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SEMINOLE TOWNE MALL, ALIVE OR DEAD?

Photo of Seminole Towne Center off their website
Za
Photo of Seminole Towne Center off their website

Sanford’s Seminole Towne Center mall, located off exit 101B, once a shopping center full of life, has now become a center of vanishing stores due to a lack of attending to needed repairs. Although, there seems to be hope for the mall with rumors of residential development and the entrance of family-owned businesses.

The mall first opened in 1995 with major stores being JCPenney, Dillard’s, Sears, and Burdines. In 2009 the mall expanded by 20,000 square feet to include an H&M store. In 2014 the mall was acquired by Washington Prime group, which soon switched CEO’s in 2016, opening the possibility for bringing changes to the mall.

  In 2018 stores began to disappear from the Seminole Towne Center, starting with Sears closing, along with many other locations across the country. Now in 2023, many are left wondering what the fate is of this once lively mall, that now has become deserted to only a few businesses struggling to survive.

  The Winey Wench is a fun café-style gift shop and art instruction class with a location in the Seminole Towne Center mall. The store opened approximately 12 years ago, making it one of the few businesses that has been able to survive in the seemingly deceasing mall. 

Owner of the Winey Wench, Marion Stapf, says she “ha[s] faith in the mall coming back. Hopefully with zoning changes, if Macy’s gets knocked down, they may put up a hotel or condos that will help the mall.” 

Sanford’s planning director, Elieen Hinson, has stated in previous interviews that rezoning will allow for a large portion of Seminole Towne Center property to be used for residential purposes. The creation of residential buildings within the property of the Seminole Towne Center has the potential to tremendously increase the business of stores still in the Seminole Towne Center, as well as attract businesses to return, or new businesses to come in.

“They are fixing the AC, the elevators, and the escalators, little by little they are making progress,” points out Stapf when explaining what some of the issues have been with the mall. Basic issues such as these make it hard for the mall to survive and attract businesses.

 Recently, Kimtatsic Sock and Novelty Shop opened in the Seminole Towne Center mall on the first week of  April 2023. “I have faith, and I see the mall coming back,” says Kimtatstic shop owner Kimberly Nives

Before opening a store in the Seminole Towne Center mall, Nives has been doing pop up stores around central Florida and says that when the opportunity to open a store front at the Seminole Towne Center mall came up, she felt it was perfect for her business. 

“There is a lot of buzz in the air about new things coming. I think the mom-and-pop stores are bringing a different vibe to the mall,” says Nives. 

Nives maintains a positive outlook to the future of the mall as she sees it as an opportunity for family-owned businesses to thrive. 

“They are doing community days in the food court, which is bringing people in, and Spirit Halloween is coming soon,” notes Nives when expressing efforts that have been made by the mall to attract more businesses.

 Pita Gourmet is a fresh, flavorful, Mediterranean restaurant, opened in 1998, still standing in the Seminole Towne Center mall. Owner Amer Bitar shared that he has seen a tremendous change in the Seminole Towne Center mall’s traffic since he first opened his restaurant, to now. 

“It was high traffic then, it was a new mall, I made a good living off of it then,” says Bitar. Bitar believes “the main reason the good brands are leaving is because the air conditioning is not working.” 

The lack of action taken by the mall to do repairs such as the air conditioning has driven business out of the mall which then makes it even harder for the mall to fund these repairs. This has caused the mall to have to lower rent rates, which has opened the opportunity for more family run businesses to enter the mall.

 The Seminole Towne Center mall, seemingly deceasing, may be making a comeback in a different manner than expected. Talk regarding the opening of residential spaces in the mall seems to be less and less of a possibility as the last mention to the public of any residential spaces being built was 2 years ago. Rather family-owned businesses have seized an opportunity to open a storefront. Though, will the Seminole Towne Center mall ever fix needed repairs to bring back the big businesses? The city of Sanford waits to see the transformation of the mall.

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  • S

    SetsunnaMay 13, 2024 at 11:30 AM

    This mall is sad. Nothing in there and the one place I used it for (ZALES-for jewelry inspection), is gone. If the mall isn’t” doing what it needs to do to keep it alive, then it’s clear that they want it dead. Wouldn’t be surprsed if they destroy the entire thing, and build a RENT ONLY housing community. Not apartments, but houses that are rent only. Those are popping up more now, because you know, no one wants to own a home anymore. Just rent. NOT!

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  • I

    Isaac DeasFeb 23, 2024 at 10:04 PM

    It is a great place to shop.
    I hope that the Mall survives to continue to serve the people

    Reply