Sunday, May 12, 2013

Suggestions needed for Mall at University Town Center stores

Officials and developers break ground for the University Town Center Mall development in October 2012. The upscale mall will be located in Sarasota at the southwest corner of University Parkway and I-75. PAUL VIDELA/Bradenton Herald PVIDELA@BRADENTON.COM

Read more here:

UNIVERSITY PARK--Talking with folks in the community about the Mall at University Town Center, there’s always excitement, and a line that goes something like this:
“I can’t wait. I really wish they would bring [insert store or restaurant name here].”
Today is your lucky day because a Taubman Centers official says she is listening.
Part of Karen MacDonald’s job as director of communications at Taubman is to track what people are saying and writing online about what stores they want to see at the Mall, set to open Oct. 16, 2014 at University Parkway and Cattleman Road, near Interstate 75.
MacDonald told the Herald that leasing agents, development people and the research team visited the area to try to get a sense of what’s here already, what works, and most importantly, the restaurants people want and the shops where they want to spend their money. Mall builders, it seems, take to heart what people write online about stores they want to see where they live.
“Oh yeah, we look at that stuff,” MacDonald said.
The mall has plenty of space to fill with 115 tenants plus an additional anchor to be named, so suggestions are welcomed. So far, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Saks Fifth Avenue are the only confirmed tenants.
The suggestions don’t necessarily have to be national chains, either.
“We always try to have some local flavor to our shopping centers as well with a handful of local retailers and food specialty stores,” MacDonald said.
Some of that research involves nearby retailers that provide data about where shoppers travel from, she added.
Sarasota area residents were recently excited about reports that an Apple store would open at the Westfield Southgate Mall when the shopping center expanded in 2011, only to feel spurned when it didn’t happen. Is that something shoppers here still want? Maybe a Google store instead, or in addition?
This mall might have had a similar moment with Bass Pro Shops, after the store apparently printed in a catalog last year that it would be coming to Sarasota, leading many in the community to speculate the store would be coming to UTC. Bass Pro told WWSB, who first reported the printing mishap, that they had nothing to announce at that time.
The first round of tenants will be announced in October, about a year before the mall opens, MacDonald said.
Now is your chance to make an impact on your local mall.
Sign in and post your suggestions to this blog below. I’ll pass them along to MacDonald so she knows that Manatee County shoppers will put their money where their mouth is.
Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.


  1. This is exciting. Apple Store for sure!!! It simply makes no sense to drive to Tampa, Brandon or Orlando to have your Mac needs met! I surely hope that they'll not only consider, but bring Apple to the mall. Please be sure to pass this onto Mr.

    1. The Apple Core is a local store that does everything the Apple store does. Sells new machines at a discount, used machines. Fixes everything. For much cheaper.

  2. Nordstrom, Pottery Barn, JosABank, Cheesecake Factory,PGA Tour Superstore, Mellow Mushroom, Capital Grille

  3. Nordstrom #1, CPK, Cheesecake Factory, pink berry, west elm, Oakley, h&m, sephora, cabela's, and Panda Express.

  4. Charming Charlies, Crate & Barrel

  5. NORDSTROM, NORDSTROM, NORDSTROM!!!! and Apple, Cheesecake Factory....oh and NORDSTROM!!

  6. DSW, Bar Louie, Bass Pro, Apple, World Market, Texas de Brazil, Sephora, and Container Store

  7. Great suggestions so far, keep them coming!

  8. Kipling, Gilly Hicks, Top Shop, DSW, Charming Charlies, Little Miss Matched, American Apparel, Uniqlo, Brooklyn Industries, Swatch, Vera Bradley, Quick Silver, Banana Republic, and please, please, a Who A.U. its a great store

  9. Would love to see Mimi's Cafe here in Sarasota. They have them in Tampa and Brandon. And at select cities like Alberquerque, Yuma, and Saratoga, CA. It would surely add a lot of class to have this fine French styled NewOrleans French Quarters place as one of the featured restaurants in our area finally. Thanks for making it possible for us to suggest these places. I think Mr Benderson would haveloced having Mimi's nearby too. His work and foresight enhancing our communities with so many added attractions and conveniences has really added a lot of class to living here. Thank you.

  10. Any chance of added the best pizza place in the country... Buddy's Pizza from the Detroit Metro area. If you think there are a lot of Michiganders here now.... added a Buddy's Pizza would be like having an esquisite Shopping Mall "with everything on it". It surely would make the UTC the most famous place in the country!

