With few retail options nearby, shoppers and residents in West Melbourne are itching for something like the proposed Space Coast Town Center, an estimated $100 million-plus mixed-use project, retail experts say.

Developers Robert Gorlow and Edgar Jones — who are behind the $4 billion South Florida mega-mall American Dream Miami — are under contract for roughly 175 acres for the planned Space Coast Town Center mixed-use development with retail space, apartments, a 55-and-older development and two hotel sites.

One reason for the high interest in the project: Demand for retail is growing in the area as new high-wage jobs are being created. The need for experienced workers in Brevard County’s high-tech jobs is coming from employers such as Blue Origin LLC, One Web Inc., Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC) and Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT), along with suppliers. And the average manufacturing job pays $86,559 in Brevard County, higher than the U.S. average of $66,835, according to the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. That means more disposable income.

Another reason for the growing retail demand: The town center project would create a “true center of gravity” on the southwest corner of Interstate 95 and U.S. 192, said Justin Greider, senior vice president with JLL, who is not involved with the project.

Shoppers in the Melbourne area want destination-type retail centers, similar to nearby Viera-based Viera Co.’s Town Center project and open-air mall Avenue Viera. “The success of Viera has left a vacuum in the rest of the market with both malls and the surrounding retail struggling to create a true center of gravity,” Greider told Orlando Business Journal. “The new project has a large number of smaller retail spaces shown in their initial plan, which is where we are seeing the most demand in markets like Melbourne today. Along with the location at the interchange with I-95, there is potential for the critical mass to be created here.”

Space Coast Town Center would be a welcome addition to West Melbourne, which features mostly older retail product that isn’t attractive to retailers looking for newer space, said Bryan Ridgley, vice president of investment properties with JM Real Estate Inc., who is not involved with the development. Some residents around the proposed project site drive to Viera for their retail needs, so this new development could capture those shoppers.  “It sounds like it would be a project that would have some traction.”

The planned town center will have a plaza, shops, restaurants and a green grocer. The space is expected to be walkable and have a neighborhood feel. The town center also could support up to 350,000 square feet of office space. Construction is expected to begin mid-2019. A general contractor has not been selected. Miami-based Sol-Arch has been handling the design.

The Space Coast Town Center project is one of the most significant mixed-use projects for the community in the past decade, Scott Morgan, West Melbourne’s city manager, previously told OBJ. Multifamily developers have been looking to build new projects to tap into demand in West Melbourne, he said. “It would be a very significant and positive impact on our community. We’re excited about processing their proposal.”

Meanwhile, the $4 billion mega-mall, American Dream Miami, was approved in May and the developers are laying the groundwork in northwest Miami-Dade County for the project with 6.2 million square feet of retail and entertainment space, plus 2,000 hotel rooms, according to sister publication South Florida Business Journal. The 3.5 million square feet of retail would be the most of any property in North America. It could open by 2023.

Orlando Bizjournals

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