Galleria at Fort Lauderdale, FL: From Shopping Mall to Lifestyle Center

The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale Mall sits in the heart of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at 2414 East Sunrise Boulevard. This upscale, super-regional shopping mall boasts a rich history, evolving consumer experiences, and a vision for the future that mirrors the changing landscape of retail and residential living.

The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale: Beginnings and Early Years

The Galleria didn’t start its life as the enclosed shopping paradise it is today. The Sunrise Center was initially an open-air shopping mall constructed in 1954. The center was mainly demolished except for the Jordan Marsh store, which was later reopened as South Florida’s first Dillard’s.

The transformation into the Galleria we know today was a phased process. First, the mall was rebuilt as an enclosed mall and opened in three stages, starting in November 1980, with vital retail stores like Burdines (now Macy’s) and Saks Fifth Avenue.

The second phase in 1982 introduced Neiman Marcus, which has since closed, and the last phase in 1983 brought Lord & Taylor, which is now partially a Powerhouse Gym.

Ownership and Management

The Galleria is held by Keystone Florida Property Holding Corporation, which serves as a title-holding entity for the Pennsylvania Public School Employees Retirement System. This retirement system notably invested in the mall by acquiring it in 1993.

The mall’s management has changed over the years, originally under the Kravco Company and its successors until May 2012.

Since then, management responsibilities have been handled by Jones Lang LaSalle, an international professional services and investment management company specializing in real estate.

Galleria at Fort Lauderdale
Galleria at Fort Lauderdale, FL” by Rob Olivera is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Changes and Developments Over the Years

The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale has not remained stagnant but has seen considerable changes and developments. Between 2001 and 2003, significant renovations were undertaken. Palm trees were introduced, windows were opened, and tri-color floor tiles were added, bringing a fresh look and feel to the Galleria.

In 2014, ambitious plans were proposed to redevelop the area around The Galleria. The proposal included adding 1,600 condos and 150 hotel rooms. Unfortunately, due to community opposition, the proposed redevelopment never materialized.

Similarly, an interesting idea was floated in 2018 to establish an aquarium in the space previously occupied by Lord & Taylor. However, this plan also failed to materialize.

Current Anchors and Former Anchors

The mall’s current anchors include Dillard’s, H&M, and Macy’s, each offering various products to meet its patrons’ diverse shopping needs.

Over the years, several former anchors have seen closure and transformation. These include Burdines, Jordan Marsh, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

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Future Plans: Redevelopment Into a Mixed-Use Center

Looking to the future, the Galleria’s owners have filed plans for a significant redevelopment of the Galleria into a mixed-use center.

The proposed changes include the creation of at least 1,900 residential units. This move comes in response to the current multifamily redevelopment trend sweeping across South Florida malls.

The factors driving these changes are manifold. One of the key contributors is the robust rental market in the area, which is experiencing high demand and escalating rents. Another crucial factor is the shift in the retail landscape brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has expedited the trend toward a decline in traditional retail spaces, especially those anchored by big box stores, leading to the closure of some mall tenants.

The redevelopment plans include demolishing roughly 600,000 square feet of existing retail buildings, mostly vacant big box spaces emptied when Saks, Lord & Taylor, and others closed. The new facilities will not exceed 150 feet in height and will taper down in areas close to nearby residential neighborhoods.

The remainder of the mall will get a facelift, transforming into a “lifestyle” center with shopping and dining options. Moreover, the proposed blueprint for the revitalized Galleria at Fort Lauderdale contains the installation of a versatile event lawn for hosting various outdoor activities such as yoga classes.

The mixed-use redevelopment approach is a response to the changing consumer preferences and the evolving nature of retail. People increasingly seek an integrated lifestyle experience where they can live, work, and play in the same area.

By providing residential units along with retail and leisure facilities, the Galleria is set to continue its evolution to meet the changing needs of its patrons.

Despite these ambitious plans, the redevelopment proposal is still in its preliminary stages and needs a lot of approvals. However, it is allowed under the existing zoning.

In conclusion, the Galleria at Fort Lauderdale has a vibrant past, a dynamic present, and a promising future. As the retail landscape continues to evolve, the Galleria is poised to adapt and thrive, providing a unique lifestyle experience for its patrons while finding innovative uses for large retail spaces.

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Comments: 6
  1. Avatar of Scott Linsley
    Scott Linsley

    Spencer, Your article on the Galleria mall in Fort Lauderdale was a nice read. I’ve lived in the Ft Laud area and shopped at the mall since 1993 and also worked in the mall at one time, for the toy store KayBee Toys. Also long gone. A few notes which might be interesting in a follow-up piece, Galleria Mall saw a significant decline in shoppers with the population moving west into Plantation, Sunrise, Parkland, Westin and the like. Cheaper real estate and new build homes became attractive in the early 80’s and continue today. In order to accommodate the growing west communities, two enclosed malls were built at Broward Blvd and University Drive, walking distance from each other. The Broward Mall and The Plantation Fashion Mall. Anchor stores were Burdines, Dillard’s, Sears, (Broward Mall) and Lord & Taylor, Macys, Sacks (I think) and The Sheraton Hotel at the Fashion Mall. A few others I can’t recall. After this, the development of the A1A beachfront started, and brought with it an open air mall just north of Las Olas Blvd. That project pulled almost half of the Galleria customers away during the mid and late 90’s. As of today, Both the Broward Mall and Plantation Fashion Mall are well into their own redevelopment leaving virtually skeletons of their former glory. The A1A beachfront Mall is trying to redefine itself with the nearby hotels and timeshares, as well as the numerous bars and restaurants. The Fort Lauderdale vacation tourist remains the #1 draw here and as long as they continue to find interest I suppose A1A will continue to thrive

    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Wow, I appreciate your in-depth perspective on the Galleria Mall’s evolution and the changes in retail. It’s fascinating to hear your perspective as a long-time resident and former employee of the Galleria Mall. You’ve given us some unique insights into the shifts in Fort Lauderdale’s retail scene over the years. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Avatar of Kelleigh Bywaters
    Kelleigh Bywaters

    Hi Spencer,

    Thank you for the update of the Galleria Mall property. As that residential area remains quite upscale to this day. We believe the concept like a Mizner Park, Boca Raton, Florida with upscale boutique shops, dinings venues and an amphitheater for concerts would be very attractive. There are way too many condos being built already in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The Fort Lauderdale water/sewer infrastructure cannot handle any more multi unit complexes.

    Thank you,

    Kelleigh Bywaters ( Native Floridian )

    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Hi Kelleigh,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights regarding the Galleria at Fort Lauderdale. It’s great to hear your perspective as a native Floridian and your vision for the mall’s future. While there is a need for new housing, it’s crucial to ensure that the city’s infrastructure can adequately support the growing population.

  3. Avatar of Chrisanthe

    We need stores like Nordstrom,Saks, Neiman Markus, to attract more shoppers. Consumers are driving either to Aventura or Boca to shop rather than The Galleria

    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Thank you for your suggestion. It would indeed be great to see more high-end stores in the Galleria. Your point about attracting more shoppers is very reasonable.

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