New York mall operator Kohan Retail Investment Group is setting forth on plans to redevelop the Seminole Towne Center in Sanford into a mixed-use destination that will feature new entertainment concepts and multifamily residences.
Felix Reznick, a partner at KRIG, told GrowthSpotter the behemoth of a property, spanning 1.1 million square feet just northeast of the major I-4 and S.R. 417 interchange, is due for an upgrade.
He said the company is preparing to submit a full Planned Unit Development that will allow for entertainment uses in the regular mall section, as well as multifamily uses on two separate locations of the property.
Those include a vacant and wooded 13.5-acre site next to the mall, located east of Towne Center Boulevard and north of WP Ball Boulevard, as well as about seven acres of land previously used as a parking lot for Macy’s.
What will take the place of empty malls? Experts in architecture and the retail industry discuss its reconstruction, and what players in the field are doing to seize the benefits of a changing industry.
Another area with potential to be redeveloped is the United Artists Seminole Towne Center 10 theater, he adds.
“There’s a lot of potential here,” Reznick said. “Especially once we have multifamily built, it’s going to be great driver of traffic.”
KRIG bought the Seminole Towne Center this summer with plans to revitalize the struggling mall by bringing in new retailers to fill the empty shells left by shuttered department stores.
The Sears at Seminole Towne Center closed in 2018 as part of a plan to close 63 stores nationwide, and earlier this year the Macy’s at the mall also closed as a part its plan to close 29 stores nationwide.
Reznick said KRIG is marketing the Macy’s building so it may be converted into something else like supermarket.
Meanwhile, he said Sears has plans to announce a new concept at its location at the mall early next year, but wouldn’t comment further citing a non-disclosure agreement.
“It’s a beautiful concept and we’re 100% behind it,” he said.
Seminole Towne Center was developed by Simon Property Group in 1995 at 200 Towne Center Circle. Early blueprints of its construction plans show spaces for multiple big-box retailers at several main arteries into the main mall building.
At the time, giant retail departments stores like Burdines and Parisian had spaces at the mall and have since ceased operations. Today, big-box retailers at the mall include Dick’s Sporting Goods and Athletic APEX Health Clubs.
The highest and best use for the property may not necessarily be retail, Reznick said.
Earlier this year, AdventHealth opened up Covid-19 testing site at the Seminole Towne Center mall.
A former Sears at the Livingston Mall in New Jersey is being considered as a venue to inoculate individuals against COVID-19, and would have refrigerated trucks on site to store the vaccine.
At a city commission work session meeting, Monday, Sanford’s Director of Planning, Amye King, briefed commissioners about the state of the mall and a possible future repurposing of the property.
“I was asked to provide information about what other ‘dying’ malls are doing to re-purpose and what was being discussed with the Seminole Towne Center representatives,” she said in an email to GrowthSpotter.
Eileen Hinson, Sanford’s Development Services Manager, confirmed city staff had worked with representative Javier Omana with CPH Engineering toward the process of rezoning the property.
No formal applications have been submitted to the city for review as of yet.
For the past two decades, malls across the globe that relied heavenly on big-box tenants have been in a decline due to major chain department retailers, like Macy’s, Sears and J.C. Penny, closing and leaving their big-box stores empty.
However, mall owners are finding new and creative ways to re-purpose the space by adding housing and substituting large vacant retail stores for experiences a consumer can’t find online like restaurants, gyms, education and healthcare.
Without providing the names, Reznick said KRIG recently signed two Letters Of Intent from tenants looking to move into the mall after hearing about redevelopment plans.
“They understood the story,” Reznick said. “It’s going to be easier to fill the space,... [Seminole Towne Center] will be better than its heyday when the Disney Store was there.”
Other malls in Central Florida being re-purposed include the former Artegon Marketplace that is being converted into a mixed-use community with luxury apartments and an accompanying attraction called Dezerland Park Orlando, which will have go-karts, bowling lanes and arcade games as well as a 500-car museum.
Unicorp National DevelopmentCEO Chuck Whittall also has plans to redeveloped portions of the old Orlando Fashion Square mall, which would lean heavily on residential uses to activate a new and improved open-air retail center.