By Nicholas Ziegler, News Editor
Hot on the heels of the groundbreaking of its new, 450,000-square-foot mall near St. Louis, Taubman Centers Inc. has announced that it will begin construction on the 880,000-square-foot Mall at University Town Center in Sarasota. The retail complex, which will cost an estimated $315 million, will feature Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and Dillard’s among its approximately 115 stores. Taubman is joining forces with Benderson Development on the project.
Robert Taubman, CEO of his eponymic firm, called the development “one of the premier shopping destinations on the west coast of Florida.”
Research shows that the area’s retail sector is not operating at its full potential. A year-end report by Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services Inc. noted that nearby Tampa saw six quarters of positive net absorption through the end of 2011, demonstrating that retailers still have interest in the area and that construction of new product has been on the decline. “Minimal construction will persist again in 2012 and single-tenant concepts will dominate construction activity for several years,” the firm noted, which all but green-lights Taubman’s new center.
“We are excited about expanding Saks Fifth Avenue’s presence in Sarasota by opening our new store in The Mall at University Town Center, which will be double the size of our existing store,” Steve Sadove, chairman & CEO of Saks, said.
The project is slated to bring in 1,000 construction jobs and 2,000 permanent retail jobs once completed, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The paper also noted that the Town Center will be just one of two enclosed regional malls expected to be built in the U.S. in the next several years and will, by itself, equal the total amount of new retail construction in Sarasota County during 2009 and 2010 combined.
The center will begin construction “later this year,” according to a press release, and is slated to open in the fall of 2014.
The Mall at University Town Center, while developed jointly by Taubman and Benderson — with each firm taking a 50 percent stake in the property — will be developed, managed and leased by Taubman.