Construction has started on a huge new mall on the Manatee Sarasota line, but more than the shoppers are excited because the development means thousands of jobs.
The $315 million Mall at University Town Center is being built by Taubman Centers Inc. and Benderson Development Co. of Manatee County and will be similar to International Plaza in Tampa. Taubman also developed International Plaza.
The mall work means 1,000 construction jobs, 2,000 jobs at the mall, and another 3,000 for the planned retail and restaurants around the new mall.
"It's been 35 years since there has been a new regional mall built in the greater Sarasota Manatee area," said Mark Chait, of Benderson Development. "We're really pleased and excited that 50 percent of our specialty retailers will be new to this market.
"They will really add an element that's been lacking and people are truly excited for."
The anchor stores will be a Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's and Dillards.
The plan stalled a few years ago, but is now expected to open in October 2014 off of Interstate 75 near Lakewood Ranch.
The county will welcome $100 million in annual sales tax revenue, and the mall is expected to pump about $400 million into the regional economy.
"This is going to give us a lot of jobs, which is sorely needed and it is going to be a good thing for everybody," said Carol Whitmore, Manatee County commissioner. "But, this is going to stimulate Manatee and Sarasota county, big time."
And there is more construction planned. Two hotels, office space and 1,700 homes are also due to be built in the area.