Bradenton’s DeSoto Square mall set to be sold at auction; minimum bid: $9M

Bradenton’s DeSoto Square mall set to be sold at auction; minimum bid: $9M

BY JESSICA DE LEON

With a new luxury mall only months from opening its doors 12 miles away, owners of the rundown DeSoto Square Mall have listed the property for auction next month.

The auction is set to begin July 28 with an opening bid of $9 million, the Bradenton Herald has learned. Bidders will be required to make a $25,000 deposit for the 58.5 acres at the intersection of U.S. 301 Blvd. W and U.S. 41.

Many have predicted that the new Mall at University Town Center, on track to open in October, would hasten the demise of DeSoto Square. The Bradenton mall also competes with Ellenton Premium Outlets’ 130 stores just eight miles away.

Originally built in 1973, DeSoto Square was purchased by Simon Property Group in August 1996, 23 years after the mall first opened. At the time, the Indianapolis-based company was the largest publicly traded real estate investment trust in North America and owned or held interest in 284 malls, lifestyle centers, outlet malls and other shopping centers in 38 states and Puerto Rico.

At the height of the real estate boom in 2004, DeSoto Square was valued at $80.2 million, property records show.

In November 2012, however, Mason Asset Management acquired the county’s only indoor shopping mall for about $25 million from Simon, which had let its $61.9 million loan on the property fall into foreclosure.

At the time, Mason Asset President Elliot Nassim told the Herald he believed the mall was viable and promised to “roll up our sleeves.”

Retailers who have left the mall in recent years include: FootLocker, Old Navy, Hallmark and Boater’s World along with the restaurants Sbarro’s and Starbucks.

According to the auction listing, the mall’s current occupancy is about 95 percent.

On Saturday afternoon, however, 16 storefronts and two spots in the food court sat empty, making the choices limited for shoppers.

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