Goodbye, Sears Aventura Mall. Hello, Esplanade Aventura, an open-air shopping village replacing the retail giant.
New York-based Seritage Growth Properties, which owns the vast majority of Sears’ real estate properties, announced plans Friday for the 12.3-acre plot that once housed Sears, Sears Auto Center and parking lots adjacent to Aventura Mall.
The project, first proposed by Sears in 2014, now calls for an open, 215,000-square-foot space encompassing retail, dining and entertainment along a pedestrian boulevard and outdoor plazas. Many of the retailers will be new to South Florida or to the U.S., and most restaurants will be affiliated with well-known chefs, said Benjamin Schall, Seritage’s CEO.
Esplanade Aventura is scheduled to open in late 2019.
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Under the plan, the current Sears building will be demolished. The project, approved by the City of Aventura in December, is slated to break ground Friday.
The orientation of this project is one of an abundance of indoor and outdoor space but also creating gathering areas, and making them interactive so that consumers have technology and other ways for them to interact with those settings which keeps it relevant trip after trip.
Benjamin Schall, CEO of Seritage Growth Properties
The goal, Schall said, is to build a destination.
“The orientation of this project is one of an abundance of indoor and outdoor space but also creating gathering areas, and making them interactive so that consumers have technology and other ways for them to interact with those settings which keeps it relevant trip after trip,” he said.
The design follows the trend in retail toward more immersive shopping experiences — already seen in South Florida at venues like Brickell City Centre and CityPlace Doral. Seritage hopes it will also tap into an already robust retail market in Aventura.
Zach Winkler, senior vice president of retail brokerage at JLL, said the positioning of the project, with the mall as a potential anchor and centrally located in Aventura, will likely prove advantageous.
“If they can do something that creates that community feel where it becomes more of a community hub, there are a lot of people that will choose that over an enclosed mall,” Winkler said.
The plan calls for a walkable boulevard, chef renowned restaurants, large outdoor plazas, and some retailers that are new to the South Florida market or new to the U.S. altogether.
Plans like Esplanade Aventura are signs of retail’s evolution into a more experience-driven industry, Winkler said.
“People are always looking for new things. What makes something potentially a destination is that you go there because you can’t get it anywhere else,” he said.
Seritage is a publicly traded real estate investment trust that was split from parent Sears in 2015. It owns more than 230 Sears properties around the nation and leases them back to the retailer. The trust also has the rights to develop the Aventura property and others. Its largest shareholder is Miami-based Fairholme Capital Management, a mutual fund managed by Bruce Berkowitz.
Last year, Seritage sued Aventura Mall over a planned $214 million expansion claiming the mall was violating a long-standing agreement. The case was settled and the expansion is underway.