  11. DSW, H&M and Z-Gallery would be awesome!

  12. Nordstrom without a doubt, DSW, Apple, Origins!

  13. Reader Pam Reed passed this along to me. (She had trouble logging in)

    Since this mall will be surrounded by water sports, why not continue the water theme by incorporating a water theme park within the mall. Imagine a lazy river/rapid river going through the place!! And at night illuminate the water in various colors. And don’t just cater to small children, people of all ages from miles around would make this a destination. (Hey, I coined a phrase, “Not Just a Mall, A Destination”) Remember we already have enough malls in the area, and it shouldn’t be just about shopping because it won’t be successful, but we desperately need more things to do around here and we are willing to spend money to do it.
    Also, create a nightlife similar to Universal’s /Disney’s downtown, its can still be a safe environment just do it the right way, and it should welcome all types of music, not just country (music like reggae, disco, top 40) and restaurants that continue that theme—Bob Marley/Jamaican/Island Restaurant. Jimmy Buffet Restaurant. Etc.

    Additionally, remember most of us Floridians are from up north, so why is it so hard to bring a White Castle Restaurant out here?

    And oh yes, please bring the Cheesecake Factory.

    Oops my co worker just reminded me—And bring Johnny Rockets restaurant too!

    1. This is a great concept: like it!

  14. Aberbrombie & Fitch, Hollister, American Eagle, Sephora, Bar Louie, Cheesecake Factory and Red Robin Restaurant.

  15. I received another message from a reader, and a phone call for more suggestions. First, the caller, who said he wants a Cheesecake Factory and a Jewish-style deli.

    Here's an email from reader Sylvia:

    I read your column re the suggestions for the new Mall at UTC. I would suggest a Cheesecake Factory, Apple Store, PF Chang be put into the mall area. I know there will be a PFC in Sarasota but what about the "Out East" crowd. Another suggestion, not necessarily in the mall area but in the vicinity of all the other shopping centers a Golden Coral. I know it is not as high-end but it could meet some of the demands of the people who will be working in the area. Thanks for listening. Sylvia

  16. Reader Vera just called me to say she'd like to see women's clothing store Christopher & Banks. She visits the store when she sees her daughter in Denver and would really like to see it at UTC.

  17. Had another call from Carol who also said she wants Christopher & Banks. Wonder if she knows Vera?

    Carol says that she's a Pennsylvania transplant who misses her store, which is designed for women over 30. "No teeny bopper stuff" as she termed it. She doesn't want to drive to Tyrone Square Mall either and wants to shop at a store in Sarasota

  18. Cheesecake Factory for sure! Or either the Grand Lux which is owned and operated by Cheesecake Factory. Other additions like Hulihan's, Wildfire Cafe, California Pizza and Maggiano's Little Italy.

    Neiman Marcus, it would be great if Zodiac Restaurant where in it. Sure would make a great anchor would Lord & Taylor would sure be nice anchor store...but I doubt we'll get it.

    I'd also like to see Intelligentsia or either Peete's Coffee: both would wonderful additions for such a mall as the one under construction.

    Other stores Williams-Sonoma, Johnston & Murphy, Louis Vuitton, White House Black Market, H&M, Burberry, J Crew, Men's Wearhouse, True Religion Jeans, Luck Brand Jeans, Michael Kors, Apple Store(again I'm requesting it LOL), Microsoft and Bose and Crate & Barrel.

    I would love it if we could have a Barnes & Noble Bookseller.

    I like the water theme suggestion. I think that's an excellent idea. For me, shopping has to be an has to be enticing...better yet an EXPERIENCE.

    Because of the water theme concept. I now do believe that Bass Pro Shops would work a free standing store.

    Whatever is done, I sure hope its not just another old mall! I would hate that and it wouldn't had to the charm and greatness of this booming region.

  19. Cheesecake Factory!!! Nine West.

  20. I would like to see, Gilly Hicks, White House/Black Market, Yankee Candle, The Body Shop, Delias, Hollister, Fossil, BCBG-Maxazria, Clarks, Brighton, Coldwater Creek, Banana Republic, Diesel, Lucky Brand, Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, Portillo's.
    Can't wait for it to open it's been a long time coming.
    Thank you!

