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East County Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019 3 weeks ago

Mall at UTC is 5 years old ... and still growing in Sarasota

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With 165 shops and only two vacancies, Mall at UTC celebrates its fifth anniversary.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Five years after The Mall at University Town Center’s opening, it continues to add to its footprint.

Taubman Properties is renovating and expanding the former Burger and Beer Joint space for a 10,000-square-foot Urban Outfitters store, slated to open in the first quarter. The new store will expand the mall’s existing 880,000-square-foot footprint by 5,000 square feet.

“It’s a good sign the brand has a lot of confidence in the market and the center,” said Jeramy Burkinshaw, the Mall at UTC’s general manager. “The center is performing very well.”

URBN, a portfolio of global consumer brands, is confident in the mall’s success because Urban Outfitters is its third property at the mall, joining Free People and Anthropologie.

Lauren Clark, the mall’s marketing and sponsorship director, said the arrival of Urban Outfitters is indicative of the success of the mall, which opened Oct. 16, 2014, with 70 retailers and now has 167 shops and eateries.

Clark said the mall’s original lineup of tenants seemed to target part-time seasonal residents but overlooked family demographics.

“We missed the market on teen clothes and children,” Clark said. “We’ve been correcting that. That’s why you see places like Urban Outfitters coming in.”

Burkinshaw said the additions have created a better tenant mix and made it more appealing to customers. Expansions of Lululemon and Venus Med Spa at the mall also are a good “sign of vitality,” he said.

“I think we’re coming into [our sweet spot],” Burkinshaw said. “We’re figuring it out. Just like when we build any new asset, it takes time to get established.”

Currently, the mall has only two vacancies, which Clark said have never been leased because Taubman was saving them for “something special and unique,” such as the Women’s Sports Museum, for which a preview center is slated to open in 2020.

The University Town Center corridor, which includes the Mall at University Town Center, and the adjacent UTC-branded shopping districts on Cattlemen Road and University Parkway, are doing more than $1 billion annually in sales volume, according to figures released by Benderson Development, which co-owns the mall with Taubman and owns the UTC shopping districts.

Burkinshaw and Clark said the public enjoys the mall’s events, such as health and wellness seminars and classes, fine art shows and fashion shows.

Judi Knowles, the manager for Fit2Run’s Mall at UTC location, said she believes the mall’s success will only grow because of the residential development coming to the area.

“It’s going to be really busy,” Knowles said. “I think the mall is going in the right direction. It’s catering a lot to the children and the families and also people who want to use it as a walking place for exercise.”

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