Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Is Oct. 16 Here Yet?

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Is Oct. 16 Here Yet?

Article excerpt

A month early, a peek into UTC

Just wait until you see it.

Although the image was a little rough around the edges, I could still see the finished product under the drywall dust that hung in the air and amid the ear-piercing construction noise.

Natural light floods in from overhead atriums. Glass paneling with wood finishes decorates both floors and a series of distinctive balconies along the second story.

Glamorous chandeliers hang within the anchoring department stores, and the merchandise racks are just waiting to be filled right before opening day on Oct. 16.

With a hardhat on my head, and with careful steps in heels over the plywood panels and wires that snaked from one empty storefront to another, I browsed the aisles of Southwest Florida's newest shopping mall.

I got to see inside the $315 million Mall at University Town Center on Tuesday morning. And it doesn't disappoint.

When entering the 880,000-square-foot mall, shoppers will be greeted by fountains and tall palm trees, which had yet to be installed during my recent visit. Beyond that is a central atrium, which mall operator Taubman Centers will use as space for special events.

From the second story, anyone can see out across the parking lot and beyond, to Benderson Development's other retail centers, through the large glass-pane-walled entrance.

I stood in the half-finished Apple Store. I saw the fountains and ascending staircases in the center of the mall.

I saw the pink outer shell of Victoria's Secret and an escalator being installed in the two-story H&M apparel store.

Saks Fifth Avenue is unlike any Saks I've ever seen.

The two-story, 80,000-square-foot department store not far from the mall's main entrance is sleek and well lit, with unique fixtures, lights and plenty of space for a wide variety of merchandise.

The view of retailers that the mall's construction affords is unique in the relatively staid world of indoor malls, too. …

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