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MIAMI-Dadeland Mall won permission in 1996 to add 800,000 sf to a shopping center opened in 1962 and since then frequently renovated and built to its present size of 1.4 million sf and 200 tenants.

Located at the intersection of US 1 and Kendall Drive and anchored by Burdine’s, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and JC Penney, the mall is reputedly one of the country’s ten highest-grossing shopping centers with annual sales of $558 million.

Plagued by delays, the proposed mall expansion never came off. In 1997, the Indianapolis-based Simon Property REIT purchased a 50% interest in the complex and assumed full management responsibilities.

In 1999, a new zoning ordinance was adopted setting strict rules for how developers must build in the district, which is anchored by two Metrorail stations and Kendall Drive, from Dixie Highway to the Palmetto Expressway. Dadeland was given five years to pull together the necessary building permits for the addition.

But work has yet to begin, and at an Oct. 19 Miami-Dade Commission hearing, mall ownership will seek to extend the deadline for starting the new construction from 2004 to 2009. Even if the mall succeeds, it may need a further exemption from the new zoning ordinance.

Representatives of the mall say the zoning regulations are so tough that if they were to go forward with current expansion plans they would have to raze portions of the present center to make way for new streets.

Supporters of the plan for a more pedestrian-friendly Downtown Kendall counter that as long as the building permits for the mall addition are obtained before December 2004, nothing now standing would have to be removed. They further argue there is ample time over the next four years for mall ownership to get its construction act together.

Simon Property has taken to cyberspace to fight its battle via a website: www.savedadeland.com. The zoning ordinance is called a “disastrous mistake” that people in the area don’t yet recognize.

The opposition claims the regulations represent a new vision for Kendall that would reverse years of bad planning and suburban sprawl.

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