Palm Beach Gardens-based Kitson & Partners is moving forward with longtime plans to breath new life into an aging shopping center in Altamonte Springs.
The developer is in the midst of securing final site plan approvals from the city’s planning staff to demolish and rebuild a sizable portion of the roughly 180,000-square-foot Oak Grove Shoppes on the northeast corner of Jamestown Boulevard and State Road 434.
Matt Buehler, a senior vice president at Kitson & Partners, told GrowthSpotter the company plans to tear down about 110,000 square feet of retail space and rebuild about 77,000 square feet, so once complete Oak Grove Shoppes will contain a little over 147,000 square feet.
“We’re basically shrinking its size by about 30,000 square feet,” he said. The former 36,000-square-foot Stein Mart space and 22,660-square-foot O2B Kids early childhood learning center will remain.
Kitson & Partners has owned Oak Grove Shoppes since 2007. The retail development was designed and built in the 1980s, and Buehler admits its layout is in need of modernization.
He said Oak Grove Shoppes currently places buildings in front of others and hides a bundle of retailers behind those that face S.R. 434. The shopping center also features second story office space that is no longer desirable in today’s market, he adds.
“People aren’t leasing office space in shopping centers anymore,” Buehler said. The developer is planning to build a stand-alone 5,200 medical office building by one of the entrances along Jamestown Boulevard, as part of the redevelopment.
New plans take into account a rapidly changing retail industry that places value and importance on curbside collection, outdoor seating and pedestrian experience, as well as the use of green building materials.
Buehler said the planned layout for the Oak Grove Shoppes plaza will contain a generous amount of outdoor patio and dining space for number of potential restaurants.
In December, Kitson & Partners signed on Publix as a tenant. The grocer will be building its newest store prototype at Oak Grove Shoppes, which features a drive-through pharmacy lane and second-floor mezzanine dining area with WiFi, he said.
In addition to new tenants, some of the current tenants at the shopping plaza plan to close and reopen their stores at the shopping center, Buehler said. Declining to name any, he said tenants should be announced sometime next month.
Plans for the redevelopment predate the arrival of COVID-19. The shopping center, like many others, had been struggling to fill lost big-box retail space due to a large amount of retail bankruptcies.
At least two large retailers had closed at Oak Grove Shoppes. In 2017, a former Fresh Market grocery store closed it doors at the shopping center, and last year Stein Mart announced it would closing its store at Oak Grove Shoppes and others following a company filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
However, retail owners and operators are finding new and creative ways to re-purpose lost space by adding housing or substituting large vacant retail stores for experiences a consumer can’t find online like restaurants, gyms, education and health care.
New York mall operator Kohan Retail Investment Group is redeveloping the Seminole Towne Center in Sanford into a mixed-use destination that will feature new entertainment concepts and multifamily residences.
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.
Kitson & Partners own a number of shopping centers throughout Central Florida including the 183,000-square-foot Orlando Square shopping center across from The Florida Mall.
It also owns the Casselberry Exchange retail center on U.S. Hwy. 17-92 at Semoran Boulevard, the Gateway Plaza in Sanford and Springs Plaza on Wekiva Springs Road in Longwood.