The Sarasota-Bradenton region, specifically the Mall at University Town Center, recently got some love from the New York Times.
The newspaper published a story in its commercial real estate section titled “A New Florida Mall Defies Retailing's Headwinds,” an overview of the 880,000-square-foot Mall at UTC, which opened in October. “It's hard to conceive of a city that needs a new shopping mall in a country overpopulated with shopping sprawl,” states the first paragraph.
But the rest of the story mostly talks up the positive attributes in the region that justify the Mall at UTC — one of three enclosed malls built in the United States since 2008. A $315 million project, the Mall at UTC is a joint venture between Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based Taubman Centers and University Park-based Benderson Development.
The attributes include a sharp increase in tourists to the area; a strong residential real estate rebound; a selection of new-to-market restaurants to draw locals; and the recent stock market surge. Another positive aspect is something Taubman Centers CEO Robert Taubman told the Business Observer, and many other media outlets, when the mall opened: This market was underserved in retail options.
“We were looking for the customer who is making $100,000 and more,” Taubman Centers COO William Taubman tells the Times. “We thought we saw a hole in the market. There was no dominant upscale mall. The area needed to be satisfied with a better shopping venue.”