DeSoto Square losing tenants as redevelopment stalls. Here’s what’s next for struggling mall

DeSoto Square mall redevelopment stalls

In 2017, the new owners of DeSoto Square mall said they had a new vision for the property, but their plans have stalled as the mortgage holder filed for foreclosure.
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In 2017, the new owners of DeSoto Square mall said they had a new vision for the property, but their plans have stalled as the mortgage holder filed for foreclosure.

More businesses have left the Midtown DeSoto Square mall as foreclosure proceedings slowly play out through the judicial system.

After long-time anchor Sears pulled out of the mall in January, Victoria’s Secret left in mid-March. Two other national companies, Charlotte Russe and Payless Shoes, filed for bankruptcy and closed their Bradenton stores.

The most recent business to move into the mall is rent-a-vehicle company Avis/Budget.

Romspen U.S. Master Mortgage LP, a Cayman Islands limited partnership, filed suit to foreclose on DeSoto Owners LLC on Aug. 14.

In February, Senior Circuit Judge Peter Dubensky heard nearly an hour of argument before denying a Romspen motion to show cause why a final judgment should not be rendered.

The two sides met for six hours of mediation in Tampa in early May, with the mediation to remain open for an unspecified future date.

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The most recent business to move into Midtown DeSoto Square mall is the Avis Budget rental car company. Mall mortgage holder Romspen has file court papers seeking the appointment of a receiver for the mall property. James A. Jones Jr.

Most recently, Rompsen filed an amended motion to appoint a receiver for the mall property, citing the default on April 1, 2018, of a $22.8 million mortgage loan.

“The defendants have breached the terms of a net income sweep agreement for failing to deliver any net income (because, as they claim, there is none) and failing to provided any accounting of the financial condition of the mall and the outstanding loans (because as they claim, no one asked for the information),” according to the Romspen filing.

The next hearing in the foreclosure case has been set for 3:30 p.m. on July 8 before Circuit Judge Charles Sniffen in Courtroom 5-E at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W.

Among the businesses that remain open at the mall are JC Penney, Hudson Furniture and Mattress, Your Treasure House, Perfume Collection, DKDA, Gentlemen’s Choice, Jennings, FootAction USA, Browning’s Custom Jewelers, Spencer Gifts, Champs, Rack Room Shoes, Bath and Body Works and more. There are also three businesses still operating in the food court.

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The Hudson Furniture Company continues to do business at the Midtown DeSoto Square mall. The mall is the subject of a foreclosure court filing. James A. Jones Jr.

“I’ve been coming to the mall for many years,” customer Emma Smith said. “I have an account at JC Penney.”

Another customer, Barbara Randall, said she, too, has an account at JC Penney and comes to the mall just about every day, saying it is a safe, cool place to walk.

“Your Treasure House is nice, and young people like the Champs store,” she said.

Sid Harris said he has been coming to the mall for nearly 40 years.

“I hope they don’t close the mall. I go into all the stores, at least those that are left,” Harris said.

In a 2017 press release, Meyer Lebovitz, DeSoto Square’s then-new owner, said he would focus on redeveloping the 678,000-square-foot mall, promising an infusion of $7 million in improvements.

Jerrell Davis, president of Madison Properties USA, and the mall’s property manager until Jan. 1, 2019, previously said that In addition to the improvements and a new 28,752-square-foot theater, he was planning an 18,000-square-foot restaurant complex as a key anchor of the mall.

None of the proposed improvements have happened.