  21. West Elm would be perfect! With all of the residential construction, this furniture store surely speaks to the type of development that's currently there and those under construction.

    I wish we could get an IKEA Sarasota-Bradenton near the mall.

    Banana Republic is one of my favs to shop: that'll be great as well as Jos A. Banks.

  22. Received more suggestions via email from reader Pam:

    "My coworkers and I also suggest adding a state of the art movie theatre like IMAX/Dome with seats that move to the action.

    A large neon bowling alley should also do very well there.

    Roller skating rink, too"

  23. Unless they are planning on making the mall as big as the Mall of America or something, I can't see how they would have room for a roller rink, bowling alley, etc. I don't know anyone that does those things on their free time and Malls with similar things always seem more run down than others.
    I am hoping the mall will be more upscale like International Plaza which I shop in monthly. It would be nice to have similar stores such as Sephora, Lucky, Apple, Crate and Barrel, and H&M. As far as food, it would be nice to have California Pizza Kitchen, Pink Berry, Maggianos and Seasons 52.

  24. I would also agree with Mimis Cafe. That would be a good addition in this area. I don't know many mens stores, but also Gap Body would be nice in addition to the others I mentioned.

  25. One last comment, if they create anything that resembles Orlando or crazy nightlife in this area, I will move out of Lakewood Ranch. I live here for peace and quiet. I moved from living near the beach because of loud vacationers and the traffic that comes with them. It is nice and quiet out here and I personally would prefer that the tourists stay out by the beach. Can't we have a nice upscale mall with a simple bar or two if people want late night activities?? Just my opinion.

  26. I would love to see the Apple store, Sephora, Container Store, and an IMAX movie theater.

  27. We really need a Barnes and Noble Bookseller in the Lakewood Ranch area.

    1. I agree San. We really do need a couple of nice bookstores or atleast one!!
      With such a large population of kids and older folks we need some intellectual activities. Enough sporting centers, gyms and massage centers. We need to educate the minds and keep them active as well! Love Barnes and Noble. We moved from the north and of course we could dive to several book stores, libraries and Barnes and Noble stores daily. Our kids loved it. If we want this community to not only be proud of their healthy bodies and sporting activities but also sharpen their minds and build a stronger younger generation and future we need to add educational center, libraries and bookstores. We need to be aware of the types of stores we are brining into this town and the messages that are being sent to the younger generation.

  28. Hey everyone, check out my new post where I organized all of your suggestions and grabbed a comment from Karen MacDonald on what she's seeing so far:

  29. yeah...I agree we need a Golden Corral on this side of town...dont forget Boston Market too. What if we could have an In'N'Out. Freddy's is really good too. A Red Lobster, and Olive we dont have to go to south or north 41. Yes... bring over the Apple store too. What ever happend to TGIF Fridays? Bring that back to the area. A Polish reasturant would be very popular for the snowbirds, we have enought Italian and Mexican here already. Thanks for listening. :)

  30. Red Robin please. Tired of driving an hour to get to one.

  31. Francesca's Collections, Forever 21, Pandora, Z Gallerie, Charming Charlie, Noodles & Company

  32. This comment has been removed by the author.

  33. Well, there are so many wonderful additions that could be made. I'd love to see some High end Retail. Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, Catier, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Chanel, Nordstom, Coopers Hawk Winery, Banana Republic, Lululemon, Apple, Martin Lawerence Galleries, and more!!!

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  36. Nordstrom for sure! It's so needed here! And Bahama Breeze restaurant would be fun & great, as well as CPK. But my #1 request would be Anthropologie!!!!! Please! Please! Please!

  37. Please, please, please --- Nordstrom, Tommy Bahama and Kona Grill. Please!

  38. We'd like an IMAX movie theater as well. It takes forever to drive to the one in Sarasota now.

  39. Barnes and Noble Please!!! There is no bookstore or library in the area. For such an affluent and intellectual community I feel that this is something that is lacking here. I am sure it would be a huge success.
    Here are my other retail suggestions
    -NY and Company
    -Anne Taylor
    -J Crew
    -Cheese Cake Factory
    -PF Chang
    -Legal Seafood
    -Lets introduce some ethnic food such as Indian, Thai, Vietnamese in the food court so people who havent tried these can try these at a reasonable price

    1. -West Elm
      -Pottery Barn
      -Macy Furniture and other home deco stores make sense considering all the new home construction and folks moving in etc

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