50 YEARS OF SHOPPING
Corpus Christi shopping landmark turning 50; time capsule commemorating milestone to be buried
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (July 24, 2020) – The summer of 1970 started like any other in Corpus Christi. The Jackson 5 and The Beatles were topping the music charts, Catch-22 was bringing them in at the box office, while bell bottoms, mini-skirts and tie-dye were the fashion of the day. But things were about to change for the better as the area’s first indoor shopping center was preparing to open.
And open it did to much fanfare on July 30, 1970, as Padre Staples Mall with two-weeks of events featuring a ribbon cutting, the Corpus Christi Municipal Band, trained seals, a car show, and a 581-pound block of cheese. The mall was only one-story at that time bringing 622,760 square feet of new shopping options to the Coastal Bend, a four of which remain to this day — Chick-fil-A, Dillard’s, JCPenney and Zales Jewelers — albeit in different locations, with the exception JCPenney.
Through the years, the mall morphed and grew. In 1975, the mall installed a “money-dispensing machine,” making it the first retail location in the state of Texas to do so. The 80s were a time of growth as the mall expanded its footprint to the west, making way for a new upper level and a larger Dillard’s, an upstairs food court and movie theater was added, JCPenney added a second floor, the multi-level parking garage and a third anchor department store, Foley’s (later Macy’s), were built, and the iconic double-decker carousel made its debut in the mall’s center court. The 90s saw Chili’s Grill & Bar built on a corner of the mall property, and plans were drawn up to make the mall two stories throughout were shelved. Although that plan never came to fruition, bigger changes were on the way in the next decade.
In July 2008, Trademark Property and partner Institutional Mall Investors, LLC, acquired the mall, changing the name to La Palmera and launching a two-year, $50 million redevelopment of the property. On June 25, 2010, a ribbon cutting and three-day “Grand Opening” event marked the end of the 1-million-square-foot regional mall’s transformation and the beginning of its new life as a cutting-edge shopping and leisure destination and local economic development machine.
Today, La Palmera remains the only super-regional mall in a 140-mile radius.
“We took a distressed 1970s mall and literally transformed it into something spectacular,” said Fred Walters, vice president and general manager of La Palmera. “We added a great mix of new tenants and dining options and numerous amenities such as free Wi-Fi, expanded Concierge service, valet parking, and community programs, all of which have greatly improved the guest experience.”
In the past two years several popular retail and dining options opened their first and only Coastal Bend locations at La Palmera including Kendra Scott, Hollister Co., Torrid, Windsor, BoxLunch, Steak ‘n Shake and Dave & Buster’s.
This year marked the arrival of specialty retailer Lush on Center Court and Charleys Philly Steaks in the La Palmera Cafés food court, with ChinaMax also planned for the food court Razzoo’s Cajun Kitchen to be located adjacent to JCPenney off Staples Street in the corner of the mall’s southeast parking area. A new Home2 Suites by Hilton, also recently opened adjacent to the mall bear Dillard’s.
“Even as many malls struggle, La Palmera continues to be a desirable location for retailers and restaurants and we are pleased to continue bringing new elements into the mix for our guests.”
In honor of the mall’s 50th anniversary, on July 30, 2020, La Palmera will bury a time capsule in front of the mall, designed to be unearthed in the year 2070.
“Although we originally had other plans for a celebration, the pandemic put an end to those,” said Walters. “With that said, we still wanted to commemorate the milestone and thought a time capsule might be a fitting way to do that.”
Included in the time capsule will be items documenting the mall as it is today, including a mall directory with a map and store listings, a photo of the mall staff, a thumb drive with press releases and other documents relating to mall events in 2020, and of course — a mask.