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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Developers for The Shops at Sunset Place along with city leaders in South Miami believe they are weeks away from a plan to bring more business and foot traffic.

For twelve years, Rosana Mattioni has run Nikki’s Beachhouse Boutique at its current spot on Sunset Drive in South Miami.

“We still have our customers, the regulars, since we’ve been here for so long,” Mattioni said.

Mattioni said the number of people checking out the racks of clothes has dropped.

“We don’t see the foot traffic that we used to see a few years ago,” Mattioni said.

Her business is right across the street from the Shops at Sunset Place, which has seen its popularity fade since replacing The Bakery Centre.

“It wasn’t a monumental flop. It was pretty popular at first. But it declined,” South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard said.

Stoddard also said the issue with Sunset Place stems from previous owners building an inward facing mall that doesn’t engage in street life.

Plus, shoppers still get wet when it rains. All of that, on top of a struggling retail industry.

“The north end has always been a disaster. It has never been a commercial success. The liveliest thing to ever be in there is the dead bodies’ exhibit,” Stoddard said.

New owners plan to demolish the area along busy US1 and Southwest 57th Avenue. Renderings show proposals for two residential towers and a hotel. There’s also a proposal for additional levels in the garage and revamping the retail area.

Last August, voters approved a measure that makes it easier for city commission to change land codes in this area, instead of a unanimous vote. That has made road to approval for redevelopment move faster.

“The group that’s behind the revamp, they know what they’re doing. They’re professional guys. They’ve done their research,” Jahn Kirchoff said.

Kirchoff owns Deli Lane Cafe and Sunset Tavern nearby. He believes the proposed changes will also help neighboring business in the area.

In November, the mayor counted 25 vacant stores in the Sunset Drive area, not including Sunset Place.

The mayor admits, people have expressed concerns about taller buildings, the lack of green space, and cost during discussions about revamping. However, Mationni believes it will be worth it, if approved.

“The property values will increase the same as rent, but it’ll be more vibrant environment than what we have now,” Mationni said.

The mayor of South Miami believes it could be sometime this spring when leaders will vote on a final plan to revamp Sunset Place.

Ty Russell

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