Seminole Mall creating new jobs, shops

Jason Zappulla, Writer

Hundreds of new jobs and dozens of new stores will soon open up at the redeveloped Seminole Mall, officially known as the Seminole City Center. The project started in April of 2015, when demolition began of the old Seminole Mall, according to the Seminole Beacon.

Information provided by the mall developers indicate the mall will have a positive impact on jobs and the Seminole economy. A report put out by the third-party consulting firm Municap on the City of Seminole website elaborated on this, projecting 629 temporary jobs would be created, 755 direct permanent jobs (with projected total annual salaries totaling $20,749,895), and 244 indirect permanent jobs (at an average wage of $45,226). Mall Developer Primerica One Senior Vice President Lou Fabrizio said in an e-mail that the Seminole Mall jobs “would run the gamut from entry-level to management”, with a variety of jobs in both retail and restaurants, many of which would be suitable for teens. However, Fabrizio also noted that while he trusted Municap, and he called the numbers they provided “a fair assessment of the economic impact of the project,” the statistics were still just an initial projection. The Municap report also predicted that the City Center would generate revenue for the City of Seminole through new taxes and fees, including property taxes, franchise fees, utility taxes, and business taxes, with the report estimating these gains at $32,453,772 in taxable real property (leading to a gain of $586,324 in total additional annual tax revenue), and $6,438,730 in annual sales tax revenue.

With the new Seminole City Center now being constructed, many of the names of the tenants for the new mall have been released to the public. The tenants that have already been announced are: SteinMart, Bealls, EarthFare (described as a North Carolina-based “high-end boutique grocer whose mission is to connect communities and improve lives through food”, according to the Seminole City Center FAQs), Ulta, Kirkland’s, Lane Bryant, Five Below, Payless, Lee Spa Nails, Hand & Stone Massage, Petco, Jersey Mike’s, Rack Room Shoe Department, LA Fitness, Sports Authority, HomeGoods, Chipotle, Mattress Firm, Pei Wei and Pollo Tropical. In addition, as stated in the Seminole Beacon, there are ongoing discussions with chains including Applebee’s, Louis Pappas Greek Café, the Lucky Dill, Miller’s Ale House, and Irish 31 for sit-down restaurants as part of the new mall. Lou Fabrizio said the exact number of sit-down restaurants will not be known until leases are finalized, but he’s hoping for “at least four” restaurants. Other features of the mall, according to the City Center FAQ, include a trellis walkway, a 10,000 square feet area of open space for a Plaza Area, a Spanish Revival architecture style for the building, and an underground vault system to manage storm water. In terms of landscaping, the mall site will feature a nine-foot decorative wall along 80th Avenue, a 2 foot wide landscaped median with various trees and shrubs, and 472 trees planted throughout the property.

The mall has already started to gradually open. The first tenant, Bealls, had its ‘soft opening’ on March 25, with the official grand opening occurring April 1-2. The next store, SteinMart, is expected to open in September. According to the City Center FAQ, the first phase of tenants will open in the second quarter (April to June) of 2016, with the final phase opening in the first quarter (January to March) of 2017.

One 11th grade student, said, “The parking lot looks too big right now, so hopefully they’re planning on putting up more buildings.” However, she looked forward to the mall, saying “I think this will be so convenient to most people who live in Seminole or near the beach,” saying that she wouldn’t have to go to Tyrone Mall for a Chipotle, or to Clearwater Mall for an Ulta.

Brittany Damiano, 11th grade, said she looks forward to the mall being re-opened because she has fond memories of going to the Seminole Mall as a child. “I remember going as a kid and enjoying it,” Brittany said. “I hope the kids who go now will enjoy it.”

Erin Stein, 11th grade, expressed surprise at the April/May opening; “That’s sooner than I thought it would be done,” Erin said. Erin approved of at least one of the store selections, saying “I’m glad there’s going to be a Chipotle because there isn’t one near my house.” Brittany also approved of the stores, saying, “It’s amazing and they have a great variety.”

David Craig, 10th grade, was less enthusiastic, though, as he thought the stores in the new mall “are basically the exact same stores that are in almost every strip mall. It doesn’t really feel unique or new.” However, all three students had their own suggestions for what should be in the mall. One suggested “Sunglass Hut! Maybe more stores where you can shop for clothes? Or maybe a book store?” David said he would like to see “a Hot Topic and some more small businesses and less typical stores.” Brittany suggested an H&M or Forever 21. Lastly, Erin also desired a Forever 21 in the new Seminole Mall, “because Tyrone Mall got rid of theirs,” according to Erin.