I must have visited my sister at least a dozen times when she was living in the Fort Walton Beach area while stationed at Eglin Air Force Base. We made side treks to the town of Seaside, the planned community where The Truman Show was filmed, as well as to Pensacola Beach, over an hour away. But, during those many visits, we may have gone to the city's only enclosed shopping center, Santa Rosa Mall, once or twice.
Santa Rosa Mall Mallmanac ca. 2000. View the full PDF version here.
Santa Rosa Mall was fairly unremarkable and pretty much followed the standard for a late 1990s and early 2000s enclosed facility. In fact, I don't remember much about the place. It really must not have been unique in any way or have made that much of an impression on me. The complex opened in 1976 with three anchors, Sears, JCPenney and Gayfer's. A new wing and a fourth anchor, McRae's, was added in 1984. Since then, there haven't been a whole lot of changes except for McRae's becoming a Belk while Gayfer's was taken over by Dillard's, leaving the mall with the same four department stores found at most mid-size market malls in the southeast. But at least they had mallmanacs.
L- Santa Rosa Mall at its opening. R- Santa Rosa Mall as of this writing.
Since my last visit in 2004, there has been a building boom of new retail facilities in Okaloosa County, most of them open-air to capitalize on the region's sub-tropical climate. All of these are filled with businesses aimed at the many vacationers who make their way to the Emerald Coast each year. Santa Rosa Mall, containing nothing distinguishing itself from any other mall in the region, fills the needs of the local population fairly well, but not much else. But, yeah, at least they had mallmanacs.