3 new retailers to open on University Parkway, as new mall is set to announce first 100 stores

srocco@bradenton.comAugust 21, 2013 

The construction on Nordstrom Rack at the Shoppes at University Town Center is nearing completion. The store is expected to open Nov. 7 and be a major anchor in the plaza along with other anchors such as Total Wine and Marshalls. Gigi's Cupcakes, a bakery chain, and Party City, timed to be ready for Halloween, also will open in the center.SABRINA ROCCO/Bradenton Herald

UNIVERSITY PARK -- The Shoppes at University Town Center is expecting three new tenants in the coming months.

One of them, Nordstrom Rack, will be a major anchor in the plaza along with other anchors like Total Wine and Marshalls. Gigi's Cupcakes, a bakery chain, and Party City, timed to be ready for Halloween, also will open here.

As the upscale Mall at University Town Center aims for completion by October 2014, University Center businesses are anticipating extra traffic. Taubman Centers, with its headquarters in Michigan, is a partner with Benderson Development Co. on the new University Town Center. Benderson owns the Shoppes at University Town Center at 7978 Cooper Creek Blvd.

Just as the new stores prepare to open this fall, Taubman is making plans to announce 100 retailers who have committed to leasing space in the new mall.

To whet shoppers' appetites, the new stores set to open this fall are:

• Nordstrom Rack, a fast-growing chain that sells Nordstrom's normally expensive leftovers at deeply discounted prices, will open Nov. 7. Construction is in the final phase for the 35,000 square foot store.

The store will bring about 50 jobs to the area. The company plans to start hiring at the beginning of September. To apply, visit careers.nordstrom.com.

"We are on schedule for the project," said Kate DeToye, Nordstrom Rack spokesperson. "Our team moves in about a month before the opening date to start merchandising."

• Gigi's Cupcakes, the bakery chain known for its off-the-beat cupcake flavors and towering hunks of icing, is opening in September, but an exact date is still to be determined, said co-owner and Sarasota resident Jodi McGaharan.

McGaharan, a retired nurse, along with her husband Kevin, a retired physician, decided to open the store after their daughter, Blair Greene, visited a Gigi's in Raleigh, N.C. and raved about it. A few days later, Jodi went to that Gigi's and was blown away by its brilliance: "The store looked so nice, the people were so friendly and the product was so good."

The couple decided to bring Gigi's to University Park. Blair, 25, will be their manager.

"When you retire, you want to diversify. You want to do something fun that keeps you busy," Jodi McGaharan said. "This is such a happy business. It's a great fit for our family."

Founder Gigi Butler is expected to attend the grand opening in October where customers will have the chance to meet her, get autographs and take photos.

• Party City, a go-to destination for Halloween costumes, will open Sept. 27 -- just in time for the trick-or-treating.

The 17,000-square-foot store will hire more than 50 employees to accommodate the opening and the peak season of Halloween.

Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee County reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @sabrinarocco.

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