Right now, it’s just another shopping plaza with vacant storefronts. But soon it could be a trendsetter.
The plaza’s movie theater, shops and restaurants would remain standing on the 24-acre lot at Pine Island Road and NW 44 Street. A new brick paver walkway would lead from the apartments to the shops.
“It’s going to be a very good marriage,” said Ashley Bosch, director of development for Miami-based Rilea Group. “Residents would be able to walk right over to the shops. I think that’s where we’re going in the future. You don’t want urban sprawl.”
If approved, the project could be one of the first in Broward County where one section of a shopping center has been demolished to make way for apartments, say city officials and local experts.
“It could be the beginning of a trend in South Florida,” said Jesse Saginor, a professor at Florida Atlantic University who specializes in real estate trends. “With few places left to build, outdated shopping centers may become the next best place to build multi-family housing. It would not surprise me if you think of how may aging retail centers we have. We have people coming here, and that’s going to create a bigger push for redevelopment into residential uses.”
Sunrise commissioners are expected to vote Nov. 14 on the plan, which calls for eight apartment buildings and a clubhouse.
“If approved, construction would begin in November 2018 and be completed by mid-2020,” said Dennis Mele, attorney for shopping center owner Global Fund Investments and Rilea Group.
Stores at Pine Plaza were going out of business well before the anchor tenant Winn-Dixie closed in June, said Isabel Perera, manager of a bagel shop in the center. Perera thinks the new apartment complex will boost business. Within the next year, all of the stores in the back of the plaza will move closer to the street when their building is demolished.
“We’ll be more visible to people passing by,” Perera said. “And the apartment complex will bring us even more customers.”
“With the overall decline in retail, shopping centers are struggling all over, not just Sunrise,” Saginor said. “Department stores are closing left and right. And that’s freeing up space to put other things there, but more retail might not work. The biggest issue we have is not finding a place to shop. It’s finding a place we can afford to live.”
In some cases, developers are tearing down entire shopping plazas. But this is the first time Saginor has heard of a developer demolishing just a portion to build apartments.
“I don’t know of any retail center where they’ve done this,” Saginor said. “But it makes sense. Millennials and seniors would rather rent than own. They don’t want to have to maintain a lawn or walk upstairs. They don’t need all that additional space.”
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