In May 1963, during a luncheon at Downtown Jacksonville’s Robert Meyer Hotel, Montgomery Ward announced that it would open its second department store in the city, making Jacksonville the only municipality in Florida with two of the chain’s stores. The new $2.6 million department store would be 5.5 miles west of downtown in Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation’s proposed Normandy Mall.
The mall was the second enclosed mall to be developed by DeBartolo. Located near the intersection of Normandy Boulevard and Cassat Avenue, this shopping center would replace the former 37-acre Normandy Drive-In Theatre on the city’s westside.
The 462,284-square-foot shopping center opened its doors in late 1963, becoming the city’s first fully enclosed mall and Florida’s second to be built as a fully enclosed structure behind Fort Lauderdale’s Coral Ridge Plaza. It was said to “employ the newest concepts in suburban shopping facilities”. Armed with 1,836 parking spaces and anchored by Montgomery Ward’s 111,000-square-foot store, Normandy Mall also featured a 31,700-square-foot P.H. Rose (Roses) variety store, Food Fair supermarket and a 1,000-seat Kent Theatres twin cinema.
A view of Kingdom Plaza’s west entrance. During the 1970’s, this space was occupied by Roses, a North Carolina-based regional discount store. A competitor to Wal-Mart and Kmart, Roses returned to Jacksonville in 2011 and 2012, opening new stores in Arlington and on Lem Turner Road.