently anchored by Belk, JCPenney, Dillard’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Sears, with 120 stores, a 24-screen AMC Theater, and a 400-seat food court.  The mall is located just west of the river along I-295 at Blanding, near a whole bunch of the type of big box strip you’d expect from an Everyman Mall area (like Best Buy…) and a bunch of chain restaurants.  Shoppers who want a bit more upscale atmosphere can jump on 295 and head across the river to The Avenues, and a newer “Lifestyle Center” called St. John’s Town Center a bit farther afield has even more upmarket offerings. 

The layout of Orange Park Mall indicates an addition was probably made at some point, and though it’s hard to say, it looks as if the JCPenney wing is “newer” – can anyone confirm?  Today the mall stands at just under one million square feet of retail space, including anchors.  Both its sheer size and the fact that it is the only mall west of the river should cement its popularity even despite the economic downturn and the fact that The Avenues is only a few minutes away across the bridge.   

We visited Orange Park Mall in January 2008 and took the pictures featured here.  We’d like to know more about the history of Orange Park Mall since it opened way back in the mid 1970s.  We know the Dillard’s was once a Charlotte, N.C. based Ivey’s (until about 1990 when Dillard’s bought the Ivey’s chain) but we know little about the history of the rest of the anchor stores.  As usual, leave your comments and your experiences here. 

Orange Park Mall in Orange Park, FL Orange Park Mall in Orange Park, FL Orange Park Mall in Orange Park, FL

Orange Park Mall in Orange Park, FL Orange Park Mall in Orange Park, FL Orange Park Mall in Orange Park, FL

Orange Park Mall in Orange Park, FL Orange Park Mall Dillard's former Ivey's in Orange Park, FL Orange Park Mall in Orange Park, FL

Orange Park Mall in Orange Park, FL 

29 Responses to “Orange Park Mall; Orange Park, Florida”

  1. Three posts in one day! It looks decent enough…pretty normal…no surprises…but no Macy’s. If there was a Macy’s, it would of had to been an old Burdines.

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  2. According to my mall list, the JCPenney wing was added in 1984, with Dick’s tacked on in 2005. Belk was a May Cohen’s, then Maison Blanche, then Gayfers. Apparently many of the Belk stores in Florida were Gayfers in malls that already had Dillard’s.

    Also, that Old Navy looks like it takes up 9/10 of a former junior anchor. Woolworth perhaps?

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  3. There was a restaurant in their food court about 6-7 years ago that had DElicious wraps (before wraps got so popular). Does anyone remember the name of that place?

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    John (Orange Park High c/o 1992) Reply:

    Toast,
    I used to work at McDonald’s and, later Chick-fil-A. I recall there being a Gyro Wrap (and later called Great Wraps?) at the Orange Park Mall.

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    Bryan Davis Reply:

    @Toast,
    It was called Gyro Wrap

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    Toast Reply:

    Thanks guys!!!

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    Robert Reply:

    @Toast, The best wraps came from a food court stop called Camel Rider, though most of what they served came in pita pockets instead. Their steak pita was unbeatable, and I’ve never found anyone who could make cherry limeades half as good as theirs were. Man I miss that place.

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  4. A friend of mine shot several pictures of the Dillard’s at OPM that I have posted on my site. It hasn’t been touched in decades! It’s still Ivey’s through and through.

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  5. I was just going to post that there are shots that I took of the Dillard’s at Orange Park over at Livemalls, but I see Steven beat me to it. Middle of the road is a great description of this place. The Belk and Dillard’s are definitely not top-level for either of the chains, but they’re far from bad, and the mall isn’t in trouble at all. In fact, it was 100% occupied when I was there in July.

    Jonah, Macy’s does not have a presence in Jax at all, there were no Burdine’s in that market, which was one dominated by Ivey’s (now Dillard’s) and May-Cohen (Belk, after purchasing the stores from Dillard’s).

    Macy’s did make an offer for the Parisian at the Avenues to enter the market when Saks was considering selling the stores individually before flipping them all to Belk.

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  6. I am betting this is that mall I saw in FL back in 1992 in Jacksonville. It had a very interesting anchor lineup back then including Maison Blanche, Jordan Marsh, and (possibly) Maas Brothers. Don’t know if it had a Burdine’s, though. I remember at least one store had an elegant logo (Maas Brothers?) and I distinctly seem to remember the Maison Blanche for its very gaudy French exterior while the rest of the mall was rather bland. This may not be it, but I know it was in Jacksonville. I was super intrigued by the mall because of its complete lineup of distinct local anchors I had never heard of in Atlanta at the time. The Dillard’s is most likely where the Maison Blanche was…Maison Blanche for some reason extended east all the way into North Florida. I guess they considered it a better fit than more rural Gayfer’s.

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    John (Orange Park High c/o 1992) Reply:

    @JT,
    Jordan Marsh and Maas Brothers never came to the Jacksonville area.

