Then & Now: See how Sawgrass Mills has Grown Since it Opened 25 Years Ago

Jacky Amar, owner of Point of View, has been selling high-end eyewear in Sawgrass Mills since the mall opened 25 years ago.

He told the Business Journal that his brand flourished as the mall grew, and he has opened a store for nearly every one of the mall's expansions. Today, Point of View has five stores across South Florida and Puerto Rico.

"I found success here," said the Moroccan-born businessman, who started off selling sunglasses at the Tropicare Flea Market on Bird Road. "People get excited when they find out your store is in Sawgrass. [It's] a very well-known destination today."

Amar's brand, like many others, has thrived at the mall since its opening October 4, 1990. Sawgrass Mills grew from about 100 stores to more than 350 stores, adding new brands and employees with each expansion — from the Oasis extension in 1999, to the Colonnade Outlets which first opened 2006, and its subsequent expansions in 2013. Another addition will be completed at the outdoor plaza in 2016.

"The retailers have grown and developed," said Joellyn Fellmeth, Regional Vice President of Marketing at Sawgrass Mills, who has worked with the mall since it opened. "This property was being built the same time as [Interstate] 595 was underway, so there was a lot of development taking place. There has been a lot of change since then."

Saisnarine Maharaj, lead maintenance electrician at Sawgrass Mills, told the Business Journal that he saw his staff more than doubled from five workers to 13 workers over the years, with even more on the holidays.

"This mall has grown from a baby to an adult," said Maharaj, who was a contractor at Stryker Electric and Air, Inc. before he was recruited at the mall when it opened. "I feel like it's my second home."

Fellmeth has also witnessed the mall's guest services staff double to about fifty workers over the years, she added. Representatives of the mall won't disclose exactly how many workers it employs, but say it has thousands of employees across its shops and restaurants.

"Sawgrass Mills has always been an economic force in South Florida," said Luanne Lenberg, vice president and general manager of Sawgrass Mills. "We employ thousands of residents and fill hotel rooms with thousands of visitors, so our impact is wide and deep."

Today, Sawgrass courts more than 1 million visitors from more than 100 countries, and it's gearing up for future expansions to attract even more shoppers. Its third expansion of the Colonnade Outlets will add 80,000 square feet of luxury retail and restaurants to the outdoor plaza next year. The mall has also announced an 118,000-square-foot expansion called the Town Center at Sawgrass Mills, slated for 2018.

"Sawgrass Mills has really become an integral part of South Florida. It's a brand name that's known globally around and a must-stop for tourists. I'm happy to have been part of that for the last 25 years," Lenberg said.

The information contained herein was obtained from sources deemed to be reliable. However, Salzman Real Estate Advisors makes no guarantees, warranties, or representations as to the completeness or accuracy thereof.
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