Dead Malls: Orlando Fashion Square
A brief virtual look at the rise and fall of Orlando's Fashion Square Mall.
The story of Orlando Fashion Square Mall began with the opening of a stand alone Sears store on Colonial Drive in 1963. The mall materialized in 1971 when developer Leonard Farber announced plans to add a mall to Sears with Burdines as the hopping center’s second anchor. A two level wing anchored by Maison Blanche was added to the mall in 1990. This store became Gayfer’s in 1992 before being sold to Dillard’s in 1998. In 1993, JCPenney became the mall’s fourth anchor when it relocated from the Winter Park Mall a few miles north. In 2005, Burdines became Macy’s.
Over the last decade, the mall has fallen into a death spiral. The first major hit to occur took place in 2014 when Dillard’s converted store into a Dillard’s Clearance Center. Two years later, Sears announced their intention to close their store. A year later, the former Sears store was demolished and replaced with a Floor & Decor store. The pandemic would negatively impact the mall through the closing of JCPenney in October 2020.
Today, Orlando Fashion Mall is shell of its former self. Largely vacant, the shopping center is planned for demolition in the near future. Believing the mall is outdated, excluding Macy’s, Unicorp National Developers intend to raze most of the mall and revamp the property as an open air mixed use development with a focus on art, landscape, architecture, parklike grounds and outdoor experiences, including theaters and bowling. Project components will include a 120-room hotel and up to 1,400 residential apartments.
Time will tell if the redevelopment plan comes to fruition in 2022. In the meantime, this virtual walking tour captures the December 28, 2021 condition of Orlando Fashion Square Mall.
*Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at firstname.lastname@example.org. *