Saturday, April 27, 2013

Coral Ridge Shopping Plaza opens in Fort Lauderdale with Britts as anchor - 1962

Coral Ridge Shopping Plaza circa 1962

By Jane Feehan

Construction plans for Coral Ridge Shopping Plaza were announced August, 1960.  James Hunt and Steve Calder, under the aegis of Coral Ridge Properties, and Jack Cantor of Miami-based Cantor Company, teamed up to develop a 33-acre track at Oakland Park Boulevard and Federal Highway.

A 275,000 square-foot shopping center with parking for 2,500 cars opened late 1962 on the $8 million property. Coral Ridge Shopping Plaza was the first fully enclosed air conditioned shopping center in Florida. Its two anchor stores were JCPenney and Britts Department Store.

Britts opened Nov. 8, 1962. It was owned by the JJ Newberry Company, which had been known as a five-and-dime retailer in its early days. The first Britts was built in Fort Lauderdale. Newberry chose the name out of 200 suggestions. In 1928, the company had taken over a chain of Britts dime stores in the Pacific Northwest. Newberry wanted a name that was short and easy to remember for its more upscale department store; Britts it was.

The 165,000 square-foot store had 204 departments on two floors. They sold televisions, gourmet food, and home services such as decorating, roof painting and landscaping. Britts also had an art gallery – and a fur salon with items ranging in sale from $159 to $1,600. They also offered cold 
Today: new name, new stores
storage for furs, a service my mother used during the humid off season.  A hearing aid center also drew shoppers. One of its biggest attractions was a great cafeteria with a cocktail lounge. Those who grew up in Fort Lauderdale during the 1960s may also remember a promotional visit by Michael Landon, Little Joe Cartwright of the TV show, Bonanza.  He patiently signed hundreds of autographs that day at Britts.

Three additional Britts stores opened in Lauderdale Lakes, Palm Beach Lakes, and Winter Haven. By the late 70s, JJ Newberry was acquired by McCrory Stores. McCrory’s soon entered its decline and eventually went bankrupt. Britts in Fort Lauderdale was closed during the early 80s. JBryons moved in and also met its demise. Today, Target is now the center’s most popular anchor store. Coral Ridge Shopping Center is now Coral Ridge Mall.

New York Times, Aug. 24, 1960
New York Times, Nov. 9, 1962
Palm Beach Post, Nov. 21, 1978

Tags: Fort Lauderdale history, Fort Lauderdale in the 1960s, Fort Lauderdale shopping centers, Florida film researcher,  historical researcher

1 comment:

  1. There was also some kind of daytime variety show at Britts briefly, for local TV. My mom and I went there for one of the shows. Ft Lauderdale was so easy going and cheerful back then, and this was a popular mall.