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Massive 65-Acre Metropica Is Just One Symbol Of Booming West Broward

There are about 7 million people in South Florida — but only about 90,000 of them live on Miami Beach. While you might not hear Pitbull rapping about how sexy West Broward County is, plenty of warm bodies live, work and shop in the suburbs of Fort Lauderdale, and developers and investors are noticing. 

Rendering of Metropica in Sunrise, FL
When complete, Metropica will have eight residential towers.

Take, for example, Sunrise. This car-centric city has long been known for its sprawling Sawgrass Mills outlet mall, Florida's second-most-popular attraction after Disney World, where tourists load up rolling suitcases with brand-name clothes and perfume before hopping on planes back to South America.

The mall will soon be dwarfed by Metropica, a master-planned, 65-acre, $1.5B development next door. 

The initial phase of Metropica is under construction, including 263 luxury apartments in a tower that topped off this week. Once completed, Metropica will encompass approximately 4M SF: 2,250 residential units in eight towers, 650K SF of Class-A office space and several boutique, luxury hotels.

Its 280K SF of high street retail will include an Anthropologie, Fogo de Chao, Cru Wine Bar, Kendra Scott Jewelry and an iPic Theater. Urban Outfitters this week announced it inked a lease for 8K SF, bringing a touch of urban cool to the burbs. 

"We bought the land 20 years ago," Metropica's developer, Joseph Kavana, told Bisnow. "When we purchased it, at the corner of 136th Street and Sunrise Boulevard, at the time — 1995 — you had 500 to 1,000 cars a day that crossed that intersection. There are 75,000 today." 

That is why the development is so massive and dense, Kavana said; he is anticipating further population growth and building a live-work-play environment to keep people in walkable districts and out of their cars. 

Kavana said that while new condos at Metropica will be luxury, he plans to sell them for $450 to $500 per SF, as opposed to Brickell prices, which can reach $2,200 per SF. He believes they will appeal to workers at West Broward companies like Cleveland Clinic, American Express and Magic Leap.

Sunrise is part of the so-called “Western Corridor” — cities along the western part of the county that abut the Everglades. Affordable homes and spacious yards made the area attractive to people who could commute into Miami via Interstate 75 and Fort Lauderdale via I-595. Cities out here include Coral Springs, Tamarac, Plantation, Cooper City, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Coconut Creek, Davie and Weston.

Colliers International Senior Vice President Larry Stockton, who specializes in multifamily assets throughout South Florida, said investors are onto West Broward. He just listed a portfolio featuring a 140-unit property in Broward and one 304-unit property in Miami-Dade, and investors have been asking him to break them up so they can buy the Broward one, which is in Davie, he said. 

"It's extremely hot," Stockton said. 

Stockton pointed out the schools that comprise Davie's South Florida Education Center — Broward College, Nova Southeastern University, McFatter Technical College or Florida Atlantic University — may not be marquee names, but together they have some 70,000 students.

Furthermore, Davie has all the signs of those sought-after, well-heeled young professionals with disposable income. There is a new Whole Foods. The average asking price for a new home is $700K — "that probably comes with some acreage," Stockton said — and the median age is 39. The town expects 5% population growth by 2022.    

There are similar stirrings throughout the area. In Pembroke Pines, the CityCenter on 7th sold last year for $158.5M, landing it 14th on a list of the country’s biggest multifamily asset sales. It was the only property in Florida to make the Top 20.

Massive 65-Acre Metropica Is Just One Symbol Of Booming West Broward
This Miramar office building was built last summer and is 60% leased. Read more at:

Office occupancy is healthy, too. A Cushman & Wakefield office market report for Q4 2017 said West Broward (Sunrise/Plantation/Weston) vacancy rates were 7.2% compared with 12.6% in Fort Lauderdale's central business district. 

In Miramar, a city with no recognizable attractions, Riviera Point Development Group Finance & Asset Manager Carlos Chuman is working on a project with 75K SF of Class-A office space. This building, called Riviera Point Corporate Center, was completed last summer and is 60% leased, Chuman said. lnvestors have come calling, wanting to buy it and he is entertaining offers, he said. 

Tenants include medical offices and accountants, Chuman said.

"They want to spend less time on the road and be close to where they live," he said. "There are so many developments here. I live in Weston and I love it. We don't want to take an hour and a half driving every day." 

Chuman said he is also developing a campus for Progressive that was funded 95% by foreign investment through the EB-5 visa program. Another of his projects in Miramar was funded 100% through the program. 

"This our fourth EB-5 project," he said. 

Last year, Miramar surprised many by leading the state with the priciest apartment rents, averaging $1,800. That is largely because 1,500 new, luxury units were delivered since 2013. Lennar is currently looking to build 385 homes in the city, and the U.S. Tennis Association recently inked a 99-year lease with the city and intends to build a major $6.6M facility with adjacent hotels.

All of those new residents and visitors will need somewhere to shop. Sawgrass Mills Mall last year added 24 luxury outlet stores to its Colonnade Shops section, and Plantation's Fashion Mall was demolished for an outdoor retail concept, Plantation Walk. The Westfield Broward Mall, also in Plantation, is getting a $20M renovation.