FORT PIERCE, FL-The first of three phases of Coral Square Shoppes, a 182,000-square-foot local retail center, is set to begin construction. The $40-million mixed-use project will be developed on 17 acres along US 1 north of Edwards Road.

The initial phase, slated for completion next spring, will be anchored by a 17,000-square-foot Sav-A-Lot grocery and 25,000 square feet of additional retail space in two buildings. The entire project will consist of retail, restaurant, entertainment and office space.

The center’s developer, Coral Springs-based Tulepan Management LLC, is seeking big-box tenants and a movie theater to move into future space but wants to begin the project now, despite the economic slowdown that is causing retailers to curtail expansion plans. “There’s just so little retail development going on right now that we’re just happy to be moving forward with this project,” Craig Tulepan, the company’s principal owner, told Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Financing for the first phase of Coral Square Shoppes is being provided by the City of Fort Pierce in conjunction with a US Department of Housing and Urban Development loan program. The site, formerly occupied by a bingo hall, has been given a brownfield designation because of the past presence of tetrachloroethlene that has been cleaned up.

The project was awarded a grant by HUD’s Brownfield Economic Development Initiative, which is co-sponsored by the US Environmental Protection Agency. It is one of only 14 such environmental cleanup grants awarded nationwide, according to Tulepan Management.