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  7. Juneau is not in the 48 contiguous states, but it is definitely in the comtnental United States.

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  8. Ah, the tinker-toy design. A personal favorite from the 80s.
    Scott

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  9. JT-

    This mall in the early 90’s had Maison Blanche, Ivey’s, JC Penny and Sears. Ivey’s became Dillards. Maison Blanche later became Gayfers, then Belk, after Dillard’s bought the Mercantile Stores and flipped this location and several others in Florida to Belk.

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  10. There is a children’s attraction which is a big part in why people go to this mall besides the 24 screen movie theater. Its a giant soft-toy playground. I take the kids for some fun. Its the only reason I go to the OP mall.

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  11. The mall now has an Imax movie screen. Also, there are no Macy’s or Burdines in the Jacksonville area. For some reason these store have never opened a location here.

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  12. I was in the Jacksonville area in 2006 and I think your description is spot-on. I could be wrong, but I think the Dick’s Sporting Goods is a new addition there. Because I don’t remember it being there when I was living in that area. I liked Orange Park a lot actually. It was a very solid, very nice middle-class community. Traffic was HORRIBLE in and around the mall though (especially on Blanding Blvd).

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  13. totally agree with stuart. Dick’s is a good store there. One more thing I love is the AMC at orange park mall.

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  14. I’m surprised nobody mentioned the fountains. I miss them so much. When I was a little kid I used to throw a quarter over my shoulder and make a wish in every one. I almost cried when they took them out.

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  15. Yes, I miss the fountains. They also had a neat elevator in the courtyard that took people to a deck that was pretty neat for its time. It was a shame when they got rid of all of that for a simpler scheme…

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  16. I live across the street from the OP Mall. When I go to the movies, I usually I head across the river to one of the Regal standalone cinemas because parking is such a hassle outside the OP AMC — which I guess is a good sign for the mall’s viability. And Jacksonville must be the largest city in the U.S. without a Macy’s.

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    John (Orange Park High c/o 1992) Reply:

    @Dennis in OP, I think that you are right about that. I cannot understand why Macy’s is all over Florida but Jacksonville. The closest Macy’s is in Gainesville. That location was previously a Burdine’s. If Burdine’s has not bypassed Jacksonville, we would have a Macy’s by now…

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    Bob Reply:

    @Dennis in OP,
    You live across the street? Why don’t you walk to the movie??

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  17. I remember when the mall opened in 1975 it was a little smaller when it is now sears,may-cohens,iveys were the 3 big stores then the food court and jc penneys were not there let where penneys and Dicks sporting goods is now then it was a parking lot there was mcdonalds ,orangetree where old navy is now that was a big book store there was only the orange park 5 theatre there way before the amc 24 came in side the mall there used to be a pizza place there by the orange park 5 theatre there used to be a fountain in the center of the mall where the kids play zone is now back then it was a happening place

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  18. I remember when the mall was a horse pasture…lol

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    David c/o 1983 Reply:

    @John,
    Yes I too remember when the mall was being built and it was a popular hangout for me growing up as I lived right next to it in the Bel Med subdivision. The pizza place near the OP 5 movie theatre had the best single slice cheese pizzas!! My first full time job was at the mall and I remember when they built the newer wing with the food court and JC Penney.

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  19. I live near this mall … maybe 45 miles from it. The Avenues is my “home” mall.
    It looks like a bigger version of the Volusia Mall in Daytona to me.

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  20. Sorry for posting another comment below my last one!

    I don’t get to OP mall very much because even though it’s less than an hour away, it’s not convenient. It is west of the river and I never have any business over there. The other Jax malls are kind of on the way home from my doctor or the zoo or working at that other bank branch on Saturday… but not OP. So I only get out there about once a year. Since I was thinking about it, I did some research to see if there’s a good reason to go back this weekend and take pictures again… not really… but I did dig up one big thing that happened- not TO the mall but NEXT TO the mall this year.
    Super Target closed.
    It was almost directly across the street. It hadn’t seen enough business so it shut down.
    My guess its absense might draw some people away from the mall as they go to do groceries and whatnot somewhere else and dont’ pass it on their way… but it might bring others to the mall who just wanted to look at clothes or electronics or baby stuff.
    Just a random guess. I will have to go in the mall after Christmas rushes are done and ask some store managers (@ Books A Million and the department stores) if Targets leaving changed anything….

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  21. I grew up in OP in the 1970’s and 80’s. Does anyone remember Aladdins Castle (game room). This was back when PacMan first came out. I worked at the McDonalds and then Chick-fil-a and then May Cohens.

    I remember my mom buying Tough Skin jeans at Sears and then taking me to Morrows Nut House in the mall.

    I don’t recognize the mall 30 years later. Saw Star Wars on its original release in a theatre that was across the street from OP High School.

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