The Gainesville Sun: Gainesville Retail Development Giant Focuses on ‘Experience’

March 4, 2018

Celebration Pointe and Butler Town Center encourage lingering as well as shopping

Sprawling retail developments linked by a new bridge over Interstate 75 promise to reshape the shopping experience in Gainesville.

Some of the anchor tenants are in place, but some of the most anticipated entrants into the market are yet to open their doors.

Celebration Pointe and Butler Town Center are being designed with walkable centerpieces to feature entertainment, popular dining and higher-end retail in order appeal to families and friends looking for a day out.

They join similar developments around the nation that encourage customers to linger, offering experiences they can’t find online.

Celebration Pointe

Celebration Pointe markets itself as a place to “celebrate,” said Sean McIntosh, senior vice president of asset managment for Celebration Pointe.

“We see this as a place to celebrate so many things, from gradutations to (University of Florida) sports teams,” McIntosh said. “This is a place to celebrate and come and do all of that.”

Celebration Pointe’s pedestrian-only City Walk and Promenade, once its first phase of construction is complete, will be about 200 feet long by 50 feet wide, lined with retailers and restaurants.

It will have gas fire pits, grassy areas, outlets for patrons to charge their phones, a bocce ball court and about 20 restaurants and retailers combined, McIntosh said.

It also has an open container policy that says patrons can walk from store to store and around the Promenade with drinks purchased from any of its eateries because of a open contain container provision they were granted by Alachua County Commissioners, adding to retail development’s feel as an “experience,” McIntosh said.

“We want our Promenade to have a homey feel,” he said. “We want it to feel like home for everyone who comes out.”

Celebration Pointe’s list of announced retailers, though not yet complete, includes outlet stores like Nike Factory Store, Tommy Hilfiger and Uniform Destination, which sells scrubs and other medical uniforms.

Announced restaurants include Rascal Flatts Bar and Grill, Reggae Shack Cafe, Liquid Ginger, Miller’s Ale House, Kilwins Quality Confections and MidiCi, the Neapolitan Pizza Company.

It will also have two spas, The Nail Spa and Azulene Day Spa.

McIntosh said the development’s leasing management are in talks with several other retailers and restaurants, which should be announced within the coming months.

Celebration Pointe’s Promenade will feature a new Regal Cinema theater, scheduled to open in April, which will serve as a primary source of entertainment but other entertainment options are possible. The theater itself with sell alcoholic drinks and high-end food options — more than just your regular popcorn and candy, McIntosh said.

“The Promenade will be a very comfortable environment. It will feel like a place to be when you have some down time.”

Celebration Pointe currently has Bass Pro Shops and Info Tech as anchors.

Butler Town Center

Day by day, more progress is made on the newest project by Butler Enterprises — Butler Town Center.

Butler Town Center, which will be anchored by organic giant Whole Foods and Asian bistro P.F. Chang’s, is a shopping area off Archer Road that used to include a Lowe’s, an Outback Steakhouse and a Walmart, among others.

Whole Food and P.F. Changs are expected to open this year.

Once complete, Butler Town Center will have 300,000 square feet of retail space and 10 new restaurants.

Among the restaurants announced are Grub Burger Bar, Irish 31 and sweet treat favorite, Ben and Jerry’s.

Other than a jewelry store, no other retail stores have been confirmed for the Town Center’s Main Street, which is designed as an urban, walkable, open-air retail environment for shopper’s to enjoy art, entertainment, interactive fountains, shops and restaurants.

Plans submitted to the city give only a few hints about likely tenants. It’s planned retail buildings that will house one, five and nine tenants were given generic labels like, shoes, books, spas, active casual, junior fashion, sport, bakery cafe, cosmetics, gifts, cards, “mens & womens trad,” sun glasses and retail.

Butler Town Center, adding to its food options, will be also be opening the upscale, 13,000 square feet Stengel Field Food Hall, where about 11 to 15 food vendors will serve non-fast food items.

It’s newly-renovated 14-screen Regal Cinema, with leather recliner seats, will remain as a source of entertainment in Butler Town Center.

“It’s not just buildings and streets,” wrote Mary Reichardt, Butler Enterprises’ corporate marketing director, in an email Friday. “There’s a focus on creating an environment and a culture people will want to spend time in.”

More retailers and new restaurants continue to be added to recently-constructed Butler North, which houses mostly box retailers and restaurants.