Biscayne Boulevard / US 1 and William Lehman Causeway
Dade County (City of Aventura), Florida

Donald Soffer of Pittsburgh's Oxford Development Company moved to Dade County, Florida in 1967. 2 years later, he purchased a 785 acre section of swampland in the unincorporated northeast corner of the county. By the late 1970s, the land was being dredged and developed as the exclusive Turnberry Isle Resort.

Soffer and his Oxford Development partners Edward J. Lewis and Ray Parello, along with the Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation, initiated plans for a major shopping mall that would occupy 115.7 acres adjacent to the Turnberry Isle property. The future mall site was located 11.7 miles northeast of center city Miami.

At the time of the shopping center's inception, one of the development team remarked that the project was going to be "an adventure". It was decided to name to complex-to-be as "Aventura", the Spanish word for adventure.

Construction on a fully-enclosed, dual-level shopping center was underway by late 1981. The first store to open for business, a 2-level (100,000 square foot) Lord & Taylor, made its debut January 31, 1983.

Dedication day for the mall proper was held April 28, 1983, with a 2-level (130,900 square foot) J.C. Penney joining the initial retail roster of eighty stores and services.

The center's third anchor, a 2-level (191,800 square foot) Sears "Store of the Future", began business July 6, 1983. The fourth anchor of the original complex, a 3-level (252,000 square foot) Macy's, opened October 1, 1983. This was the Manhattan-based chain's first Sunshine State store.

AVENTURA MALL now housed one hundred and fifty stores and services. Among these were Hickory Farms of Ohio, King Arthur Clock Company, The Limited, Ken Collins Men's Clothier, The Gap, Battaglia Exquisite Footwear and an 18-bay Food Court.

Major retail hubs in the vicinity of AVENTURA MALL included MALL AT 163rd STREET (1956) {2.8 miles southwest, in Dade County}, OMNI INTERNATIONAL MALL (1977) {11.7 miles southwest, in Miami}, MIDWAY MALL / MALL OF THE AMERICAS (1970) {16.9 miles southwest, in Dade County}, WESTLAND MALL (1971) {12.4 miles southwest, in Hialeah} and -eventually- PEMBROKE LAKES MALL (1992) {10.5 miles northwest, in Pembroke Pines}.

In the mid-1980s, Donald Soffer split from Oxford Development. The break up of assets gave a share of the mall to a newly-formed entity; Dade County-based Turnberry Associates. On November 7, 1995, the area surrounding, and including, the mall was officially incorporated as the City of Aventura.

March 1996 brought the merger of the Youngstown-based DeBartolo Realty Group and Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group. The new company was to go under the heading of the Simon-DeBartolo Group until 1998, when the official name reverted back to Simon Property Group.

In the summer of 1996, the owners of AVENTURA MALL, Turnberry Associates and Simon DeBartolo, embarked upon a 90 million dollar expansion of the shopping complex. The project, designed by Baltimore-based RTKL Associates and Atlanta's Cooper Carry Associates, would add over 1,000,000 leasable square feet...doubling the size of the center.

The first operational store in the new section, a 3-level (253,000 square foot) Bloomingdale's, was dedicated November 8, 1997. The core of the addition, a 3-level, 100 store, Southeast Wing, opened for business December 4 of the same year.

Burdines, who had waffled for 2 years before officially committing to constructing an AVENTURA store, began business, in a 3-level (225,000 square foot) structure, August 1, 1999.

Two existing anchors were also enlarged. Lord & Taylor added a single-level (50,000 square foot) area onto its west facade. The 150,000 square foot "Florida Flagship" was completed August 18, 1999. J.C. Penney grew northward with a 2-level (63,700 square foot) augmentation; becoming a 194,600 square foot operation in the process.

The hallmark of the new addition was the AMC Aventura 24 Theatres, which occupied most of the Third Level of the new concourse. Three parking garages were also built.

In the year 2000, with all components complete, AVENTURA MALL enveloped nearly 2,000,000 leasable square feet and two hundred and fifty stores and services. It surpassed the 1,320,000 square foot DADELAND MALL as the largest shopping center in Miami / Dade. The center was also the largest shopping mall in Florida until expansions were built at SAWGRASS MILLS, in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Sunrise

Lord & Taylor did a retail retreat from Florida between 2003 and 2006, with its AVENTURA MALL store being shuttered in the fall of 2003. Stores in the Burdines chain were rebranded, as Burdines-Macy's, January 30, 2004 and fully "Macy-ated" March 6, 2005. The original AVENTURA store became a Macy's Women's & Kids; Burdines' space was refashioned into a Macy's Men's & Home Furniture.

AVENTURA MALL was given a 24 million dollar facelift between March and September 2006. This preceded a second expansion of the shopping hub. During this project, the vacant Lord & Taylor was demolished. In its place, a 3-level (160,000 square foot) section was built, which housed thirty retailers. A fourth parking garage was also built.

Anchoring the new addition was a 2-level (167,000 square foot) Nordstrom, which opened for business February 12, 2008. Inline stores in the expansion included Mitchell's Ocean Club Restaurant, Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein and Ferrari. AVENTURA MALL now housed 2,700,000 leasable square feet and two hundred and eighty retailers, restaurants and entertainment venues.

This was apparently not good enough. Plans for a 241,000 square foot Northeast Wing addition were announced in February 2014. The 3-level expansion would be built between the existing Penney's and Macy's Women's & Kids structures and house approximately sixty-one stores and services.

An adjacent, multilevel parking garage would also be included in the construction project, which is scheduled for completion in 2017. Upon its dedication, AVENTURA MALL will encompass 2,941,000 leasable square feet and house approximately three hundred and forty-one tenants. It then becomes the second-largest shopping mall in the United States.


"Aventura Mall" article on Wikipedia
Dade County, Florida property tax assessor website

The Miami News
The Miami Herald 

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