The Boynton Beach commission on Tuesday approved rezoning for the Boynton Beach Mall, paving the way for Washington Prime Group to file a detailed master plan for redeveloping the site with apartments and offices.
Affected by the “retail apocalypse” sweeping the country, the mall has seen growing vacancies and recently saw a remaining anchor tenant, Sears, put on a closure list.
“I look forward to seeing the plan,” said Boynton Beach City Commissioner Justin Katz. “Everyone wants this to be redeveloped.”
Boynton Beach Mall has about 2.5 acres of covered common space, and was built in the indoor mall heyday from the 1980s through the early 1990s. But many such malls have suffered in recent years and have often been replaced by mixed-use complexes with streets and outdoor walkways.
Tuesday’s vote deletes a DRI (Development of Regional Impact) that dated to 1973 for the mall, at the corner of North Congress Avenue and Old Boynton Road. It replaces that with a designation of “Mixed-Use Low,” and clears the way for new uses and up to 20 units per acre.
The total property is about 1.1 million square feet; Washington Prime, a spinoff of retail giant Simon Property Group, owns four parcels. Several large parcels are owned by tenants including the Christ Fellowship Church, which bought a former Dillard’s location in 2012. Other property owners include Macy’s Florida Stores, Regional Enterprises, Dillard’s, Istar Florida 2015 Cinemas.
Appraised value of the mall has plummeted as the tide has changed, dropping from $73 million in 2009, to $28 million for 2018, according to the county appraiser’s office.
Tuesday’s vote also faces state approval. After that it will return to the commission for another formal vote.
While the redevelopment will likely proceed in phases and involve site planning for each, the rezoning will be processed concurrently with a master plan for the entire site.
According to city officials, some malls are able to reinvent themselves to become “lifestyle shopping” mixed-use projects or outlet centers, while some are redeveloped as health or conference facilities, and some have accommodated nontraditional tenants such as churches and schools.
Washington Prime also owns Waterford Lakes Town Center in Orlando; WestShore Plaza in Tampa; and malls in Fort Myers, Melbourne, Orange Park, Ocala and Sanford.