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Tampa University Mall demolition begins as part of Uptown project

The corridor that connects JCPenney to the existing mall to be torn down for pedestrian street and outside storefronts
Demolition has started on the University Mall in Tampa, what developers hope will become Tampa's "Uptown District." The corridor that connects the former JCPenney to the main artery of the mall will be demolished to make way for a walkable street with room for new retail and restaurants. The JCPenney building will be repurposed into a Class A office space, which developers RD Management hope to full with tech and research companies.
Published Feb. 19

TAMPA — The developers working to turn University Mall into a research village will begin demolition today as the first step of the Uptown District project.

The demolition gets underway in earnest around 11:30 a.m. on the corridor that connects the main strip of the existing mall to a long-abandoned JCPenney.

"Our local Tampa team is committed to successfully transforming the property from a traditional enclosed mall into a mixed-use, urban neighborhood development incorporating science and tech research and innovation," RD Management strategist Chris Bowen said in a statement.

[Read more about the future of the university mall.]

RD plans to turn the west side of the property between the former JCPenney and what remains of the original mall into a pedestrian-friendly street with new outdoor storefronts. The former JCPenney — two stories and 160,000-square-feet — will be renovated into an office and technology research building.

Health and fitness studios, a spruced-up lake and a new apartment complex are all part of the proposed plans for the 100-acre property's west side, according to Bowen. The project, as of now, calls for leaving the main part of the mall intact as a retail and workspace artery for the property.

RD bought the struggling mall in 2014 for $29.5 million. Since then, the company has announced plans to reuse parts of the existing structure for a bustling new city center that feeds off of the nearby University of South Florida campus.

Bowen has said that years down the line, he envisions the property becoming a hub for research with retail, food halls, dog parks and high-rises.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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