More tenants in the University Corner shopping center should open in the first quarter of 2019.
| 7:10 a.m. September 5, 2018
North American Property Vice President Craig Kopko has been busy the past year overseeing construction and securing tenants for Lakewood Ranch’s newest Publix shopping center at University Corner.
On Aug. 31, he stopped to check on the construction of the new Publix, which is located at the northeast corner of University Parkway and Lorraine Road, as well as an out parcel that will be home for a second location of Sarasota’s Libby’s Cafe and Bar.
He will be back on-site before dawn Sept. 6 as Publix prepares for a 7 a.m. grand opening.
“It’s the kickoff to the long-term life (of University Corner),” Kopko said.
He said University Center will be fed by all the homes being built along Lorraine Road along with those in the new Waterside at Lakewood Ranch. He also said it is important Lakewood Ranch is connected to Fruitville Road.
The new Publix, which will be almost 46,000 square feet and employ more than 120 associates, will anchor the plaza.
Publix spokesman Brian West said the opening will be one of four in Florida between Sept. 6 and Sept. 15. The others are in Sarasota (The Shoppes at Casey Key), St. Petersburg and Hudson.
West said customers will receive a free flower for the first couple of hours or until they run out. He said sampling stations will be throughout the store.
“It’s not something you get to do every day,” West said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
West said Lakewood Ranch’s rapid growth has determined the sites of new Publix stores.
“We simply want to be where our customers are,” he said.
West wouldn’t confirm the locations of other future Publix stores, although two more have gone through planning stages, such as the one at the northeast corner of State Road 70 and Lorraine Road and another farther north, closer to State Road 64, east of Lorraine.
“I can’t get into details (about future locations),” West said. “I can only tell you it’s a great market. There’s growth in that area. Sometimes, these deals take quite a while from the time the ink dries on the paper.”
North American Properties will own and manage the University Corner shopping plaza.
Kopko said with the Publix opening, North American Properties will begin delivering spaces to other tenants in the plaza for build-out, including Libby’s Cafe and Bar, Dunkin’ Donuts, Domino’s and Sherwin Williams. Those businesses will be in the corner-most out parcel that has eight tenants.
Libby’s will be the anchor for that building.
“Our company has been a big fan of Libby’s for a long time,” Kopko said. “I think the demographics align with what we have in Lakewood Ranch. We’re extremely excited. They do lunch and dinner in Sarasota. In this location, they’ll also do breakfast.”
Only one 900-square-foot space remains available for lease.
“You’ll start to see tenants open in the first and second quarters of 2019,” he said.
Domino’s Pizza and Publix Liquors will be the end caps for the in-line retail along Publix. Three spaces are still available for lease.
Heartland Dental is constructing an out parcel fronting University Parkway on the east side of Covenant Way. And another 1.3-acre out parcel opposite Covenant Way is available for ground lease or a build-to-suit. Kopko said the site has the option of a drive-thru but could be a single user or multi-tenant building, depending on demand.
“We’re very happy with the speed at which it leased,” Kopko said. “It’s a little faster than expected. I’m always surprised. Lakewood Ranch never ceases to surprise us.”