TAMPA, Fla. — After more than 40 years of being a shopping destination in Tampa Bay, demolition to the once iconic University Mall starts Tuesday.
New York-based firm RD Management has plans to revitalize the struggling mall, turning it into what could soon be called Uptown.
Built in the 1970s, the mall is not what it used to be. Many of the anchor stores are gone. RD Management's plans include investing an estimated $1 billion to give the 100-acre property a second life.
The University Mall, by its namesake, is right next to the University of South Florida on Fowler Avenue.
The revitalization includes transforming it from an indoor mall to an outdoor village.
"The approximately 100-acre Uptown project will become a multi-story, urban neighborhood development showcasing life sciences and technology research institutes and complexes, retail, place-making, and recreational opportunities and entertainment, hospitality, education, medical specialties, clinics, and pavilions, corporate offices and co-working spaces, and residential and other related uses," said Richard Birdoff, principal and president of RD Management.
Birdoff said it will be an extension of USF’s research park complete with medical labs, hotels, condos, co-op spaces and a movie theater.
Chief Development Strategist Chris Bowen says they plan to keep the existing 113 retailers if they choose to stay. He says it will be a destination similar to the revamped Channelside in that it will be pedestrian friendly. Streets will be lined with shops. The plan calls to have plenty of green space to go along with a running and biking trails connecting to a lake adjacent to the VA Hospital.
Bowen says planning for this project has been in the works for more than four years.
He says these are just the beginning phases of the estimated 10-year project.
Work will begin on the west side of the property between the former JC Penny and the existing mall.
The creation of Uptown is one of several developments in the works for the city of Tampa. It joins the likes of Water Street in downtown Tampa and the Midtown development in the West Shore district.
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