Benderson Development adds former Southgate Mall to its portfolio, paying $25.1 million

Company has continued to expand its county holdings in recent years

This is the Facebook page banner for the Crossings at Siesta Key. Image from Facebook

Benderson Development has purchased the Crossings at Siesta Key —formerly known as Westfield Siesta Key and, before that, as Southgate Mall — for $25.1 million, Sarasota County Clerk of Court records show.

Benderson, which is based in University Park, announced the deal via a May 23 news release.

The 439,958-square-foot, partially enclosed regional mall is located at 3501 S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, the release notes. It is anchored by Macy’s and a seven-screen CMX CinéBistro, the release adds. “Other high-quality tenants include Connors Steak & Seafood, Talbots, LensCrafters, Loft, Chico’s, Cali Day Spa and Art Avenue,” the release points out.

The mall is situated on 26.97 acres at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Bee Ridge Road, the release continues. “The highly central location is just minutes from Downtown Sarasota, Siesta Key, Lido Beach and St. Armands Circle,” the release adds.

The mall also is just east of the intersection of U.S. 41 and Siesta Drive.

“The mall complements our local holdings and we look forward to the future of this important asset,” said Shaun Benderson, vice president of Benderson Development, in the release.

This graphic shows the layout and locations of tenants at the Crossings at Siesta Key. Image from the mall website

The May 20 deed makes clear that Benderson affiliate SWFL Retail Associates LLC formally is the new owner of the property. The seller was O’Connor Real Estate Advisors LLC of New York City, the deed shows. That is an affiliate of O’Connor Capital Partners.

In January 2003, the entire mall was sold by Charles Burd II, the “successor trustee of the Dynamic Retail Trust,” to Southgate Plaza LLC, for $62 million, Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office records show.

In October 2014, Benderson affiliate Siesta Retail LLC bought the 323,650-square-foot portion of the mall that had been home to Dillard’s. The 2014 market value of that part of the site was $6,394,500, the Property Appraiser’s Office records show. In 2021, it was valued at $9,315,800.

Additionally, in 2021, the Property Appraiser’s Office records show, the market value of the mall property that Benderson purchased on May 20 was $17 million.

After Lucky’s Market closed in a section of the former Dillard’s space, in February 2020, it was replaced in February 2021 by an Aldi’s grocery store, part of a chain known for its lower prices, as its website notes.

An Esporta Fitness gym occupies the southern portion of the site. Formerly, the gym was branded as an LA Fitness operation. Fitness International LLC operates the brand names LA Fitness, Esporta Fitness and City Sports Club, its website explains.

This aerial map shows the section of the Crossings at Siesta Key, outlined in purple, that Benderson purchased in 2014. The building previously was home to a Dillard’s store. Image courtesy Sarasota County Property Appraiser Bill Furst

The Benderson Development news release about its acquisition of the remainder of the Crossings at Siesta Key says the firm “is known for transforming underperforming properties into thriving destinations that serve the needs and wants of the community.

In early 2017, the company purchased The Landings shopping center, located at 4800 S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, and began working to bring in new retail businesses. Before that — in 2012 — Benderson purchased Pelican Plaza on South Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, at the Beneva Road intersection.

This is the Facebook page banner for The Landings shopping center. Image from Facebook

In a Jan. 13 news release, the company pointed out that Pelican Plaza “has undergone a total transformation …” Noting that the complex was “mostly vacant” and dilapidated at the time of the purchase, it now “boasts major retailers, such as Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Sprouts Farmers Market, Ulta Beauty, Total Wine and More, Petco, Burlington and Rack Room Shoes. Coming soon is Bath and Body Works,” the release says.

In partnership with the Taubman development firm, Benderson created and co-owns the Mall at University Town Center near the intersection of University Parkway and Cattlemen Road. That complex opened on Oct. 16, 2014. A number of retailers that had stores in what was then the Southgate Mall relocated them to the Mall at University Town Center. Among them were Saks Fifth Avenue, Ann Taylor and the Banana Republic.

