UTC Mall Expansion Eyed


Citing “significant residential growth” expected near the Mall at University Town Center (UTC), its developer is now seeking retail space addition of 600,000 square feet plus another 100,000 square feet of space to the commercial hub set to open in October 2014.

If approved, this proposal of Benderson Development Co. will bring the UTC Mall’s total retail space to 2.28 million square feet and office space to 320,000 square feet. The additional retail and office spaces are proposed to be located in the UTC property between the mall and Interstate 75.

Home component relocated

Besides this expansion, Benderson also seeks government authorization to amend the overall site plan of the 276-acre UTC property. The updates being sought include shifting the planned residential development in the UTC property to the southwest corner of DeSoto and Cattlemen roads. Previously, these homes were planned southeast of the UTC mall just north of the Nathan Benderson Park’s lake.

The residential mix in the UTC property is yet to be determined. Development of the home sites would likely be set in motion following the final phases of the retail component. The UTC project is programmed for 750 to 1,750 homes.

Trolley service for shoppers

UTC Mall Expansion Eyed

Related to the October opening of the UTC Mall, Benderson is seeking approval for the operation of a trolley service for the commercial center and a bike-sharing program to help lessen shoppers’ car use. Under Benderson’s proposal, four main trolley routes and two branch routes will be created utilizing private buses.

With this transportation system in place, shoppers could be picked up from Lakewood Ranch and The Fresh Market. The proposed system also connects the Meadows residential area and reaches up to Fruitville Road in Sarasota. A $3 million budget has been set aside by Benderson to open the trolley service. It expects to spend over $250,000 a year in order to maintain the service.
Bike stations.

Benderson’s proposed bicycle sharing program for the UTC area will enable shoppers to locate rental bike stands for a ride to get around the shopping center. Benderson has tapped the Alta Planning and Design, a leading pedestrian and bicycle engineering firm, to design a network of trails and paths for the program.

Benderson has proposed 10 locations for its planned bike share stations. Much of these are within the UTC property. Another planned station is at the Benderson Park’s southern entrance, an added boon to the recreational amenities in this area.

More traffic mitigation projects set

To further mitigate vehicular traffic around the UTC Mall, Benderson is looking into the development of a network of 10-foot-wide off-street trails throughout UTC and along University Parkway. Planned for inclusion in this network is a pedestrian overpass linked to a proposed trail toward Cattlemen Road over I-75 and moving on to Professional Parkway at Lakewood Ranch.

Intersection improvements are also being considered along the extension of Cattlemen Road at Nathan Benderson Park. A similar project is under consideration at the UTC entrance on DeSoto Road fronting the UTC’s planned Homewood Suites.