DeSoto Square Mall has had a rough ride over the years.
Aug.15, 1973, the Midtown DeSoto Square Mall, built by Edward J. DeBartolo, had its grand opening. For a few decades, this was the place to be – the only location in Bradenton where stores such as Sears and JCPenney could mix with independent stores like Piercing Pagoda and Zara’s Eyebrow. The mall also featured eccentric food kiosks such as Hickory Farms and Orange Julius. DeSoto was a lively community center for all ages.
“It’s really weird to think that the place I always went to as a child is the same trash-hole that’s there now,” freshman Landon Grover said.
In 2012, Mason Asset Management took over and promised an immense redevelopment for the mall in hopes of gaining back the popularity, but the company did not deliver, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. After a failed auction attempt, Mason brought in many tenants such as Kay Jewelers and Charlotte Russe, both of which eventually left the mall. More stores slowly started dispersing, leading to disappointment.
There were more alleged renovations underway in 2018 that included building new apartments, restaurants and even reopening the old cinema, however, the plans for a new and improved DeSoto were abandoned once more.
“I was just there recently and it was really disappointing to see it all again,” senior Amy Doan said. “I wish plans would actually go through because it would be really cool.”
Skepticism arose when Sarasota engineering firm Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc., filed plans with Manatee County for a DeSoto Square Mall redevelopment project. According to the Herald-Tribune, the plans include “360 lifestyle center units, 360 garden style homes, 150 senior housing units, two 5,000-square-foot residential amenity buildings, a 128,514-square-foot retail lifestyle center, 16,250 square feet in retail outparcel space, a 40,000-square-foot grocery store and 90,000 square feet of office space”. After a half-day foreclosure trial Jan. 30, an agreement was met and the mall’s foreclosure auction was delayed in wake of redevelopment plans
“The thought of having something new in the area is really exciting because it honestly was so sad to watch the mall go so far downhill,” sophomore Miranda Davis said.