Sarasota Square Mall opened its doors on September 28, 1977. Developed by Arlen Realty and Development Corporation, the mall was originally anchored by Maas Brothers, JCPenney, J. Byrons and a six-screen movie theater. Two years later, Sears opened an additional anchor space at the shopping center. After the closure of J. Byrons, its space was converted into the Trellis Garden Food Court in 1986. In 1989, a new wing anchored by Parisian was completed. At the time, it was Parisian’s second location outside of its home state of Alabama. During the 1990s, Maas Brothers became Burdines and Dillard’s moved into the former Parisian building after that department store closed in 1996. The shopping center was renamed Westfield Shopping Sarasota Square after being accquired by the Westfield Group in 2003. A few years later, the mall was updated and a 12-screen AMC theater was built between Dillard’s and JCPenney.

Despite Westfield’s investment in the mall, the shopping center’s fortunes began to decline. In 2009, Dillard’s closed and was later replaced with a Costco in 2012. In 2014, the Mall at University Town Center opened near Lakewood Ranch in northern Sarasota County. Then anchored by Macy’s, Dillard’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, it was one of two enclosed malls to open in the country during 2014. In 2017, it lost two of its anchor stores when Sears and Macy’s closed their locations permanently. Renamed Sarasota Square in 2019, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield was notified that the mall’s noteholder was proceeding with foreclosure action on the property.

Today, only AMC Theatres, Costco and JCPenney are tenants remaining in business at Sarasota Square Mall. Covering one million square feet of total retail floor area, the rest of the shopping center is eerily vacant. However, it won’t be around much longer. In 2023, Torburn Partners, a new owner, announced plans to demolish the shopping center. While AMC Theatres, Costco and JCPenney will remain as a part of the redevelopment, the rest of the property will become 1,200 apartments and as much as 500,000 square feet of restaurants, office space and retail stores.

The former Macy’s department store building. It originally opened in 1977 as Maas Brothers.

A vacant mall parking lot.

Kids no longer use the Playtown area near the mall entrance of Sears. Sears was added to the mall in 1979. In 2017, Sears closed its Sarasota Square Mall store along with several other locations nationwide.

The mall’s Sears wing was added to the original shopping center in 1979.

The center court of the original 1977 Sarasota Square Mall.

JCPenney is the last original tenant of the mall. Sarasota Square Mall’s JCPenney store opened its doors in 1977.