Volume 2 Issue 9 | September 2022

As a Home Watch provider, we want each of your return trips to Sarasota to feel as refreshing as the first. Our "Piece of Paradise" newsletters provide a brief glimpse into Florida homeownership, followed by a featured activity for your next visit.

Homeowner Insight

If you're in Sarasota around this time of year, or especially in the month of May, you might notice a harmless but annoyingly oblivious bug bumping into you or landing on you. Actually, it's two bugs. May and September are "Love Bug Season." Yes, the V-shaped union floating around you is in fact a pair of mating insects. The most damaging aspect of love bug season is the havoc their speed-squashed bodies will wreak on windshield, hood, and grill of your automobile. If you are unfortunate enough to drive through love bug territory, be sure to have your car washed so the bug remains don't damage the paint job.

September Piece Of Paradise


The glass entryway and dome of The Mall at University Town Center reflect sunlight against a brewing storm

You might be thinking, "Really? A mall? What's so special about a mall?" That's exactly what we're here to tell you! University Town Center (UTC) is far more than a single-building shopping complex. According to the UTC website, it is home to more than 300 "nationally known and homegrown shops, restaurants, fitness studios, services, and attractions, as well as first-class offices and hotels." It spans north and south of University Parkway from Interstate 75 to west of Honore Avenue, and includes The Mall, The West District, The Shoppes, The Square, The Market, and The Offices.

And it had better be special. Many skeptics questioned why so much land and money should be invested in a shopping mall at a time when the popularity and success of shopping malls nationwide was on the decline. Seven years after the grand opening in 2015, there is still hurt and anger in the community among those who witnessed a swift exodus of storefronts from the existing Sarasota Square Mall, Siesta Key Mall, and downtown Sarasota to the new retail destination.

The Mall at UTC has, at least anecdotally, proven to attract visitors from beyond the Sarasota area. Our friends in Fort Myers were recently telling us it's a popular destination for their middle and high schoolers.

There are two features we particularly enjoy about UTC. First is the intentionally airy and strikingly beautiful architectural and design features. Our Facebook & Instagram photos this month will feature some of our favorite store fronts.

The curved glass ceiling is now an iconic feature of UTC Mall. The balconies and custom storefronts create a feeling of walking through a small town Main Street.

Second is the inclusion of those "homegrown" stores and restaurants. Several local shops have made the switch from Downtown Sarasota to UTC, though with mixed success.

TeBella Tea has migrated south to UTC from the Tampa area. Vogue Society Boutique is a one-and-only Sarasota original.

Additionally, the mall has incorporated plenty of spaces to rest. One end of the pedestrian space has multiple seating arrangements for conversation or retreat. The opposite end is a hugely popular play area. And less conspicuous seating is tucked into the architecture.

UTC also hosts recurring, seasonal, and special events. A "lawn" in the parking lot near Target hosts activities like yoga, storytime, and movies. The holiday decorations on display November thru December are awe-inspiring. The Night Market at UTC combines sipping wine with shopping, strolling and swaying to some tunes.

Dining Ideas

Ford's Garage has taken the automobile theme to the next level. From the door handles, to sinks, to napkin rings - there are endless surprise details to delight in.

Having lived in Fort Myers for over a decade before making the transition to Sarasota, we were excited about the arrival of two eateries at UTC: Ford's Garage (named after one of the two owners at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers - and, yes, father of the automobile) and Norman Love Confections.

But the real winner of our recent UTC dining excursions was Sarasota-based Origin Craft Beer and Pizza Cafe. The artichoke dip was good, the Super Sami gyro pizza was unique, and the wings (oh THE WINGS!) took top prize. We ordered them naked with a sampling of sauces on the side. Their rub was deliciously flavorful on its own, and the Asian Teriyaki dipping sauce was popular among our family.

There aren't many outdoor spaces that feature "nature" at UTC, but the outdoor seating tucked to the side of Origins offers a quick breath of air.

Learn more about our Home Watch services, Florida homeownership, and activity ideas in and around the Sarasota area on the Coastal Haven website.
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