Scott Fish, a principal with UP Development, which has recently purchased and plans to redevelop Orlando Fashion Square. UP’s other Orlando projects include Shoppes at Alafaya Trail and Millenia Plaza.

Orlando Fashion Square is its first mall project. Fish recently spoke with Sentinel staff writer Sandra Pedicini.

CFB: Can you give an update on the development? What is it going to look like?

The Colonial side will be the high turnover, casual dining and lodging experience. That will transition up the corridor along Macy’s into our urban retail section. We have ordered a basketball court and are placing that in the courtyard near Barnie’s and are relocating Vans and our shoe retailers up that corridor. That will transition into the JCPenney corridor where the movie theater is. There will be an activity area themed upstairs with the movie theater. We signed a deal with PrimeTime Amusements to do a Hershey’s shake shop and arcade. We have ordered the equipment and lanes for 12 lanes of bowling. That will involve relocating the comic book store into the former Rack Room shoes area.

We’re in the middle of a $400,000 exterior landscaping project. We have lit the center up, both the exterior and interior. We replaced over 400 bulbs and fixtures. It’ starting to come back to life.

CFB: It says on your website BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse is opening at Orlando Fashion Square. Is that definite?

They go to real estate committee for their final approval [this] week. They’ve visited the site, and we anticipate a favorable response from their committee. [They’ve signed] a letter of intent. [A letter of intent is a precursor to a lease.]

CFB: Where do plans for a hotel stand?

The plans for the hotel have been submitted to Starwood. The package has received approval for the brand. We have submitted our preliminary application to the city for that approval as well.

CFB: Has Starwood signed a letter of intent as well?

Yes. It’s going to be 127 rooms.

CFB: Who’s going to stay in this hotel? There aren’t any other hotels in the area.

We have a great executive airport directly across the street from us. There’s literally thousands of office jobs within a three-mile radius of the mall without a hotel to serve them. Our current tenants that have their regional and district meetings will now be able to have a place to hold those. They can stay here without putting additional rental cars on the streets. You have the Veteran’s Administration hospital behind us and no hotel to serve them, either.

CFB: What other tenants are you actively in discussions with right now?

We are finalizing with Papaya, the high-end women’s clothier. We have renewed with Dillard’s, JCPenney. We are negotiating a relocation of Pearle Vision, with some of the tenants in front of the mall to create access to the hotel. We are renewing with Panera. They will do a remodel of their store in the near future. We signed a lease with BB&T for the corner of [State Road] 50 and Herndon.

CFB: What attracted you to Orlando Fashion Square?

The location. It’s in the center of the city. It also had excellent access to downtown and obviously great access to Baldwin and Winter Park.

CFB: Why do you think the area has struggled so much? A lot of businesses have closed.

I think the economic downturn affected everybody, particularly the middle markets of America got hit first and hardest. I also think those are coming back first. There’s an unbelievable amount of new tenantscoming to this market. Our marketing efforts have been met with positive feedback from all the retailers we’re speaking with. The downturn caught up just when Baldwin Park and some of these other areas were maturing, and it’s an infill market for us. We’re starting to see the benefit of the recovery in the economy.