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East County Wednesday, Jul. 15, 2009 8 years ago

The Benderson Boom

by: Pam McTeer

SARASOTA COUNTY — Casa Di Pizza co-owner Kevin Mann has had his eye on the University Parkway corridor for quite some time.

And about two months ago, the New York-style pizza maker opened a second location in Tourist Center Drive at University Parkway.

“We saw what our business was (at our location) at State Road 64 and the product we put out, and I thought it was a no-brainer,” Mann said of opening a second location. “Everybody needs to eat pizza, and they say pizza can be recession-proof.”

Apparently, Mann isn’t the only one to see potential for business growth.

Mark Chait, spokesperson for Benderson Development, said Benderson has seen a growth in business activity in recent months despite the closure of businesses such as Island Time Grill.

“As negative as the economic situation has been, there are still many businesses that are growing and expanding,” Chait said. “It’s not all negative. I think there’s been an increase in activity that has picked up since February of this year and has continued through today’s date.”

For example, at the Shoppes at University Center, located just east of Cooper Creek Boulevard, at least two new businesses will open in the next few months.

Clothing retailer Marshalls has signed a lease for a 26,000-square-foot space on the northern side of the property and is expected to open this fall.

And near Total Wine & More, construction is nearly finished on Pei Wei Asian Diner, a sister concept of P.F. Chang’s restaurant.

“It’ll be a great addition to the local restaurants,” Chait said. “It’s like P.F. Chang’s but a little more casual.”

Farther east at University Park Center, several new stores have recently opened, including Elaine’s Bridal, Peltz Shoes, Massage Heights and Eyeglass Works.

Chait said Benderson also is finishing construction on a site for a printer cartridge replacement business, and it has signed a lease with Kumo Japanese Steakhouse.

“We’re just starting their work now,” Chait said. “It’ll be within the next couple of months (they’ll be ready to open). It won’t take real long.”

Three or four other deals are in the works for the plaza, but leases won’t be signed until at least next month, he said.

Casa di Pizza opened May 15 in Tourist Center Drive at University Center, the Benderson project that includes the Comfort Suites hotel. Chait said two more deals for that complex are under negotiations.
Benderson also is working on the construction for a new Allstate office and Turner Orthopedics at the Cooper Creek South Retail & Office Park, located behind The Shoppes at University Center.

For a complete listing of Benderson projects, visit the company’s Web site at

Read about Nathan Benderson Park here.

Contact Pam McTeer at [email protected]

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