University Mall’s status as an aging, run-down enclosed mall is hardly unique across the country.
But unlike many of those properties, which have been hurt by changing demographics in their surrounding areas, the mall on Fowler Avenue is in a strong trade area, with the nearby University of South Florida and health care institutions providing a customer base.
RD Management LLC, based in New York, has plans to capitalize on that dynamic. It paid $29.5 million for the mall and is planning to overhaul the mall’s west anchor.
A Conceptual site plan posted on its website shows a warehouse club, grocery store and fitness center in the spot of the vacant west anchor.
The conceptual plans also add a medical office and student housing component to the north end of the property.
“I think it’s a great location and it need some tender loving care,” said Richard Birdoff, principal with RD Management. “And I think we can make it a vibrant place again.”
The mall’s location makes it a viable redevelopment play, said Brian Bern, a senior director with Franklin Street in Tampa.
He said he could see a mix of service, retail and restaurants and possibly a hotel on the site.
Luxury retail won’t succeed, Bern said – it would have to be geared toward the student population.
“I’ve got some clients myself that would like to be in that trade area,” Bern said. “The traffic is just so strong up there.”