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bobliocatt

U/C: Metropica (Sunrise)

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First phase of Metropica to break ground in January

Darcie Lunsford

Metropica, a $280 million mixed-use center billed as Sunrise's new downtown, is slated to come out of the ground in January, more than two years after its original launch date.

"We are breaking ground on the infrastructure, roads and lakes Jan. 1," said Joseph Kavana, CEO of Miami-based K-Group Holdings Co., the project's owner. "Our estimation is that we will be breaking ground in the fourth quarter [of 2005] on the office."

Metropica's plan calls for two phases blending 500,000 square feet of office, more than 2,363 residences, 62,000 square feet of retail and 62,000 square feet of shops and restaurants.

Sluggish demand for offices, paired with recent confusion over who is marketing and driving Metropica, has left the project little more than a colorful "coming soon" billboard in the minds of some real estate watchers.

"To be quite frank, I don't know who is marketing the site," said Mitchell Millowitz, an office broker with Cushman & Wakefield in Fort Lauderdale. "Metropica isn't under construction. It is a hypothetical."

Brokers and prospective tenants are reluctant to put the fate of their real estate deals in the hands of an unknown, he said.

"Nobody knows who K-Group is," Millowitz said. "Quite frankly, K-Group is going to have to align itself with someone who has name recognition in Broward County."

Miami-based K-Group owns the 65-acre site on Sunrise Boulevard at Panther Parkway, but is not widely known in South Florida real estate circles. The firm once operated Sagaz Enterprises Corp., a manufacturer of automobile seat covers and cushions.

Pennzoil-Quaker State acquired Sagaz, which had annual revenue of $40 million, in 2000.

In August 2002, K-Group announced Metropica in tandem with Codina Group.

Discussions ensued about Codina becoming an equity joint-venture player in the office component of the deal, but that no longer appears to be the case.

Codina is now purely the contracted third-party developer, Kavana said.

He said K-Group is working to finalize discussions with other joint-venture partners.

Metropica's first phase calls for four office buildings, retail buildings and 363 condos surrounding a three-acre park and plaza area.

A residential developer, either as a land buyer or joint-venture partner, has yet to materialize at Metropica.

Kavana said interest is brisk, but no deals have been finalized. Condo development is poised to begin construction late next year about the same time at the office, he said.

The office market in Sunrise remains one of the softest in the county with vacancy rates topping 20 percent at mid-year.

But some developers are bullish about a swift comeback.

Fort Lauderdale-based Stiles Corp. is planning to launch construction in January on the 140,000-sqaure-foot Lake Shore Plaza at Sawgrass. Unlike Metropica, which will seek to pre-lease some space before construction, Lake Shore is planned as a speculative venture.

"There is a lot of leasing happening in the next six months," said Tom Kates, president of Stiles Realty. "We just felt the timing is right."

E-mail Real Estate Editor Darcie Lunsford at [email protected]

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Posted on Sat, May. 21, 2005

METROPICA

City betting on $200 million project

Sunrise sees its future as downtown West Broward, with new projects on the rise.

By ANA RHODES

Special to The Herald

In the next three years, Sunrise hopes to see a lively downtown rising.

Work is expected to start this summer on Metropica, a $200-million project that will include condos, office towers and upscale restaurants to be built alongside Sawgrass Mills mall.

''It will become the downtown of the city of Sunrise,'' said Joseph Kavana, chairman of K Group Holdings, Metropica's developer. ``It's going to be the type of development where people can live, work, play, and they don't have to go anywhere else.''

Read more: Miami Herald

Project highlights:

Metropica, phase I:

Two 8-story residential towers, 363 units, prices from $300k-500k.

Two 6-story office towers, 500k. sq. ft office space w/ retail

metropica8vk.jpg

Related Urbanplanet.org topic: South Florida P&C: Metropica

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^Hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em! Even though this is smack dab in suburbia, at least they're building up, in a psuedo-urban design!

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Now that there isn't any more land left to annex in Broward County (Broward's urban area is about 95% incorporated), the only way left for cities to grow is to build up. Sunrise has the right idea. Hopefully other Broward cities will catch on.

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I forgot to mention that the light-rail project planned for Central Broward would have a stop at Sawgrass Mills, so this would be of even greater benefit to this new community.

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Here's an aerial showing the Metropica site, highlighted in green.

The Sawgrass Mills mall dominates the lower-righthand corner of the picture, and the Office Depot Center arena is just above it. The cleared site marked by "Waterway" is the site of Artesia, a residential community that will include one 13-story tower. In blue is the site for Tao Condominiums, two 26-story residential towers.

sawgrass5os.jpg

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It will be weird seeing something like this pop up in a mall parking lot. But I guess you got to start somewhere.

