Local firm takes over Santa Rosa Mall and has plans for more national tenants

Tony Judnich
Northwest Florida Daily News

MARY ESTHER — Fort Walton Beach-based commercial real estate brokerage NBI Properties Inc. will take over the leasing and management of Santa Rosa Mall on March 1.

The mall, which stands at 300 Mary Esther Blvd., is owned by Radiant Partners LLC of New York City and currently is managed by Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.

NBI Properties, which was founded in 2005 by Craig Barrett and Jayme Nabors, manages more than 2,500 properties on the Emerald Coast.

NBI properties of Fort Walton Beach will take over management of Santa Rosa Mall in Mary Esther on March 1.

For the mall, “We have a lot of things on the table: rebranding, re-imaging and making cosmetic upgrades to the property,” Barrett said Tuesday. “We might have a name change for it. We’re going to have a lot of events there to help attract people. And we’ll be reaching out to national tenants, and local and regional tenants as well.”

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He said the mall has “a significant amount of vacancies” that he and his partners will look to fill.

“We’re looking to attract retail that will bring in traffic there,” Barrett said. “A major restaurant is one of our main options.”

A major face-lift to the Regal Santa Rosa movie theater on the west side of the property also is planned, he said.

Barrett said although NBI Properties doesn’t officially take over the mall’s management until March 1, he has been working on several leads for potential tenants.

According to the mall’s website, the mall and its outparcels currently contain 47 tenants.

When the mall opened in 1976, it had 54 stores. But in recent years the shopping center lost several anchor stores such as Belk, Sears and JCPenney.

The new, 229-unit Renaissance Santa Rosa Apartments development stands in the old Belk space on the mall’s northwest side.

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Barrett noted that he, Nabors and NBI Properties’ marketing manager Jennifer Stapleton are natives of Fort Walton Beach and spearheaded the ongoing revival of its downtown.

“Downtown Fort Walton Beach was a ghost town about 10 years ago,” Barrett said. “Now, you often can’t find a parking space there. We’ll use that same energy and passion to build up the mall. For us, (property management) is our business, but it’s also our passion. We want to see the mall thriving like it used to be. It’s going to be a place where all families can go and have fun.”