Thursday, June 26, 2014

Layout of Mall at University Town Center gives sneak peek (updated)


After more than 80 percent of the tenants were revealed through building permits -- and an impending Taubman announcement on the remaining -- it's time to show what the mall layout will look like.

Below is a PDF I obtained from Sarasota County and have used as a reference for a while now of where stores will be located. Zoom in to see each unit number.

The largest tenant space left is Unit 266 on the second floor, taking up 13,127 square feet. You'll also notice that stores like H&M and Crate & Barrel are listed on both levels--yes, they are two-level stores.

[Find out how to apply to Mall at UTC jobs here]

Notice, also, the Apple store in Unit 162. You'll see accessory units with letters A-L. This is a combination of class roooms, break rooms, stock and repair areas used by Apple employees for the store.

The mall won't have a food court per se, as several fast food tenants are built in-line with seating inside, but a nice grouping of fast food businesses are being clustered in the main court on the first floor. A few others have strategically placed themselves beside department stores.

Below these images are numbers corresponding to the stores. Smoothie King is the only announced store that doesn't have a readily available assigned space. Again, more stores are coming if you don't see your favorite store listed below. Also, the mall will not be 100 percent full when it opens Oct. 16.

(The image has zoom tools below.)

Plan your strategy for the grand opening now.

102—Smoothie King
K102—Starbucks (underneath escalator)
125/126—Yo Sushi
130—Sunglass Hut
141—Peter Elliot Blue
141A—Foot Gear Outdoor
142—Natural Comfort Footwear
143—The Art of Shaving
146—Janie & Jack
150—Rise Pies
171—Kay Jewelers
173—Kona Grill
193—Pac Sun

210—Charlotte Russe
215—Forever 21
237—kate spade
271—J. Crew
274—Robert Graham
281—Ann Taylor
287—Soap Stories
290—Clarks Shoes
291—J.S. Trunk & Co. (Samsonite concept store)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sean Murphy sells Eat Here in Sarasota to World of Beer

Sean Murphy. File Photo
Accomplished chef Sean Murphy, owner of the Beach Bistro and Eat Here in Holmes Beach, has sold his downtown Sarasota Eat Here location to World of Beer.

Eat Here, which also has a location on Siesta Key, offers affordable cuisine and drinks compared to Beach Bistro's fine dining. The Sarasota location at 1800 Main Street recently upgraded its rooftop bar to include a spiral staircase outdoors.

Murphy announced the deal on Eat Here's Facebook page Monday morning:

A big thank you to all our patrons at our Sarasota downtown location over the past few years. We're pleased to announce that World of Beer made us a compelling offer, and will be the new operators at this site on Main St. They will be an exciting new addition to downtown Sarasota. Our other Eat Here locations on Anna Maria Island and Siesta Key will continue serving great chef-crafted cookery.
Murphy later sent out a news release explaining the changes:
"World of Beer contacted us with an unsolicited but very compelling offer to buy out our lease. The offer was attractive enough we could not refuse it. They are significantly extending the term of the lease and will be an excellent fit for the location.” 
"The Eat Here family's smaller restaurants on Anna Maria Island and Siesta Key will continue offering chef-focused, chef-crafted, coastal cookery at their island locations." 
"The World of Beer will do very well at the fountain and urban park location at Links and Main. There is a momentous excitement brewing in the neighborhood now with the opening of McCurdy's comedy store. The World of Beer will be a great addition to a refreshed entertainment district." 
Sean Murphy explained the change to World of Beer as a perfect fit for the location. 
"Eat Here is about great food, first and foremost. Our personal service style and chef-crafted menu creations are better suited to a smaller space. Most of the senior Eat Here staff will be offered positions at our other restaurants. Their presence will strengthen our performance on the two islands. We have been offered promising smaller premises in St Pete and Tampa.” 
"I am pleased that we have a great tenant for the Kauffman family. Dr Kauffman is a true gentlemen. He has always treated us graciously and generously. I will miss him. He loves our blue tomato soup. I have promised him that every month I will bring him a quart."

