At first glance, the lineup of new retailers in the Sundial is a peculiar mix: Boutiques that sell home goods and European luxury apparel for children interspersed between run-of-the-mill national names like White House Black Market and Chico’s.
The lineup lacks a really splashy name, and Lululemon Athletica aside, none are destination retailers — the kind of store that people are willing to travel for. But with the Sundial’s location in downtown St. Petersburg, the retailers don’t have to be the draw, a former St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership executive said.
“I think St. Petersburg’s downtown is the destination,” said Don Shea, who served as head of the partnership from 2001 to 2007. “And people will shop while they’re there just to experience it.”
Developer Bill Edwards bought the down-and-out downtown shopping center, nearly vacant and named BayWalk, in 2011, redeveloping the property and renaming it Sundial. Retailers with a bit more cachet, like Apple and Williams-Sonoma, were floated as possibilities, but weren’t among the names Edwards’ team announced Thursday.
The lineup was a bit of surprise to Brian Bern, a senior director with Franklin Street in Tampa. Bern represented Jackie Z. StyleCo., a Sarasota-based boutique, in its lease at the Sundial.
Bern said he expected to see more boutiques like Jackie Z., and at least one fast-casual restaurant, like Chipotle and Panera Bread.
“More boutiques — that would be more, in my opinion, of what would make that unique,” Bern said.
But the mix will likely succeed by virtue of its location, Shea said, as the foot traffic that makes those retailers successful exists in downtown St. Pete. Bern, too, points out that Lululemon, as a selective national retailer that caters to an affluent demographic, wouldn’t locate anywhere that data didn’t indicate it could succeed.
“People are drawn to downtown even if they don’t have a specific errand or destination or event,” Shea said. “They know eventually, something exciting will happen. It’s a wonderful physical environment, and with a good blend of shops there, I think they’ll do pretty well.” View PDF