Apple Store, Kona Grill could be coming to Sarasota Mall at UTC

Kona Grill also showing interest in Mall at University Town Center

cschelle@bradenton.comNovember 7, 2013 

UNIVERSITY PARK -- It's either a giant tease or a dream to please Apple fans: This area is among the list of locations for jobs available at its Apple Store.

Sarasota is listed as an option for job seekers to apply to Apple Store locations, but no openings are posted.

The likeliest location for the store would be the new Mall at University Town Center under construction off Cattlemen Road and University Parkway in University Park. The $315 million, 880,000-square-foot mall is set to open Oct. 16 and is teasing a fourth anchor to be named as plans for the mall show that the fourth anchor would not be another department store like the ones confirmed -- Dillard's, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Apple would fall in line with a modern type of anchor store, but confirming that the store will be here is tough, though the latest signs are promising.

"We have nothing to announce regarding Apple," said Karen Mac Donald, a spokeswoman for Taubman, neither confirming or denying Apple's presence in the mall. Apple has not returned requests for comment from the Herald.

Sushi place Kona Grill is also showing interest in the mall. Sarasota County call records show that Martin Holland, vice president of development operations for L.D. Reeves & Associates, called county staff in early September to receive information about opening a Kona Grill at the mall. Holland's firm specializes in strategic planning and development for restaurants, and lists Kona Grill and Seasons 52 among its clients. The Scottsdale, Ariz., restaurant is known

for its upscale sushi and cocktail offerings, and has a location near the Mall at International Plaza.

When reached by the Herald, Holland said he is the project manager for the Sarasota Kona Grill and the company is interested and plans are "still in the beginning, preliminary stages." Holland referred additional questions to Kona Grill corporate, which told the Herald there is nothing to announce at this time.

Confirmed so far for the mall, in addition to the department stores, are American Eagle Outfitters and restaurants Seasons 52 and Brio Tuscan Grille.

While it remains to be seen if a lease contract is in hand for any of those retailers, word of stores coming here -- including Apple -- have fizzled in the past.

Apple was once poised to come to the Westfield Southgate Mall in Sarasota, but the deal broke down, and Bass Pro World listed Sarasota in a catalogue as one of its stores coming soon, but the chain later said there was nothing to announce and wasn't sure how the store appeared in the catalogue.

For Bass Pro World, what would be likely is that if that store comes to Sarasota, it will be on an outparcel leased by Benderson Development beside the mall near Interstate 75 along an extended stretch of DeSoto Road that is being built. A graphic animation video also showed a Bass Pro World there, but none of those stores will be announced or officially leased by Benderson until Taubman is finished leasing its mall, Benderson officials previously told the Herald.

Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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