Chinese merchants to usurp tenants at Broward mall
By Suzy Valentine
A Chinese investors group has paid $40 million for a South Florida mall it plans to convert into retail space for Asian companies.
Shanghai-based US Capital Holdings this month finalized the purchase of Fashion Mall in Plantation. The buyer, led by Miami businessman Brian Liu, plans to replace US staples such as Macy's and Lord & Taylor, the mall's original anchors, with Chinese companies, according to Jim Dockerty, executive vice president of the Miami office of Mellon United National Bank, who represented Capital Holdings in the deal.
The three-story mall, 321 N. University Dr., occupies more than 660,000 square feet of retail space. Sharing property with Sheraton Suites Hotel, the shopping center features more than 100 stores, an upscale restaurant and a food court.
"The Chinese group told me that they are using this investment as a way for Chinese manufacturers and retailers to break into the US mall market," Mr. Dockerty said. "Typically, the dominant mall operators in America will only allow strong, well-known retailers to open stores in their malls."
That makes it difficult for the Chinese to sell from US malls. "Basically, they are breaking into the US retail market by purchasing malls and then opening stores of their own in these malls," Mr. Dockerty said.
The transaction was met with enthusiasm at the Greater Plantation Chamber of Commerce.
"We're very excited to have the new investors take over one of the jewels in Plantation's crown, and we look forward to seeing what the group does with it," said Executive Director Siobhan Edwards.
"Such a large initial expenditure shows commitment to the project, and we're hoping that the buyers will invest more and provide more incentives to draw businesses to the mall." Miami feng shui expert Jami Lin said intangible factors could have attracted the Chinese investment.
"It depends on the direction the front door is facing," she said. "That energy could mean health and success, or it could mean bankruptcy. There are also various shades in between.
"The investors may have also asked themselves whether other roads are bringing energy in or taking it away," said Ms. Lin.
"The height should be proportionate to the surrounding structure - a three-story building shouldn't be out of scale. Also, there are ways to design an exterior in a way that it would draw people in to enhance their experience," she said.
"Aside from the feng shui components, three is a good number. It means bright future and represents mind, body and spirit."
Jung Tsai, former president of the Miami-based Chinese Federation of Florida, said links between South Florida and China could only become stronger.
"The company has probably come here because Florida has potential, because it is the gateway to the Americas and because China is becoming a bigger market worldwide," he said.
Plantation, a Western Broward suburb, has a population of more than 84,000 and is home to American Express, Motorola, Citibank and Kemper Insurance.
The mall, built in the late 1980s, previously was owned by the Cameron Group.