DAYTONA BEACH — There's a new shopping mall in town, just in time for the holidays.

Tomoka Town Center is the name of a 235-acre development area along the east side of Interstate 95 in Daytona Beach that became home to the Tanger Outlets mall that opened in November 2016. The 350,000-square-foot outlet mall brought 70 stores as well as a handful of restaurants to the area.

Now a new, even bigger retail complex has opened alongside Tanger: a 400,000-square-foot "power lifestyle" center featuring larger "junior box"-size stores.

In the coming months, the new center, known simply as Tomoka Town Center, is set to add more stores as well as several eateries, including the Volusia-Flagler area's first Blaze Pizza and Dave & Buster's restaurant/video arcade.

Stores that have opened so far at the new power lifestyle center include Hobby Lobby, Five Below, Burlington, T.J. Maxx, Ross Dress For Less, DSW Shoes and Tuesday Morning.

The area's first Academy Sports + Outdoors recreational gear store quietly opened its doors on Monday with plans to hold its grand opening festivities this weekend including product demonstrations, games and giveaways.

"It's fantastic," said Port Orange resident Rick Winters last week as he and his wife Brenda were checking out Tomoka Town Center for the first time.

"It's wonderful and it's new and refreshing," he said, noting that the new Hobby Lobby, T.J. Maxx and Burlington stores at Tomoka Town Center are "a whole lot cleaner and more modernized" than their respective now-closed old locations along West International Speedway Boulevard.

Other tenants set to open this fall include Ulta Beauty on Nov. 2, Bealls Outlet and Home Centric in either November or December, and in early December Blaze Pizza, the rapidly growing fast casual restaurant chain, whose investors include NBA star LeBron James.

"Everything is as positive as we could hope for, based on the reports we've been getting from the retailers (that have opened so far) and the community," said Jeff Preston, managing partner of the U.S. operations for North American Development Group, the power lifestyle center's developer.

North American recently erected a large sign for Tomoka Town Center along I-95, as well as monument signs at each of its various entrances along LPGA, Williamson and Cornerstone boulevards. Each list some of the growing number of tenants at the center.

That tenant list is set to grow even more in the new year, with the anticipated openings of Culver's, Arby's, Chipotle, Barnes & Noble, and T-Mobile, along with Dave & Buster's and Ford's Garage restaurant.

The latter will be the first Volusia-Flagler location for the growing vintage car-themed "prime burger and beer" restaurant chain. Construction has not yet begun for the standalone restaurant, which will be across from Dave & Buster's, according to Preston.

Construction of the standalone Dave & Buster's just north of Academy Sports + Outdoors is well underway, with its opening tentatively set for either late first quarter or early second quarter 2019, Preston said.

"We'd love to have them open as soon as possible," Preston said of the restaurant/video arcade. "Hopefully, they'll move that date up."

Preston said his company is also in talks with other prospective tenants including TopGolf and a movie theater chain that he declined to name.

"TopGolf is committed to (expanding to) the Daytona market and would like to locate at Tomoka Town Center, which is the No. 1 location," Preston said before adding, "Other than that, I can't comment."

Likewise, with the movie theater operator, Preston said, "We would love to have a movie theater on site, we just don't know the timing and (specific) location," "Preston said. "We're in ongoing talks."

Meanwhile, Walmart Stores Inc. appears ready to finally begin construction of its long-awaited Sam's Club store at Tomoka Town Center.

Case Contracting Company, the general contractor for the Sam's Club project, recently began clearing land for the planned up-to-150,000-square-foot membership warehouse store.

The store will include a separate Sam's Club members-only gas station. The station could have as many as 12 fueling pumps, based on a rendering in the site plan approved by the City Commission in May 2017.

The general contractor is shooting to complete the Sam's Club store by mid-2019, with the building then turned over to Walmart to do interior work and stock the shelves.

The Sam's Club store will be built at the southeast quadrant of the I-95/LPGA Boulevard interchange on an 18.2-acre parcel that Walmart purchased for $4.5 million from Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co.

"They're going to get tons of volume (shoppers) from Ormond Beach," said local observer Bruce Teeters, a commercial real estate agent with Adams, Cameron & Co. Realtors.

"My wife and I shop at the Sam's on Beville (Road) several times a month," the Ormond Beach resident said. "The pricing is good and you can get volume on stuff."

L. Gale Lemerand, the chairman and majority owner of Stonewood Holdings, said he is excited to see the new retail stores and restaurants coming to the LPGA Boulevard corridor.

"It's the new Daytona," said Lemerand, whose company's restaurants include a Stonewood Grill & Tavern at 2150 LPGA Blvd., across the street from the future Sam's Club and the rest of Tomoka Town Center.

"Competition is good," Lemerand said of the new restaurants. "We just have to be better than they are. Up until now, we've been kind of an island out there."

Preston said the addition of Sam's Club to Tomoka Town Center will be a tremendous boost to his company's efforts to attract more retail and restaurant tenants.

"You have to remember that Sam's is opening very few stores in the country and they have chosen Tomoka Town Center as one of those sites," Preston said. "It's a major statement about the strength of the Daytona market and this location in particular."

North American is also a partner with Palm Beach Gardens-based Eastwind Development Group in developing the 276-unit Tomoka Pointe luxury apartment complex now going up behind Tomoka Town Center at the northwest corner of Mason Avenue and Williamson Boulevard.

The first apartment units are expected to become available for lease by either spring or summer 2019, Preston said.

All told, Preston said his company expects to spend "well over $100 million" to develop its portion of Tomoka Town Center, while the joint partnership of North American and Eastwind are expected to invest $39 million to develop the Tomoka Pointe apartments.

Preston said all of the "large format" store spaces at the power lifestyle center have either been leased or have a commitment from a future tenant. The center has commitments from more tenants, but he said he is not yet able to disclose their identities.

Teeters said he believes Tomoka Town Center is in an "ideal location," both because of its high visibility and easy access to I-95, as well as its close proximity to the 6,600-home Latitude Margaritaville 55-and-older community that Minto Communities is developing on the west side of the interstate, along the north side of LPGA Boulevard, and the adjacent 1,200-home all-ages Mosaic "full life" community that is being developed by ICI Homes.

"They (developers and retailers) are betting on Margaritaville working and ICI's Mosaic," Teeters said. "That's potentially thousands of new homes, but they're not going all happen in one year."

The benefits work both ways, according to Bill Bullock, president of Minto's Latitude Margaritaville division.

"Convenient access to shopping and entertainment has always been a top criteria for Latitude (home) buyers in their decision-making process," Bullock stated in an email.

With a "whole host of nationally recognized storefronts" opening at Tomoka Town Center, "the (LPGA) corridor is quickly becoming the shopping/entertainment center of Daytona Beach," Bullock wrote. 

[READ MORE: Hobby Lobby, others set to open at Tomoka Town Center]

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