By Agrippina Fadel
The new plaza on University Drive with a rooftop garden and upscale stores is no more: Vida Garden Plaza LLC, which was set to develop the parcel, terminated the sale.
According to Ciera Campbell, Marketing Specialist at Tamarac’s Public Information Office, the developer pulled out of the project due to the timeline associated with approvals.
The developer, a Miami-based company with a successful track record of building, owning, and operating restaurants and retail businesses in Florida and New Jersey, was selected by the city in April 2021.
Their bid was chosen over four others, including Wawa and 7-Eleven gas station proposals. The company was planning to start construction on the former site of Piccadilly Restaurant in 2023.
Development was to include two upscale restaurants, approximately 2,400 square feet, on the ground floor and a rooftop terrace. The proposed retail space of 9,600 square feet could be big enough for 5-6 stores or businesses.
During the bid discussion, the developer promised to proffer $500K to community charities and homeless programs over five years once the construction is complete and the business is operating.
When approving the project in March 2022, Mayor Michelle Gomez expressed concerns that having such a large sum in the contract between the city and the company may deter future developers who consider doing business in Tamarac and might think that this is what is expected of them.
Owner Michel Bittan assured the mayor that his company consistently invests in the cities where they operate, adding, “I would have invested in the local charities with or without the contract with the city.”
Campbell said the developer “had not indicated to staff that the voluntary developer proffer was their reason for terminating the contract.” At the time of the publishing, Vida Garden Plaza LLC representatives did not return the request for comment.
The vacant land at 7200 North University Drive is “leftover” from the 3.41-acre parcel the city initially purchased in 2014 for $1.2M. The site was used to build a new Fire Station 36, and the city’s contract with Vida Garden Plaza LLC was for the sale of the remaining 1.41-acre portion of that land for $1.05M.
Since the buyer did not close on the property, there is no financial loss to the city with the contract termination, Campbell said, and Tamarac will reissue the Request for Proposals seeking new commercial development proposals and purchase bids in the first quarter of 2024.
“The city looks forward to finding a new development partner who will neighbor our new Fire Station 36 and Speckles McFreckles and revitalize this prominent frontage property along University Drive in our Medical Mile District Redevelopment Area,” Campbell said, adding that desired project types include mixed-use multifamily, restaurant and retail, medical or business office, or hotel.
Each development proposal will be reviewed for project desirability and suitability in meeting the community’s economic development goals and assessing developer experience and financial capability.
According to the PIO, the city sees the site directly across the street from a major Tamarac employer, HCA Florida Woodmont Hospital, as an excellent development opportunity along a central commercial corridor with high traffic counts.
Interested developers should register on Tamarac’s procurement website to receive notifications when real estate RFP opportunities are issued.
- Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.
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