While it may be a lot to ask for the new Village at Hunter’s Lake project to single-handedly save the sleepy restaurant scene in New Tampa, it sure seems like the developers are trying.

Fresh Kitchen, a south Tampa favorite with locations on S. Howard Ave. and W. Kennedy Blvd., is the latest restaurant to be announced as coming to the new development on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., right across New Tampa’s main thoroughfare from the entrance to Hunter’s Green.

Regency Centers senior leasing agent Marc Elias broke the news to a collection of local business leaders last month at the North Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce (NTBC)’s Economic Development Briefing at Hunter’s Green Country Club on June.

Fresh Kitchen is owned by the Ciccio Restaurant Group, which also owns such notable restaurants as Taco Dirty, Green Lemon, betterBYRD and Ciccio Cali, which has a popular location in Tampa Palms.

Like Ciccio Cali, Fresh Kitchen focuses on healthy bowls, where patrons choose their base, protein, vegetable and any extras. Elias’ announcement drew a round of positive chatter during the NTBC briefing.

Elias also said that Regency Centers has a BBQ concept coming, as well as a sub-and-wrap concept, although he didn’t name those restaurants.

Regency Centers senior leasing agent Marc Elias.

Along with the previously announced Via Italia Wood Fired Pizza, Poke Island Plus and Grain & Berry, that would mean six new restaurants (plus Starbucks) could be open by April of 2020 in New Tampa.

The Village at Hunter’s Lake also is likely to provide a boost to the social scene in New Tampa.

“We certainly hope so,” said Elias. “We feel like we are responding to the needs of the area, which is really convenience. Hopefully, we’re able to attract the foot traffic over there, and they can hang out with their dogs at the dog parks, go to Starbucks, take a yoga class. That’s the goal, getting them to hang out at the center.”

While Sprouts, the first green grocer to enter the New Tampa market, is the anchor of the retail strip, other occupants previously reported by the Neighborhood News are Banfield Pet Hospital, The Coder School, Hair Cuttery, Heartland Dental, Nationwide Vision Center, Pink & White Nails, Pure Beauty Salon and T-Mobile.

Elias added that a running store and a “yoga concept” also have signed leases.

Elias says the shell buildings should be completed by November, barring a persistent rainy season. Tenants can open  whenever they are ready, though Elias suspects that most will open sometime around April 2020, when Sprouts is expected to be completed.

The Village at Hunter’s Lake will have a total of 71,397 sq. ft. of commercial space. The project also will include a 30,000-sq.-ft. New Tampa Cultural Center — which is expected to break ground next year and open sometime in 2021 — two dog parks and a four-story, 241-unit multi-family complex to be called The Haven at Hunter’s Lake

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