News | More space, better flow planned for new Florida Mall food court

January 15, 2014

By Anjali Fluker | Orlando Business Journal

Original Article

The Florida Mall in south Orlando plans to start work in the spring on a multimillion-dollar project involving building arelocated, expanded food court in what soon will be the former space of Saks Fifth Avenue.

Saks will close its doors in March, resulting in 74 layoffs. The Florida Mall, Central Florida’s largest enclosed regional mall at 1.8 million square feet, is finalizing the design for its newest revamp that’s expected to allow the mall to take on more tenants, since demand is strong.

The Florida Mall, owned by Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc. (NYSE: SPG), is a big draw for Orlando’s tourists, featuring some of the area’s most exclusive stores, like the M&M Store. Along with adding jobs to the region, new stores and amenities also could help draw more traffic to existing tenants at the mall, as well as to surrounding businesses.

The new 105,000-square-foot pavilion, set to open in spring 2015, is expected to modernize the food court for shoppers and offer tenants more space in a better layout, said mall manager Brian Hanson in an interview with Orlando Business Journal. Hanson declined to share a detailed project cost, saying only that it is a multimillion-dollar investment.

“Our food court is very busy, which is good from a production standpoint,” Hanson said. “Our motivation was to create a much more customer-friendly environment that’s modern with more amenities. Our current space functions, but it’s small and the capacity is not what we’d like. This space is much larger and more convenient for customers. And it’s a better flowing space. With the current space, we’re kind of land-locked.”

Related: Now open: 4 new tenants at The Florida Mall

Securing the tenant lineup is still an “ongoing process,” Hanson said. The mall is in discussions with some existing tenants at the food court to move or reposition them. It also plans to add some new tenants, such as those featuring healthier fare and some new to the Orlando market.

In addition to the food pavilion, Hanson said the area will have space for fashion retail, including junior anchors and small shops, plus a new entry to the mall. Talks also are underway with potential retailers for those spaces, Hanson said.

Detroit-based GH+A was the conceptual architect for the project; the mall has yet to finalize an architect to handle construction drawings. A general contractor hasn’t yet been selected.

Tenant representatives or retailers interested in discussions on available space can visitthe mall’s leasing page for more details.

Orlando Business Journal, January 15, 2014