UPDATED March 7, 10:45 a.m.: Incorporated in 1961, Sunrise started off as a golfing community for retired snowbirds developed by an Iowa-born builder named Norman Johnson. He paid $9 million for 2,650 acres in the western fringes of Broward County.
Today, Sunrise has evolved into a bustling urban center home to national corporations – the regional headquarters for HBO Latin America, Blackberry, and Emerson are all in the city – and boasts one of the most visited malls in the country. In 1990, the now defunct Mills Corporation opened the first phase of Sawgrass Mills Mall, which has since grown to over 2 million square feet of name-brand retailers, restaurants and entertainment venues, and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
Sunrise is also home to the BB&T Center, the second largest arena in the nation and the home of the Florida Panthers.
Signs of change
When American Express decided to swipe into Sunrise to build its South Florida regional headquarters, the credit card giant plunked down $21 million for a development site on the corner of Northwest 136th Street and Sunrise Boulevard.
In January, the first wave of Amex employees moved into the new digs, a 400,000-square-foot structure divided into two modern glass-sided buildings joined by an atrium. The company, which will eventually house 3,000 employees at the complex, spent about $200 million on development.
“American Express is going to create a wonderful increase in the daytime population, which is obviously a good thing for the restaurants and retail that surrounds it,” said David Gott, general manager of Sawgrass Mills, which is owned by Simon Property Group. “There is an increase of people moving into the area that gives us a new population to draw from.”
Population: 91,256 in 2014 (up 6.4 percent from 2000)
Median age: 38
Median income: $55,957
Average household net worth: $437,087
Broward County transit has several routes that serve Sunrise and Miami-Dade County provides public express shuttle services to Sawgrass Mills. The city is in close proximity to the Florida Turnpike and I-95, and is bordered by the Sawgrass Expressway, I-75 and I-595.
Priciest residential sale
$315,000: A 3,118-square-foot single-family home at 1860 Northwest 58th Terrace, with two bedrooms and two baths, sold Jan 20.
$299,900: A 2,970-square-foot single-family home at 2021 Northwest 64th Avenue, with three bedrooms and four bathrooms
$30,600: A 946-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath unit at 7500 Northwest 30th Place
Median sales price per square foot: $137, 33 percent lower than Broward average
Increase in average rent over last year: 10 percent to $1,800
Developments to watch
In August, Minto Communities launched sales for 123 townhomes at Artesia, the final phase of a 76-acre master planned community that kicked off in 2004. Artesia is located just north of Sawgrass Mills with more than 800 condos and townhouses. The last batch of townhomes range in price from the mid–$300,000s to the $500,000s.
In December, Richman Signature Properties officially opened Portico, a five-story residential tower with 417 rental apartments at 1955 Northwest 136th Street, across the street from Sawgrass Mills. The building offers studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units priced between $1,504 to $2,579 a month. Portico’s amenities include a fitness center with a private yoga and spin studio, as well as 24/7 access to a personal trainer. Other building perks include a doggie park, media and gaming gallery, an electric car charging station, a meditation room and a resort pool overlooking the lake.
“It is a planned community with millennials and Generation Xers in mind,” said Kristen Gucwa, vice president of marketing for Richman.“Building Portico in Sunrise was a no-brainer for us. The city has built-in walkability. It has shopping, dining and the urban feel our residents seek.”
Many market observers have their eyes trained on Metropica, a $1.5 billion mixed-use development planned for 65 acres abutting Sawgrass Mills. KGH International Development, a division of K-Group Holdings, is planning to build 2,250 residential units, 400,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment, and 650,000 square feet of office, hotel and cultural space.
Joseph Kavana, KGH president and CEO, said Sunrise is poised for major growth. “There is a migration from east to west,” Kavana, who started assembling the land for Metropica in the 1990s, said. “A lot of people are coming this way because they can get better housing for a lesser price.”