UPDATED: February 16, 2017 1:22 PM — The new owner of Oviedo Mall will be hiring hundreds of local workers this year as it looks to renovate and revitalize the aging property built in 1998, a lead executive with the company told GrowthSpotter.
Los Angeles-based International Growth Properties, via affiliate Oviedo Mall Holding LLC, paid $15.35 million for 54 acres of the mall's total 95 acres on Feb. 7.
The seller, Oviedo Fund LLC, is a company affiliated with Veneto Capital Management and Veneto Capital Partners LLC, based in Beverly Hills, Calif., and was represented by CBRE's executive vice presidents Dennis Carson and Casey Rosen.
Mehmet "Matt" Ilbak, managing partner at IGP, said Wednesday he is negotiating with well-known retailers to fill the 554,973-square-foot mall portion included in the sale, which he says is now 80 percent leased.
The new retail will create 500 permanent jobs, Ilbak said. Another 200 temporary jobs will go to contractors and artisans tasked with creating a new entertainment zone and other renovations.
"We will definitely invest here," Ilbak said. "We have to invest money in the mall to catch up."
Ilbak said his research shows about 60 percent of Oviedo residents are shopping in other communities, and that's hurting the mall. Macy's, one of three anchor tenants along with Sears and Dillard's, announced in early January it was closing its Oviedo store along with 67 others around the country that the company said were unproductive.
But IGP looks to reverse those negative trends with exciting niche retail and entertainment.
"We're going to keep Oviedo residents in Oviedo," Ilbak said. "We have to give them a better shopping experience and better entertainment."
Some of the brands IGP is negotiating to bring to Oviedo Mall include Old Navy, Rue21, Victoria's Secret and H&M, he said.
Ilbak, who has a background in fine clothing, called H&M the "hottest store in the fashion industry." The chain appeals to college-age and younger customers as much as Abercrombie & Fitch, he argued.
Entertainment will get a renewed focus under the new mall management with construction of a 25,000-square-foot "Fun Zone," featuring arcades and the latest video games.
Ilbak said he also hopes to bring an Imax screen to the Regal Entertainment Group movie theater at the mall.
As far as the Macy's closure, Ilbak predicted the Dillard's store, with clothing lines of similar quality, can attract many of the Macy's customers.
"I'm saying Dillard's will cover all the Macy's customers," he said. "I don't see any problem with Macy's leaving the market."
The mall occupies a desirable spot in Oviedo, close to the off-ramp on South S.R. 417 near Red Bug Lake Road. The site is close to the Oviedo Medical Center hospital which opened just last month.
"That's a prime piece of commercial real estate right off the Greenway in the city," said Oviedo Mayor Dominic Persampiere. "With the right mix of uses, it could be an extremely popular retail center."
IGP specializes in acquiring and turning around distressed malls. In September 2014, Ilbak was part of the company Via Port USA that purchased the former Lake Square Mall in Leesburg, and renamed it Via Port Florida.