Florida Technical College will have a new home in Southland Mall in October, filling approximately 27,000 square feet of space. The Cutler Bay Town Council passed a resolution 4-1 on July 16 approving a change in zoning for the mall, allowing the new tenant.
“They did go through the process, as any tenant would,” Southland Mall Marketing Director Maggie Anzardo said. “It’s going forward. We are happy about that.
“We are excited about the additional traffic. We are looking at about 500 more bodies daily at the property. That’s good for our tenants and our food operators.”
Florida Technical College is a for-profit career college with campuses located in DeLand, Orlando, Kissimmee, Pembroke Pines, and Lakeland.
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“We want to have some control over it,” Mayor Ed MacDougall said. “A lot of people don’t understand how this was put together. Anyone who wanted to put an educational facility in there, has to go before the council so we can make a determination whether it is what we see as the vision of Cutler Bay. That’s what we did.”
Southland Mall, 20505 S. Dixie Hwy., is now about 98 percent leased, according to Anzardo. The change in zoning was from strictly business to include educational. Florida Technical College was founded in 1982 and provides bachelor’s degrees, associate’s degrees, and diploma programs.
Councilwoman Peggy Bell, who is running for mayor on the Nov. 4 ballot, was the only dissenting vote on the July 16 resolution.
“I voted no because I didn’t think it met the criteria and I didn’t feel that there was enough public input and enough of a traffic study for that use,” Bell said. “It seemed to me that there should have been more public participation in changing land development regulations (LDRs) in such a major fashion.”
MacDougall said lighting improvements could be made to improve safety.
“Prior to (the resolution), you could open up an educational facility like a charter school or you really don’t know what you’re going to be getting. We didn’t really change a lot but we wanted to make sure that we are able to work with whomever the landlords were, to assure that it protected public safety and was properly located in Cutler Bay.”
Bell said the item could still be appealed, but does not believe that it will be. Bell also said she would have liked to hear from other business owners in the mall and that a traffic study should have been done to account for the 500 additional people with the school.
“The zoning in the area was changed,” Bell said. “After it was changed from business to include educational, the mall came in and requested the technical school approval under certain conditions. So I thought it went too fast and felt the public was not as engaged as they should have been.”
Anzardo said operational changes, relating to parking and lighting, are ongoing at the mall.
“I don’t want to control the businesses, but this is to help Southland Mall,” MacDougall said. “It is to help them rent a space and to bring more commerce to Cutler Bay. Otherwise, they would not have been able to.”