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Plans for DeSoto Square include $7 million investment

DeSoto Square mall’s new owner plans to make an initial investment of $7 million in “updating, beautifying and constructing new additions to the shopping center.” The mall sold from one New York-based company to another in late February for $25.5 million.
DeSoto Square mall’s new owner plans to make an initial investment of $7 million in “updating, beautifying and constructing new additions to the shopping center.” The mall sold from one New York-based company to another in late February for $25.5 million. zwittman@bradenton.com

The new owner of DeSoto Square mall, 303 301 Blvd. W., will make a $7 million investment in an attempt to make the mall an attractive place to visit.

The mall’s new owner, New York-based Meyer Lebovitz, will focus on redeveloping the 678,000-square-foot mall, according to a release Tuesday from the mall’s management office.

“The location of the DeSoto Square Mall within the local community it has served for so many years makes our redevelopment purpose very clear: Make an exciting destination for its surrounding residents to shop, dine and enjoy entertainment,” Lebovitz said in the release. “We will be adding new retail stores with canopied entries and new free-standing restaurants.”

No specific retailers were named in the release.

The initial investment of $7 million will be used for “updating, beautifying and constructing new additions to the shopping center.”

The location of the DeSoto Square mall within the local community it has served for so many years makes our redevelopment purpose very clear: Make an exciting destination for its surrounding residents to shop, dine, and enjoy entertainment. We will be adding new retail stores with canopied entries and new free-standing restaurants. An initial redevelopment budget of $7 million has been allocated for updating, beautifying and constructing new additions to the shopping center.

Meyer Lebovitz, the new owner of the DeSoto Square mall

Lebovitz chose Madison Properties USA LLC for the task of redeveloping and leasing the mall. Jerrell M. Davis, president of the Madison Properties Southeast Region, will oversee the project.

Madison Properties is in talks with a national movie theater “which shows first-run movies in a premium setting,” according to the release, as well as multiple food court providers and three sit-down, full-service restaurants. The mall’s former movie theater, DeSoto 6 Colonial Cinemas, closed in April because of a rodent infestation. The theater never reopened as promised.

Madison Properties is a New York-based commercial property management company responsible for more than 4 million square feet of real estate, according to the Madison Properties website.

“Our company, with its in-house construction capabilities and our proven leasing performance, makes this project a perfect fit for our organization,” Madison Properties CEO and Founder Nathan Zieg said.

In Florida, Madison Properties works with properties in West Palm Beach and New Port Richey. Other malls and shopping centers under Madison Properties’ purview are located in Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

The first phase of the DeSoto Square mall redevelopment will begin in April and the new management is planning for an open house in the future to showcase redevelopment plans and progress, per the release.

Lebovitz bought the mall at the end of February for $25.5 million from an affiliate company of New York-based Namdar Realty Group. Sears and J.C. Penney are longtime anchors at the mall, which opened in 1973 and has struggled to keep pace with other malls in the Bradenton-Sarasota area.

Hudson’s Furniture occupies the spot once utilized by Dillard’s. The space vacated by Macy’s in July 2014 remains unoccupied.

Mark Famiglio, who has owned the Orange Blossom Plaza located just south of DeSoto Square for 20 years and used to own the shopping center north of the mall that was redeveloped for use by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, said he made an offer higher than $25.5 million years ago.

“I think they stole it; I would’ve paid that,” Famiglio said. “I think they did a great deal and it’s fine to do a great deal, but it’s such an important piece to Manatee County and the entire region and all of the people. It really deserves to be developed in a responsible manner. It’s been a long time coming.”

Janelle O’Dea: 941-745-7095, @jayohday

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