Sawgrass Mills to get new spots for dining, drinking  

Sawgrass Mills and David Gott
Sawgrass Mills and David Gott

Sawgrass Mills, the mega-mall in Sunrise, is getting a new set of dining and drinking destinations, starting with the first Florida location of the Matchbox American Kitchen restaurant group, which has locations in four other states and in Washington, D.C.

“We have currently under construction a Matchbox restaurant, which will open on or about Black Friday. That’s what they’re shooting for,” said David Gott, general manager of Sawgrass Mills, which opened in 1990 and spans more than 2 million square feet.

He was one of several speakers Wednesday at a public meeting in Sunrise on real estate development, arranged by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Board of Realtors and sponsored by the city of Sunrise.

The owner of Sawgrass Mills, Simon Property Group, has made a major reinvestment in the Oasis section of the mall, and the upgrades have helped Simon recruit new tenants. For example, “we are putting up two very large bird-air structures,” Gott said. “They’re about 60 feet tall, so parts of the Oasis are fully covered from the sun and rain.”

New tenants planning to move into freshly built spaces in the upgraded Oasis section of the mall include the owner of mojitobar, a cocktail lounge at Bayside Marketplace in Miami, and the restaurant groups operating under the Yardhouse Brew Pub and Texas de Brazil brands.

“We expect mojitobar to open sometime around the holidays, and Texas de Brazil to follow in the first quarter of 2017, and the Yardhouse right after that,” Gott said. “So there’s a lot going on.”

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Other speakers at the Realtors-sponsored event said multifamily residential development has been robust in western Sunrise near Sawgrass Mills and the BB&T Center, the county-owned arena and home of the Florida Panthers hockey team.

The 65-acre Metropica mixed-use development in that suburban neighborhood will put 1,900 condominium residences in the area, starting with 263 units at Yoo at Metropica, now under construction, the first in a planned cluster of eight condo towers. “We’re about 53 percent sold out,” said Erick Callazo, the Metropica project’s vice president of development.

Callazo warned, however, that underinvestment in roads and other infrastructure in the area, combined with intensified development, could cripple western Sunrise. “We do not want to be Brickell,” he said, referring to the active development zone along Brickell Avenue in Miami.

Shannon Ley, director of community development for the city of Sunrise, said developers also have delivered hundreds of new rental apartments in western Sunrise in the last two years. These include Nexus and AMLI at Sunrise Village. “They came online with 828 additional units right across from the BB&T Center on Pat Salerno Drive,” Ley said.

More rental projects are in the pipeline, among them a project called Portico, a 417-unit development under construction west of Sawgrass Mills and south of the BB&T Center. Portico’s first buildings may open for occupancy by year’s end, Ley said.

Artesia, a residential development by Minto Communities, is headed for its final stage of construction: 123 townhomes as tall as four stories. “We’re being told it’s a very popular product,” Ley said. “They also have some three-story product and some two-story product.”

Artesia is a 76-acre development just north of Sawgrass Mills. Minto is now in the permitting phase for the 123 townhomes, “and I would expect to start seeing the vertical construction by the end of this year or beginning of next year,” Ley said.

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