Thursday, May 15, 2014

Crate & Barrel will stack store inside Mall at UTC

This Crate & Barrel in Annapolis, Md., is built into a Westfield
mall, but the Sarasota location will be entirely inside the Mall
at University Town Center on two levels. Photo Provided
When Crate & Barrel opens inside the Mall at University Town Center, its presence will be noticeable but not as much as some of the chain's other mall locations.

The upscale furniture store's building plans shows that the store will consume two levels of the mall. Plans also call for an elevator, escalator and stairs within the 25,800-square-foot store. Total construction cost is listed as $1.3 million, according to the application.

While the mall's mini-anchor will take out a sizable chunk of the mall, the design will  be on the smaller end of the Chicago retailer's full-line stores.

The Mall at UTC location will not have its own exterior entrance and will be fully contained within the mall, according to documents filed with Sarasota County. Having the store self-contained shaves the space down about 3,000 to 10,000 square feet off a full-line store.

The Tampa location at International Plaza features 35,000 square feet on two levels with a separate entrance when opened in 2009 while another two-level Crate & Barrel with its own entrance at Westfield Annapolis in Maryland is about 28,000 square feet. These types of Crate & Barrel stores are considered the "home store" version, offering a full line of furniture and accessories.

The mall's mock-up plans showed that the only retailers with their own entrances would the be the six  main restaurants plus the department stores--Dillard's, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Still, the Crate & Barrel represents a few surprises in the design the mall is incorporating. After subtracting the department stores, the mall has 460,000 square feet of space to lease. As leasing is confirmed and added, the square footage totals are confirmed and allows mall management to shift spaces and locations, which is one reason why you're not hearing an exact number of stores coming to the mall, mall general manager Octavio Ortiz said during previous presentations. That number ought to be well nailed down by now because the mall is more than 90-percent leased.

This game of leasing Tetris will be in turbo mode 90 to 120 days out from opening when most smaller stores are ready to build. So come mid June, it'll be a race to Oct. 16.

He also said during a Manatee Association of Realtors meeting on March that "some" of the stores will be on two levels, hinting that Crate & Barrel might not be the only one to take up both floors, aside from the department stores.

It doesn't sound like there would be a food court, per se, but permits for fast-food joints are popping up for the mall including Mandarin Express and Cold Stone Creamery. Smoothie King representatives said early on they would commit to the mall and an area below an escalator shows a space perfect for a Starbucks kiosk.

The biggest flexibility Taubman and Benderson have is for expansion. A fourth anchor store, which likely could be Nordstrom, could be built adjacent to Saks Fifth Avenue, said the mall's general manager, Octavio Ortiz, during a luncheon in March.

Still, I don't think there's room for a water park as one reader suggested.

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