Sunrise to transform east side with new housing, arts plaza
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.
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.
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.