Properties Win as Retail Centers Vie for the Consumers’ Wallets


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, July 1st, 2014 – Looming shifts in two centers of gravity in the retail landscape in Sarasota, Florida, promise to add further dynamism to its property sector.

One of these hubs, The Mall at University Town Center (UTC) is already generating excitement among residents and prospective buyers of Sarasota homes for sale around its vicinity at University Parkway and Interstate 75. The UTC is scheduled to open in mid-October 2014 and is drawing keen consumer interest with the high-caliber tenants set to occupy its 880,000-square- foot retail space.

Meanwhile, only some 10 kilometers down south, the Westfield Southgate Mall is undertaking a multimillion-dollar expansion to build upon its Sarasota presence which started in the 1950s. This makeover calls for transforming the indoor mall into an outdoor shopping center and nightlife destination. In the process, this will add 46,000 square feet of new commercial space to Westfield’s existing 422,000-square-foot floor space.

Locking on the Siesta beach franchise

Located at the South Tamiami Trail, this mall is also rebranding itself into the Westfield Siesta Key. This move is an apparent effort to capitalize on the mall’s proximity to Siesta Drive, one of the gateways to Siesta Key world-renowned for its pristine white sand beaches.

The major overhaul that Westfield Southgate Mall is undergoing appears as a proactive move to counter UTC’s imminent market entry. Notably, Saks Fifth Avenue, one of Southgate’s premier anchor stores, has announced that it is moving to UTC. There are expectations that others like Dillard’s, Macy’s, and Sonoma too may defect to the $315-million enclosed University Parkway retail hub.

More upscale shops eyed

With its facelift, the 52-storeWestfield Southgate is apparently trying to convince the rest of its tenants to stay. The mall’s revamp initially calls for installing new travertine tiles, furnishing and fixture upgrades, new color scheme, and outdoor landscaping improvements. Shoppers at Southgate can also expect refurbished amenities, fountains, new lighting, and a new interior trellis system.

What Southgate could do to fill its new lifestyle center is woo some of the upscale downtown Sarasota shops such as Sur la Table, a cookware chain. Bringing in the Fresh Market, which now has two local stores, and having a dine-in movie theater are two other possibilities.

Formidable competition

UTC Mall

Westgate’s early counter offensive is ranged against a truly formidable retail opponent. The Mall at University Town Center is programmed for 100 stores. It will also have sit-down restaurants, a kids’ playground, and shoppers’ services like availability of Wi-Fi and charging for electronic gadgets.

Besides Saks, the mall touts Macy’s and Dillards as its anchor stores. Nordstrom Rack has already opened its first outlet in the region right across the University Park shopping hub, which is seen preparatory to having one in the mall itself.  An Apple Store as well as an American Eagle Outfitter outlet is also among the prominent retailers on the UTC roster.

But whether it’s UTC or Southgate which gets the upper hand, the consumers and the communities around this duo should emerge as the sure winners. What these hubs bring are myriads of shopping choices and another plus to property appreciation in their localities.