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Redevelopment of Shops at Sunset Place would include residential and hotel

South Miami’s Sunset Place is planning a transformation
Sep. 28, 2016

The new owners of the Shops at Sunset Place mall in South Miami have revealed their redevelopment plan, which includes apartments and a hotel.

The 515,000-square-foot center was acquired for $110.2 million in 2015 by the joint venture of Federal Realty Investment Trust (NYSE: FRT), Coconut Grove-based Grass River Property, and Miami Beach-based Comras Co. The mall has been struggling to attract shoppers for several years and the new owners openly admitted that its designed needed a major refresh.

Now the owners have filed plans with South Miami for significant changes to Shops at Sunset Place. The design was created by Miami-based Zyscovich Architects.

The biggest changes would be at the corner of U.S. 1 and Red Road. The developers would demolish that section of the mall, which is the least active, and build two apartment buildings with a combined 400 units and a 200-room hotel. There would also be an unspecified amount of new street-level retail at the base of those buildings.

Apartments and hotel are among the most actively sought development projects in Miami-Dade County because of the growing population and tourism. In fact, another developer acquired the Holiday Inn just north of the mall on U.S. 1 and plans to build a new hotel plus apartments.

“Our team acquired Sunset Place because we saw the potential to create South Miami’s living room – a shopping, dining and entertainment destination that’s a gathering place for the community, an economic engine, and a magnet for additional investment in the city,” said Don Briggs, executive VP of development for Federal Realty Investment Trust.

The owners would utilize the 1,700-space parking garage on the 10-acre site to supply parking for the new apartments and hotel. The north of the center is also near the South Miami Metrorail Station and a quick bike ride from the University of Miami.

Now the owners have filed plans with South Miami for significant changes to Shops at Sunset Place. The design was created by Miami-based Zyscovich Architects.

As for the rest of the retail space at Sunset Place, the developers plan to renovate the three-story building with new storefronts along Red Road, enhanced landscapes and plazas and artwork installations. Other changes are designed to create better pedestrian connections to the surrounding streets, improve traffic flows, and the demolition of some buildings in favor of public space.

"By introducing new residential and hotel uses, public amenities with new green space for area residents, and access points for guests arriving by foot, bike, train or car, this new urban master plan will focus on re-connecting and integrating South Miami with Sunset Place,” said architect Bernard Zyscovich. “The result will be a true commercial and residential anchor that creates a vibrant streetscape that will become a very desirable destination for locals and visitors.”

Grass River Property Principal George Spillis said that the redevelopment plan was the result of months of engagement with the local community. They determined that the retail mix in Sunset Place is out of step with the community’s demographics.

“Our team of developers, urbanists, architects and engineers has deep experience giving flawed centers second lives as thriving retail, residential and entertainment destinations – and that’s exactly what we plan to do at Sunset Place,” Spillis said. Comras is handling the leasing for the project and hopes to attract new tenants.

By Brian Bandell

Read more at bizjournals.com/southflorida .