Unicorp National Development has announced that they have made a deposit on the roughly 50-acre site that hosts the long-struggling Orlando Fashion Square Mall in East Orlando, to the tune of $23 million.
While still negotiating the deal with current owner, Bancorp, Unicorp president Chuck Whittall is claiming that his plans are to demo the current mall and replace it with an open-air, mixed-use “lifestyle center” development with a movie theater, restaurants, a bowling alley, apartments, and a hotel. All things that online shopping retailers like Amazon can’t compete with.
The mall was built in 1973 but was hit hard in recent years with a rotating door of ownership teams and a lag in box store retail culture. Sears shuttered their store there in November 2015 after 50 years of business and knocked their building down in 2017. Orchard Hardware, a subsidiary of Lowe’s, also pulled out of their Fashion Square location before it was even finished being built back in August 2018.
Whittall is reportedly in negotiations with current tenants like Macy’s and J.C. Penney to leave the building so he can take the entire 917,000 SF building down all at once; with the potential to reopen their stores in the new development when its finished.
The design phase will pick up after the sale is final in the next month, with a pending demolition scheduled for 2020.