Just when you thought that SAWGRASS MILLS could not possibly get any bigger, we present its forthcoming Town Center at Sawgrass Mills addition. The 118,000 square foot, open-air plaza is being built southwest of the mall proper. Its 29 stores and restaurants should be in service by 2019. This expansion follows enlargements and renovations of the mega mall's existing Colonnade Outlets and Oasis sections; these being completed in 2016.
Drawing from www.simon.com (Simon Property Group)


SAWGRASS MILLS
West Sunrise Boulevard and Flamingo Road
Sunrise, Florida


Washington, D.C.'s Western Development Corporation was formed in 1967. In 1984, they entered into a joint venture with the German KanAm Grunderbesitz GmbH. The first shopping mall project to come from this pairing, Virginia's POTOMAC MILLS, was dedicated in September 1985.

Originally encompassing 650,000 leasable square feet, it was a unique and trend-setting retail center which eschewed traditional anchor department stores in favor of several junior anchor-sized, off-price retailers. The value mega mall was born!

The second Western / KanAm endeavor, Philadelphia's FRANKLIN MILLS, debuted in May 1989. Clocking in at over 1 million leasable square feet, it would soon be bested by the next Mills mall project. 

This was under construction at a 138 acre site, located 10.7 miles northwest of downtown Fort Lauderdale, in the Broward County suburb of Sunrise. SAWGRASS MILLS, designed by the Miami-based Arquitectonica firm, would envelop nearly 2 million leasable square feet. 

The super-sized center opened in 4 stages. The first operational store, Myrtle Beach-based Waccamaw Pottery, began business August 22, 1990. Sears Outlet became the second inline store, on September 6 of the same year.

An official grand opening was held October 4, 1990, with 110 stores and services on the retail roster. These included Bed, Bath & Beyond, Toy Works, Ann Taylor Clearance Center, the Bugle Boy and Van Heusen Factory Outlets and 16-bay Hurricane Food Court.

Anchoring the Phase One mall were the following single-level stores; a (107,600 square foot) Waccamaw Pottery, (75,400 square foot) V.F. Outlet, (78,700 square foot) Phar-Mor Drug, (104,500 square foot) Sears Outlet, (77,500 square foot) BrandsMart USA and (65,000 square foot) Burlington Coat Factory.

A second grand opening, held November 15, 1990, brought 23 additional stores. These included a 1-level (77,300 square foot) Marshalls Superstore and 19-bay Sports Food Court.

A 1-level (25,000 square foot) Spiegel Outlet opened, October 17, 1991, as the mall's eighth anchor. On the north end of the complex, the freestanding Cobb Theatres Sawgrass 18 Cinemas showed its first features December 13, 1991. This dedication was followed by one for a 1-level (138,300 square foot) Target Greatland; this store opening for business on March 15, 1992.

SAWGRASS MILLS now housed 137 stores and services and was the world's largest outlet mall. The sprawling, single level shopping center was divided into 4 themed concourses; Modern Main Street, Mediterranean Main Street, Art Deco Main Street and Caribbean Main Street. Its Hurricane Food Court had a whooshing wind sound effect.

5 court areas separated the "Street" concourses...the Entertainment Court, Video Court, Rotunda Court, New Ideas Court and Cabana Court. The latter had a simulated swamp with an animatronic singing flamingos and alligators display.

The complex was also wired with the "Mills TV" closed circuit system, with monitors placed in courts and concourses. Eventually, mall entrances would be given names, such as Green Toad, Purple Parrot, White Seahorse, Blue Dolphin and Pink Flamingo.

Western Development Corporation converted into a Real Estate Investment Trust in 1994, renaming itself the Mills Corporation in the process. Eventually, 15 "Mills" malls would be built in the United States.

A 24 million dollar Phase Two expansion of SAWGRASS MILLS, comprising 25 stores, opened November 12, 1995. It featured a 1-level (53,700 square foot) Service Merchandise and 1-level (25,100 square foot) Last Call From Neiman Marcus Clearance Center.

