Entertainment district at UTC is unveiled

By  via Herald Tribune

Canals run through the project that will be anchored by a luxury movie theater

Entertainment row is taking on a whole new meaning in Sarasota.

It may actually involve paddles.

The long-anticipated entertainment district at the southeast corner of University Town Center is slated to have a canal down the center of the mixed-used development, according to renderings from Manatee County’s Benderson Development Co.

The project eases up to two ponds on the north side of Cattlemen Road, which connects to nearby Nathan Benderson Park. The drawings also illustrate a number of bridges over the canal, indicating the area will be walker-, driver- and rower-friendly to shoppers, diners, residents and business people utilizing the property.

The goal is to appeal to the masses, said Mark Chait, executive director of leasing for Benderson Development Co., whether that’s a couple looking for a nice glass of wine and a shopping trip or business partners needing a place to cut a deal.

“It’s really to make it as interactive as possible and as interesting as possible, so that people come there for different purposes, at different times of the day and different days of the week,” Chait said.

The project, known as “The East District,” was on display and up for lease during the International Council of Shopping Center’s annual ReCon. The three-day conference is a hotspot for brokers, developers and retailers to do a year’s worth of deals in just a few days.

Mixed uses

The East District could eventually be home to as many as 1,750 residential units, 500 hotel rooms as well as a high-end mix of residential, restaurant, retail and office space.

Five other retail hubs, including the Mall at University Town Center, already drive consumer (and car) traffic in the University Town Center area on on the west side of the University Parkway and Interstate 75 corridor. Big box stores such as Marshalls, Nordstrom Rack, Super Target and Old Navy dominate the existing portion of the development.

Chait stressed The East District renderings are subject to change, but the illustrations show something dramatically different than what has come before.

An iPic luxury movie theater and restaurant is expected to anchor the site at the north end of the project, and an outdoor concert venue is also visible in what represents the southeast corner of the project in the renderings. Strings of shops and restaurants line both sides of the canal, while moderately sized towers of residences and hotels loom in the background.

“It’s very different and very purposeful,” Chait said in an interview at Benderson’s booth at the ICSC conference on Tuesday. “This is part of the entertainment district, … And it’s about having a great movie theater and having more wonderful restaurants and other venues that create a real walkable and very lively atmosphere.”


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