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After Coral Gables, Bal Harbour Village was the first planned municipality in South Florida. Stanley Whitman and his family move to the future site of Bal Harbour Shops to assist with the incorporation of Bal Harbour Village. In coming years, Whitman would be influential in the community, helping to acquire a new zip code, traffic plans, landscaping and beach restoration, an improved water main, a resort tax and more.

The Whitman family buys half of the 16-acre lot on the north side of 96th Street and Collins Avenue from Robert C. Graham.

Since Stanley Whitman’s vision of an all-luxury fashion center differed dramatically from Graham’s mixed-use plans, the Whitman family agreed to purchase full ownership. Whitman paid a record amount, $2 per square foot — 20 times what regional competitors had paid for land.

1954 to 1962
Stanley travels around the U.S. studying shopping centers to glean how to maximize the square footage of the narrow plot of land and what innovations would make his center unique.

1954 to 1962
He hires Victor Gruen, considered the top shopping-center designer of the day, but after much debate, goes another route. He ultimately selects Herb Johnson, a Miami-based firm.

Bal Harbour Shops opens as the first all-luxury fashion shopping center.

Neiman Marcus opens at the center, the department store’s first location outside its native Texas.

Whitman’s son, Randy, joins the business as the leasing agent and managing partner.

Saks Fifth Avenue opens, making Bal Harbour Shops the first location to have both Saks and Neiman Marcus as anchors. It soon becomes the largest Saks in Florida.

Shortly after opening at the center, Gucci makes good on a pledge to reach sales of $1,000 per square foot.

A vertical expansion adds a second level of stores with 100,000 square feet of retail space.

Randy introduces European designer boutiques to the South Florida retail market.

Total sales reach $300 million. Sales per square foot reach $1,000, five times the national average.

The center adds signature koi ponds to the lushly landscaped courtyards (right).

WWD ranks Bal Harbour Shops as the most productive shopping center in the U.S., based on average sales per square foot. At the time, the mall generated more than three times the national average, with sales of $1,350 a square foot.

Stanley’s grandson, Matthew Whitman Lazenby, joins Bal Harbour Shops as the next generation in charge of leasing.

A multimillion-dollar redesign sets back new storefronts on the second level to create a spacious promenade for the addition of the Barbara Neijna Sculpture garden and fountains. In the process, retail space is diminished to establish larger common space — a retail industry first.

For the first time in its history, the center closes early to customers to host a private charity fund-raiser to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis. Destination Fashion 2004 features a star-studded fashion show and concert.

Bal Harbour Shops marks 40 years and becomes America’s highest concentration of luxury jewelry and watch brands with 25,000 dedicated square feet. Graff Jewelers and Audemars Piguet join a shop roster that includes Harry Winston, Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari, David Yurman, Chopard and Tiffany & Co.

The center breaks another industry record as sales continue to rise during the early part of the year, exceeding $2,000 per square foot — more than five times the national average.

The International Council of Shopping Centers’ “Shopping Centers Today” ranks Bal Harbour Shops the world’s most productive luxury shopping center.

The mall scores record sales of nearly $2,730 per square foot, more than six times the national average.

The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort opens on the ocean across from Bal Harbour Shops.

The Whitmans reveal plans to codevelop Brickell City Centre.

Chanel unveils its redesigned 8,000-square-foot boutique at Bal Harbour Shops.

The mall records a 12.4 percent increase in sales over the same period last year, making July the most successful month in the history of the Shops.

Salvatore Ferragamo reopens its boutique with a two-story flagship, the first town house concept store at the center.

Bal Harbour Shops marks its 50th anniversary. Milestone festivities include the April opening of a cultural exhibition Fashion Project by London-based curator Judith Clark. The only cultural space of its kind in a major U.S. retail center will host four exhibitions throughout the year, including 50 + 50, A Century of Fashion.

The 50th-anniversary celebration culminates Nov. 12 to 15 with the kickoff for Destination Fashion, the debut of The Bal Harbour Shops Vintage and Exotic Car Show and a Family Day in honor of Stanley Whitman’s 97th birthday.

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