A volunteer panel appointed by the nonprofit Urban Land Institute recommended a master plan of residential and commercial development on land around the BB&T Center in Sunrise, including rental apartments, office space and as many as three hotels – including a casino resort, if permissible.
“The immediate opportunities over the next 10 years or so include entertainment and mixed-use with a boutique hotel and housing,” said ULI panel member Richard Gollis, co-founder and principal of The Concord Group, a Newport California-based real estate advisory firm. In addition, “we’re looking at a plaza with civic benefit.”
Gollis also said a new brand promotion for the western Broward County location of the county-controlled BB&T Center property would advance its redevelopment.
“The working name is Downtown West Broward, or Downtown West,” he said at a presentation by the ULI panel Friday morning at the BB&T Center. The panel’s proposal includes establishment of a “Downtown West” business council with public-sector and private-sector leaders.
“Without champions, these projects don’t work,” he said. “And we need to have leadership step up, not only in the public sector but also in the private sector, to work together.”
Gollis and other independent real estate experts appointed by the ULI just finished studying new potential uses for the BB&T Center and surrounding acreage, a property spanning more than 100 aces and dominated by asphalt parking lots.
Broward County is paying ULI $125,000 to help envision a master plan of redevelopment for the vast parking area around the arena, home of the Florida Panthers hockey team and a frequent concert venue. Private sponsors of the ULI study include the developer of Metropica, a vast mixed-use development under way near the BB&T Center.
The National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers long controlled the land around the arena. But Broward County took control of the land after county commissioners agreed last December to grant $86 million of additional public aid to the NHL franchise.
The ULI panel recommended a public-private partnership in which a private master developer would execute a ground lease with Broward County and develop land around the arena as a complementary extension of nearby private development, including an expansion of the Sawgrass Mills shopping center and the ground-up Metropica development.
“We want to limit cross-competition with other private development activities in our district, recognizing that other property owners are investing significantly in their assets, current and future,” Gollis said at the ULI panel presentation. “We want to make sure that we are complementary.”
The ULI panel planned for multiple scenarios, including the potential for putting a casino resort on the arena property. “Whether it’s two years, five years or 20 years, we need to recognize optionality around that scenario,” Gollis said.
In a two-decade build-out through 2040, the ULI panel recommends a 120-key boutique hotel, a 400-key family resort hotel, a 500-key casino hotel, at least 1,000 rental apartments, as much as 180,000 square feet of entertainment space, and at least 1.12 million square feet of office space.
Gollis said the ULI panel also planned for the possibility that the Florida Panthers will stop playing home games at the BB&T Center after the NHL team’s lease there expires in 2028: “An alternative future would be redevelopment of the arena as an office/tech campus.”