Sprouts COO and president Doug Sanders says his grocery store chain has looked at the Lake Highlands Town Center, but that he hasn’t talked to his real estate department about doing a store there since the spring. The Town Center is still on the company’s radar, he says, but Sprout’s has not signed a lease and has not made any commitments to Town Center developer Prescott Realty.

"If it does actually happen (the town center), we’d be be excited to go into that area," says Sanders, a Texas native who has family in the Dallas area. He chatted with me for about 30 minutes yesterday afternoon. "But I don’t know how far along the development is or where the developer is in terms of the project."

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More, after the jump:

Sprouts expects to have 42 stores open by the end of the year, and plans to open 15 more stores and expand into northern California in 2010. It will open stores in the Austin area and Cedar Hill later this year, and in McKinney and in the Austin area in 2010. The company also has a store in Far North Dallas. Sprouts stores are 25,000 to 35,000 square feet, about half the size of a typical Tom Thumb or Kroger, and focus on produce, which makes up around 25 percent of floor space and 25-30 percent of sales.

Sanders says the Town Center fits the profile that his company looks for in new locations in terms of demographics, neighborhood density, and traffic patterns. These are measurements that retailers use to determine if a neighborhood is wealthy enough, has enough people, and has enough visitors make a store profitable.

He says it’s not a problem that Lake Highlands is an urban neighborhood; Sprouts has opened stores in similar areas, including several in Austin. In fact, Sanders says he was impressed by the Town Center site plan when he saw it.  Also not a problem: that Lake Highlands is dry. Sprouts has several locations, including the north Dallas store, that don’t sell wine and beer.

“We’re in a wait and see about the [Town Center],” he says. “It all depends on what’s going on with the shopping center.”