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Agreed. Under normal zoning rules, these parcels would be developed into big box retail and strip malls. If you look just southeast of the mall, on Sunrise Blvd (838) and 124th Avenue, you can see that those corners are already developed that way. That's a Wal-Mart on the southeastern corner, and the adjacent lots include a Garden Ridge, some restaurants, an oil change place, and an Office Depot.

If the mall is smart, they'll provide a free shuttle service on the loop road for the new residents to have easy pedestrian access to the mall. If not, the city should take that step.

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I agree whole-heartedly with what they are doing. To me, there are just too many important cities in Broward, and Dade which have no definitive downtowns or town centers; in fact, you can't even tell that they are their own cities. I used to wonder why many of the "shell" cities in Broward just didn't get annexed up by Fort Lauderdale; if they did, Fort Lauderdale would have a much larger population.

However, this is great news. Hopefully other cities in Broward and Dade will follow suit.

FLORIDA SKYRISE ORDER

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I don't get Metropica at all, guys. It's terrible IMO.

What sort of real downtown can you build out of two luxury apartment buildings where each apartment goes for $300K at a minimum, the whole thing completely cut off from any urban grid or other residential development by several multi lane highways and acres and acres of parking lagoons. (from the pic, it looks like this is undeveloped land).

Surely there must be at least a dozen real downtowns in Broward ON THE GRID that could use the hundreds of millions of dollars this development represent and use it in a real urban, pedetrian oriented intensification.

Sounds like Miami Lakes on steriods or Tysons Corner, Virginia redux....a downtown surely it aint....have fun stuck in traffic everyone!

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A valid concern. However I think what makes this project notable is the fact that no other western Broward city is attempting something like this on such a grand scale. Other cities are building or have built faux "town centers" (Weston, Miramar, maybe Pembroke Pines, among others) with 2-4 story buildings, but with the exceptions of Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale, I don't see any other Broward cities truly eager to build high-rises and mixed-use development.

My understanding is that the entire northern side of the mall circle is to be developed in this fashion, with offices, boutique retail, and residences. During my last trip I saw a construction notice for a Marriott hotel close to where the Oasis is. What could end up hurting the viability of this project is if the light rail component doesn't come into being. That would basically make this thing an island.

The last time I checked, the median price for a home in Dade was over $330k, $340k for Broward.

If you look at the surrounding areas, there is somewhat of a grid in the areas adjacent to the mall, and NW 136th Avenue would probably continue as a straight road if it weren't for the Everglades getting in the way. I don't necessarily think that a perfect grid is necessary to have a viable urban area. Many older, established world cities are a chaotic mishmosh of erraticly laid-out streets. Might be easy to get lost, but it doesn't take away from the urbanity... Now we just need to see if this will work in an artificial environment. :)

We'll see.

And welcome to the forum...

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Thanks for the welcome and for your thoughtful remarks.

I am wondering whether it may be better if NO west broward cities on the edge of the everglades tried this sort of thing. AT ALL. I say instead put all this energy and growth in the eastern more populous, older urban environment. If you want to live way out there, you should not expect (deserve?) a downtown nearby, certainly not at the expense of downtowns in more dense areas. (I know some downtowns are doing very well in the east of the county; imagine how much more they could be though...(here I am thinking Vancouver).

Apartments BEGINNING at $300K in the way out burbs must be in or near the luxury end of the market, no? How much is a starter apartment in the Fountainblue area in Miami, anywhere west of the Palmetto, or even in Westchester? My sister's detached, three bedroom house in near-in Miami Springs is not much more than 300K.

I also noted that there's only two buildings in this entire, fairly large development, so the densities will not be high even if others sites will be built nearby (nearby is a very relative term in these developments; you could fit half of old downtown Miami in just one of those parking lots.

I agree with you that the grid need not be rectangular. What I meant is that there must be many many streets that cross into developments and weave the new developments with other developments. Preferably narrower streets. From the pics this will definitely not do. It's hard to image any pedestrian attempting to walk to/from any of these gigantor mall-land boxes and parking lagoons.

By the way, this is a terrific forum very well run...

cheers

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Welcome!

I think Metropica is a mixed-bag. It's nice to see them using the land wisely, and building up, instead of sprawling out. In Broward, there's virtually no room to sprawl anymore. Sure, it'd be better to see them building up in areas east of I-95, where the true urban areas are.

But if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. So now we'll have a fake, poser downtown out near the Sawgrass, lol!

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Take a look at the Metropica entry in the Phase I calls for four towers: two residential, two office, with retail and restaurant, with internal streets and a plaza to be created in between. Phase II calls for more office space.

