The era of the shopping mall in Orlando as we know it, is coming to an end

You read the title. I’m not going to type it again.

News came down yesterday, that the Oviedo Mall is mulling a transition to a 55+ residential area that could help the struggling shopping center survive (story HERE).

This comes as plans for a massive renovation for the Fashion Square Mall continue that will also include some kind of “lifestyle arrangement” that will feed the shopping component of the property (story HERE).

Soon most Orlando area residents won’t be able to find a traditional mall experience anymore.

Growing up in the area, I spent my weekends at the Atlamonte Springs Mall. Blowing the $4.25 an hour I made at the Steak N’ Shake next door on junk. The area was booming with shopppers and bored teenagers that made sure the place was always full.

Luckily, the Altamonte Mall doesn’t look too empty on the weekends, but that only because they’ve overdeveloped the Crane’s Roost area entirely. But that’s another post.

It’s all about finding survival mechanisms for these places.

At the Seminole Town Center in Sanford which is visible from I4, they’ve stuck a mega gym in the side to keep activity going.

In the West Oaks Mall, which 20 years ago was the epitome of shopping on the west side, now finds that a Tax Collector’s Office branch is it’s most popular destination on site.

It’s kinda sad, but at the same time you can’t deny the mall experience isn’t the most pragmatic approach to shopping anymore.

Why haul the family into a car, burn gas driving though aggravating traffic, and wade through a mall for products that are more expensive than exact same gadget that can be purchased online for less money? The $7 slice of pizza or $10 bowl of Chinese food isn’t reason enough.

The news isn’t all sad. The Millenia Mall has become a shopping center for the tourism district. There is an international group of shoppers there everyday.

But as far as the others, they’re on borrowed time.

We’ll see what happens.

Hopefully, these new concepts can keep some kind of mall experience alive. They can be a place where the community can spend an afternoon at a book store or arcade. Grab coffee and people watch. Where they can hold a product before they buy it and they can wander through a comfortable space and be part of a community.

It’s a part of growing up in Orlando that I don’t want to go away.

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