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               COLONIAL PLAZA MALL: ORLANDO, FL

WR Sharp's Commentary:

Posted May 11, 2005 (user submitted)

Colonial Plaza was the first "modern" shopping center in Orlando. There were cartoons in the Orlando Sentinel-Star depicting flying saucers parked in the lot. Colonial Plaza started as a strip center with a Publix Market on one end and a Belk-Lindsey that was seperated from the rest of the strip by a covered crosswalk. Later on a mall was attached at the center of the Plaza and featured a four story Jordan-Marsh store. Colonial Plaza was the ONLY place to shop the entire time I was in grade school. They expanded once again and picked up on the south end of Jordan-Marsh, building more mall and adding Belk, but decline had already set in. Orlando Fashion Square went in two blocks to the east. Jordan-Marsh, once one of the nicest and cleanest retailers started to fade due to corporate issues with them and their sister store Maas Brothers. Several redevlopemnt efforts fell short. They even built a Dillards on the front of the mall which breathed life into it for a time.

It had multiple issues, one being food. There was one restaurant named Ronnies - a jewish deli/restaurant that had rights to all the food in the mall. They operated their original location at one end of the mall (an Orlando icon for years) and a little cafe in the new portion between the new Belks and Jordan-Marsh.

Jordan-Marsh finally went under. Now the two halves of the mall were bisected by a big closed building - wooden partitions were quickly built to funnel patrons through to the end with Belks, but the place was doomed. It was sad to see it knocked down. I always liked Jordan-Marsh. I knew every nook and cranny of that mall.

Now it is Colonial Plaza Market Place - a "power center" with Babies R Us, Marshalls, Rhodes, Old Navy, Linins 'n Things, Lifeway, Steinmart, Barnes and Noble (which is in the last bit of original construction), Just for Feet (closed) and Circuit City.

Brett Castleberry's Commentary:

Posted December 2, 2006 (user submitted)

My family lived in the Audubon Park subdivision around 1960; I was in elementary school at the time. We had moved there from Pinecastle, south of Orlando.

Before Belk-Lindsey opened, Dickson & Ives was Orlando's only department store, downtown on Orange Avenue. Belk's provided the clothes I wore as a boy. I remember the somewhat scary escalator to the second floor, with its corrugated, slinky-like handrails. The meshing teeth of the steps frightened me. Belk's sold Scout uniforms and accessories, and seeing them on display made me dream of joining the Cub Scouts, which I did when I was old enough.

I was never taken to Ronnie's. My father often took us to the nearby Driftwood Cafeteria. But as a teenager, Ronnie's became the place to go late on a weekend night.

I bought most of my records at Jordan Marsh: Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf, Cream. Orlando's only head shop opened as a stand-alone store there. Memory fails, the Magic Mushroom, the Psychedelic Mushroom?

My wife's father was a buyer for Maas Brothers out of St. Petersburg then, and would have bought the menswear sold in Jordan Marsh at the time.

We moved to Maitland, a turn-of-the-century citrus town to the north that became a suburb of Orlando, in 1962. Soon after that, the Winter Park Mall opened, within bicycling distance of my new home. Colonial Plaza had ceased to be unique.

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