This is what it might look like at total buildout:

metropica8vk.jpg

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Thanks!

Does it worry you that if these far far western sites do densify significantly and become even greater commercial magnets, the western boundary will eventually give way to the development pressure?

The horror story I have in mind of course is Tysons Corner in Virginia, near where I live that in the mind of many exurbites is their "downtown," meaning that even further out counties are being paved over with the same crap all over again.

I know that the boundary situation is different in SoFla, but darn it I think we should all be real real careful about anything new that far west, let alone new "downtowns". If that's downtown, where are its suburbs going to go?

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That's the picture I was looking at Aessotarig, from the previous page. To me it looks completely encircled, on all sides, by enormously wide fast traffic arteries and parking lots.

In the interest of balance, this seems more dense than its neighbors, and that's good. In the end though it's stll auto-oriented sprawl.

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I think we are seeing a redefinition of what it means to be a "suburb" in South Florida. A suburb will simply be a satellite city in a greater metropolitan area that isn't the county seat or traditional urban commercial center. Our suburbs are already fairly dense compared to other parts of the country, and they will continue to get denser. Having a natural barrier helps promote this high-density development.

The western areas CAN'T be developed, thankfully. The lands are protected federal and state lands. The South Florida Water Management District needs those lands to provide flood control and water supply to the Everglades and the urbanized area. And to build west, they would have to significantly replumb the entire area to drain the land. We are still using the same system that the Army Corps of Engineers completed in the 1950s.

Here's a Broward County map that I used in another discussion thread, which shows the levees that make up the western boundary, added in red. The second pic is the tri-county area. The white areas are developable (the area south of Lake Okeechobee is the Everglades Agricultural Area).

browardeverglades4os.th.jpg southfloridaglades2zu.th.jpg

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I'm with you 100% on the boundary issue, except I would not say CAN'T, at least not so categorically. There is always a chance that the boundary will be extended. There's no physical law that says it's impossible. Best to be always vigilant; pitchforks and barricades if necessary!

By the way, just a few details about me by way of introduction. I grew up in Miami (SW Senior High class of 84). Moved away in 89 to attend law school in Washington, DC, where I still reside. I do have a small place in Miami Beach where you can find me as often as I can get away from this heartless town we call our nation's capital. I have lots of relatives and a big chunk of my heart still in Miami, although I do plan to relocate (if all goes well) even further North next year (Montreal).

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I say "can't" in the sense that such development conflicts with state and federal mandates to restore the Everglades. I'm always vigilant. :) The SFWMD owns much of the land that comprises the Water Conservation Areas, and it has specific mandates. More land acquisition is in progress, so presumably a developer would have to acquire the land back from the District (which it would be unwilling to sell) and then get approval from Broward County (or Dade, Palm Beach, whatever) to rezone it. And in order to rezone that type of land, since it is a significant alteration to the county's comprehensive land use plan, it would need state approval as well. That's my understanding of it. Then the Army Corps of Engineers would have to build a new levee, which they haven't done in over 50 years, and that conflicts with current federal and state objectives of restoring Everglades water flow.

WCAs are used to store water and filter water into the aquifer. Without them, the urban areas would flood and there would be no drinking water. Here's a link you might find interesting:

http://www.state.fl.us/eog/opbenv/saveglad...ml/consrvtn.htm

Also, click on thumbnail pics in my last post to see a bigger version. I've fixed the links.

Chapter 373, Florida Statutes, contains Florida's water management policy, including for the Everglades.

The federal/state Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan aims to redirect freshwater that currently goes out to sea for flood control back into the ecosystem and restore as much of the original flow as possible for what remains of the Glades. This ensures abundant fresh water for both the ecosystem and our growing and densifying urban population.

historic_flow.jpegcurrent_flow.jpegthe_plan_flow.jpeg

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By the way, just a few details about me by way of introduction. I grew up in Miami (SW Senior High class of 84). Moved away in 89 to attend law school in Washington, DC, where I still reside. I do have a small place in Miami Beach where you can find me as often as I can get away from this heartless town we call our nation's capital. I have lots of relatives and a big chunk of my heart still in Miami, although I do plan to relocate (if all goes well) even further North next year (Montreal).

Mon Dieu! I can see why you call yourself "mercator" :)

Once again, welcome aboard... We've gone back and forth in another realm; you might remember me as "tivo" (I've since changed my name over there as well). Nice to see you on this side of the pond. :)

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Thanks for the info about the boundary. I will gladly help man the barricades at the boundary if it comes to that, but I do agree it appears to be a watertight seal (no pun intended) at least for the foreseeable future.

I thought I recalled the avatar from another realm.

Cheers!

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