WELLINGTON, Fla. — First it was online shopping, now it's the COVID-19 pandemic that has sales shrinking at shopping malls.
Mole Cantina Mexicana sits on the outskirts of the Mall at Wellington Green.
The restaurant opened in February, weeks before the pandemic, and its owner said for his restaurant to survive the mall needs to survive.
"For us, it’s essential that this place is busy because we counted on that in the beginning when we signed the lease," said Nick Cervera.
But the mall has been struggling for years, battling against online shopping.
So last year, its owners Starwood Retail Partners, unveiled a redevelopment project including a hotel, apartments, and making this space more of an entertainment district.
"The last process they were in that they submitted to the village was currently postponed in June," said Jim Barnes, the deputy village manager of Wellington.
Village officials said the redevelopment project has not been formally withdrawn, but it's been sitting dormant.
"The mall itself is critical in that it is one of the larger properties in town and also one of our larger commercial properties," Barnes said.
Starwood purchased the mall for $341 million in 2014. At the time it was one of the highest property sales in Palm Beach County.
But the Property Appraiser’s Office said the mall’s value has dropped some $70 million, and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now village officials admit they're concerned.
"We certainly don’t want to see what happened in other locations where malls have gone dark," Barnes said.
"We’re hanging on, but again, ideally, it would have been great if everything went through and the mall were busy," Cervera said.
WPTV reached out to Starwood Retail Partners for more information about the future of the Mall at Wellington Green, but we have not heard back.