BRADENTON, Fla. -- On August 15th, 1973 Desoto Square Mall had its grand opening with anchor stores such as Sears and Maas Brothers to make this the mecca of shopping in Manatee County. Mickey even attended to meet and greet with local children.
Fast forward more than 40 years later and the mall is only a shell of what it used to be. Bradenton resident Ryan Gordon isn't old enough to have been there for the grand opening--but recalls the mall being great when he was younger and he's slowly seen the decline since then.
"It had great stores but the more I went down I saw stores closing--lack of people--just not much of nothing going on."
An auction to sell off the mall closed Thursday with the highest bid reportedly at 33.75 million--on the same day the retail center's premiere anchor--Macy's announced it would be vacating for good. This center would be teeming with shoppers had mall official done their due diligence according to Mike Zalewski.
"I think they should have updated it and kept up with the times a little better."
And how would they do that?
"Macy's is not enough. You need a lot of restaurants, that’s what attracts people these days. You need a lot of foot traffic. Make it a pedestrian mall."
Commercial Division Director of Michael Saunders Dennis Dahm says it may transition to something other than retail.
"I mean you're 2 miles from the hospital--that's 2 minutes. It would be a wonderful place to have upscale type of apartments, but on a more affordable basis."
Ryan Gordon hopes that's not the case.
"Look around-- look exactly were that lot is and turn it around and you got condo, condo, condo's all around. Everywhere you look, you got condos for rich people."