“Benderson Development has been aggressively growing its portfolio over the last few years,” the May 23 news release points out. “Noteworthy recent acquisitions,” the release continues, are a 4.5-million-square-foot portfolio of 28 Fred Meyer superstores located throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska; the Whole Foods in Alexandria, Va.; the Thrivent Financial headquarters in Minneapolis, Minn.; an interest in Duke Energy’s Metro Tower in Charlotte, N.C.; and the ground leases under the Hampton Inn Manhattan/Times Square Central, The Highland Dallas, Curio Collection by Hilton, Willard Towers in Washington, D.C., and The Plaza Santa Fe in Santa Fe, N.M.

“Founded in 1949, Benderson Development is one of the nation’s largest privately held real estate companies,” the release says. Its portfolio includes more than 800 properties totaling more than 48 million square feet in 40 states. For more information, visit, the release notes.

This section of Benderson Development’s website shows its ‘Select Retail Partners.’ Image from the website

Siesta Promenade and other Benderson property

On Dec. 12, 2018, Benderson won Sarasota County Commission approval to construct the Siesta Promenade mixed-use project on approximately 24 acres in the northwest quadrant of Stickney Point Road and U.S. 41, near Siesta Key. The concept plan calls for 414 apartments/condominiums, a 130-room hotel, 133,000 square feet of retail space and 7,000 square feet of office space.

The development has been on hold while Benderson awaits a Florida Second District Court of Appeal ruling. A south Siesta Key homeowner — James P. Wallace III — has challenged the Florida Department of Transportation’s approval of a new traffic signal at the Avenue B and C intersection with Stickney Point Road. The County Commission stipulated that that stoplight must be in place before Siesta Promenade can be constructed.

This is the proposed new layout for Siesta Promenade, encompassing the two Pine Shores Estates residential parcels, as shown in a June 2020 application submitted to Sarasota County’s Planning Division. The County Commission will have final say on whether the extra property can be incorporated into the plans. Image courtesy Sarasota County

In August 2019, Benderson affiliate Siesta 41 Associates LLP — the formal owner of the Siesta Promenade site — purchased two single-family home sites in Pine Shores Estates, which is adjacent to the Siesta Promenade property. Benderson filed documents with county Planning Division staff two years ago, indicating it wanted to add those parcels to its Siesta Promenade concept plan. Then, in late July 2021, it conducted a county-required Neighborhood Workshop on the proposal. Company representatives said during that event that they were not seeking to increase the residential density of Siesta Promenade.

In response to a Sarasota News Leader question about the status of that application to add the single-family home parcels to the Siesta Promenade site, Michele Norton, assistant director of the county’s Planning and Development Services Department, said on May 26 that it remains under staff review for sufficiency.

In late 2021, Benderson Development purchased the Sarasota County Administration Center property, and two adjacent parking lots on Morrill Street in downtown Sarasota, for $25 million. It is renting the property to the county for $1 million a year while a new North County Administration Center is constructed on Fruitville Road. The latter structure will be built on land that Benderson swapped to the county earlier this year, in exchange for a segment of the county-owned Nathan Benderson Park.

The park is adjacent to the West District of Benderson’s University Town Center, near the mall.

This graphic shows the ‘half-moon parcel’ at Benderson Park that the county swapped to Benderson Development for Benderson’s property at 6700 Fruitville Road. Image courtesy Sarasota County

It is expected to take about four years for the new county administration center to be built at 6700 Fruitville Road.

In related news: On May 24, the county commissioners voted unanimously to approve the expansion of the county seat to encompass that Fruitville Road site. The first, required public hearing on the action was conducted on May 10.

Additionally, Benderson owns property in Siesta Key Village. Its most recent acquisition — in December 2021 — added the 13,529-square-foot building that is home to Bonjour French Café — and a parking lot — to its portfolio.

Outlined in purple, this is the property, including the Bonjour French Cafe, that Benderson Development recently acquired in Siesta Village. Image courtesy Sarasota County Property Appraiser Bill Furst

Formally, Benderson affiliate 7978 CCB 14 LLC paid $1.8 million in that transaction, the Property Appraiser’s Office website says.

In May 2011, Benderson paid $1,375,000 for the 22,500-square-foot Siesta Beach Plaza, where Flavio’s Brick Oven & Bar is located.