A Coral Gables outdoor mall is luring new stores at a time when national retail closures are making headlines, exemplifying the strong retailing sector in South Florida.
The three-story Shops at Merrick Park, at 358 San Lorenzo Ave., will welcome six retailers by fall, said Carlos Limontes, senior general manager. It’s a sign, Limontes said, of businesses placing big bets on the established and booming Coral Gables, as well as the continuing migration of wealthy newcomers to the wider region.
The mall’s Mediterranean-style architecture, featuring limestone columns, terracotta rooftops and outdoor fountains, blends with the Gables.
The incoming stores include: sustainable home furnishings seller Arhaus; cigar vendor Coco Cigars; nonalcoholic spirits retailer Boisson; luxury men’s and women’s shoes, clothing and accessories retailer Louis Vuitton; yoga clothier Alo Yoga; and casual American clothing seller Splendid.
These tenants will replace some well-known stores like Artefacto, the high-end Brazilian furniture store which operates a mammoth-sized location nearby in the city on U.S. 1.
In recent months, South Florida malls Aventura, Dadeland, Brickell City Centre and Sawgrass Mills have also announced new tenants. The retailing upswing here runs contrary to much of the rest of the country, where online shopping and home delivery of goods have crushed malls. Nationwide, for example, financial challenges have caused Bed Bath & Beyond to close all of its stores, while Bath & Body Works and Foot Locker are contracting. Also, department store chains Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, usually mall anchors, are closing stores in certain cities.
The reason for success at Shops at Merrick Park is its location, Limontes said. “You can see all of the growth in Coral Gables,” he said. “People want to live here, work here and shop here.”
The 18-acre shopping area sits off of U.S. 1 and close to the Douglas Road metrorail station, conveniently situated for those living outside of trendy Coral Gables to come and shop. It also draws customers from nearby offices, apartments and condominiums. Since the retailing destination opened in 2002, the surrounding area in the Gables continues flourishing with real estate development.
Owned by New York-based real estate development and management firm Brookfield Properties, Merrick Park has room for about 100 stores and restaurants. There are only two vacancies.
Gabriel Monti, co-founder of French clothing brand Eden Park, opened in the Gables mall a year ago. The retailer has 60 locations worldwide since starting in 1987. It has two stores in the United States — one in Miami and another in Boston. Monti said he’s seen customer growth over the past few months.
“It is a little harder than before, but this is the world we are living in now,” Monti said. “If you have the right product at the right time at the right place, you are going to succeed. That’s why we choose a small quantity of stores. The old mindset in the retail used to be big spaces, no attention to clients. Now, you need to provide something to the client, have that relationship, if not you can buy over the internet. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Here are the retailers plus ballet dance school slated to open at Shops at Merrick Park:
▪ Alo Yoga, fall.
▪ Arhaus, fall.
▪ Boisson, summer.
▪ Coco Cigars, summer.
▪ Louis Vuitton, summer.
▪ Splendid, summer.
▪ Miami Royal Ballet Dance School, summer.