Sutter and his wife, Kathleen, have operated Landings Travel on the south end of the Sarasota plaza for 35 years. Kathleen is the owner and Jon is the vice president of business development. They were actually among some of the plaza’s earliest tenants, along with a men’s clothing store, Draper’s and Damon’s women‘s clothing store, the Clock Gallery, a frame store and electronics store Lechmere Inc.
The 2008 economic downturn hit the plaza hard, and many tenants packed their bags. The property ended up going into foreclosure in 2016, only to have Manatee County-based Benderson Development Co. pick it up in an auction. On Benderson’s first day of owning the property, they were on-site pressure washing the center and giving it a fresh coat of paint, Sutter said.
Now, just over two years later, things are really starting to come together for the Landings. Sure, there might be quite a bit of construction going on at the moment and several “coming soon” signs, but it’s really starting to look like a pristine shopping center reminiscent of Pelican Plaza a little further south down U.S. 41. Foot traffic has increased over the past six months, Sutter said.
“I think it looks great. I think the finished product will be very nice,” he said.
Construction on the new freestanding Starbucks building is well underway. Other construction work is coming along nicely. And several new tenants have joined the plaza’s fleet within the past year or so, including DaRuMa, ofKors Donuts, Station 400 and Kruk’s Philly Steaks, which had a huge crowd and a line out the door on its first day in business at the end of January.
And there’s more to come. Apollonia Grill is coming hopefully by June, and a permit application submitted in November with Sarasota County shows plans for a healthy eating restaurant. Gecko’s Hospitality Group’s The Signature Room will open hopefully within the next month or so, according to Anne Rollings of Gecko’s. Other tenants include Publix, Nuovo Salons Spas, Dollar Tree, Corkscrew Deli, Massage Heights, Sally’s Beauty Supply, Olive Garden, Sweet Tomatoes and Jo-Ann Fabrics.
Still, there’s work to be done. The space that housed PetSmart until the pet supply store opened in a bigger box at the Sarasota Pavilion ne to be filled, as does the former Office Depot anchor space.
Benderson may not want to divulge too much information out of fear of losing traction during negotiations, but I have a few guesses of my own.
If you look at the existing tenant mix, you’ll see lots of restaurants and several service-oriented retailers, like Landings Travel, Optical Outlets and Nuovo Salons Spas. Service-oriented tenants don’t have to compete with online shopping — you can’t get your glasses adjusted or get your eyebrows waxed online. Those are services people are always going to need, making them good tenants of the digital age.
A lot of times landlords will pick gyms or grocery stores to anchor plazas. I wouldn’t be surprised if Benderson did that at the Landings. They already did that at Westfield Siesta Key, where they added an LA Fitness.
My other guess is an off-price retailer, like T.J. Maxx, Marshalls or HomeGoods. Benderson is already bringing a Marshalls to Venice’s Jacaranda Plaza and all three of those retailers have stores at the Shoppes at University Town Center. Department stores have struggled recently, but off-price retailers are still doing well.
Sutter said he’d like to see more retail. The plaza already has plenty of restaurants, he said.
“It’ll be very nice when it’s done. It’s very nice now, compared to what it was before,” Sutter said.