LAKEWOOD RANCH — As patrons saunter along the sidewalk of Lakewood Ranch Main Street, Julia DeCastro has to smile.
The plaza’s occupancy rate is as high as it’s ever been, at more than 94% overall, when including incoming tenants.
“We’re seeing a resurgence in the market,” said DeCastro, who manages the property with Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty. “Hopefully, it’s a sign of the economy — that people are getting confident.”
Within just a few months, the plaza, which already has seen the addition of seven tenants since fall 2011, will see openings for women’s retailer SOMA Intimates, American Shore Trading Co. and eateries such as Fast n Fresh and Pinchers Crab Shack.
Loreleis at Lakewood Ranch, a women’s fashion retailer, opened Feb. 1.
“There are three (retail) spaces left,” DeCastro said, noting the former 24,000-square-foot Good Earth space was subdivided into five — four of which already have been filled. “Office has been harder to come back — slower than retail. Just recently that began picking up, too.”
Although Main Street no longer has an anchor tenant as originally envisioned since the loss of Good Earth, DeCastro said the change has been a boost to the plaza overall. Establishments such as The Polo Grill and Bar and McAllisters Grill and Tavern are serving as anchors, and the new businesses opening also are drawing more people to the plaza.
“Now (patrons) have five choices,” DeCastro said of dividing the Good Earth space. “It creates more of the environment we’re trying to create. Walk around while you eat ice cream (and stop at the shops). From the center’s standpoint, and it being a mixed-use lifestyle center, it makes more sense. We’re providing more options for people.
“The mix is good,” she said. “We’re getting three more retails stores, and that’s something we needed.”
DeCastro said she’s not in a hurry to lease the remaining Good Earth space, wanting to secure the perfect tenant for the location. A high-end butcher shop may be a good fit, since the Viking Culinary Center, located just down the street, is gaining popularity, she said.
Across Lakewood Ranch Boulevard, San Marco Plaza is experiencing a similar phenomenon.
There, in a plaza where all retail units are individually owned rather than leased, occupancy levels, when including all recent and pending sales, have reached more than 80% — also an all-time high.
At one time, while banks were waiting to foreclose on at least 15 units, San Marco’s existing business owners — about 38% — were paying all of the plaza’s operating expenses.
“We’re turning the corner; we’ve turned the corner,” said Realtor Dave Neff, of JS Realty, who has focused on revitalizing San Marco Plaza. “We’ve got more traffic (here) than we’ve ever seen. It’s coming to life.”
Since the third quarter of 2011, businesses such as the Yellow Strawberry Hair & Makeup Salon and Skybox Asset Management have opened in San Marco.
Sashay Dance Club and Venice-based Montgomery’s CarpetsPlus, together occupying about 5,000 square feet of space, are expected to open in the coming days and weeks.
“It’s a perfect store,” Montgomery’s owner Vern Montgomery said, noting this second location will be a showroom. “Interest rates are at an all-time low on commercial property; they’re just as low as home rates.
“It’s a total reawakening of this plaza,” he said. “We’ve already done over the years a couple hundred projects in Lakewood Ranch. We’re looking forward to (being here). We think we have business waiting in the wings.”
Neff said has possible buyers on two units, and pending sales on another two units, including the former Dagwood’s space. If all goes through, the plaza would have only three more units remaining, plus its 8,500-square-foot anchor space originally designed to hold the Golden Apple Dinner Theater.
Contact Pam Eubanks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAN MARCO PLAZA
• 2nd Ann Rose
• McClain Salon
• Montgomery’s CarpetsPlus
• Nail Salon VS
• Sashay Dance Club
• SkyBox Asset Management
• Yellow Strawberry
• America’s Best Martial Arts
• American Shore Trading Co. (coming soon)
• Athletic Edge Sports at Premier Sports Campus
• Fast n Fresh (coming soon)
• Pastries by Design
• Pincher’s Crab Shack (coming soon)
• SOMA (coming soon)
• Station 400
• Urban Accents
• U.S. America Bank
• Viking Culinary Center