North Tampa's University Mall is set to undergo major changes once again. The mall will be re-branded as Uptown, and after several multi-million dollar renovations over the last decade, RD Management LLC has announced it acquired the Sears property on-site as a final piece of the puzzle. According to multiple reports, RD Management paid $7 million for the additional lot. This puts the entire site under the control of one owner for the first time since University Mall was first developed in the 1970s.

The Uptown District, when completed, will transform the space from a traditional mall to an open-air, multi-story project featuring entertainment, retail, education, medical, office and residential uses. “This mall is a vital part of Tampa’s commercial corridor. Uptown will provide shopping experiences that today’s retailers seek,” said Chris Bowen, of RD Management LLC said in an announcement from the company about the project. “As we develop Uptown, it is our vision that it will generate a renaissance of the North Tampa market creating Tampa’s Uptown District.”

Sears will remain as a tenant for now and customers should see no immediate changes in store operations. University Mall has seen numerous changes over the years. The University of South Florida held classes in the movie theaters for years (that space is now the Studio Movie Grill), and the popular Mr Dunderbak's was once inside University Mall as well. More recently, Portillo's added its second Florida location on the property, and cosmetic upgrades over the last decade have brought the mall a more inviting and welcoming feel. 

RD Management LLC will look to capitalize on the soon to be Uptown's proximity to several major Tampa Bay area institutions such as USF, Busch GardensFlorida Hospital Tampa and Moffitt Cancer Center to give some stability to a property and an area that has a more successful institution in the Tampa Bay area. The developer has not released final drawings or set a firm date yet for the conversion of University Mall to Uptown.

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.