Broward News

Sunrise Commission Approves Metropica, a Billion-Dollar Shopping Mall You Can Live In

Sunrise, Florida, is one step closer to being known for exactly three things: a byzantine shopping center that's completely possible to get lost in, a giant-ass stadium that hosts hockey's worst team, and an insanely large, billion-dollar development that sounds impossible to fill.

On Tuesday night, City Commission members gave their unanimous blessing to Metropica -- a place as dizzying as its name suggests. The decadelong project will eventually result in up to 2,500 condos, 300 townhomes, 485,000 square feet of commercial space, and a two-acre park. In total, that amounts to about 4 million square feet of buildings that will be up to 30 stories high. For perspective, consider that Sawgrass Mills Mall occupies about 2 million square feet.

Although environmentalists are worried whether the city has enough water to accommodate Metropica, the developer's attorneys point to the fact that its residents would be walking or biking rather than driving cars. With all the shopping opportunities available within the place, the attorney reasons, why would anyone ever want to leave?

As the Sun Sentinel points out, Metropica will be the size of seven football fields. But keep this fun fact in mind: Sunrise was born out of the mind of a -- literally -- off-kilter developer. In 1961, a guy by the name of Norman Johnson brought people to the area with a tourist attraction called the Upside-Down House. When the head-scratcher made it onto the pages of Life, people flocked from all over the country to see it for themselves. Many decided to stay, just to be close to the architectural curio. Johnson was so successful in luring people to a remote part of the Everglades that he was made the place's first mayor.

Starting in the '90s, the golf community started morphing into a giant tourist attraction. The mall was built in 1990, and the BB&T Center was erected in 1998. Metropica will just be a second giant mall, except you can live in it. It's unclear if that idea disturbs very many Sunrise residents, because the commission meeting was as poorly attended by the public as a Panthers game.

"We can't just stop every single development that comes to this city because of a few people," Commissioner Joey Scuotto said during the meeting. "We're all believers in this project. The residents aren't here tonight because obviously they don't see it as a burden to the city."

Though it seems like a shoe-in at this point, there are still more things that need to happen for the project to get off the ground. Commissioners need to approve a master plan and an in-site plan next. If all goes well, Metropica's developers want to start digging early next year.

Send your story tips to the author, Allie Conti.

Follow Allie Conti on Twitter: @allie_conti