Corporate America Is Bullish on the Suncoast


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, September 12th, 2016 – The Sarasota‒Bradenton region now appears more prominent on the radar screen of Corporate America. This attention, certainly a plus too for Sarasota homes for sale, can be seen in the national retail chains and fast food franchises which have recently established and grown their presence in the area.

Macy’s, one of the nation’s top retailers, counts amongst the companies bullish on the Suncoast, having added its fourth store in the region at the Mall at University Town Center (UTC) in 2014. Significantly, industry analysts believe that this retail giant is unlikely to trim its four-store presence in the Sarasota‒Bradenton metro as part of its widely reported plan to close 100 of its 728-unit fleet.

Neither the UTC Macy’s nor the retailers’ stores in Westfield Southgate, Westfield Sarasota Square, and Port Charlotte Town Center appear in the high-closure risk listed in Morningstar Credit Ratings released in August 2016. High-risk stores identified in the data firm’s list were those with 2014 sales below the giant retailers’ national average for the year.

Whole Foods at Full Steam

Corporate America Is Bullish on the Suncoast

Another publicly traded company like Macy’s, Whole Foods Market is opening a second location in Sarasota at the corner of University Parkway and Honore Avenue only a short distance west of the Mall at UTC. This retailer, touted as one of the top 10 largest food and drug store chains in the U.S., successfully resolved in August a challenge from an environmentalists’ group on its new location which was formerly a protected wetland.

Whole Foods will set up 40,000-square-foot grocery store at this site which is a just a short distance from the well-established residential communities of Longwood Run and University Park Country Club, both offering attractively priced Sarasota homes for sale. Restaurants and a Wawa gas convenience store were also reported on the drawing boards for this new retail center.

Burger Wars at University Parkway

The University Parkway corridor in Whole Foods’ crosshairs is also seeing an uptick in quick-service restaurants. This summer, the first outlet of Smashburger famed for its grilled burgers opened its first Sarasota franchise at Tuttle Avenue and University Parkway, and hopes to have two more local outlets as early as next year.

This opening was soon followed by BurgerFi which set up its first Sarasota outlet on Cattlemen Road across the Mall at UTC. Last year, Fuzzy’s Taco opened its first franchise on University Parkway and reportedly plans four more in the area.

Also now in the local fast-food fray is Chicken Kitchen, which opened its first location last year at the northwest corner of Honore Avenue and University Parkway, and followed it up with a second at Bee Ridge Road and U.S. 41 summer of 2016. A third is planned in the Bradenton area plus two other restaurants elsewhere in the region.

These new entrants are vying for a rapidly growing local market with an eye for fast service and better quality but less expensive meals than traditional dining. This market segment, which analysts say is largely underserved, has been for some time the domain of Square 1 Burgers, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Potent Demographic Mix

The newfound vigor in the region’s fast food and retail sectors appears founded on the recent population growth in the Suncoast with a rapidly diversifying demographic mix to boot. Economists have noted that the baby boomers in their 50s traditionally drawn into the Sarasota-Bradenton region are being joined lately by an increasing number of young families. This in turn has created a wider consumer base that alert Corporate America isn’t wont to miss.

Also, there is a growing crop of millennials in the area seeking to empower themselves and pursue local career opportunities rather than venture elsewhere in Florida or other U.S. urban centers. The tip of the spear for these efforts is evident in such initiatives as the Manatee Millennial Movement and the Sarasota Young Professionals. Another recent move is the Sarasota Underground deploying technology and new media to amplify the voice of the region’s young professionals, empower creative entrepreneurs, and help drive local commerce that could consequently contribute in driving value for Sarasota‒Bradenton homes for sale.