Phase Three, the "Entertainment Phase", was announced in January 1998. It was to extend toward the northwest and add 39 retailers. The addition, entirely open-air, enlarged Burlington Coat Factory (to 111,300 square feet) and also expanded the mall's multiplex cinema.

A 30 million dollar wing, known as The Oasis, was dedicated April 15, 1999. Flanking its outdoor concourse were Gameworks, American Wilderness Experience, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Cafe Tu Tu Tango, Ruby's Diner and Foot Locker Outlet. 

The movie multiplex had become a Regal Entertainment venue in 1997. During the Oasis expansion, 5 screens were added. The theater re-opened, as the Regal Sawgrass 23, on November 12, 1999. SAWGRASS MILLS now housed 270 stores and services under its roof.

Shopping venues in the SAWGRASS MILLS trade area included PEMBROKE LAKES MALL (1992) {9.3 miles southeast, in Pembroke Pines}, DOLPHIN MALL (2000) {25 miles southwest, in Dade County} and -eventually- POMPANO CITI CENTRE [nee' POMPANO FASHION SQUARE] (2006) {14.8 miles northeast, in Pompano Beach}.

The third expansion of SAWGRASS MILLS got underway in December 2004. Dubbed The Colonnade at Sawgrass Mills, it was to add 118,000 leasable square feet and 30 toney tenants...all in an open-air format.

At the same time, an 8-month-long renovation of the existing mall was done, with new flooring and lighting installed and restrooms and Food Courts being refurbished. The original "Main Streets" and named courts and entrances theme was also scrapped in favor of a new "Avenues" orientation.

The Colonnade Outlets grand opening, originally scheduled for December 8, 2005, was delayed by Hurricane Wilma. It was rescheduled for March 3, 2006. Tenants in the new "discount upscale" section included David Yurman, Coach Factory Outlet, Escada Company Store, Juicy Couture and Stuart Weitzman. 

As these stores were being built, Target Greatland was enlarged into a (173,300 square foot) SuperTarget store. Its re-grand opening took place in July 2006.

In April 2007, the Mills Corporation portfolio was acquired by the Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group. Between the fall of 2009 and winter of 2010, 22,000 square feet of store space was added to Colonnade Outlets

New retailers included Georgio Armani, Canali, Tag Heuer and a Villagio Restaurant. Prada Outlet served its first patrons December 16, 2010. The mega mall now enveloped 2,259,000 leasable square feet. 

A fifth mall enlargement would add 40,000 leasable square feet. This was built after the shuttering of the Wannado City indoor amusement park, on January 12, 2011. The vacant store was sectioned into a new "Fashion Row", which included Calvin Klein, Max Studio, Columbia Sportswear Company and Cache. This section was officially dedicated November 15, 2012.

A facet of this remodeling was an enlargement of the Forever 21 store, which expanded to 60,000 square feet and re-opened in the Spring of 2013. With all work completed, the GLA of SAWGRASS MILLS had grown to 2,299,000 square feet, with a retail roster of over 350 stores and services.

Not to be outdone, Simon Property Group pursued yet another enlargement of the mall. 82,000 square feet were added to Colonnade Outlets. The project was underway by October 2014, with 30 retail stores and restaurants opening for business between winter 2015 and spring 2016.

The Oasis section was given a "massive upgrade" during 2016 and a multilevel parking garage (the mall's first) was completed. Moreover, a vacant VF Outlet store was retenanted by New York City-based Century 21. The discount department store was dedicated in October 2016.

By this time, planning was underway on the mall's latest expansion. Town Center at Sawgrass Mills, a 118,000 square foot, open-air cluster mall of 29 stores and services, was plotted for a land parcel southwest of the SAWGRASS MILLS complex. The new Town Center, and a second parking garage, were scheduled for completion in 2019.

Sources:

www.sawgrassmillsmall.com 
www.simon.com (Simon Property Group)
http://www.arquitectonica.com (Arquitectonica Architects)
www.thefreelibrary.com
www.cinematreasures.org

"Sawgrass Mills" article on Wikipedia
"Mills Corporation" article on Wikipedia