Chris Whittaker's Commentary:

Posted March 23, 2005 (user submitted June 20, 2004)

There are several reasons that a mall goes dead. a bad location, an inability to change itself to serve a changing demographic, overwhelming competition, and a lack of clarity in reaching a target audience tend to be traits that most of the malls on the site tend to hold. Anoter example of this, one that holds all of these traits is the Osceola Square Mall in Kissimmee, FL.

Opened in 1986, the mall, located 10 miles east of Disney World at the western edge of Kissimmee, the mall was built to sereve two interests. First, to serve the needs of the residents of Osceola County, a rapidly growing suburb of Orlando, populated mainly by tourist industry workers. Also, the mall attempted to market itself to the toruists that came into Orlando to visit. It had a limited amount of success, at least until the Wal Mart that was an original anchor of the mall moved down the street as part of the conversion to a Super Wal Mart. At the same time, Walt Disney WOrld expanded its retail core to include a 24 screen theater ( a far cry from the 6 screen complex attached to the mall) and a series of shops.

Also, the Florida Mall, although 10 miles away, was perceived as the real mall, as it expanded to a 7 anchor, 2.1 million square foot behemoth, Several Outlet Malls, and the opening of the high end Mall at Millenia worked to supplant the limited (350,000 square feet, with no room for expansion) offerings that the Osceola Square Mall had to offer the residents of the Kissimmee-St. Cloud area. Plus, the remaining anchors of the mall (Bealls, Ross, and until 1999, Uptons) were not able compete with the Wal-Mart and the Multitude of outlaet malls in better locations for both the local crowd (with low incomes) and tourists, who were not going out of their way for a mall that offered little in copmparison for both price and selection).

Currently, the mall is about 50 percent occupied, with only 4 national stores other than the two anchors still in the mall. The food court is empty, with only 2 stores available, the Picadilly Cafeteria is now the home of the Vietnam Veterans of Osceola County the theater, home to horrible sound, sticky floors and bland ambience has closed, and the former Eckerd Store is now the site of a Salvation Army store. This is illustrative of a mall on its last legs. With talk of this undersized center seeming waiting to be converted to a power center, along with the impending competition of two large power centers looking to be built within 3 miles of this location, this is definitly a mall that is not long for this world in any case.

Nate Mayfield's Commentary:

Posted March 23, 2005 (user submitted)

In 2003, while in Orlando Florida, my rental condo was just a few miles from a long, gray hulk looking building with low traffic and faded labelscars of past retailers with a battered American flag flying high in the sky. One evening on the way to the grocery, I stopped at this building to find, what I had thought it would was, Osceola Square Mall.

The mall was actually open. The faded letters stating the mall's name hung on the awning of the battered entrance. When I walked in, I found 95% of the store rental spaces were empty, gates to former stores were locked, and the feeling of a dead mall was certainly present.

I walked inside only to find elderly people walking the mall for excercise, an off-brand shoe store by the front entrance, a cafe with a big screen television and a bunch of men watching a football game together smoking cigarettes, and a small arcade that was only open three days a week. I knew Orlando had the Mall of Florida but, In the center court, there was a small cingular wirless kiosk, and a small (still operational) in ground water fountain spitting water from it's faucets every five seconds. The mall had beautiful floor tile, and was very well lit on the inside. Labelscars told me whom former inhabitants of the mall were, such as Foot Locker, Andria's Candies, Alltel, and many other big national retailers from the past. The restrooms were in very poor condition. The tops of the toilet stalls were cut off 50% making it possible for anyone to see you while engaging their use. The mall office was dark and shuttered. There was no mall security visible, neither was there any janitors doing their job.

When I got home, I went online and did research on the Osceola Square Mall to find that a man had bought the mall, never renewed any leases, and planned to tear the mall down in summer of 2004. The new plans call for a Wal*Mart Supercenter, Dicks Sporting Goods, Salvation Army Church, and a place called Pioneer Dishes, all combined together in an outdoor shopping center called Osceola Square Commons.

It looked to have once been successful, but, as with most dead malls that were once successful, tenants left to go to a larger mall for better business. Osceola Square will certainly be remembered to the people of Orlando Florida as the first enclosed shopping mall in the city.

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