Sun­rise to trans­form east side with new hous­ing, arts plaza

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Money - By Lisa J. Huri­ash

The city of Sun­rise is get­ting ready for a makeover of its eastern side, en­vi­sion­ing new hous­ing with re­tail shops and even an arts plaza for pub­lic events.

The area was built in the 1960s and needs a bit of a face-lift as the city has grown in pop­u­la­tion and changed de­mo­graph­ics, said Mark Lubel­ski, as­sis­tant city man­ager. Sun­rise was once a bed­room re­tire­ment com­mu­nity, and so many of its first set­tlers were New York­ers who were Jewish and Ital­ian. Now, it’s a di­verse city that is get­ting younger.

Within months, Sun­rise will be­gin its hunt for the de­vel­op­ers to pitch ideas on how to re­ju­ve­nate the re­gion. “Over time, you have to in­vest and re­fresh the area,” Lubel­ski said.

The city hired Re­de­vel­op­ment Man­age­ment As­so­ciates to cre­ate a plan to fo­cus on two square miles from Univer­sity Drive east to the city lim­its at North­west 60th Av­enue, just west of the Florida Turn­pike.

Here’s a look at key ar­eas tapped for im­prove­ment.

Bring­ing ‘imag­i­na­tion’ to Sun­set Strip

A 3-acre va­cant piece of prop­erty on North­west 15th Street, fronting Sun­set Strip, is best suited for dozens of town­houses, ac­cord­ing to RMA.

The city bought the par­cel two years ago for about $1 mil­lion, which in­cluded de­mol­ish­ing the build­ings on the site, in­clud­ing a day care cen­ter and wor­ship cen­ter.

Re­quests for de­vel­op­ers to sub­mit de­sign pro­pos­als will go out as early as this sum­mer.

The city’s re­quest will say, “Here’s a [piece] of land, make us im­pressed with your skills and your imag­i­na­tion,” said Louis San­dora, Sun­rise’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor.

RMA is rec­om­mend­ing as many as 30 town­houses on site, or a mix of town­houses and re­tail shops. Such a plan could help “im­prove hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity by us­ing the com­mer­cial rents to sup­port the hous­ing costs for each fam­ily,” the agency wrote in a study.

“We’ll see a trans­for­ma­tion the city has never been in­volved with.”

En­vi­sion­ing an arts plaza

A for­mer Post Of­fice, at North­west 68th Av­enue just south of Sun­set Strip, likely will be con­verted to an arts plaza to be­come a pub­lic space for events.

RMA is propos­ing the post of­fice be de­mol­ished to make way for the con­struc­tion of the plaza that would “serve as a prom­i­nent cen­tral gath­er­ing place for events and other cel­e­bra­tions and com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties. Along with tem­po­rary street clo­sures, a farm­ers’ mar­ket, food truck events, and week­end ven­dors are just a few pos­si­ble uses. Pub­lic art should be in­te­grated through­out the plaza, in­clud­ing us­ing the ex­ist­ing tree to re­main as well as the po­ten­tial for pro­jected pub­lic art onto build­ing walls at night.”

An al­ter­na­tive op­tion is to re­hab the city-owned prop­erty to be used by a mu­seum or com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tion. The city is now ne­go­ti­at­ing with an ar­chi­tect to cre­ate the de­sign.

Build­ing town­houses

A 2-acre site of the for­mer pub­lic works com­plex has two ad­join­ing parcels, at the south­west cor­ner of North­west 20th Street and 19th Street. It’s cur­rently va­cant, and is used by the city for tem­po­rary stor­age.

RMA is sug­gest­ing “a

Louis Marino San­dora, Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Di­rec­tor for the city of Sun­rise

small num­ber of live/ work town­homes ... as a buf­fer to homes east of the site” or rental apart­ments on the city-owned land. That could in­clude artist stu­dios or an ar­chi­tect’s of­fice, where peo­ple work on ground floor and live above.

A re­quest for pro­pos­als by de­vel­op­ers will be­come pub­lic later this year.

Plans for other prop­er­ties

The city is also eye­ing other sites that are pri­vately owned for fu­ture de­vel­op­ment. That in­cludes a for­mer car deal­er­ship lo­ca­tion, two for­mer Wal­greens, and empty land.

Among RMA’s sug­ges­tions: a mi­cro-brew­ery, town­houses or restau­rants.

San­dora said the city is “lay­ing the ground­work” to as­sist de­vel­op­ers with chang­ing codes and zon­ing laws to “set the ta­ble, make it at­trac­tive for that type of de­vel­op­ment.”

And Lubel­ski said even­tu­ally the re­de­vel­op­ment ef­forts will shift west, too.

“This is our first phase and then we’ll start mov­ing west,” he said. “As the city ages, we’ll have to be look­ing at this across the en­tire city.”

The eastern side of cities were de­vel­oped first “and then slowly drifted west” as roads were built, San­dora said. So there needs to be rein­vest­ment to re-en­er­gize older por­tions of the city, he said. “That’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity. ... It’s quite amaz­ing. We’ll see a trans­for­ma­tion the city has never been in­volved with” be­fore.

TAIMY AL­VAREZ/SUN SEN­TINEL

Louis Marino San­dora, the city of Sun­rise's di­rec­tor of­fice of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, left, and Mark Lubel­ski, the as­sis­tant city man­ager, next to one of the parcels of land that the city wants de­vel­op­ers to build on.

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