Katherine Snow Smith, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 15
While there has been barely a word out of Sundial owner Bill Edwards, seven tenants of the soon-to-reopen shopping center have been confirmed by the retailers themselves. So far, the lineup brings some intriguing new names for St. Petersburg shoppers who too often feel like the country cousins who have to cross a bridge to reach the higher-end offerings in Tampa.
The list includes Ruth's Chris Steak House, Sea Salt, Marilyn Monroe Spa, Tracy Negoshian, Diamonds Direct, Chico's and White House Black Market.
Based on the average size of these stores, they account for about half of Sundial's 71,000 square feet, not including the movie theater. So what else will be placed into the Sundial puzzle?
A celebrity chef restaurant is a given. That and a steak house have been the two constants Edwards has mentioned when discussing his vision since buying BayWalk in 2011.
He can sink his teeth into Ruth's Chris. As for the celebrity chef, it will certainly be one of the personalities he brought to St. Petersburg for Enjoy Arts & Tastes St. Pete in November. Likely prospects would be frequent Iron Chef judge Donatella Arpaia or Ace of Cakes superstar Duff Goldman, who also have business ties with HSN.
It will remain to be seen if St. Petersburg diners will regularly spring for $43-and-up steaks at Ruth's Chris, other pricey entrees at a celebrity chef restaurant, or at Sea Salt, a darling of Gourmet magazine and the more affluent Naples crowd.
This is a town of folks who will spend more than $100 a person on a meal in New York but complain if a hometown place charges more than Harvey's 4th Street Grill.
Other givens at Sundial would be a frozen yogurt or ice cream store as well as a sleek, hip coffee shop. Also count on Soma, the intimates and sleepwear chain that's owned by Fort Myers-based Chico's.
Fitness devotees as well as fashionistas are hoping for a Lululemon. The retailer has about 150 stores selling $98 yoga pants and $52 tank tops around the country, including one at Hyde Park Village. Many stores also offer free yoga, self-defense and goal-setting classes. This certainly could help fulfill Edwards' vision that Sundial be a place that draws the community together, not just to shop but for events.
Lululemon spokeswoman Renee Ascione didn't confirm a Sundial opening, but she sure didn't deny it either.
"We don't yet have concrete plans to open a store in St. Petersburg," she said. "We'll be sure to let the community know more when something is finalized."
Edwards also has said all along he'd like a market like Mazzaro's in his retail vision. The name Eataly was bandied about by his former New York-based retail diva Faith Hope Consolo.
It seems unlikely that the Italy-based company with stores in New York and Chicago would open one of its first expansions in St. Petersburg. Also, Eataly likes a whole lot of square footage. The stores occupy 50,000 square feet in New York and 62,000 in Chicago. But Eataly is settling for a reported 30,000 square feet in Washington, D.C.
Based on my calculations, Sundial might have just that much to spare. This would be the national retailer that changes the face of St. Petersburg — the one that Edwards has been wanting so much for Sundial and his reputation as a rainmaker.
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