Dean Lambert, one of the managing partners of the World of Beer on University Parkway is excited about the new location.
“ It will be an excellent showcase for our extensive offerings of craft beer and our new food menu. World of Beer will be opening on Main in the early fall.”
The World of Beer location will be operated by managing partner Dean Lambert, who oversees both the University Park World of Beer location and a new one at 497 Cortez Road in Bradenton that is expected to open during the third quarter. Restaurants in Sarasota Facebook page was the first to report that the Eat Here would be sold to World of Beer, back on June 9, citing anonymous industry sources. Lambert teased about the Sarasota Main Street location with a banner during the Lucky Dog Craft Beer Expo at McKechnie Field in May.

The release goes on to say that World of Beer will also co-sponsor Beach Bistro's Culinary Winter Carnival in January 2015, adding beer craftsmen to the mix of winemakers, chef bartenders and best chefs of the south.

World of Beer got its start in Tampa's Westchase neighborhood. Scott Zepp and Matt LaFon started the concept in 2007, and the company's first franchise opened at 8217 Tourist Center Drive in University Park. The 50th location opened in Brandon last year. The company will see about 20 locations open this year throughout the country.

The bar carries more than 500 craft beers, has its own smartphone app and offers a loyalty program. It started serving food at select locations. The Bradenton one will be among those that feature "tavern fare."

During a media tour I participated in for Eat Here and Beach Bistro in 2012, Murphy said then that he wasn't sure what he was going to do with the upstairs area, but it was included with the deal, when he took over the space and he was intent on marking it work.

Merchants on the eastern end of Main Street in Sarasota have been trying to get more foot traffic there to help businesses. Across the street, Ker's WingHouse Bar & Grill opened earlier this month after Half Shell Oyster House moved last year to University Park and rebranded as Half Shell Seafood House, in part because of the low foot traffic.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Taubman banking big on Mall at UTC after selling 7 malls

Taubman Centers, the operator of the Mall at University Town Center, is betting on some big business for its Sarasota County mall to help offset income lost after it unloaded seven malls to Starwood Capital Group.

Taubman, based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., announced Wednesday a $1.4 billion deal to sell seven malls to Starwood, targeted for a fourth quarter 2014 closing.

The malls are:
  • MacArthur Center (Norfolk, Va.) 
  • Stony Point Fashion Park (Richmond, Va.) 
  • Northlake Mall (Charlotte, N.C.) 
  • The Mall at Wellington Green (Wellington, Fla.) 
  • The Shops at Willow Bend (Plano, Tex.) 
  • The Mall at Partridge Creek (Clinton Township, Mich.) 
  • Fairlane Town Center (Dearborn, Mich.) 
In an investors relations presentation, Taubman showed that the company figures that the three properties coming online in the next two years -- Mall at University Town Center in University Park, Mall of San Juan and International Market Place in Waikiki -- will "nearly replace" the net operating income loss from all seven of the sold malls.

Taubman's presentation went on to show that after the sale, all of its properties will be in areas with larger tenant sales per square foot, higher rents, better educated, wealthier and in more densely populated areas.

One of the largest demographic jumps Taubman will see with its new portfoliois a 17.4 percent increase in average households earning $200,000 and up within a 30-minute drive. That increase goes from 51,440 before the sale and 60,386 after the sale.

That should be no surprise to close watchers of this mall which is attracting high-end tenants and fashion anchors like Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue,  Apple and boutiques Michael Kors, Omega and Calypso St. Barth.

Taubman reported that its portfolio will be stronger for having 80 percent of its department stores as high-demand fashion anchors as opposed to 67 percent before. Taubman includes Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue in that category, representing 35 of its 44 department stores at its properties. Dillard's, which is coming to the Mall at UTC, would not fall into that category.

The Mall at UTC, which is a 50-50 partnership with Benderson Development Co., is expected to open Oct. 16.

Monday, June 16, 2014

H&M opening in Mall at University Town Center could be worth dancing for

H&M employees hype the crowd at the grand opening of H&M, Thursday at

Read more here:
When thinking about the opening day of the Mall at University Town Center, scenarios of people rushing the doors and honking car horns fill my head along with the pomp and circumstance of the ribbon cutting.

