Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Ambitious New Mall Is Launched

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Ambitious New Mall Is Launched

Article excerpt

$315 MILLION PROJECT: 880,000-square-foot center aims for 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK

Two years from today, developers of the most ambitious mall Southwest Florida has ever conceived expect to open the doors to shoppers for the first time.

Local officials Monday joined Benderson Development Co. and Michigan-based Taubman Centers Inc. on a dusty worksite where the Mall at University Town Center will rise.

The developers' groundbreaking ceremony signalled the official start of construction for the 880,000-square-foot mall, which at $315 million represents the largest new construction project in the area since the Great Recession began more than five years ago.

The mall, slated to contain department stores Macy's, Dillard's and Saks Fifth Avenue and more than 100 other specialty retailers, is expected to open before the holiday season on Oct. 16, 2014.

"This mall was first proposed almost 20 years ago," Sarasota County Commissioner Christine Robinson told a crowd gathered at the mall's construction site, at University Parkway and Interstate 75. "And it has become a legacy project for Sarasota."

The new mall will bring 1,000 construction jobs to the area over the next two years, and create an additional 5,000 jobs to staff the mall, surrounding hotels and restaurants.

Although the project was a longtime coming and was stalled during the recession, Taubman Centers chief executive Bill Taubman said "good things come to those who wait."

He reassured the assembled crowd that the mall will not disappoint.

University Town Center will be the first mall built in Sarasota in 35 years, Taubman said, adding that his company has developed more malls in Florida than any other of state in the country.

Taubman Centers owns and operates International Plaza in Tampa, the Mall at Millenia in Orlando, Mall at Wellington Green in Palm Beach County, and Dolphin Mall in Miami. …

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