Monday, April 2, 2012

Miller Heights Shopping Center Renovation - Facade Update

Miller Heights Shopping Center

Unlike fine wines... shopping centers do not get better with age

When the Miller Heights Shopping Center was constructed in 1965, it stood out within the community because it was one of the only retail shopping centers along SW 56th Street (Miller Road, a/k/a Miller Drive) in Miami, Florida.  Because a drainage canal originally ran through the middle of the now busy Miller Road, there was only one-lane roads going East and West, and it was difficult for cars traveling westbound to turn left into the shopping center.  Consequently, the Miller Heights Shopping Center was surrounded by a sea of residential homes and communities.

Once the drainage canal was covered by an expanding street, Miller Road became a major thoroughfare within Miami-Dade County.  However, because the area was already populated by an ever-growing residential community, there was little opportunity for the development of other commercial properties within the dense residential neighborhoods.  Thus, despite being located nearly 2 miles West of the Palmetto Expressway (State Road 826), the Miller Heights Shopping Center still remains the very first shopping center along Miller Drive when exiting West off the Palmetto Expressway.    

It Was Time For A Change

Aside from a recently renovated pole sign, the look and feel of the Miller Heights Shopping Center remained relatively the same from when it was built.  Despite enduring various hurricanes and fires, the retail center continued to survive.  Customers and patrons continuously filled up the parking lot.  The shopping center also had very little turnover, with tenants preferring to continue operating their businesses at this old but popular building.

Here is a recent picture of the Miller Heights Shopping Center before it underwent a facade transformation.  Aside from the recently renovated pole sign, the building looked the same as it did when it was first constructed.

Miller Heights Shopping Center before facade renovations

Location, Location, Location... is not always good enough

Despite its aged look and old exterior, being situated along a tremendously busy street, with a traffic light allowing customers to easily enter from traveling in either direction, the Miller Heights Shopping Center continued to fill up its parking lot, and tenants rarely moved out.  It seemed that no matter how bad the shopping center looked in appearance, it never appeared to deter customers from coming.

Yet, as the property management company for the Miller Heights Shopping Center, Sharpe Properties knew the retail center desperately needed a major face-lift.  According to Mason Sharpe, Vice President of property management and leasing at Sharpe Properties, "We are grateful the local community still continues to shop at the Miller Heights Shopping Center despite its old age and dated appearance.  We want to return the favor, by giving the community a shopping center that stands out as being one of the best around."

What Makes A Better Shopping Center?

Change is not always for the better.  If Sharpe Properties was going to upgrade the Miller Heights Shopping Center, they wanted to know what was needed to provide a better quality shopping experience to the community. So Sharpe sought advice straight from the experts... tenants!

International Council of Shopping Centers logo
To provide a great shopping experience for customers at the new and improved Miller Heights Shopping Center, Sharpe had to create an environment for stores and restaurants to attract the customers to the shopping center.  In order to accomplish this, Sharpe attended an annual conference in Las Vegas, provided by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).  At the ICSC Event, Sharpe surveyed national tenants involving food and beverage,  such as Subway, Starbucks, Chipotle, and Panda Express; as well as retail tenants including Verizon, Regis Salons, CVS, and Walgreens; and asked them "what can a shopping center do to help you attract more customers?"

Here is a partial list of items that were most important to national tenants spoken to at the ICSC Vegas event:
  • Elevated tenant signage
  • Attractive tenant signage
  • Shopping Center is "eye catching" during day and night
  • Storefront windows allow customers full visibility inside store
  • Plenty of customer parking

Building Upgrades Made Per Tenant Requests

Based upon the advice provided by the national tenants at the ICSC Event, the Miller Heights Shopping Center facelift will provide:
  • Elevated tenant signage area from 13 - 15 feet off the ground, up to 50 feet
elevated tenant signage area

  • All tenants will have individual lit reverse channel letter signage, with white L.E.D lighting

  • Along with the above tenant signage, the building will be attractive at night by having the top sections for both Towers splash colorful L.E.D lights along the wall, similar to what was done within the picture below:

blue led lights splash along entire wall

  • Replacing all storefronts with high-end windstorm impact-resistant windows from floor to ceiling

hurricane impact resistant storefront windows

  • Expanding existing parking lot that added over 15 more parking spots
Miller Heights Shooping Center - tenant signage

  • Brand new roof (roofing system, decking, and insulation)

Finished Look

After compiling all of the input provided by national tenants over at the ICSC Vegas Event, Sharpe Properties retained the services of Azze Architecture to create the following proposed drawing of how the Miller Heights Shopping Center will look once finished.

Current Construction Status

Around late January, 2012, BRV Construction started the big renovation project, and has made tremendous progress within a short amount of time.  The picture below was taken March 30, 2012 after close to two (2) months of construction.  Within the below picture, the old facade has been removed, cement columns have been created throughout the building, two (2) large towers are halfway completed, and tremendous steel beams have already been formed to created the elevated tenant signage areas that will dramatically improve tenants' ability to grab the attention of all potential customers driving along Miller Drive throughout both day and night.

steel facade structures for tenant signage

More to Come

More progress reports on the Miller Heights Shopping Center renovations will be posted in the future.  For more information, please keep checking our Blog, and visit our website


  1. It is always nice to see an old shopping center like that get renewed. I live in Whitby Ontario and the mall here is just a disgrace. Is is long over due for a face lift but there are never enough customers in there to make it worth while. Even though the parking lot is always full of employees cars.

  2. Thanks for the great comment. Hopefully the owners of the mall near where you live will either realize it's time for a face lift, or sell it to another person that will make the necessary improvements.


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