- March 28, 2018
Construction has begun on University Station, a controversial plaza anchored by a Whole Foods Market in north Sarasota, on the border of Manatee County.
The project, at the intersection of University Parkway and Honore Avenue, just west of Interstate 75, includes a Wawa and a Zoe's Kitchen. The 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods will be the second location for the grocer in Sarasota County, joining one in downtown Sarasota.
The project made headlines in the Sarasota-Bradenton area earlier this year because it required paving over a 4.4-acre wetland area. The developer, Fairburn, Ga.-based S.J. Collins, bought 40 acres connected to Rye Preserve in north Manatee County for conservation to serve as off-site mitigation.
But local environmental group Manasota 88 sued Sarasota County in February, contending approval of the project was inconsistent with the county's policy for preserving wetlands. The lawsuit was dismissed in August.
S.J. Collins, currently working on 18 retail shopping centers anchored by Whole Foods Markets or 365 by Whole Foods stores nationwide, is busy in the region. Earlier this month, Lee County Commissioners approved zoning applications for Daniels Marketplace, a 140,000-square-foot commercial project anchored by a 45,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market — the first Whole Foods in Fort Myers. Daniels Marketplace is at the northwest intersection of Daniels Parkway and Ben C. Pratt/Six Mile Cypress Parkway in south Fort Myers.