It seems like every other day there’s a rumor or an allegation about a big-box store investing in or purchasing a mall. The latest news comes from Florida, where 7-eleven is planning to spend $30 million on a new store at the Westfield Winter Park Mall. According to multiple media reports, 7-eleven is considering a $7 million to $10 million investment in Speedway, which is owned by Macerich and is anchored by a Walmart and a Target.
The reports also claim that 7-eleven is in talks with three other big-box stores about making similar investments in other malls, including one in California and two in Texas. The Wall Street Journal also reported last month that 7-eleven has ‘‘approached a handful of mall owners seeking to either sell them or invest in their properties,’’ and that the company is looking for locations in Brooklyn, New York; Frisco, Texas; and the Ontario International Airport.
Is 7-eleven buying or investing in the other malls? Let’s take a closer look.
Why Did 7-Eleven Choose The Westfield Winter Park Mall?
The Westfield Winter Park Mall is currently the largest shopping mall in the country, with more than 300 stores, including 14 cinemas, 5 restaurants, and an indoor fountain. The $110 million mall opened in 1980 and features one of the largest single-screen cinemas in the world. In addition to the cinema, the mall’s 14 restaurants and food court offer something for everyone.
The mall is just 15 minutes away from the Disney World resort and adjacent to the Epcot World Pavilion, one of the largest and most popular attractions in the country. The mall is also close to the headquarters of the NBA’s Orlando Magic and the NHL’s Florida Panthers. The Winter Park Mall is considered one of the top 10 shopping malls in the country.
Westfield executives said in a statement to the press that the mall offers ‘‘exceptional facilities and lifestyle attractions designed to make customers feel truly cared for.’’ The mall remains the only one of its kind in the country, a combination of a four-star hotel, theater, and mall in one. In addition to the above average amenities, the mall is home to a 24-hour Duane Reed World Cup & Sports Bar in the Eventi Pavilion.
How Is The Westfield Winter Park Mall Different From Other Malls That 7-Eleven Could Choose?
Unlike many other malls that 7-eleven could choose, the Westfield Winter Park Mall has a cinema, an Eventi Pavilion, and an indoor pool. The cinema allows visitors to see movies in the comfort of a familiar atmosphere with reclining seats and large screen television sets. The Eventi Pavilion has a world-class restaurant and bar, Hooligans, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with fresh-made pastries and tempting desserts. The mall also features Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor, Chick-fil-A, and White Castle. In addition, the mall’s water feature, fountains, and tropical plants offer a unique and peaceful atmosphere for visitors to unwind and relax.
Other malls that 7-eleven could choose to purchase or invest in also have these amenities, but none of them offer the extraordinary attractions, restaurants, and cultural experience that the Westfield Winter Park Mall has to offer.
Is This Deal Good For The City Of Winter Park Or The County Of Orange?
From an economic standpoint, this is a decent deal for the city of Winter Park and the county of Orange. The Wall Street Journal reports that the city and the county will see a boost in tax revenue due to the development.
The deal will see 7-eleven pay $30 million for the privilege of locating a new store and up to $10 million in cash as part of the deal. After a report from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Governor Rick Scott is considering using state funding to help improve the living conditions for the people in the area. Scott announced that he would be allocating $23 million in state funds for the construction of a new Orange County jail.
The money is part of a plan that will see the jail replaced with living quarters for those arrested, which will lower the recidivism rate in the area. The plan is expected to create 450 new jobs during the construction phase of the project, which is expected to be completed in late 2021.
What Do The Experts Say?
The experts’ take on the 7-eleven/ mall deal varies from ‘‘favorable’’ to ‘‘neither favorable nor unfavorable.’”
The experts agree that the city and the county will benefit from increased economic activity and the presence of a big-box store, but many question how much the city and the county will gain from this particular deal.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, ‘‘It’s a double-edged sword; it will provide a boost in tax revenue but it also means people will have more choices when it comes to where they go to shop.’’ The Sentinel also reports that ‘‘while most people will welcome the option of more choices, they will question whether the city has sold out.”
The Economic Development Alliance of Central Florida, which represents the industry, said in a statement to the press:
- ‘‘The economic development alliance commends the efforts of Governor Scott, the State of Florida and the city of Winter Park for identifying this significant need and acting to address it.
- ‘‘We look forward to working with Governor Scott, the State of Florida and the city of Winter Park to support their efforts to alleviate this significant need and to ensure the continued economic growth of the entire state.
- ‘‘This is an opportunity for the entire state to earn an economic, as well as a quality of life, benefit.
- ‘‘This is an investment in our state’s future.”
The City of Winter Park gave the project their support, with Planning Director James Ballentine telling the press, ‘‘The economic impact of this project will be excellent for our city.”
Meanwhile, the Orange County commission is reviewing the deal and has the opportunity to negotiate some perks for taxpayers and the project site. The Orlando Business Journal reports that the county could ask for more police officers or a community center.
The commission also has the ability to request that a traffic light be installed at the intersection of Magnolia Avenue and International Drive. It is not known if the commission will approve the request.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Based on the above, it would appear that 7-eleven/ mall deal is a good one for the city and the county of Orange. However, it is far from over. The commission still has to approve the project and many details remain to be negotiated. Plus, with so much government red tape, it could still take months or even years to finalize the agreement. In the meantime, the city and the county will continue to benefit from the construction project.
So, is 7-eleven buying the mall? Does this mean the end of our inquiry? Not quite. It’s time to find out what type of business or franchise 7-eleven plans on setting up in the mall.
What Will The New 7-Eleven Look Like?
When 7-eleven buys or builds a mall, they typically remodel the interior of the existing building to fit their corporate identity. However, based on the reports, it looks like 7-eleven is considering something different for this particular project.
Three experts contacted by Bankrate.com said that based on the reports, it sounds like 7-eleven is considering a combination of a supermarket and a gas station.
Scott Haines, an expert senior vice president with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in the U.K., said in a statement to the press: