Tesla asks for zoning clarification to open showroom in the Mall at UTC

Shoe stores Aldo, Johnston & Murphy also committing

cschelle@bradenton.comJune 17, 2014 

Electric car maker Tesla, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is looking for zoning clarification from Sarasota County on whether it can have a showroom in the Mall at UTC. PHOTO PROVIDED

UNIVERSITY PARK -- Luxury electric car maker Tesla could be selling cars inside the Mall at University Town Center.

Tesla is looking for zoning clarification from Sarasota County on whether it could have a showroom/gallery there because technically it would be an automotive dealership, according to county documents.

Tesla, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is known for making luxury and performance electric cars ranging from $70,000 to $100,000.

Tesla has experimented with specialty locations to sell its cars in high-end malls across America, including the Town Center Mall in Boca Raton and Dadeland Mall in Miami. If buyers need their Tesla serviced in Manatee or Sarasota, the closest Tesla-owned repair center is in Tampa.

The mall will also get some sole with two shoe stores -- Aldo and Johnston & Murphy

-- committing to the two-level, high-end mall.

The fashionable footwear companies each filed a building permit application Monday with Sarasota County for the upscale mall.

Aldo was founded by Aldo Bensadoun in 1972, when he opened his first store in Montreal. Today, Aldo has more than 1,750 stores around the world. Locally, Aldo has stores at Westfield Brandon and International Plaza in Tampa, which is managed by Taubman Centers -- the developer and manager of the Mall at UTC.

Johnston & Murphy was founded in Newark, N.J., in 1850 making English-style shoes, most famously worn by Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. The company is now headquartered in Nashville, owned by Genesco Inc.

Johnston & Murphy also maintains a factory store at the Ellenton Premium Outlets.

The Mall at UTC, on Cattlemen Road and University Parkway, is expected to open Oct. 16 with anchors Apple, Crate & Barrel, H&M, Dillard's, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue along with 100 stores and restaurants.

The Taubman-managed mall was developed in partnership with Benderson Development and will be the first mall to open in the United States since 2012 when Taubman opened City Creek Center in Salt Lake City.

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

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