SPRING HILL — It's a tale of two shopping centers.
While the new Suncoast Crossing on Spring Hill Drive near the Suncoast Parkway struggles to find tenants, Nature Coast Commons on Commercial Way near Spring Hill Drive has announced that 75 percent of its retail and restaurant space is now committed.
Commons developer Opus of Atlanta, with an office in Tampa, has announced "a strong lineup of national retailers," spokeswoman Laura Fontanills said recently.
Signed on to join anchor JC Penney, which opened in March, are Best Buy, the electronics giant; The Sports Authority, a national sporting goods outlet; Office Depot, supplier of commercial and home office goods; Mattress Giant, purveyor of bedroom furnishings; Arby's, known for its fast food beef sandwiches and more; and financial institution Wachovia Bank. They are scheduled to open in the spring of 2009.
As announced previously, Cracker Barrel Restaurant has targeted an opening this fall at the Commons.
Retailers have a total of 350,000 square feet available.
As for the disparity in the centers' obtaining tenant commitments, Mike McHugh, director of Hernando County business development, said the difference could be due to timing.
Nature Coast Commons is on the fast track, having already opened its JC Penney store. Suncoast Crossing continues construction on its anchors, Kohl's and Target, both national discount department store chains that won't open until this fall.
"Typically," said McHugh, "a project goes forward when it hits 50 percent" of building and tenant sign-ons.
Timing has another component: The recessive economy. "Many (retailers) are scaling back for 18 months," he acknowledged.
Other factors could be in play, McHugh said. "Is it financials? Is it location?"
The ground-breaking for Target at the Crossing is a positive, the development director noted. "As activity develops, it brings more interest."
Elsewhere, near Ridge Manor, in the vicinity of State Road 50 and Interstate 75, two motels are scheduled to open soon, said Pat Crowley, executive director of the Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce: Microtel Inn and Suites and Holiday Inn Express.
"It's good to see businesses coming in and providing jobs," Crowley said.
She added, "As small business goes, we're signing more members on." Among them are Z Chefs on U.S. 19 near the Hernando-Citrus line and Boulevard Diner on Mariner Boulevard.
The national chain restaurant, Texas Roadhouse, is building adjacent to Beacon Theatres on Cortez Boulevard.
Home-based entrepreneurs also have opened their doors recently. Crowley noted a graphics and design studio, print shops, a party planning business and direct mail services.
Most of the small businesses have been planned for a couple of years, she noted. "Business follows rooftops," she said.
Beth Gray can be contacted at [email protected]