EAST COUNTY — It looks like a metal skeleton.
But, in just more than a year, the metal beams protruding from the ground just south of University Parkway and west of Interstate 75 will be the structural support behind a regional shopping destination — the Mall at University Town Center.
Project developers Taubman Centers and Benderson Develoment broke ground on the project, a 50/50 joint venture, Oct. 15. The mall’s opening is slated for Oct. 16, 2014.
Foundations for the mall’s concourse were completed earlier this year with vertical construction starting in May, said John Eggert, development director for Taubman.
“Fundamentally, we’ve started at the middle of the mall,” Eggert said. “We call it ‘the grand court.’ We’re working north and south, in terms of steel installation, from the center plane.”
Developers will build units for stores located within the mall itself, although the project’s only named tenants — Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and Dillard’s — will be responsible for constructing their own buildings. Saks began construction in June; Macy’s and Dillard’s are expected to start construction by the end of the year, Eggert said.
Taubman officials, who are handling leasing for the property, remain tight-lipped about additional vendors coming to the mall. The company will release the names of new tenants sometime in the fourth quarter of 2013, about one year from the mall’s opening.
However, Eggert said the two-story, enclosed mall has 880,000-square-feet of leasable space and will include at least 100 stores, which will feature a mix of both national and local tenants. Many leases have been signed or are in progress, but Eggert declined to give specific numbers.
“Our leasing is going really well,” Eggert said, noting Taubman has a “strong lineup of national tenants.” “We are at or exceeding the level we thought we would be at this point. Interest has been strong.
“One thing I can tell you is we will have a decent number of sit-down restaurants, in addition to our normal merchandise tenants,” he said. “The food component will bring another element to the center.”
Taubman owns International Plaza, in Tampa, and co-owns the Waterside Shops, in Naples.
“We really view this (mall) as an opportunity as a middle ground between those two shopping centers,” Eggert said. “It will certainly bear some similarities to our other projects, but it will have its own unique flair.”
Contact Pam Eubanks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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