And while the mall will have opening festivities, I haven't given any thought about whether any individual stores will have their own grand opening party.

Then I saw this video below from our sister publication The Bellingham (Wash.) Herald of an H&M grand opening. H&M will be one of the 100-plus stores coming to the Mall at UTC, and will be on both levels of the mall.

Check out how the Swedish clothing store pumps up its shoppers at the Bellis Fair Mall when it opened Thursday:

That's quite a crowd for one new store in a 26-year-old mall. It's fun to see how a store with such a following can get people energized to empty empty their wallets while some stores open without a mob.

The Mall at UTC have a grand opening celebration in the works  for Oct. 16  while tickets are being sold for an Oct. 15 exclusive preview. I've reached out to Kim Dominguez, who is the mall's newly hired marketing director to find out whether stores will be allowed to have their own opening party or if everything is going to be rolled into one big party. When she responds I'll add the details here later.

The Bellingham Herald detailed how dedicated people were for showing up:
Claudia Braam, 19, showed up at 4 a.m. and was the first of 400 people in the store when doors opened at noon Thursday, June 12. The first 100 shoppers in line got scratch gift cards worth $10 to $300. Braam's reward: $300.
Braam, who lives in Bellingham, said she loves all the high-quality clothes and cheap prices but was most excited for the summer dresses.

Read more here:
I clicked through the Bellingham Herald's photogallery to see the crowd and the reality of 400 people showing up for a single store sunk in. The Mall at UTC will have more than 100 stores, big and small. Some shoppers will be drawn to the excitement of the mall while others will come just for the special deals. To me, the opening is going to be like Black Friday on crack with people nudging their way past one another for something on the shelf.

Let's estimate -- based on the anticipation for the mall and the 400 people who showed up for H&M opening --  the Mall at UTC could have 30,000 people show up the first day for the 100 stores and restaurants.

Car traffic is one thing to be worried about, sure, even though trolleys are planned for the shopping centers. But all the bodies inside that mall?

I'm not sure if there will be room to dance in front of H&M.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sacred Grounds Coffee now open in Bradenton

Colleague Kathryn Moschella swung by Sacred Grounds Coffee recently to see the new place now that the non-profit coffee house is open in Braden River Plaza.

Here's a guest post by Kathryn for a little insight on Sacred Grounds:

Sacred Grounds Coffee is located in the Braden River
Plaza in Bradenton off of SR 64. 
The coffee is high-end Italian, the atmosphere is relaxing, and if the motto lives up to its name, visitors to the Sacred Grounds Coffee House in East Manatee will experience more than just coffee.

Owned by a reverend and his wife, Bruce and Renee McEwen, who moved to Bradenton four years ago to take care of a small church, Sacred Grounds, located in the Braden River Plaza on State Road 64, is intent on becoming a community gathering place as well as the best place to get cold frappes on a hot Florida day.

“We’re more than just selling coffee. The community is what it’s all about and building relationships with people. If it can support itself doing that, that would be great. We want it  to be an outreach place for the community,” said Bruce McEwen, who hopes to build a new church eventually to replace the six-member Palmetto Church of the Nazarene that closed at the beginning of the year.

The coffee house, situated in what was once a former dry cleaner, has been totally transformed into a relaxing and hip location, with soft colored walls, comfortable chairs, tables, a fully-stocked barista bar, and a back room with board games, WiFi connection, and an acoustic setup for musical performances, open mic nights and karaoke. There’s also an outside courtyard for lounging and sipping coffee when the weather is cooler in the early morning and the late evening before the coffee house closes.

 Along with the coffee, if the conversation turns spiritual, which the name implies, the McEwens say that’s okay and they’ll embrace it.

“Our name is just a little hint, but we are a Christian-based coffee house. Having a foundation in a Christian life doesn’t restrict you to only Christian things, but we’re coming from a good place in my opinion,” said McEwen’s grandson, Tylor Stell, who is helping manage the coffee house while going to college locally.

Sacred Grounds is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. and there’s plenty of parking in the surrounding strip mall. The different types of hot and cold coffees, tea, smoothies, juices, and desserts that Sacred Grounds offers are available on their new Web site,

Contributed by Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter.