|Recreation of store #4316(1) courtesy of YonWooRetail2|
2999 NW 56th Avenue, Lauderhill, FL
*The (1) after the store number is to differentiate this location from Albertsons #4316(2) in Lake Mary, FL, an unrelated Albertsons store that reused location number 4316 later in Albertsons' Floridian tenure.
After giving control of the blog to Retail Retell for our last post, AFB himself returns today with a double dose of former Floridian Albertsons stores for everyone! The pair of Albertsons stores we'll be looking at today have quite a few similarities to each other, as we'll see throughout the post, but the most interesting similarity these two stores have in common is that both were early causalities for Albertsons in Florida. Neither of Lauderhill's Albertsons stores lasted beyond the early 1990's, and it was different reasons that contributed to each store's early demise. These early Albertsons closures are quite fascinating to me, as the memories of these buildings as Albertsons have mostly faded into obscurity, a small blip in Albertsons' 40+ year run in Florida. Today we'll take a quick look at each of these stores to pull out those memories of supermarket days gone by, beginning with the older (and still standing) of Lauderhill's pair of former Albertsons stores, that being store #4316(1) at the corner of Oakland Park Boulevard and Inverrary Boulevard/NW 56th Avenue:
|Store #4316(1)'s grand opening ad, pulled from newspapers.com thanks to YonWooRetail2|
The City of Lauderhill was still in its infancy when Albertsons opened their first store in town on October 13, 1976. Lauderhill got its start in the mid-1960's as a small community of homes carved out of land in Central Broward County, land purchased by a man from New York named Herbert Sadkin. Sadkin's original Lauderhill development was based off architectural plans he had purchased from Macy's Department Store, Sadkin having already used those plans once before to build a community on Long Island. Lauderhill would rise to success in 1970, when the city was chosen to become home to the new Inverrary Country Club, a sprawling luxury golf course development that would become home to the PGA Tour's Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic. Gleason, the famous actor and comedian of The Honeymooners fame, was one of the early residents of the Inverrary Country Club, and the club's (and city's) most notable resident (who could have shopped at this former Albertsons store, for all we know).
Being a growing new city with a new country club to boot, Lauderhill had all the credentials to be the perfect place for Albertsons to put a store. The opening of store #4316(1) was actually a significant occasion for Albertsons, not just due to the attractive demographics surrounding the new location, but the fact that store #4316(1) was actually the first Albertsons to open in all of South Florida, kicking off the company's long-standing tenure in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. For a store that faded off rather fast, #4316(1) had a little notability for itself in relation to Albertsons' time in Florida.
Unfortunately, going into the late 1980's, Lauderhill began to change. While the Inverrary Country Club, located immediately on the other side of Oakland Park Boulevard from the former Albertsons store, is still a very nice and luxurious community, the neighborhood located on the opposite side of the road (where Albertsons is) began to slide downhill. On December 27, 1991, a pair of armed robbers held up this Albertsons store at gunpoint (per a newspaper article YonWooRetail2 references here). According to the article, those robbers managed to get away with $89,000 worth of cash, checks, and food stamps, a huge blow to this store. That robbery must not have resonated well with Albertsons' corporate office, as only a month later on January 28, 1992, Albertsons #4316(1) closed for good. While I haven't seen anything definitive linking the robbery to the store's closure, the timing of everything is just a bit strange for those to events to be totally coincidental. Regardless though, the changing of the neighborhood wasn't helping Albertsons any, leading to this location's early demise.
Following Albertsons' closure, the City of Lauderhill wanted to see another supermarket or retailer take over the building, but there weren't any takers. In 1996, a local pastor offered to buy the Albertsons building in order to convert it into a new church. The city resisted the pastor's plan, still holding out hope another retailer would bite at the Albertsons property, citing that the pastor was "trying to put a church in a commercial area". However, in 1998, the city eventually gave in to a non-retail use for the old Albertsons building, and allowed the United States Postal Service to open a sorting facility in half of the space. Realizing retail was never again in this building's future, the city of Lauderhill reached out to Nova Southeastern University to take over the remainder of the building, however, the pastor who wanted to take over the entire building in 1996 was also interested in that remaining half of the building as well. Who would become the new tenant of the empty half of the building became a bit of an issue locally, with the church eventually winning the battle to take over the space. In the years since all that happened, the USPS sorting facility has closed, its space re-tenanted as offices for a private shipping service. The church that took over the other half of the building had a not-so-divine downfall that made a lot of lawyers happy, its space being subdivided for a daycare center, a UFC Training Gym, and a much smaller Hispanic church.
Even with Albertsons calling it quits here nearly 30 years ago, and all the fuss and subdivision to follow in this building's later years, the place still looks exactly like an old Skaggs model Albertsons store from the outside. It's not the most pristine looking building anymore, but you can certainly drive by this place and say with confidence, "Look Ma, it's an old Albertsons store, just like the ones that crazy guy on the internet writes about!"
