Nordstrom could open store in Aventura Mall
By Claudio Mendonça
Aventura is curtailing construction with a building moratorium, but officials are leaving the door open for national retailer Nordstrom to renovate and move into the city's namesake mall.
Exempt from new construction rules, the 2.3 million-square-foot Aventura Mall can be renovated or expanded. The city's moratorium, passed last week, is to last for six months and can be extended for another 60 days.
The mall was granted an exemption, Commissioner Bob Diamond said, because Turnberry Associates, owner of Aventura Mall, hopes to fill the space vacated by Lord & Taylor with another upscale retailer. That new tenant could be Nordstrom, which has been negotiating with the mall for a number of years.
To accommodate the potential new tenant, Turnberry has won permission from the city to expand the former Lord & Taylor space from 128,000 square feet to 225,000 square feet. The mall is also considering demolishing the space left by Lord & Taylor to build a store for Nordstrom. Lord & Taylor closed its Aventura store last year, according to Yamila Garayzar, Turnberry & Associates' director of corporate marketing.
"This is a great opportunity to bring Nordstrom, one of the finest department stores in America," said Mr. Diamond.
Store officials would not confirm plans for Aventura.
"We think Aventura is a great center, and we are interested in being there. But so far, we have to nothing to announce," said Deniz Anders, a spokeswoman for Seattle-based Nordstrom.
Ms. Garayzar said mall officials are negotiating with the retailer.
"If the mall were tied up by a moratorium," Commissioner Diamond said, "Nordstrom would probably look elsewhere."
With the majority of construction projects east of US 1 being halted under the moratorium, the most significant exemption to the law is that granted to Aventura Mall.
According to Mr. Diamond, Nordstrom is considering opening a store in nearby Hallandale, near Gulfstream Park, if Aventura is not available.
"The mall is an important feature in Aventura, bringing shoppers from all over the region," said Commissioner Diamond. "It is the engine driving the city."
Mayor Susan Gottlieb said the exemption was given because the shopping center is the city's biggest property and is Aventura's largest taxpayer.
"For the last few years, the mall has been negotiating with Nordstrom," said Mr. Gottlieb. "We would not want to stop their ability to move forward."
In Miami-Dade County, Nordstrom has stores in the Village of Merrick Park and at Dadeland Mall.
In addition to expanding Aventura Mall, Mayor Gottlieb said managers of the site are working to improve traffic control.
"The mall is conducting its own traffic study to alleviate Biscayne Boulevard and will be presenting it to the city," said the mayor. "If city approves the plans, we will begin working with the county."