Whole Foods Center Shows Growth in LWR

Development

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY JAN 2, 2018

A new commercial center anchored by a Whole Foods Market delivers the most recent sign of strong growth in the Lakewood Ranch-University Park area, as well as the continued demand for businesses supporting a healthy lifestyle.

University Station will officially open Jan. 31, and according to S.J. Collins Enterprises partner Jeff Garrison, the entire 53,746-square-foot center is already fully leased. Already, consumers can visit a Wawa, Zoe’s Kitchen, Greenway Dry Cleaner and Great Expressions Dental Center, and soon, Banfield Pet Hospital and Lee Nails will open as well.

“To be honest I wish we had 30,000 more square feet, just because there has been such tremendous demand,” he says. In filling the project, S.J. Collins has tried to make the development a daily use center for consumers. That’s partly because he knows Whole Foods customers are the types that visit the specialty grocer several times over the course of a month, if not over a week. Also, the grocer in other locations has effectively created a “third space” outside the work and home where people will hang out for extended periods, and the options in the center should feed into that synergy.

Options like Zoe’s follow a consumer demand for fast food options that are still nutritious. “People want to eat healthy but our lifestyles haven’t slowed down,” he says. The presence of medical facilities also will work well with type of activity Garrison expects at the center each day. “There’s an overwhelming demographic relationship between specialty grocery customers and people who own pets and are looking for that use,” he says. “Same with getting your child’s teeth cleaned.”

The center will also host the largest Tesla car charging station in Florida, something that will attract electric car owners in the area and those driving along nearby Interstate-75.

The greatest reason Garrison has confidence this center will perform well, though, is that customers in Lakewood Ranch are already making the trek to Whole Foods in Downtown Sarasota, a location that Garrison says is already overtaxed with consumers. That fact led Whole Foods to pursue this development in the first place, Garrison says. As growth continues between the University Park area and downtown, what used to be a 15-minute commute to the grocer could become a 25-minute trip quickly. The store will provide a closer place to those making a trip downtown and hopefully attract some more people who weren’t making that drive before, as well as many of the affluent consumers already flocking to destinations on University Parkway.

“The site will service both Manatee and Sarasota, it’s right on that dividing line,” he says. “Nearby, you have one of a handful of malls developed anywhere in the last five years. That shows the growth pattern on this corridor.”

 

Photo courtesy S.J. Collins Enterprises

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