The Death of Desoto Square Mall


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Dear DeSoto Mall,

Growing up in Bradenton, so many of my childhood memories include you, DeSoto Square Mall. We couldn't wait to put on our jelly shoes, fanny pack, slap bracelets and head to the mall. First stop, Camelot Music to buy a cassette single since I couldn't afford the whole tape. If mom was feeling generous, we'd get an Orange Julius. The best scheme going was asking to see a movie at the DeSoto Square movie theatre because Claire's was two doors down. Since we had to walk by Claire's we could usually slide in there to spend the rest of our cash on jewelry that would soon turn our skin green. Over the years, your anchor department store was constantly evolving. Maas Brothers made way for Belk Lindsey, Belk became Burdine's, then Dillard's and finally.....Macy's. This was home to every "school clothes shopping" trip for 13 years and therefore also home to the fitting rooms where I threw a fit over what we could afford vs what I could fit in to. In high school, your food court became a weekly hang out and the home of our first Chic-Fil-A in Manatee County. I can't count how many plates of slippery noodles and sodium I purchased from Bourbon Street Chicken. A slice and a coke from Sbarros. Contempo Casuals, 5-7-9, Body Shop, Sears, Spencer Gifts, KB Toys, Limited Too........all went dark. As dark as my heart....as you close today. However, you will forever be, an iconic landmark to me. So, RIP, Retail in Peace, DeSoto Square. Retail. In. Peace.

Thanks for the memories!
- Love, Meredith Michaels (Bradentonian since 1987)

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The owners of the mall, located at 303 301 Blvd. W., purchased the property in April 2017 for $22,850,000. Most of the planned improvements failed to materialize. The mall owners still owed $21,789,102 when lender Romspen U.S. Master Mortgage LP, a Cayman Islands limited partnership, filed to foreclose on the propertyin 2018.

The foreclosure sale was canceled in September after the mall’s owners filed for bankruptcy in the Eastern District Court of New York.

While the mall is closing, Hudson Furniture, which has its own entrance, will remain open.

“The owners are 100 percent committed to staying open in DeSoto Square mall,” general manager Chet Ballenger said Thursday. “Our business has been phenomenal, and in fact we are hiring.”

The New York bankruptcy judge recently returned the case to the federal bankruptcy court in Tampa, Murray B. Silverstein, of Greenspoon Marder LLP, who represents the lender, said Thursday.

Mall owners have 90 days to find financing to proceed with demolishing most of the mall and redeveloping the site as a multi-use project.