It’s been a year since CRJ Bradenton LLC bought the DeSoto Square Mall property at 303 301 Blvd. W. for $25.7 million.
From the outside looking in, it doesn’t appear that much has changed.
But Nashville businessman Charles R. Jones and his daughter, Lynn Golden, were recently in town to talk to officials about demolition of the mall and redevelopment of the 58-acre property.
“We have plans for the whole site with the intent of developing it in smaller 8 or 10-acre parcels,” Jones told the Bradenton Herald.
Jones envisions the property being subdivided and redeveloped as residential with some retail. Portions of the property would be sold off to other developers.
“We are working on a couple of deals. Hopefully, something can be be started by the end of the year,” Jones said.
“CRJ Bradenton has been progressing on a master plan to transform the 58-acre property into an exciting mixed-use village, and also working on solving some of the historic stormwater challenges in the area in partnership with the county,” Lynn Golden said.
Planned are over 1,100 multifamily units that will offer housing opportunities that will range from workforce to market rate.
A central green is envisioned as a lively community space that will be bordered by retail and restaurants with generous patios for outdoor dining, she said.
“As the master developer, we will be partnering with other high-quality developers to deliver the housing and retail components in multiple phases. Phase one is eight acres and begins with a quality developer that will include 300 residential units with a proposed workforce component,” Golden said.
“We are also finalizing a purchase with Hudson’s Furniture to stay on site. On the full plan, we recognize the need to be flexible and are designing accordingly so it could potentially scale up and evolve as the market may warrant while allowing us to kick-start this transformative project with a plan that works today,” she said.
“We are so happy to be part of the revitalization of this piece of Bradenton and want to be intentional on making a positive impact,” Golden said.
“I really like the latest plan we have and hope to get everything finalized this week. We do have some retail planned, but we don’t have a tenant yet,” she said. “
Not included in any redevelopment plans for the mall property are Hudson Furniture, the former Sears property which was converted to Go Store It and the Hungry Howie’s Pizza building and parking lots, which continue to operate as before.
George Kruse, at-large Manatee County commissioner, is one of the officials that Jones and Golden met with during their visit to Bradenton.
“I am in favor of workforce housing, I’m in favor of increased density and increased mixed-use development,” Kruse said.
Kruse said that he did not know if Jones and Golden met with other commissioners or officials during their Bradenton visit.
DeSoto Square’s previous owner, Romspen U.S. Master Mortgage LP, acquired the property in an online bankruptcy auction Oct. 12-14, 2021.
Romspen had foreclosed on New York-based Meyer Lebovitz in 2018 for defaulting on a $21,889,109 loan. Lebovitz purchased the property in April 2017 for $22,850,000.
Prior to the bankruptcy sale, Lebovitz filed paperwork with Manatee County Building Services to demolish the mall and redevelop it as 40,000 square-foot grocery, 90,000 square feet of office space and three retail outparcels, totaling 16,250 square feet.
Also planned by Lebovitz were more than 700 units of residential housing.
Another project in the works on the mall property on the mall property is unrelated to CRJ Bradenton LLC. Madison Bradenton, a proposed 242-unit luxury apartment complex, is planned by Inlet Property Company (IPC), a boutique real estate development company based in Winter Park.
“One of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., Bradenton’s 37.5% year-over-year rent growth ranks #2 nationally,” the IPC website says.
Madison Bradenton is an in-fill project at DeSoto Square Mall, the IPC website says.
The mall opened in 1973 as the premier shopping area in Bradenton and closed its doors in 2021, with the exception of Hudson Furniture which continues to do business there.