Local Guide: Getting Your Mall On

Posted by Julian Yates on Thursday, August 1st, 2019 at 1:50pm.

Sarasota's malls feature plenty of places for indoor shopping, dining, and entertainment.

As the months get warmer in Florida, several residents are quite thankful for the respite of air-conditioned shopping. Yet the malls in Sarasota aren't just for shopping. Featuring a variety of restaurants and eateries, as well as entertainment venues, Sarasota malls have a little something for everyone.

Our oldest mall is Westfield Sarasota Square. First built in 1977, Sarasota Square received a 7-million-dollar facelift in 1986, followed quickly by another 15-million-dollar expansion. The mall saw more major renovations when Westfield purchased the property in 2005, instituting a 60-million-dollar remodel.

With its most recent addition of a Costco store, Westfield Sarasota Square now boasts 1,082,800 leasable square feet, including one hundred and forty-four stores and services. In addition to Costco, Sears and JCPenney, which was one of the first businesses to open there in 1977, serve as anchor stores for the variety of shops and eateries housed by the mall. With a 12-screen movie theater and indoor playground, Westfield Sarasota Square is family-friendly and a constant source of community events, including monthly pet adoptions and holiday celebrations.

What is now known as Westfield Southgate, near the corner of Bee Ridge Road and US 41, Southgate Plaza originally opened in 1956. Starting as a simple strip mall, it was enclosed in 1988 and became Southgate Mall. After the opening of Saks Fifth Avenue in 1996, the mall was again expanded, adding more upscale stores and becoming one of Sarasota's most popular spots for high end fashion. After purchasing the mall for $62 million in 2002, Westfield continued to add improvements to the mall, and is currently adding an additional building to house several restaurants.

Although Westfield Southgate has seen plenty of stores come and go, it continues to attract both city residents and tourists to its collection of 57 stores. With the recent addition of Cinebistro in the space formerly occupied by Saks, the mall has now also become an entertainment destination, with movie fans enjoying the luxury seats and gourmet meals.

Opened in 2014, the Mall at University Town Center has received the lion's share of attention over the last few years, with many of Westfield Southgate's residents moving to the new mall. As Southgate continues to reinvent itself, the Mall at UTC has not only drawn many new shoppers to its own 125+ stores, but is also serving as a catalyst for the shopping centers. Since it's opening, the $315 million project near Lakewood Ranch has also inspired new expansions for District West, including new stores and eateries, and District East is slated to include more shopping, a hotel, a movie theatre, and housing.

With Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, and Dillard's as anchor stores, the Mall at UTC is also home to restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory, Seasons 52, and the Capital Grill. Striving to promote modernity with its high-end offerings, many are drawn to the Mall at UTC for its Apple store and for its being the only place in the area where one can test drive and purchase a new Tesla.

Regardless of which one is your favorite, Sarasota's malls offer a variety of choices for the savvy shopper. The real question is which one will you visit first.


Sarasota Area Real Estate Specialist

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