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South Florida developers bullish on retail-centered projects

Jul. 10, 2017

Online sales are on the rise, and they're taking out brick-and-mortar retailers left and right. Bebe, The Limited and Wet Seal all blamed slow mall traffic and swelling e-commerce sales for shrinking profits and store closures.

But South Florida developers seem unafraid. Retail-centered developments are on the rise. And many projects are creating their own traffic by surrounding retail with residential or office buildings.

The $1.05 billion Brickell City Centre, which opened in downtown Miami in late 2016. has space for 120 tenants in its 500,000-square foot mall - and it’s nearly fully leased.

Also in downtown Miami. Miami World Center broke ground last year. Once completed, it will have a hotel and 20,000 square feet of retail space. Miami Worldcenter Associates expects to deliver the first phase by 2019.

Related Group and Shoma Group partnered on 250,000 square feet of retail space: 40 dining, shopping and entertainment venues; and 400 luxury residences at CityPlace Doral. The project’s first phase debuted in March with the opening of CineBistro, a luxury dine-in-theatre. The Fresh Market, a gourmet grocery store, opened in May.

There are more major projects with big retail components in the pipeline. They include Metropica, a project in Sunrise that will total over 4 million square feet. It was approved for 2,250 residential units, a hotel, 485,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, 650,000 square feet of office, a park and a beach club.

SoLe Mia, Turnberry Associates' $4 billion project in north Miami will include 1.4 million square feet of retail and restaurants, including an indoor food hall and fresh market. It was also approved for 4,390 residences, office space and a hotel.

American Dream Miami could be the biggest of them all. Triple Five Group aims to build the largest mall and amusement park in North America. The project would total 6.2 million square feet, including 3.5 million square feet of retail, plus 2,000 hotel rooms.

Dania Pointe by Kimco Realty Corp. would have 900,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, 1,000 apartments, two hotels with 300 rooms, and 500,000 square feet of office space in Dania Beach.

In addition to those developments, the region's existing shopping centers are getting updates. Aventura Mall, Sawgrass Mills and Bal Harbour Shops are in the midst of expansions.

Grass River Property and Miami Beach based Comras Co. are replacing some retail at CocoWalk in Miami's Coconut Grove with a five-story office building as it redevelops the entire center. They expect to break ground on One CocoWalk in early 2018, and deliver the building in mid - 2019. Comras Co. CEO  Michael Comras said revamping CocoWalk and other concepts is good for South Florida because the traffic is getting worse.

But will poor traffic expedite the rise of e-commerce sales or push shoppers to local centers? According to Marcus & Millichap's most recent retail research reports for Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, the outlook is still positive for brick-and-mortar concepts.

Emon Reiser and Brian Bandell