While this building and its mostly empty parking lot aren't the most jumping place in town anymore, all of the tenants in the former Albertsons are open, but they're not really the types of businesses that would attract a crowd. Thankfully for the sake of my picture taking it was quiet when I was here, although I was still a bit on edge taking photos of a building containing a low-profile shipping service, a daycare, and a UFC gym. I don't know to which one of those businesses I'd rather have had to explain my photo taking too had someone caught on to what I was doing!
Looking toward the left side of the building, we see the space that was formerly home to the USPS sorting facility, now home to the private shipping service. Interestingly, while the right half of the building received a new stucco job in its later years, the left half of the building didn't, so the original river rock exterior walls were preserved on the left side of the building.
Getting a little closer to the left side of the building, we can see the original river rock walls better in the photo above (you can zoom in on the photo too for a better look at those). I didn't venture too close to this side of the building, as there was a group of people loading mattresses into that box truck you see backed up to the shipping service's front doors.
Returning our attention to the right side of the building, here's a nice photo showcasing many of the building's original Albertsons design traits. The original entryway was reconfigured and the picture windows covered over, but there's still a lot of 1970's Skaggs-Albertsons vibe going on here.
With the way the building was subdivided in its later years, the parking lot was oddly reconfigured as well (the reconfiguration is more visible in the historic aerials to follow). USPS reconfigured their side of the lot entirely when the sorting facility moved in, and then the daycare modified the front of the lot for a pick-up/drop-off area, in addition to creating a small greenspace for a playground (which is visible in the above image).
As I was leaving this former Albertsons store, I decided to venture onto the building's front walkway for close-up photos of this side of the building. Here's a look down the front walkway toward the daycare's entrance. The walkway appears to have been rebuilt in the years after Albertsons left, as Albertsons walkway would have been much wider than this.
We'll finish out our little tour of former Albertsons #4316(1) by going around the right side of the building, where we'll find the old side entrance and liquor store:
Looking down the side of the building, the building's facade still bumps out to designate where the side entrance and liquor store used to be. Currently, the small Hispanic church occupies this corner of the building, is entrance located where the side entrance and liquor store used to be. (A bit of a strange sight seeing a church in an old liquor store, though, but there are lots of strange things about this building!).
The walkway on this side of the building is still original to Albertsons, the slope in the walkway for shopping carts to roll down designating where Albertsons' original doors were located. The church's much plainer doors are in roughly the same spot as Albertsons' were. Interestingly, I found a photo from inside the church, taken just on the other side of the door you see here. Inside, there's actually another preserved river rock panel, just painted black! In that linked photo, the wall on the right side of the image was added after Albertsons left, as the side entrance was originally concave, like this. That's how the panel ended up inside the building, although outside of that, no other Albertsons relics are jumping out at me in that photo.
Here's one last look toward the former side entrance, as we make our way toward the back of the building.
The last of the current tenants we have yet to see is the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) Gym. The UFC Gym's entrance is located on the back right of the building, the gym taking up a good chunk of what would have been Albertsons' backroom space. While it seems like an odd spot to take up shop, the gym actually has good exposure to Oakland Park Boulevard, the busier of the two crossroads at the intersection upon which this store was built. The UFC Gym is actually the building's newest tenant, having opened in late 2020. Inside, the space was heavily renovated, but interestingly, the gym preserved Albertsons' old backroom mezzanine space, which is quite neat.
From the back corner of the former Albertsons building, here's a quick look across Oakland Park Boulevard toward the local Publix. Publix came about long after Albertsons closed, this particular location not opening until 2005.
It's not often I get photos of the back of one of the former Albertsons stores, but I happened to here. Nothing too exciting to see, but I do spot a set of stairs leading down from an emergency door on Albertsons' (now the UFC Gym's) mezzanine level.
So that wraps up our first tour of this two-part post. We'll take a look at our usual satellite images to finish up our coverage of former store #4316(1), before jumping across town to take a look at what I could scrounge up for our look at Lauderhill's other former Albertsons store. Up first, some Bird's Eye aerial images, courtesy of Bing Maps:
And now for some historic aerial images, courtesy of Google Earth and historicaerials.com:
Former Albertsons #4316(1) - 2021 - You can tell how the building is all chopped up these days by the funky parking lot and the patchwork roof visible above. Also note the empty lot right off the corner, in the middle of the parking lot:
That little empty lot was home to something many years ago - possibly a gas station from the older aerial images we'll see below. Whatever used to be here was gone by the early 2000's though. All that was left to see here were some random patches of concrete, and a lot a trash from where some homeless people had set up camp in the surrounding brushline.
Anyway, that little diversion aside, back to the aerial images:
Former Albertsons #4316(1) - 2010
Former Albertsons #4316(1) - 2004
Former Albertsons #4316(1) - 1999 - Only the postal facility was operational in the building at this time.
Former Albertsons #4316(1) - 1995 - Totally abandoned building.
Albertsons #4316(1) - 1980
Future Albertsons #4316(1) - 1969 - Nothing here at this point, and even Oakland Park Boulevard was still a dirt road.
