ORLANDO FASHION SQUARE
East Colonial Drive and Maguire Boulevard
Orlando, Florida

The third shopping mall in -or around- "The City Beautiful" was an addition to a 2-level (183,300 square foot) Sears, which had opened October 30, 1963. Ground was broken for ORLANDO FASHION SQUARE in 1972.

Developed by Pompano Beach's Leonard L. Farber, Incorporated, the fully-enclosed shopping hub was built on a 70.5 acre site, located 2 miles northeast of center city Orlando. Its first newly-built anchor store, a 2-level (212,200 square foot), Miami-based Burdines, was dedicated July 30, 1973. This was followed by a 2-level (170,600 square foot), Saint Petersburg-based Robinson's of Florida, which began business in October of the same year.

Charter ORLANDO FASHION SQUARE tenants included The Tweed Shop, Women's World ladies' wear, GNC, Lerner Shops, Size 5-7-9 Shops, Florsheim Shoes, Thom McAn Shoes, Zales Jewelers, Waldenbooks and an Ocala-based Rheinauers specialty store. The completed mall encompassed approximately 840,000 leasable square feet and eighty-nine stores and services.

Competing retail centers in the vicinity were COLONIAL PLAZA (1956 & 1962) {.3 miles west, in Orlando} and WINTER PARK MALL (1964) {3.2 miles northwest, in Winter Park}.

A freestanding multiplex, the General Cinema Corporation Fashion Square 4, opened in 1975. This movie house was converted to a 6 -and then 8- screen venue. New Jersey's Toys "R" Us chain built a 1-level (46,000 square foot) store as a mall outparcel, which opened for business August 29, 1986.

In August 1987, Robinson's of Florida stores were acquired by Baton Rouge-based Goudchaux's-Maison Blanche. The stores operated as Robinson's-Maison Blanche until their conversion to the Maison Blanche nameplate, on March 28, 1988.

New York City's Shroder Real Estate Associates acquired ORLANDO FASHION SQUARE in June 1988. They embarked on a major renovation and expansion in August 1989. During this project, the outparcel cinema was demolished.

Maison Blanche was replaced with a new 2-level (129,100 square foot) store, which was built northeast of the existing building. The new Maison Blanche served its first customers in November 1990.

The original location was refitted as new inline store space, which included a large court area and upper level Food Court. These were completed between November 1991 and January 1992. At this time, eight Maison Blanche stores in Florida were acquired by Fairfield, Ohio-based Mercantile Stores. They eventually rebranded these with the Mobile-based Gayfer's nameplate.

Meanwhile, on June 22, 1990, the new General Cinema Corporation Fashion Square Cinema 6 opened. It was built o a pad across McCullough Avenue from the mall proper.

In August 1992, the final phase of the FASHION SQUARE makeover got underway. A 2-level (133,600 square foot), J.C. Penney, and new section of inline stores, were added west of the old Robinson's / Maison Blanche. An adjacent parking garage was built.

The new Penney's (a relocation of the circa-1964 store at WINTER PARK MALL) was dedicated April 7, 1993. ORLANDO FASHION SQUARE now encompassed 1,042,000 leasable square feet and one hundred and twenty stores and services.

A third anchor rebranding took place following the August 1998 buyout of Mercantile Stores by Dillard's. Gayfer's received a Dillard's nameplate soon after. The freestanding Fashion Square Cinema 6 was shuttered September 28, 2000. The building was renovated and re-opened as the High-Tech Institute.

ORLANDO FASHION SQUARE was without a theatrical venue until a new megaplex was installed in space adjacent to the Second Level Food Court. The Premiere Cinemas Orlando Fashion Square Premiere 14 made its debut July 16, 2004.

The mall's fourth anchor rebranding began with the conversion of Burdines to Burdines-Macy's on January 30, 2004. The store was fully "Macy-ated" March 6, 2005. Philadelphia's Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) had acquired ORLANDO FASHION SQUARE in November 2004.

By this time, the mall was competing with four new shopping centers. These were THE FLORIDA MALL (1986) {8.1 miles southwest, in Orlando}, WEST OAKS MALL (1996) {10.3 miles west, in Ocoee}, OVIEDO MARKETPLACE (1998) {9.3 miles northeast, in Oviedo} and MALL AT MILLENIA (2002) {6.8 miles southwest, in Orlando}.

Competition and The Great Recession hurt business at ORLANDO FASHION SQUARE. Several national tenants closed their stores and were replaced by mom & pop-type retailers. PREIT put their "non-strategic asset" on the open market in May 2012. The center was sold to Franklin, Tennessee's UP Development in February 2013.

They announced a major reworking of the mall in May 2013. Demolition was underway by February 2014. Inline store space along the south-facing front of the complex was demolished. The plan was to build a 7-story Westin Element Hotel and several streetscape-type restaurants in the cleared area.

However, the project stalled out before construction got underway. It seemed that uncertainty about the future of the mall's Macy's and Sears stores had put a damper on plans for redevelopment. As it turned out, apprehension about the Sears at ORLANDO FASHION SQUARE had been based in reality. The store was to be shuttered in November 2016.

New York City-based Seritage Growth Properties (a newly-formed Sears subsidiary) would raze the vacant building and replace it with two stores; San Jose, California-based Orchard Supply Hardware and Smyrna, Georgia-based Floor & Decor. These were scheduled for completion in mid-2018.

Meanwhile, UP Development had been busy signing new mall tenants. An (18,000 square foot) StrikeOuts Bowling & Entertainment Center opened, on the mall's Second Level, in mid-2014. On the periphery of the shopping hub, Toys "R" us was shuttered and demolished. It was replaced by a 1-level (50,000 square foot) Dick's Sporting Goods, that served its first customers October 24, 2014.

Two other freestanding structures were built. A Noodles & Company restaurant was dedicated April 14, 2015, followed by a branch of BBT Bank, which began business July 20 of the same year.

Sources:

http://www.preit.com (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust)
The Orlando Sentinel
Orange County, Florida property tax assessor website
http://orlandofashionsquare.com
http://www.updevelopment.com