Sunshine Life: The Health of Malls in Central Florida

 With the number of retail closings affecting malls across the country, we’ll look in-depth at the health of malls across Central Florida.

The health diagnosis of Central Florida’s many malls ranges from healthy to terminal.

With the closure of so many retail brands lately, this is the ideal time to take a look at the health of malls that dot the flat Central Florida landscape. To accomplish this, we set out to take a look at the status of all eight of the area’s enclosed malls, looking at their history, their present, and what lies ahead to try to get a better understanding of where these consumer palaces are heading.

The findings are mixed.

Take the Mall at Millenia and the Florida Mall, two of Central Florida’s premier malls, for example. While both are relatively close to each other, the differences between these shopping heavyweights are stark.

The Mall at Millenia has become the luxury shopping mall in Central Florida, boasting some of the most expensive brands in retail such as Gucci, Prada, and Jimmy Choo, among others. The area surrounding Millenia has seen an uptick in retail activity over the years, including IKEA and a number of new, glittering retail outlets and new car dealerships.

While the Millenia area has been booming, the Florida Mall and its surrounding area have become a different story altogether.

While the mall itself has recovered somewhat from store losses and is in the midst of rebranding itself, the area around the mall has declined greatly over the years. Discount stores such as DD’s Discounts and Liquidation Outlet now sit where prominent retailers once stood, prostitution and other related crime are continuing to be problematic in the nearby rundown hotels and motels, and the area will get another blow when appliance retailer HHGregg closes its South Orange Blossom Trail store in April.

Compared to the area around Millenia, the Florida Mall area is looking tired and worn down, and is in desperate need of a makeover much like the mall itself is getting.

The stark contrasts between the Mall at Millenia and the Florida Mall are just one of the many examples of the mixed retail health of Central Florida’s malls, and over the next eight Mondays, Sunshine Life will take a look at each individual mall to give you look at just how precarious the mall situation is in the land of Mickey, Harry Potter, and Shamu.