One of the nation’s biggest and most prosperous shopping malls is about to get even bigger. The Aventura Mall will soon demolish its existing food court to build a new three-story wing of stores and a parking garage of up to seven levels tall.
Turnberry Associates, which owns and manages the mall, got the go-ahead from the Aventura City Commission earlier this month. The company hopes to begin construction by the end of the year. Plans for relocating the food court are not yet finalized, said a mall spokesman.
The 241,000-square-foot expansion will be constructed on the current food court site, near the JCPenney store. The parking garage could include as many as 1,400 spaces.
The Aventura Mall already is Florida’s largest mall and one of the nation’s biggest, with 2.7 million square feet of floor space. That makes it the nation’s 16th largest, according to Mall Directory of America; by other measures, it comes in as the third largest. It also is one of the top five highest grossing malls in the country in terms of sales per square foot, according to Turnberry.
Aventura’s owners said they have not yet inked leases for the new space. But shoppers can expect to find more luxury brands, a segment the mall has pursued in recent years.
“Continued resurgence in South Florida’s real estate market along with tourism growth and has led to significant increases in the number of affluent shoppers, specifically at Aventura Mall,” said the mall’s owners via an emailed statement. “We’ve had tremendous demand from retailers and simply don’t have enough space to satisfy their needs.
Currently, the mall houses about 300 retailers, including Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Macy’s, according to Turnberry Associates. Other retailers include Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Burberry stores. The mall also features several restaurants and a 24-screen AMC movie theater with IMAX.
“It’s been incredible watching South Florida evolve into one of the world’s premier fashion destinations,” said Jackie Soffer, principal with Turnberry Associates. “We’re very excited about the continued transformation of Aventura Mall, which will provide an enhanced shopping experience for our local and international visitors.”
The increase in online shopping has stressed traditional brick-and-mortar stores, which have seen a decrease in foot traffic. But malls have responded by focusing on the in-store experience, said John Fleming, spokesman for the Florida Retail Federation. Many have increased events and freshened facilities.
“Shopping is a experience that a lot of people appreciate,” Fleming said. “It is just not the same surfing the Internet from your chair as it is walking around and having lunch and all the things people love about the retail experience.”
Aventura Mall specifically benefits from being categorized as a “destination mall” that draws residents from both Miami-Dade and Broward counties and tourists as well. To serve the needs of those shoppers, the mall will create an enclosed transportation facility for buses on the ground floor of the new parking deck.
“The bus stops are currently at five to six locations around the mall and are not that convenient to some people,” Aventura City Manager Eric Soroka said. “It is not an ideal situation as far as mixing the pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic. This will allow all traffic from buses to go into one consolidated place, which will be safer and more convenient for people to use mass transit to get to the mall.”
The city is currently reviewing a traffic impact study submitted by Turnberry, said Joanne Carr, Aventura’s community development director.