Developer Mark Gold’s vision of a one-of-a-kind hip, trendy and photogenic new outdoor shopping experience off Wesley Chapel Blvd. at I-75 has begun taking shape.

There will there be a sneak preview of the newly-revamped but not yet open movie theater on Dec. 31 at The Grove’s New Year’s Eve Countdown Extravaganza. The event will feature a 4-course meal with complimentary wine pairings for each course, as well as a private open bar cocktail reception with musical entertainment by Cal Morris Music.

Tickets are limited, and for more information click here.

The movie theater party comes on the heels of the first soon-to-be converted shipping container being officially placed on November 20 at KRATE, the outdoor “container park.”

More than a dozen more containers also are now in place, as Gold hopes to open many of the new businesses in the first quarter of 2021.

Seventeen modified containers, which will be home to nine businesses, make up the initial phase of what will one day be one of the largest container parks in the world. 

Though Gold’s vision began with a sun-beaten, unsightly faded yellow steel container being lowered onto a sandy patch of land, the shipping containers will be unrecognizable from their original forms after being transformed with air-conditioning, glass windows and doors, countertops, cabinets and wood and tile flooring and a few coats of brightly colored paint designed to create a festive look.

The first set of containers will be occupied by restaurants offering diverse dishes and items like Asian noodles, Puerto Rican cuisine, desserts and charcuterie boards.

Empty shipping containers like these, amongst the first to be put in place at KRATE, are being transformed into a trendy new food and retail “container park” experience at The Grove, which is expected to begin opening in early 2021. (Photo: John C. Cotey)

KRATE is expected to be the biggest of all the container parks. Once complete, it will feature 94 containers and 55 units comprised of 70% restaurants and 30% retail stores. Other restaurants will feature cuisine from around the world like Colombia, Peru and Germany. 

Some of the most recently announced tenants include The Cake Girl, Yummy Tablas and ATO, a burrito bowl concept by the owners of Zukku-San Sushi (which we featured last issue). The planned retail shops include a music store and a Lego® brand product superstore.

KRATE also will feature a stage with daily live entertainment, a dog park, a playground and plenty of outdoor seating.

“There is nothing like this in the world,” says Gold, a partner in Mishorim Gold Properties, which purchased the Grove for $62.7 million in September 2019. “KRATE is receiving attention across the globe for its unique concept and offerings. We will become the ultimate shopping and entertainment destination, not just for Wesley Chapel, but for the region and around the world.”

When it is complete, KRATE (rendering above) will feature 94 shipping containers making up 55 units, including more than 30 new restaurants.

While the container park concept is still relatively new, it has proven to be popular. Downtown Tampa’s Sparkman Wharf has re-purposed shipping containers housing roughly a dozen takeout restaurants, and places like Kansas City and Philadelphia have opened container parks of varying sizes the past two years.

 Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, a popular container park — actually named Container Park — has 34 outlets with an emphasis on hip and quirky local businesses, as well as a stage and a playground.

Since purchasing The Grove, Gold has signed on 75 new tenants, including some businesses that are already open in what Gold calls The Village area — like F45 Fitness, the dueling piano bar restaurant Treble Makers (see pg. 21)and the Double Branch Artisanal Ales brewery (see pages 32-33). 

Gold says he has invested more than $110 million into the renovation of The Grove property which, in addition to KRATE, will include a reimagined movie theater and restaurant, a miniature golf course expected to break ground in January and, potentially, a water park. 

With pandemic safety at the forefront, Gold says all of the businesses in The Village and in the KRATE complex will include “medical grade” sanitation technology, like fogging machines, automated thermal temperature scan swing gates at the entrance and UV lights.

Those safety steps are expected to encourage people to feel comfortable both inside and outside while shopping and dining, including inside The Grove Movie Theater, which is expected to fully open sometime in January, not too long after the planned VIP sneak preview event on New Year’s Eve. 

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