When competing forces vie for a queen's crown, the queen shouldn't remain complacent. So it's no surprise that Bal Harbour Shops is looking to expand and upgrade. The ritzy mall has long been not only Miami's premier destination for upscale luxury shopping but also one of the poshest malls in the world. But in recent years, Bal Harbour has faced increasingly stiff competition from the Design District.
The mall's owner, Whitman Family Development, is planning an ambitious expansion that would see Bal Harbour Shops' retail square footage increased by about 400,000 feet, its two anchor department stores expanded, and a Barney's New York added. The plan would also reconfigure the main entrance to the mall to reduce traffic and include a public park and a new promenade.
To do so, however, the mall would need to make a land swap with the city that would involve the property where the Village of Bal Harbour's city hall sits. Under the deal, a new city hall would be constructed elsewhere, and no public money would be used for the $400 million plan. Voters would need to approve the idea in a public referendum.
As it points out on its redevelopment website, Bal Harbour Shops is the largest single taxpayer in the village and accounts for about 10 percent of the tax base. It claims that percentage would be upped to 15 after the expansion.
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