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Business Observer Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2014 8 years ago

Mega mall plots sneak peek

The Mall at University Town Center is officially scheduled to open Oct. 16.

SARASOTA — Shoppers get ready: The Mall at University Town Center, the highly anticipated shopping mall under construction at Interstate 75 and University Parkway, will host a sneak peek preview the night before it opens.

Tickets for the charity event, scheduled for Oct. 15 and open to the public, are $100 a person, according to a release. The admission ticket includes valet parking, food and specially selected wines and beers and live entertainment. There's also the big prize: a chance to preview the stores. Many will be open that night, mall officials say, and guests will receive a $20 mall gift card with admission.

Mall officials say they will underwrite all the expenses of the event, so 100% of the ticket price will go to 10 local charitable groups. Those organizations include All Faiths Food Bank; Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County; The Circus Arts Conservatory/Sailor Circus; Florida Studio Theater; Food Bank of Manatee; Girls Inc. of Sarasota County; Manatee Performing Arts Center - The Manatee Players; Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium; Nate's Honor Animal Rescue; and South Florida Museum & Bishop Planetarium. Octavio Ortiz, general manager of the mall, says he expects to sell at least 2,500 tickets for the event — which would mean at least $250,000.

“The preview is a chance to be the first to experience one of the Gulf Coast's most exciting developments,” Ortiz says in the statement. “Even better, it's a chance to help 10 deserving charities earn much-needed funds for their causes.”

The 880,000-square-foot mall, a $315 million, two-story project in north Sarasota County, across the street from east Manatee County, will include more than 100 stores and restaurants. The anchors are Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's and Dillard's. The project is a joint venture between University Park-based Benderson Development and Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based Taubman Centers.

The charity sneak preview runs from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. For more information or tickets, go to

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