Make us your home page
Instagram

High-end Sarasota mall project comes back to life

The Mall at University Town Center is alive again.

Construction begins later this year on the revived $315 million project along Interstate 75 in Sarasota. Taubman Centers Inc., the owner of International Plaza in Tampa, decided to move ahead after signing Macy's, Dillard's and Saks Fifth Avenue to anchor the two-level enclosed mall scheduled to open with 115 other stores in 2014.

"With deals like this few and far between these days, we're thrilled to land these department stores," said John Eggert, director of development who is managing the project for Taubman.

News that Sarasota had attracted what likely is one of only two new mall construction projects in the country was welcomed in the city. But the Sarasota Herald-Tribune described the mood of local shoppers and civic leaders as "bittersweet" because Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom were not wooed back into the project.

Both had committed to opening their first stores in the Sarasota market, but backed out after the recession shelved the mall project in 2008. Neiman stopped all new store development and Nordstrom shifted its focus to the Nordstrom Rack outlet chain.

Saks will be moving into a new store twice as big as the one it will be closing in Westfield Southgate mall near downtown Sarasota. Dillard's will be replacing unprofitable stores it closed two years ago in Westfield Sarasota Square mall and struggling DeSoto Square mall in Bradenton.

The project, which covers 73 acres, is a joint venture between Taubman, based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and Benderson Development, a Sarasota developer that made the high-end mall part of its larger, roughly 500-acre University Town Center mixed-use development that straddles the Manatee-Sarasota county line.

Taubman is managing what will be an 880,000-square-foot two-level mall. It is surrounded by what already is about 1.5 million square feet of retail with permission for about 400,000 square feet more, 500 hotel rooms and about 1,500 residential units.

Taubman, which operates a portfolio of 27 malls that led the industry with an average of $644 a square foot in sales in 2011, just opened City Creek in Salt Lake City in a joint venture with the Mormon Church that was the nation's only new regional mall this year.

Taubman's ability to sign up enough retailers for another new mall is seen as another sign of retailers' growing confidence in what remains a weak economy. But many chains are being tempted by today's comparatively low rents and Taubman's track record for high end centers. Yet while new competition will put additional strain on the three other traditional malls within 10 miles in Sarasota and Manatee counties, experts predict only minimal traffic diverted from malls in the Tampa Bay area.

"It's a totally different market and besides, Tampa Bay already has the same stores," said Leon Brockmeier, a retail specialist with Marcus & Millichap, a commercial real estate firm. "Some shoppers may go there out of curiosity once or twice for lunch until the novelty runs out."

Indeed, Taubman has opened its high end centers across the population centers of Central and Southwest Florida in Orlando, Naples and Tampa.

"We've spaced them out so there is minimal overlap," Eggert said. "This perfectly fills our void between Tampa and Naples."

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8252.

High-end Sarasota mall project comes back to life 04/25/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 9:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. FBI probes fraudster's alleged church scam following Tampa Bay Times report

    Real Estate

    PLANT CITY — Once again, the FBI is investigating felon fraudster Victor Thomas Clavizzao.

    The FBI is investigating convicted mortgage fraudster Victor Thomas Clavizzao on new allegations following a Tampa Bay Times report.
[TImes file photo]

  2. Tampa Bay is ground-zero for assignment of benefits cases over broken auto glass

    Banking

    When Rachel Thorpe tried to renew her auto insurance last year for her Toyta RAV4, she was stunned to see her monthly premium had nearly doubled to $600. The Sarasota driver was baffled since her only recent claim was over a broken windshield.

    Auto glass lawsuits filed by a third party (through what's known as assignment of benefits) are skyrocketing in Tampa Bay.
[Times file photo]
  3. Siesta Beach tops Dr. Beach's rankings of best locations in America

    Tourism

    Three beaches in Florida made it on a highly coveted list of the top 10 in America this year, ranked by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. "Dr. Beach."

    This May 18, 2017 photo shows Siesta Beach on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Fla. Siesta Beach is No. 1 on the list of best beaches for the summer of 2017 compiled by Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, a professor at Florida International University. [Chris O'Meara | Associated Press]
  4. Brooksville's popular Florida Cracker Kitchen aims at statewide expansion

    Retail

    BROOKSVILLE — Florida Cracker Kitchen's inverted cowboy boot logo — seemingly plastered on every pickup truck in Hernando County — may someday be just as ubiquitous across the state.

    Shrimp and grits is a signature dish at Florida Cracker Kitchen, which plans to open more restaurants in the state.
  5. Alison Barlow named director to spur creative economy, jobs of St. Pete Innovation District

    Economic Development

    After an extensive search, the recently created St. Pete Innovation District now has its first executive director. Alison Barlow on Thursday was named to the position in which she will help recruit and facilitate a designated downtown St. Petersburg area whose assets and members range from USF St. Petersburg, Johns …

    Alison Barlow has been named the first executive director of the recently created St. Pete Innovation District, a designated downtown St. Petersburg area whose assets and members range from USF St. Petersburg, Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital and Poynter Institute to SRI International and the USF College of Marine Science, among many other organizations. Barlow, who most recently served as manager of the Collaborative Labs at St. Petersburg College, starts her new job June 16.[Photo courtesy of LinkedIn]