The lush Grove of Palms that grace the parking lot in Bal Harbour Shops are soaring a little higher today, as though standing for the reach, vision and rooted dedication of the man who had them planted more than 50 years ago. Stanley Whitman, who passed away this week, believed that there were two kinds of people in this world, those whose roots spread wide, and those whose roots run deep. He was most definitely the latter, with his unwavering attention to every detail that would enhance the Bal Harbour Shops for decades to come.
Stanley’s life was an extraordinary one, and many would say magical. He was a visionary in the truest sense of the word, and he leaves in his wake a legacy of not only one of the most successful retail centers in the world, but of a commitment to radical excellence. Breaking all of the shopping mall dogma, Stanley set his course to create the first-ever all-luxury fashion center in the country, opening in 1965 .
As he often said, he performed “a civic intervention,” turning a salty spit of land—that was destined to become just another strip mall—into a lush tropical environment with waterfalls, fountains and koi ponds for the enjoyment of locals, as well as global shoppers. Stanley traveled the country and abroad relentlessly studying the retail landscape. Observing it all, he created a shopping oasis that was leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. His numerous accolades and scores of firsts only fueled his fire. Stanley’s work ethic never waned: far into his 90s, he was at his office, and would usually take lunch with this son and grandson before touring the center.
More than fifty years later, his plans for the continued growth of Bal Harbour Shops has finally been realized with the recent approval of its expansion.
Many a lesson has been learned from Stanley, but most of all, he’s proof of the rewards found on the road less traveled.
Bal Harbour Shops