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.
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.
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.