Oviedo Mall evolves its offerings to increase foot traffic

The Oviedo Mall aims to increase foot traffic by continuing to evolve the types of tenants it works with.

The evolution of Oviedo Mall’s offerings to increase foot traffic, which started with eclectic tenants – including dance and theater studios and hair and nail salons – and continued with housing plans, now includes medical services. 

In September Orlando Orthopedic Center will be the third medical office to move into a mall vacancy and will offer 16 examination rooms. An eye doctor, Optical Outlet, and a behavioral therapy center, Catalyst Behavior Solutions, are current long-term tenants, which means a two-year contract. 

Oviedo Mall Developmental Director Kevin Hipes said that during a recent mall tenants meeting, owners of a pharmacy said they were moving in by the end of fall. Hipes said he can’t announce their name yet.

These medical shops are supposed to drive in business for the mall, making it a community “hub”, Hipes said.

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“Imagine you go to the doctor’s and there is a 45-minute wait to be seen. You could go get your nails done, your hair done, grab a beer or a bite to eat. You could do a bit of shopping before you get called back,” Hipes said. 

In late July, Hipes sent a proposal to the City of Oviedo for it to purchase the 130,000-square-foot former Sears store property – vacant since 2019, amounting to 4.5 acres of land, for $9 million to house the Oviedo Police Department. On July 17, Oviedo City Council approved a ballot item for the Nov. 7 election allowing voters to decide whether the city should borrow $35.5 million to build a new police station near City Hall. 

OCN asked if the city will entertain this offer. City spokesperson Lisa McDonald said that “at this time, the City Council has directed the new police station be constructed on the City Hall Campus. However, the City remains committed to investigating the most cost-effective solution that will ensure the Oviedo Police Department has the facilities it needs to serve our City in the future.”

The former Macy’s location in the Oviedo Mall is planned to become 425 multi-family units and a 124-room hotel. Photo by Megan Stokes.

Several residential developments have been approved by the city for the mall property and are in various stages of development. The projects include:

  • The development located at the northwest end of the mall’s property and not physically connected to the mall building is expected to include 328 multi-family units with 623 mall parking spots changed to just residential, with 16 bike spaces. 
  • The development planned for the former Macy’s department store location is expected to include 425 residential units,127,000 square feet of retail space and a 124-room hotel. The plan originally included age-restricted units but the restriction has since been removed. 

These developments are another part of Hipes’ plan to grow the mall’s foot traffic, he said.

“There is free parking, restaurants and entertainment here. All they have to do is walk across the street. Who wouldn’t want that?,” Hipes said. 

Along with these developments, Hipes said he is pursuing a potential convention center, noting that there isn’t one in Seminole County. He’s working with a developer who he said is interested in the project, though he said nothing is concrete. 

Mockups show hotel and meeting rooms in the center of the project and a top-floor water splash zone with a glass-dome roof, Hipes said.

Image of one of the Oviedo Mall entrances.
Photo by Megan Stokes.

Experts weigh in

Director of retail studies at Columbia Business School, Mark Cohen, said malls across the nation are having to rationalize excess mall space, using it for specialty shops, entertainment and medical offices. 

“I know a lot of malls are thinking of introducing medical and housing right now, but it is tough to do in this market,” Cohen said.

Cohen said it is hard to get people to come to the mall, even with these new developments. He said he can’t understand why, but he knows it is a challenge.

Despite these challenges, small businesses are attracted to the mall because of the low rent prices, Hipes said.

“(The mall) brings the community together and is a great place for small businesses,” President and CEO of the Oviedo/Winter Springs Regional Chamber, Roxane Ferguson, said. “It offers an eclectic experience without all of the anchor stores.”

Ferguson said that the chamber has a kiosk in the mall that they rent out to small businesses. The chamber also hosts events at the mall, such as a health fair happening on Nov. 9

Ferguson said several of the businesses who rented the kiosk – Oviedo Olive Oil and Sweet Scrumdiddlyumptious – are now storefront businesses within Oviedo. 

Mall vacancies and foot traffic

There are six vacant storefronts out of about 80 usable spaces in the mall, putting the occupancy rate at more than 97%. According to retail consultant Coresight Research, top-tier malls have reported an average occupancy rate of 95% in 2022, which puts Oviedo Mall above the others. 

Friendly Confines Sports Collectibles Manager Patti Marshall said that the mall is a bit slow on weekdays but on evenings and weekends she sees a lot of foot traffic. 

“If the apartments are coming the way they say they are, then we will be getting some good business,” Marshall said. 

Cohen said to recreate a mall, it needs to be in a viable location and a revolving tenant schedule with short-term leases.

Hipes said he has a few potential short-term tenants lined up for the vacant storefronts, including the pharmacy. 

“We have a few long-term tenants but 80% are short-term,” Hipes said.

The short-term tenants, around two-years, are mostly local businesses that the mall is helping to build their platform as a business, Hipes said. As short-term tenants, they forfeit the right to not be moved around the mall to different spaces. 

“I’m going to make it into a regional destination. I just need some time,” Hipes said.

This is the first installment of a series on the Oviedo Mall, focusing on its current conditions and offerings and its plans for the future.

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