SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The University Town Center (UTC) Mall area will soon be expanding. This time, development will be on the land east of the mall, off of Interstate 75 and University Parkway.
This area is now referred to as the “East District” is very noticeable when you’re driving on I-75 or coming into the mall on University Parkway. Right now, it sits empty, but by the end of the year construction will begin to create a “mini town” here at UTC.
“University Town Center was always planned to be a mixed-use development," Benderson Executive Director of Leasing, Mark Chait said.
It’s known for shopping and eating, a mega mall that has become a hotspot. Pretty soon, it will be known for even much more.
“We’re going to start with about 250 square feet of office space," Chait said. "It’ll be class A office that has not been built in Sarasota or Manatee counties in well over 20 years.”
Benderson developers are expanding the property to eventually be about four million square feet.
“I’m for the area getting bigger," Hayley Schlotthauer of Lakewood Ranch said. "I like that a lot of new stuff is coming to the area, and in Lakewood Ranch specifically, because there’s a lot more to do now instead of just one tiny street, so I’m for it!”
Besides the office space, there will be an entertainment center built with a new movie theatre, dozens of restaurants and additional retail shops.
Plus, for the first time, there will be hotels with close to 500 rooms and upscale apartments where residents will have access to everything at UTC from their front door.
“It’s necessary for the whole area, but specifically for here at University Town Center because we’re adding components that there’s not enough of or not even here at this point in time," Chait said.
There is one thing about this new project that has some a bit concerned. “Bad thing is the traffic," Andrea Rios of Sarasota said. During season it’s really bad as it is, so I can’t imagine how it’s going to be with more apartments and a movie theater and all that over there.”
The site plans are now in the final stages, and developers tell us they hope to begin construction here by October.