Alas, with the demise of the Bakery Center in South Miami over a decade ago, the then proposed Shops at Sunset Place were to serve as the urban catalyst for the city South Miami. Now, eight years after Sunset Place opened, we have been able to see the less than stellar transformation the neighborhood has experienced along with the generally lackluster performance of the new mall.


The Shops at Sunset Place was designed as a mall in transition. The sprawling suburban mall concept was just beginning to fade away from the American landscape while the “lifestyle center” concept had yet to fully take off. Having witnessed the failure of the Bakery Center, Simon Malls was careful to not retrace the same steps, but by the same token, was reluctant to fully pioneer a new urban and real “lifestyle center.” Unlike its predecessor, Sunset Place was designed to be an open-aired Mediterranean community, incorporating former mall aspects like big boxed anchor tenants with street-level restaurants, faux cityscapes, and even a few residential units. The center was originally envisioned to be an entertainment center, but the quick failure of some of the theme restaurants and IMAX Theater, quickly changed intended target use. Since its inception, the mall has struggled to maintain a strong and lasting business base. This can perhaps be attributed to its awkward design, as I said earlier, as a mall in transition: too few apartments, too big of a parking garage for an urban center, but too small for a mall, near isolation from the surrounding urban area, and a terrible incorporation into the South Miami neighborhood and nearby public transit.

The Shops at Wasted Space Sunset Place has served as a catalyst for South Miami: bringing the worst urban planning ideas to an area that was once brimming with potential. The area will soon become the biggest conglomeration of public parking facilities I’ve ever witnessed. I walk through this area nearly everyday, somehow avoiding every Benz and Beemer which comes careening through the area in search of parking and jarringly unconscious of any pedestrian laws which might exist. Despite the area’s proximity to public transit, I have never seen such obstinate disregard for incorporating the metrorail with the urban area.


Now, rising in the heart of the area are two developments which will continue the neighborhood’s transformation from urban center to urban disaster. The map above shows the existing public parking garage structures in the area (Red circles.) The first catastrophic development, highlighted by the yellow circle is the upcoming Plaza San Remo (Where’s the Plaza?) with over 100,000+ square feet of office space and a 65,000 square foot Whole Foods Market. The complex, which is being advertised as: “A first-class Medical & Professional Condominium where South Miami, Coral Gables, and Pinecrest Meet” is rising just east of the most uninviting pedestrian façade of Sunset Place. The inhospitable surroundings of the blank walls of Sunset Place, Wendy’s drive-thru, and near chaotic activity along Red Rd. will almost guarantee that this complex will only be accessible by vehicle, so don’t let the pretty red awnings fool you, they aren’t there for anything other than looks. Most disturbing though, Plaza San Remo will contain: “Generous covered parking for owners and visitors – five spaces per 1,000 feet.” A lot of good those 825 spaces will do the area when the local streets area already at or near capacity and the building is less than a quarter-mile from the nearest transit station…


Highlighted by the blue circle on the map and about one tenth of a mile away from the transit station is the upcoming catastrophic restaurant/public parking garage facility. The 435 parking spot garage will sit above 36,000 square feet of restaurants including a Carrabas, Outback Steakhouse, and a “sport themed” restaurant according to city documents (Note the public concerns: “He felt that key points about safety in the garage were addressed such as proper turning radiuses for cars…”) Give me a break! What about the fact that the area can’t handle another 435 patrons cars or that a parking garage isn’t exactly part of the urban design South Miami should be looking for for the city center, all the public cares about is whether they will be able to drive their Hummer or Navigator through without getting a scratch…It looks like the only wait for a table for two will be on the two lanes of 73rd St

The Green lines on the map indicate streets which contain on-street parallel parking spaces. The orange circles highlight the local existing surface parking lot facilities. Aside from parking and food themed retail, the urban center is lacking any sort of residential identity. The city and County have completely neglected the fact that transit was originally intended to be incorporated into the urban center, a fact which will soon be realized as the South Miami streets become choked by the very traffic they were originally intended to attract…

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One Response to The Shops at Wasted Space

  1. BW says:

    Makes me yearn for the old Holsum bakery that was there before it moved to Hialeah…

       0 likes

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