Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

New Shopping Plaza Will Feature Wawa and Whole Foods

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

New Shopping Plaza Will Feature Wawa and Whole Foods

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY PARKWAY: Plan draws even more concern about traffic and parking

Whole Foods Market and Wawa -- two popular brands that have ratcheted up the region's profile, especially among their sometimes zealous devotees -- will be married at the new "University Station" shopping plaza at the southwest corner of University Parkway and Honore Avenue.

Rezoning paperwork filed with Sarasota County for the proposed shopping plaza shows that SJ Collins Enterprises, the Atlanta-based commercial developer behind the project, would host a 40,148-square- foot Whole Foods, another 10,000 square feet of in-line shops and a nearby Wawa gas station/convenience store.

"SJ Collins is working with Wawa and their developer to create a cohesive plan that will include shared access parking, landscaping and signage," said Jeff Garrison, a partner with the Georgia real estate firm. "We're working with a number of high-end restaurants and boutique retail concepts for the remaining available space."

Commercial real estate specialists were impressed with the proposed lineup, though the proposal already is raising concerns of more traffic on the congested University Parkway.

"This is better than a grand-slam home run in terms of a retail plaza," said Stan Rutstein, a commercial agent with Re/Max Alliance in Bradenton. "There's no convenient gas station on that stretch of University Parkway, from the airport to the Mobile station in Lakewood Ranch. And then you have Whole Foods, which will drive customers all on their own."

Wawa expanding

Pennsylvania-based Wawa has been expanding aggressively throughout Florida. Its first Southwest Florida store opened at 701 First St. E. in Bradenton during December, drawing huge crowds.

Two more are coming in Manatee County.

There are three proposed Wawas in Sarasota County, including the University Parkway site.

The new Whole Foods would be the Austin, Texas-based organic grocery chain's second supermarket in this region. The company has has operated a busy and profitable supermarket on First Street in downtown Sarasota since 2004. …

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