Stadium Club ready to open


The Stadium Club

Doug Finger/Staff Photographer
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 6:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 6:54 p.m.

The Stadium Club, which for three years sat untouched with concrete floors and pillars exposed across from the University of Florida, is now complete, filled in with brick and glass and ready for its first tenants to open for business next week.

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The Stadium Club

Doug Finger/Staff Photographer

In the two first-floor retail spots fronting University Avenue, a sushi franchise restaurant called How Do You Roll? will open Monday, and the Henri Girl Boutique women's clothing store makes its return to Gainesville later in the week.

The rest of the space in the renamed Roberts' Stadium Club building at 1802 W. University Ave. is still available, including retail space on floors one through three, office space on floors four and seven, and 11 residential units on floors five, six and eight.

The Stadium Club website says vacation-style rental opportunities are coming in the fall.

The leasing company referred questions to building owner Larry Roberts' attorney, who did not return calls.

Not moving in is R+L Carriers Technology Company, the logistics software firm of Roberts' trucking company.

In February 2012, the Gainesville and Alachua County commissions approved tax rebates to R+L Carriers of as much as $252,000 — or $126,000 each, depending on the number of jobs created — as a 20 percent match to state Qualified Target Industry tax rebates for a combined $1.26 million. The company was expected to create 180 jobs with an average salary of $56,400.

But last month the company said it was moving to Ocala, with plans to create 250 jobs paying an average of $47,000 after receiving $700,000 in incentives from Marion County and the city of Ocala. The deal includes a 20 percent local match to the combined $1 million Qualified Target Industry rebate, with another $800,000 coming from the state, another $1,000 per job created up to $250,000 from the county, and $250,000 from the city to match federal training dollars.

R+L is moving into a 74,000-square-foot building that formerly housed the failed mortgage company Taylor, Bean & Whitaker. Roberts purchased the building last fall.

In Gainesville, Roberts is building a six-level parking garage with first-floor retail behind the Stadium Club that is expected to open for the fall semester.

How Do You Roll? is a fast-casual sushi restaurant that opened in Austin, Texas, in 2008 and now has 17 locations in five states.

Customers can customize sushi rolls by choosing a wrap and rice, vegetables, meats and sauce, or choose from 17 pre-selected rolls that range in price from $3 to $8. Most rolls are less than 300 calories. The menu also includes vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Founders Yuen and Peter Yung appeared on ABC's "Shark Tank" on Feb. 15, where they persuaded Kevin O'Leary to invest $1 million in their expansion plans.

After the show aired, the company has had interest from more than 400 potential franchisees, said Matt Aschenbrenner, who owns the local franchise with three family members.

He said they have the best location in the franchise because of the proximity to campus.

"We have the demographics of the students. We have walk-up traffic. We have drive-up. We have a parking garage that's being built in the back."

Aschenbrenner said they have worked out a deal for customers to present their receipt for a discount on their first hour of parking in the nearby St. Augustine Catholic Church parking lot.

Henri Girl Boutique is making its second attempt in Gainesville after having a store at 3224 SW 35th Blvd. off Archer Road from 2009 to 2011.

Henri Girl opened its first store in Tallahassee in 2007 and also has a store in California.

The boutique offers trendy and contemporary clothes for young women, said Catherine Zhang, corporate manager.

She said the business expects to do better in the new location.

"We just wanted to expand the space more, and we feel like if we were closer to campus it would just have more foot traffic in general and our sell-through volume would be a little quicker," Zhang said.

The Stadium Club originally was designed for 24 luxury condos priced from $400,000 to $1.8 million. Developers Philip and Sharon Stock of North Redington Beach bought the property that housed Papa John's, Sloppy Gator and Smoothie King for $2.1 million plus $150,000 to buy out Papa John's lease.

The Stocks sought $1.1 million in tax rebates on any increased property values but were rejected by the Community Redevelopment Agency over concerns about the cost of the land and their construction estimates.

Construction on the Stadium Club began in September 2007 with plans to open in time for the 2008 football season but halted that December with the shell of five floors complete after financing fell through.

Roberts bought the property for $1.5 million in a foreclosure auction in October 2010 and resumed construction in February 2011.

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