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               OMNI INTERNATIONAL MALL OF MIAMI: MIAMI, FL

Edward Corser's Commentary

Posted March 7, 2006 (user submitted)

Omni International Mall of Miami was perhaps one of the most unique, if not THE most unique megastructure in the U.S. completed in the late 1970s. It was my favorite place in the entire world and I mean that literally.

Originally a 5-story Jordan Marsh department store (which was 3-stories in its early days) is what stood. It was located just north of waterfront downtown Miami. Then, in the mid-to-late 70s, a megastructure of retail, dining, entertainment and hotel space was to be built around the Jordan Marsh. This megastructure was completed in 1977 and was named the OMNI. Omni, which means ALL, was the perfect name for this structure. It consisted of a multi-story mall and hotel property with plentry of dining and mixed entertainment use. In its beginning this was the place to be! The mall was mostly 2-stories but in the Jordan Marsh and center atriums there were balconies of 3 stories or more. Majority of the parking was in an attached 7 to 9 story parking garage.

Department stores were JCPenney and Jordan Marsh only, each at both ends of the mall. Stores were upscale and varied from fashion to jewelry to tasty food. Unique points are the following:

An indoor theme-park including a 2-story Italian-designed carousel, a 3-story JCPenney w/ a toy department devoted to one entire floor (atleast it was this way when I visited it). A 2-floor disco, a 6-plex AMC theatre (which later became 10) and a large hotel on top of the mall connected via a large atrium. In the center/carosel court the AMC theatres were upstairs and the merry-go-round was downstairs; enlosed in that huge atrium w/ a diagonal window that was 4-stories high. Also shared in this atrium was the hotel ballroom and lobby levels with 4 glass-elevators.

Later in the mid-80s, the original upstairs foodcourt was moved downstairs to make space for 4 extra cinemas. The new foodcourt was spacious and appropriate looking...with unicorns/horses as part of a carousel-themed decor in that section of the mall. The restrooms were compact but strategically placed.

Well, just like with the Mall at 163rd Street, which was a few cities north of Omni, the Omni Mall went downhill. Jordan Marsh went bankrupt in '91. A Burdines was added but closed a year later; probably because another Burdines store was not far and was more known in that area. The Omni neighborhood became a bad part of town sometime in the late 80s I assume. It became an area of poverty and very low-income housing for the most part. *Mind you the property was just a couple of miles north of downtown. The Omni became dark, dull, unnatractive and hard to get to. A lot of the nice stores left, and a dollar store and wig shop came in. The store count in the mall went from originally 115 or so to 65 by 1997. Then in 1998 JCPenney left because it wasn't getting any business; leaving zero anchor stores. Finally in winter 1999 the OMNI MALL closed completely...December 31, 1999 to be exact. I was there its last few days with tears in my eyes. I purchased a jacket from the Footlocker and ironically didn't get any kind of going-out-of-business or "moving" discount.

Today, in 2006, the mall space is still empty, all gutted out to make way for failed business-space ideas that never got off the ground. It is an empty shell with the exception of an art school that moved into the first floor of the Jordan Marsh space. Also the hotel still stands and operates normally...despite it having 5 name changes and numerous renovations. The area is being revamped and revitilized around the Omni, making it pedestrian-friendly again. There is hope that the OMNI might re-open into retail and/or business space...but it will NEVER be the same.










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