06 October 2013

Regency Square, Arlington, FL

An extant asset

It was late 1984 and we were still living in Hawai'i, but, as with all good things, our time there was coming to an end. They would be transferring my father to a different Naval base early the following year. Exactly where, we didn't know. My dad's definite first choice also seemed the most likely at the time; Mayport Naval Station just outside of Jacksonville, Florida. My father had grown up just to the southwest of that location, in Orlando, and much of his family still resided within an hour or two of Florida's largest city. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. In the end, we were actually moved to the Norfolk area of Virginia. But, who knows, had things been different, Regency Square in the Jacksonville suburb of Arlington could have been a Mall of My Youth.

Regency Square Mallmanac, ca. 2000. View the full PDF version here.

And what could have been one of my childhood homes ended up only being one of the big cities we whizzed through during the long drive down I-95 between Virginia Beach and Winter Park. Besides those quick treks, a school field trip to Saint Augustine and a stop at their airport, Jacksonville just really never registered on my radar. Strange how fate works. And I would have never known about this mall's existence had we once not stopped at a welcome center just past the Georgia state line where I managed to get my hands on this mallmanac. Unfortunately, this is one of those malls to which I've never been.

L- Regency Square in the late eighties and early nineties. R- Regency Square as of this writing.

Regency Square opened in 1967 in Jacksonville's then fast growing eastern suburb of Arlington. It debuted with three anchors, Ivey's, JCPenney and May-Cohen. In 1981, an expansion called the West Mall was added to the open end of May-Cohen, effectively doubling the size of Regency. Along with it, a Sears and an expanded and relocated Ivey's joined the mix. Over time, the May-Cohen became a Maison-Blanche, then Gayfer's and is presently a Belk. Dillard's took over the Ivey's nameplate before moving to their present location, while the older pad was eventually occupied by Montgomery Ward. That location was shuttered with the chain's liquidation, and, besides a transient tenant or two, remains dark today. As is the usual case, Sears and JCPenney remain the same.

Regency Square from above. (Source)

Regency Square is the metro area's oldest shopping mall still functioning as originally intended. But as the surrounding demographics have changed, so has its success. Despite being the sole enclosed retail destination on the city's eastern flank, it seems to be running into trouble that has only been exacerbated by its age and reputation. I surely hope it does manage to survive, but reality may soon dictate that I include this mall under the heading No Supply, No Demand

Regency Square's official website

1 comment:

  1. This mall is up for sale - hopefully someone will buy it. There's lots and lots of houses in the area. If the mall got refreshed it shouldn't have a hard time surviving.