Just when you may have thought that SAWGRASS MILLS could not possibly get any larger...we present its forthcoming Town Center at Sawgrass Mills addition. The 118,000 square foot, open-air plaza is being built on a pad southwest of the mall proper. Its twenty-nine 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)

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, Prince William County, Virginia's POTOMAC MILLS, was dedicated in September 1985.

Originally encompassing 650,000 leasable square feet, it was a unique and trend-setting center which eschewed traditional anchor department stores in favor of a combination of junior anchor-sized, off-price / factory outlet-type retailers. The so-called value mega mall was born.

The second Western / KanAm endeavor, Philadelphia's FRANKLIN MILLS, made its debut in May 1989. Clocking in at over 1 million leasable square feet, it was to be bested by the next Mills mall project, which was under construction at a 138 acre site, 10.7 miles northwest of the epicenter of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

SAWGRASS MILLS, designed by the Miami-based Arquitectonica firm, enveloped nearly 2 million leasable square feet and opened in four stages. The first operational store, Myrtle Beach-based Waccamaw Pottery, began business August 22, 1990. Sears Outlet became the second store to come inline, on September 6.

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

Anchoring the Phase One mall were the following; a 1-level (75,400 square foot) V.F. Outlet, 1-level (107,600 square foot) Waccamaw Pottery, 1-level (78,700 square foot) Phar-Mor, 1-level (104,500 square foot) Sears Outlet, 1-level (77,500 square foot) BrandsMart USA and 1-level (65,000 square foot) Burlington Coat Factory.

A second grand opening, held November 15, 1990, brought twenty-three more stores, including the 19-bay Sports Food Court and 1-level (77,300 square foot) Marshalls Superstore.

A 1-level (25,000 square foot) Spiegel Outlet opened, October 17, 1991, as the mall's eighth (junior) anchor. On the north end of the complex, the freestanding Cobb Sawgrass 18 megaplex also opened in 1991. These were followed by a 1-level (138,300 square foot) Target Greatland, which was dedicated March 15, 1992.

SAWGRASS MILLS now housed one hundred and thirty-seven stores and services and was the world's largest outlet mall. The sprawling, single level shopping center was divided into four 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.

Five 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, access points at the mall would be bequeathed names, such as Green Toad, Purple Parrot, White Seahorse, Blue Dolphin and Pink Flamingo Entrances.

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

A 24 million dollar Phase Two expansion of SAWGRASS MILLS, comprising twenty-five 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 thirty-nine retailers to the shopping venue. The expansion, all open-air, included enlargements of Burlington Coat Factory (to 111,300 square feet) and also extended the cinema into a 23-screen venue.

By the time of its dedication, on April 15, 1999, the 30 million dollar wing was known as The Oasis. Lining its outdoor concourse were Gameworks, American Wilderness Experience, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Cafe Tu Tu Tango, Ruby's Diner and Foot Locker Outlet. SAWGRASS MILLS now housed two hundred and seventy stores and services.

Nearby shopping venues in South Florida 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] (2003-2006) {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 thirty 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. Simultaneously, Target Greatland was enlarged into a 173,300 square foot SuperTarget-format 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 and over three hundred and fifty stores and services...making it the nation's third-largest shopping mall. 

A fifth enlargement, albeit one consisting of only 40,000 leasable square feet, followed the shuttering of the Wannado City indoor amusement park, which had transpired 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 grew to 2,299,000 square feet, with a retail roster of over three hundred and fifty stores and services.

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

The Oasis section of the shopping city 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 augmentation. Town Center at Sawgrass Mills, a 118,000 square foot, open-air cluster mall of twenty-nine 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 to be completed in 2019.


"Sawgrass Mills" article on Wikipedia
"Mills Corporation" article on Wikipedia
http://www.arquitectonica.com/ (Arquitectonica Architects)www.thefreelibrary.com