For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. At least that’s what Sir Issac Newton used to say. For East Orlando retail however, the theory doesn’t hold as true as it does for physics. With an increasing amount of storefront supply and lower retail operator demand, many in the industry are finding the market to be rather unstable. But, as space becomes available the retail market continues to prove its resiliency. No matter how bad some say, there are still bright spots in the industry happening right now in our backyard.
“I can tell you that Waterford Lakes continues to be a thriving retail hub,” says Andrea Bjornlie, assistant director of mall marketing for Waterford Lakes Town Center. “That is evidenced not only in the strong traffic we consistently see but also the number and quality of retailers who are anxious to locate here.” Retailers like Victoria’s Secret, who just a few short months ago opened their doors to an impressive 8,000-square-foot. facility. The same goes for others like Tilly’s and InStyle Hair and Spa, just to name a few.
The more than 5-acre Waterford site continues to press on and plans to add even more retailers soon. The Buckle, a unique clothing store with more than 390 locations, will begin offering a wide variety of brand names and private label casual apparel starting in 2010. Francesca’s Collections, one of the fastest growing women’s fashion retailers in the country since1999, is expected to open its doors in 2010 as well offering apparel, jewelry and accessories.
Then there is the highly-anticipated Lake Nona area. Scheduled to open in the fall of this year, Lake Nona Village will
offer 21,400-square-foot. of mixed-use space featuring retail, commercial and residential properties. “Lake Nona Village is unique in both design and construction,” says John Crossman, president of Crossman & Company, the project leasing company working on the facility. “It’s mixed use so obviously the office traffic will help drive the retail and vice versa offering a lot to the tenants and the shoppers.” According to Crossman, shoppers should anticipate retailers offering everything from pizza to salon services and even a wine bar, although nothing can be officially named yet.
The Lake Nona Town Center is also drawing a lot of attention from area residents for its anticipated size and offerings. Planned to be more than one million sq. ft., the town center will offer everything from large scale department stores to retail and fashion boutiques complete with a movie theater and plenty of restaurants. Currently, several deals are in place for major retailers but nothing is ready for an announcement just yet, according to Lake Nona officials.
In addition to all of the large-scale retail spots available, East Orlando shoppers are also treated to a plethora of smaller venues throughout the Alafaya Trail, Lee Vista and Lake Nona area offering a fresh mix of dining, apparel options and medical services in one location like Lake Nona Eye Care, located in the Nona Commons shopping plaza. “I think mixed use facilities like this one offer the most convenience for residents,” says Dr. Cynthia Ward, owner of Lake Nona Eye Care. “They can get their shopping done, grab a quick bite to eat and get their eyes checked all without ever leaving their parking space.”
As new centers finish construction and break ground while older meccas continue to thrive and add new retailers, there is no denying the sheer amount of choices available to residents and opportunity to business owners. Yes, there are still empty storefront spaces sprinkled throughout the region. Sure the prospects might not be flooding in just yet. But one thing about retail is that it always bounces back. There will always be someone new – it’s only a matter of time and space. Just ask Newton.
Article by Corey Gehrold