Tampa Bay Center
The Tampa Bay Center was a shopping mall located in Tampa, Florida, across the street from Tampa Stadium. The mall was developed by Rouse Properties. When it opened on August 5, 1976 the 877,000-square-foot (81,500 m2) Tampa Bay Center was Tampa's fourth major mall and operated until 2001, when most of its tenants relocated to the nearby International Plaza. The mall was a two-story building that had an anchor at each end, plus one in the center of the mall: Burdines on the east side, Montgomery Ward in the center, and Sears on the west side.
Tampa Bay Center's main corridor was splashed in sunlight, a large portion of the roof was actually constructed with skylights; a bright and sunny day outdoors meant a bright and sunny day indoors considered to be an inviting feature at a time when many malls were being built with dropped ceilings and finished with darker colors.The mall featured exposed, light-colored truss ceilings over the main corridor, tan-brown floor tiles, floor-based water fountains, and trees intermittently planted on the bottom floor of the main corridor, growing upwards toward the skylights. The open-and-airy interior was further augmented by what was thought to be one of the mall's most important trademarks, a glass elevator located in the center of the mall. The North Side parking lot had an unusual-for-flat-central-Florida slope to it that meant that the mall entrance on that side of the building was on the second floor, leading directly into the food court, which opened in 1987.
Due to the success of the mall, a third anchor, Montgomery Ward was proposed in November 1977. It opened by 1979 on the south side of the mall.
Decline and closure
In 1994 the mall's management was accused of racism for closing early during the Florida Classic college football game between FAMU and Bethune Cookman, both historically black universities. Then Montgomery Ward was closed in 1999, and the Burdines followed soon afterwards, moving to the new Citrus Park Town Center mall northwest of Tampa. Tampa Bay Center hung on with only Sears, but then International Plaza opened nearby in 2001. International Plaza had lured Dillard's away from WestShore Plaza, and in early 2002, Sears moved into the old Dillard's location. Tampa Bay Center closed entirely after that.
New owner and demolition
The mall was acquired by Malcolm Glazer and his family for $22.8-million in cash on December 31, 2002 to make way for a training facility for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was demolished in 2005. The only remnants of the mall are the large sections of parking lots. The HARTline bus terminal was relocated to the southwest section of the property in 2007, known as the West Tampa Transfer Center.
Former anchor stores
- Burdines (moved to Westfield Citrus Park in 1999)
- Montgomery Ward (closed in 1999)
- Sears (moved to WestShore Plaza in 2001)