From former Albertsons #4316(1) (bottom right of the map), we'll cut through the Inverrary Country Club and head three miles northwest to our next destination, Lauderhill's second Albertsons store, former location #4335:
5545 N. University Drive, Lauderhill, FL - Universal Plaza
Three years after the first Albertsons opened its doors in town, a second Albertsons store popped in in Lauderhill in 1979. That second location, Albertsons #4335, was one of four anchors for the new Universal Plaza Shopping Center, a new development at the busy intersection of Commercial Boulevard and University Drive. In addition to Albertsons, the other anchors of the shopping center included a large Modernage Furniture showroom (the other large building in the plaza), a Standard Brands electronics store, and Eckerd Drugs.
The Albertsons store in this plaza was quite successful, however, it was Albertsons themselves that brought on this store's demise. Following A&P's decision to close all their Floridian Family Mart stores in 1988, Albertsons agreed to purchase the former Family Mart building at the intersection of University Drive and McNab Road in Tamarac, located only a mile north of store #4335. That former Family Mart would become home to Albertsons #4381, which opened in 1989. The new Albertsons store up the road essentially stole all the business from the existing #4335, leading Albertsons to close the older store in favor of the new one only a year later in 1990. Following Albertsons closure in Universal Plaza, the building sat empty until 1994, when a new upstart chain called KidSource (a children's clothing and toy superstore concept) moved in. KidSource was a bit of a bust, with the entire chain going out of business in 1996, leaving the Albertsons building empty once again. The late 90's were a rough time for this shopping center, with KidSource and Standard Electronics closing, and many of the smaller tenants jumping ship. In order to turn the shopping center around, the landlord managed to attract Target to build a store at the property, the new Target at the Universal Plaza site being South Florida's first Super Target store. To build the new Super Target, the entire shopping center, including the old Albertsons store, was demolished, with all the remaining tenants in the plaza forced to relocate to accommodate Target's arrival.
Target's new superstore was built at the back side of the property, right over the spot where the Albertsons' building once stood. In addition to the new Super Target, a small strip of stores was built onto the building's side to accommodate any of the remaining tenants in the original Universal Plaza that wanted to stay, and a new freestanding Eckerd store was built in Target's parking lot to accommodate Eckerd's relocation.
|Photo courtesy of Google Maps|
The Lauderhill Super Target, store #1778, opened on July 25, 2001, and served as a replacement for an older Target store located further north on University Drive in Tamarac (the old location being an ex-Gold Circle that Target had purchased upon the chain's entrance into Florida in 1988). Being South Florida's first Super Target, and Florida's second Super Target overall, this place was quite the showstopper upon its opening. However, as the demographics of Lauderhill continued to change going into the 2010's, even the Super Target began to struggle. Sadly, Target announced in late 2017 that their Lauderhill superstore would close in February 2018, bringing abandonment back to the Universal Plaza site once again. Since this store wasn't doing so well in its final years, Target stopped putting money into it, so the store retained its original neon decor all the way to the end, a decor package that was mostly eliminated from Florida by the late 2010's due to various remodel campaigns.
A year after Target's closure, plans were announced to demolish the old Super Target building and replace it with a complex containing 501 new apartment units. Come mid-2021, the plans for the redevelopment began to gain more traction, with demolition of the old Target building and construction of the new apartments planned for sometime in early 2022. Even though the Albertsons building has been gone for 20 years now, I wanted to get over here for a few photos of the old Super Target before that was demolished as well, as I feel an abandoned Super Target is a better substitute for the old Albertsons than photos of one of those new apartment developments that seem to be popping up everywhere right now - especially at the site of abandoned retail buildings.
The old Albertsons building would have stood somewhere within Target's massive sales floor, the old Super Target containing about as much square footage as the entirety of the original Universal Plaza that once stood here.
Target's grocery entrance is the one seen above, located on the right side of the building.
The building was sealed up tight with all the hurricane shutters pulled down, so there weren't any opportunities to peek inside and see of any of the old neon decor remained on the walls following the store's closure.
I've been inside Super Targets of this same building design before, and while these are very big stores, these buildings just appear so much bigger when they're abandoned and no one is around.
Here's one last look at the facade as we begin to leave the property...
The old Target garden center separates the Super Target building from the small strip of stores that run down the property's side. The small strip of stores along the side of the property will remain as part of the redevelopment, but the Super Target building and its parking lot will all be removed to make way for the new apartments.
A super-sized blank square marks where Super Target's logo was once located on this sign. So from an Albertsons-anchored shopping center to a Super Target to apartments, this property has seen quite a bit of change through the years. Really, both of Lauderhill's former Albertsons stores have been through a lot as times have changed - #4335 going through massive site redevelopments and the funky subdivisions we saw over at #4316(1). It's just another day in the life of an online retail blogger to document all these things, and who knows what kind of craziness we'll uncover next.
So that's all I have to share for now. AFB returns two weeks and one day from now, on Monday, December 6, 2021. As you probably know, December 6th is the blog's birthday, so I try to save something really interesting to mark that occasion, and I think I have something good to share with everyone this year. I'll leave everyone with that, so be sure to come back on the 6th for our next installment into the saga of Florida's former Albertsons stores!
So until the next post,
The Albertsons Florida Blogger