As Rhode Island-based development company Picerne Real Estate Group pursues a plan to build a 350-unit apartment community at the Seminole Towne Center mall, the Sanford City Commission took action Monday that could move the project along.
Connor Franklin with Maitland-based American Surveying and Mapping, Inc filed an application to the city requesting that a 17-acre portion of the property, including the former Macy’s department store and its parking lot, be broken off as a separate plat. The entire 1.1 million-square-foot mall property is owned by New York-based Kohan Retail Investment Group.
“The applicant is proposing to re-plat the former Macy’s site to facilitate the sale and eventual redevelopment of the site as a multifamily residential project,” the staff report included in agenda materials reads.
The commission approved the change unanimously without discussion.
GrowthSpotter reported on October 3 that a developer had submitted a preliminary application to the city for an apartment community at the Macy’s site. At the time, the name of the developer was not included in application documents posted on the city’s website.
On Oct. 24, the city sent an email with development review comments related to the proposed project to William Shallcross, the development manager with Picerne.
Representatives with the company could not be reached for comment as of Tuesday afternoon.
City Planner Eileen Hinson said after the commission vote Monday that the company has yet to submit a formal development plan for the mall site. The city has received a conceptual sketch of the project, which was drafted by Forum Architecture & Interior Design.
Hinson said the city has also had numerous meetings with the developer about the project.
The re-plat approved by the commission is a step in the process, Hinson said.
“They are platting a separate parcel so it can be sold to the developer so they can work directly with the city instead of having a property owner in between,” she said. “It’s not forwarding the actual apartment development itself, it’s just facilitating step one. Now they can move forward on a development plan on a parcel they know now exists with formal boundaries.”
Picerne’s apartment project planned for the mall property is dubbed “Oasis Seminole Towne Center” in conceptual plans submitted to the city. If that name holds, it would expand the company’s portfolio of Oasis-branded, luxury communities across the country.
Currently, there are 12 Oasis-branded apartment communities in Florida, with five in the Greater Orlando area.
Oasis at Moss Park Preserve opened near Lake Nona, just east of S.R. 417, in 2020. The 320-unit community comes with nine different floor plans and includes a 24/7 fitness center, an aerobics room, a coffee and wine bar, game room, business center, dog park, smart home technology, stainless steel appliances, and more.
Rent ranges from $1,855 a month to $2,685 a month, according to Apartments.com.
In Orlando, Picerne also developed Oasis at Moss Park in Lake Nona, Oasis at Crosstown off S. Goldenrod Road near S.R. 408, Oasis at Lake Bennett in Ocoee, and Oasis at Wekiva in Apopka.
Picerne also develops affordable housing, like The Pointe at Merritt Street located in Altamonte Springs.
Across its entire portfolio, Picerne manages over 25,000 rental units in 22 states across the country and Puerto Rico, according to its website.
Seminole Towne Center, built in 1995, was once a thriving shopping destination. But in recent years, the mall has lost several businesses, including Sears and Macy’s. The departures left behind a number of empty and dark retail spaces and caused a lot of the large parking lot to sit unused.
The mall was in danger of foreclosure in 2020 before the owner, Washington Prime Group, transferred the deed to New York-based Kohan Retail Investment Group.
KRIG specializes in purchasing endangered and troubled shopping malls. It owns more than 30 other indoor malls throughout the nation. The investment company is known to reposition malls, in part by replacing national chain stores with locally owned retailers.
Today, Seminole Towne Center is home to 78 tenants, according to the directory on its website. That’s down from the 100 GrowthSpotter reported it having at the time of the sale in 2020.
Mall owners and city officials have been hoping to infuse new life into the property by transforming it into a mixed-use destination.
[ Recent coverage: Sanford looks to lure development at old Seminole Towne Center property ]
In recent years Sanford has made efforts — including rezoning the property and creating a master plan — to encourage and allow developers to build residential units, a hotel and restaurants at the mall site. The land was previously zoned to only allow a mall.
Picerne isn’t the only developer planning to bring apartments to a Central Florida mall. In January, California-based Legacy Partners purchased a portion of Volusia Mall in Daytona Beach for $10 million in order to build a four-story, 350-unit gated apartment community.
That project also involves the demolition of a deserted Macy’s department store.
Jon Wood, senior managing director with Legacy Partners, said that construction is expected to start this summer.
Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at (407)-800-1161 or dwyatt@GrowthSpotter.com. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.