The Fruitville Initiative, a Sarasota County planning project affecting more than 400 acres of land east of I-75, picked up momentum with neighborhood workshops earlier this year. Now a big-name retailer is in the mix.
Bass Pro Shops will open an 80,000-square-foot "Outpost" as part of a larger mixed-use development at the intersection of I-75 and Fruitville Road, according to a press release issued Monday. The outdoor store, which specializes in selling hunting, fishing and camping supplies, will anchor the 260,000-square-foot Fruitville Commons.
“Having owned the property for more than 30 years, we are extremely excited that Bass Pro Shops has chosen our site for the home of their latest complex," said David Walters, whose family controls about 40 acres within the Fruitville Initiative, in the release. "The concept of a Bass Pro Shops Outpost store is exactly what was envisioned when the mixed-use Fruitville Initiative was conceived."
The store will feature the nautical-themed bowling alley and restaurant Uncle Bucks FishBowl and Grill. It will be the 14th Bass Pro Shops in Florida, and create 200 full- and part-time jobs.
The Fruitville Initative is aimed at encouraging compact, mixed-use developments, with walkable features and open space, as opposed to sprawling suburbs or big box stores, and providing infrastructre to support a major employment center. County commissioners last year directed staff to work expeditiously to get the public-private partnership back on track.
The Celery Fields, a wildlife preserve popular with birders, and the Sarasota Audubon Society's future nature center sit southeast of the proposed Bass Pro Shops. Benderson Development is currently in negations to purchase 41 acres of county-owned land nearby within the Fruitville Initiative for $3 million to build an industrial park.