Aerial view of Sawgrass Mills mall in Sunrise, Florida

The Sawgrass Mills mall – touted as “the largest outlet and value retail shopping destination in the United States” – is currently faced with at least eight unpaid construction claims worth millions as the Sunrise, FL shopping center undergoes renovations.

Contractors hired to work on multimillion-dollar common area renovations for the 2.29 million-square-foot shopping center in Sunrise have filed $2.5M in mechanics liens. These claims were raised against the Sawgrass Mills’ property owner and the general contractor as of February 2019. A mechanics lien helps contractors force payment by preventing a property’s sale or refinancing until their unpaid work claim has been removed, or thus paid for.

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On May 18, 2020, Sawgrass Mills and other South Florida shopping malls reopened their doors amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As of August 20, 2020, the State of Florida has reported over 588K confirmed coronavirus cases.

A representative from Sawgrass Mills could not be reached for comment.

Eight Contractors Place $2.5M in Combined Lien Claims Against the Sawgrass Mills Mall

The eight contractors are owed a total of $2,572,488.99 for work taking place at the Sawgrass Mills shopping mall, located at 12801 W Sunrise Blvd, Sunrise, FL.

According to the lien affidavits, the largest mechanics lien was filed by the project’s general contractor, Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, against property owner Sunrise Mills (MLP) Limited Partnership.

On July 13, 2020, Whiting-Turner Contracting Company placed a lien valued at $2,018,205.58 on the Sawgrass Mills mall for general contracting services from March of 2019 until April of 2020. Whiting-Turner Contracting Company’s lien represents 78% of the total funds still withheld from the eight contractors.

Three subcontractors have now filed liens against Whiting-Turner Contracting Company pursuant to their contract with the general contractor. In total, Whiting-Turner Contracting Company owes at least $220,324 in unpaid work claims from the Sawgrass Mills renovation project.

Subcontractor TWS Fabricators, Inc. filed the largest lien against Whiting-Turner Contracting Company pursuant to Florida’s mechanics lien statutes. On August 10, 2020, the subcontractor filed a lien claiming $125,596 from their general contractor.

A representative from Whiting-Turner Contracting Company’s Ft. Lauderdale office declined to comment on the situation at Sawgrass Mills.

The second-largest lien filed to date at the Sawgrass Mills shopping center is valued at $204,875. Subcontractor AGILE Construction Group, LLC filed the lien back on February 7, 2019, against an Asian Chao restaurant being constructed at the mall.

Multimillion-Dollar Renovations at Sawgrass Mills

The Sawgrass Mills renovation project is set to be completed in time for the mall’s 30-year anniversary in October 2020.

The renovations to the shopping center are mainly focused on the property’s common areas. The Miami Herald reported in October 2019 that the renovations will work to improve Sawgrass Mills’ WiFi capacity, add charging stations, modernize food courts, and additional changes. The Regal Sawgrass & IMAX Theater is also experiencing renovations, along with the construction of a new 174-room AC Marriott hotel.

Sawgrass Mills is the second-largest mall in South Florida, trailing behind the Esplanade at Aventura shopping center, which is currently subject to 25 mechanics liens totaling $23.1M.

According to the Miami Herald, Sawgrass Mills in South Florida’s No. 1 visitor destination.

Florida Malls Face Liens Amidst Pandemic Pain

Including the Sawgrass Mills, at least four malls in the metro Miami area have been subject to mechanics lien filings as of August 2020. In total, over $35M are owed to 51 contractors from work taking place at the Westfield Broward Mall in Plantation, FL, the Esplanade at Aventura shopping center in Miami, and Miami’s CocoWalk Shopping Center.

According to The New York Times, the coronavirus pandemic is only making matters worse for shopping malls in Florida. The NYT reported in August 2020 that foot traffic was down 50% and 37% at the Esplanade at Aventura and Sawgrass Mills shopping malls, respectively, as of mid-July.