The developer responsible for bringing retailers such as Target and Kohl’s to the University Parkway corridor in the East County has big plans for 2012.
Not only will Benderson Development begin construction for more shops along Cattlemen Road in front of its existing 450,000-square-foot University Town Center, but also it plans to start on the mega-mall portion of the project by the end of the year.
“We’re hoping to be under construction for the mall in the last quarter of 2012 and have (it) open in the fall of 2014,” Benderson’s Executive Director of Leasing Mark Chait said. “The change in the retail climate (and) the interest from major retailers (are) the biggest impetus (for moving forward).”
Sarasota County approved plans for the first phase of its major mixed-use development at the southwest corner of University Parkway and Interstate 75 in July 2005. The project, in total, calls for more than 1 million square feet of retail space, along with 330,000 square feet light industrial and office. A 750-room hotel and a mixture of multi-family housing also are planned.
Until now, Benderson had delayed completion of the mall because of changes in the economy.
Within the first phase of the University Town Center project, Benderson already has entirely leased out the existing plaza, anchored by the Super Target. The company now is in the planning stages for smaller buildings that will sit across from retailers such as Michaels and Bed, Bath & Beyond on the west side of Cattlemen Road. Chait said he already is pursuing several leads but declined to provide specifics.
The mega mall, in addition to what Benderson already has constructed along University Parkway, may seem like too much retail for the East County area to handle, but the market, Chait said, has long been underserved.
“I can’t tell you how many people drive to Tampa and Orlando to shop,” he said. “We don’t have the offerings people are looking for (currently). The needs we’re able to satisfy now are the big box retail, but not the high-end fashion. We’re planning on building a high-end regional fashion mall you’d find in larger markets.”
Additionally this year, Benderson will move its 20,000-square-foot office in The Shoppes at University Center, near Five Guys Burgers, Marshall’s and other retails, into a new space in the Cooper Creek Office Campus, farther north on Cooper Creek Boulevard, in the first quarter of 2012. The move will make way for Jo-Ann Fabrics and Craft Store to open in the plaza in the summer of 2012. Shoe Carnival also is expected to open in the plaza adjacent to Pier 1 Imports. Other deals at the Shoppes and other Benderson plazas, he said, are pending.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
Building the Connector
As part of the requirements to build University Town Center, Benderson Development must expand Cattlemen Road north from Richardson Road to just south of University Parkway. The $17 million project is under way and on time to be finished by December 2012.
“It’s a great roadway that basically serves as a commercial connector from Fruitville (Road) to University (Parkway),” Benderson Project Manager Paul Blackketter said.
The Cattlemen expansion also coincides with the reconfiguration of the lake at Nathan Benderson Park, which will have a 2,000-meter rowing course and other amenities when completed. The $20 million project should be finished in 20 months, Blackketter said.
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