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Titusville City Council clears hurdles to transform the old Searstown Mall into an ‘urban village’

After what looked like a possible setback, plans have moved forward to build a mixed-use commercial and residential development at the site of the old Searstown Mall in Titusville. 

Developers California Retail Properties’ plans hit a snag when it became clear the development might be taller than is currently allowable by the city. But, last month, the Titusville City Council approved the height of the building on the condition that it is set back from the property line by at least the same distance and uses modern stormwater management techniques. 

Developers are now cleared to proceed with the project which envisions an urban village combining ground-floor retail area with mid-rise apartments and a hotel at the site of the Titusville Mall. 

Titusville City Council reclassified the old mall and potholed parking lot a few years ago from commercial high-intensity zoning to urban mixed-use to make way for the new development.

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Under the latest plans, the dilapidated property will transform over the next years into hundreds of private residences, with an layout that includes pedestrian walkways and green spaces open to the general public. 

The property will have one-to-three-bedroom mid-rise apartments in a six-story building facing U.S. Highway 1 and the Indian River Lagoon, with the first story comprised of retail space, Wright said. 

Rental units will include 170 one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartments around 800 square feet in size; 100 two-bedroom, two-bathroom units at 1,400 square feet; and 70 three-bedroom, three-bathroom penthouse apartments at 1,700 square feet. Wright said the estimated cost of the apartments for residents will be between $1,600 and $3,400 per month.  

After the demolition of old Sears and the movie theater, the retail space will include two restaurants.


The project received support from community members who spoke at last Tuesday’s meeting — many of whom look forward to seeing the old dilapidated location turnedinto a more modern space. 

Cindy Mott, manager of the Titusville Antique Mall on the property, said she and the 80 independent business-owners who operate out of the mall were excited for the change and the chance to move into a newer building. 

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“We have vendors from the age of 24 years old… to 86 years young. They live from all over Brevard and Orange County, and they come here specifically to the Titusville mall,” she said. 

“Our vendors understand this project… but I can tell you as their spokesperson it is unanimous support,” she added. 

Even though the new building will mean a big change with lots of effort for businesspeople like Mott, she hopes it will revitalize the location. 

The total cost of the development is expected to be around $80 million for the residential building and $25 million for the hotel and commercial spaces. 

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Jesse Wright, CEO of California Retail Properties, said the development will also use low-impact techniques that will increase stormwater treatment by 10% more than is required and will also feature electric vehicle charging stations. The low-impact stormwater management plan is part of the conditional-use permit to allow the increased height of the building. 

He added that he is expecting to begin the process of taking down the new building and submitting final site plans early next year, pending financing issues and weather. 

“It’s an area that our citizens look at daily when they go by and you can’t miss it. And certainly we are hopeful and doing our best over here so you can make that video come to life,” Mayor Dan Diesel said in support of the project. 

Although the Sears closed its doors at the Mall in 2018, the mall has remained colloquially known as Searstown mall in honor of its former flagship department store. The mall was built in 1966, when it served as a social and retail hub for the North Brevard city for decades. 

Searstown Mall follows Miracle City Mall, which was demolished in 2015 to make way for Titus Landing, an outdoor retail and restaurant development with its own movie theater. The mall had been waning in traffic and business since its heyday in the 1970s and ’80s. 

This article first appeared on FloridaToday.com

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