The Mall at University Town Center in Sarasota holds ceremonial groundbreaking

Mall scheduled to open in October 2014

The short groundbreaking ceremony was a small step to what Sarasota County officials hope will become a big success.

"This is 880,000 square feet of retail space. A thousand construction jobs will lead to 2,000 employees being employed in Sarasota County. This is a very exciting day," explained Sarasota County Commission Chair Christine Robinson.

The Mall at University Town Center will be built on more than seventy acres just west of I-75, south of University Parkway. Dillards, as well as Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue have committed to the project.

Mark Chait of Benderson Development detailed why the location should be successful.

"We're going to have over fifty percent of the retailers are going to be new to this area. It's going to fill a tremendous void in retail offerings to residents of this area."

"Well, I think it's great," smiled Delores Domermuth of Manatee County when told of the plans.

Locals have long yearned for something more than strip centers.

"I think people want to go to inside malls rather than strip malls, especially with the upscale shops as well.  There's not a great deal of upscale shops around here," said Sarasota resident Phil Pedley.

Economically, the Mall at University Town Center will keep money local, as well as allow the area to become a destination location.

Kelly Starr of Sarasota, who was picking up lunch at a nearby strip mall knows the value of a good mall.

"I know that they're talking about people coming from all over to this location. You know people travel to Orlando to go shopping and go out to eat and make a day. So why would they not come here to this area for that," she said.

Nearby business owners, like Ashley Paynter who runs Anna's Deli think they'll reap the benefits from the new mall. 

"I think it's going to be a huge anchor for this area. Right now it's just a lot of strip centers. There's no big focal point to this area and I think having something like that with the stores that it's going to have will attract a wide variety," said Paynter.

The Mall at University Town Center is expected to officially open for business in October of 2014. 

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