The Real Deal Miami

Village square meets mall in South Florida

By Randy Abraham | February 17, 2009 01:25PM

Miramar joins an area trend that refocuses attention on town centers, developments mixing government, commercial and residential properties in redeveloped areas meant to revitalize urban centers.

Late last year, Miramar opened its government center as part of a public-private development on a 54-acre site in the middle of the town. A cultural center and outdoor arts park with an 800-seat theater sits next door, and beside it, in a three-story building, are a Broward County Library branch and satellite campuses for Broward College and Nova Southeastern University.

The 40-acre privately developed portion of the town center is being developed by Rockefeller Group Development and Kimco Developers. In October 2008, 24-Hour Fitness Spa opened its doors. The shells for other tenant spaces are now complete. Developers are building 200,000 square feet of office, retail and commercial space, as well as 355 condos and 133 town homes.

The town center includes a four-story parking garage and a transit hub for the city shuttle and county buses.

Miramar city officials bought the land in 2001, paying $7.8 million. In 2005 they sold 40 acres for development with an $11.3 million price tag — complete with zoning entitlements. They platted and graded the property, dug out artificial lakes, installed water and sewer foundations, built the first of four connecting roads into the complex, and developed a zoning and design master plan, said Hector Vazquez, the city’s strategic development officer.

There are other models for this redevelopment style in the area. In the city of Weston, the city turned over management of its town center to Weston Leasing Group and a mixed-use development now provides patrons a leafy promenade in which to shop, dine, and enjoy weekly live music events. The commercial component is anchored by 45 shops and restaurants including Starbucks and Publix and 45 offices ranging in size from 500 to 1,000 square feet, said marketing director Michelle Cuello. The Berkeley Group manages operations for 115 vacation time-share apartments.

In the city of Hallandale Beach, the Village at Gulfstream Park is slated to open this fall at Gulfstream Park. In the high-rise oriented city of Sunny Isles Beach in northern Miami-Dade County, government officials in 2005 created zoning guidelines to encourage the creation of a mid-rise town center. St. Tropez, the first project designed under those guidelines, is expected to be completed this year.

Sunny Isles Beach Mayor Norman Edelcup said city leaders envisioned their town center as a gathering spot with broad plazas. “We wanted to create a pedestrian-friendly spot with ground floor shops and restaurants for the community to congregate,” said Edelcup, who added that the city recently acquired parcels on Sunny Isles Boulevard which will be developed as parks.