St. Johns Town Center to Open Second Phase

27 03 2006

Serious shoppers know that there’s only one place in Northeast Florida that you can find an Apple Store, Sephora and Swoozie’s: at the St. Johns Town Center in Jacksonville.

The presence of such “one-in-a-market” boutiques have fueled sales at the 107-store Southside plaza since it opened March 2005, luring customers from as far as Tallahassee and Savannah, Ga. Lines to eat at The Cheesecake Factory or Maggiano’s Little Italy still are common for dinner, and new businesses (like a ProntoWash franchise in the middle of the mall’s parking lot) have opened within the year.

Ben Carter Properties and Simon Property Group own the center, whose 110 or so stores include about 40 retailers new to town. Construction of the open-air mall’s second phase of 50 stores will start on May 1, with tentative opening dates scheduled for August 2007. Carter and Simon plan to bring in 48 new retailers along with four new upscale restaurants. Carter won’t confirm the names that are circulating: Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Urban Outfitters, Kenneth Cole, Cole Haan, BCBG, Burberry and Brooks Brothers.

St. Johns Town Center can fit at least two more department stores, and Carter said last week that he remains “very focused” on Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. He said they’re interested, but busy in other areas. “We are probably the last market they would do in Florida,” he said.

High-end was a niche that needed filling in the area, said Ed Jankowski, chief operating officer of Solstice. Solstice sells designer sunglasses that you probably shouldn’t bother with if you need to look at the price tag before buying something. Jankowski said the St. Johns Town Center Solstice had the highest volume of first-year sales than any of the company’s other 55 stores in the country. He said another Jacksonville store is set to open in June at The Avenues, also a Simon-owned mall.

“Jacksonville was so under-penetrated,” Jankowski said. “From a retailer’s point of view, it’s just a tremendous center. It’s like a mecca [for shopping.]”

Source: Florida-Times Union



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