By: Kristen Hernandez

Pompano Beach, FL — The iconic Festival Marketplace is currently under contract to be sold to Atlanta-based IDI Logistics. In about two years, the 400,000 square foot local shopping mecca may be demolished to make way for an industrial warehouse complex that would transform the 23.8-acre property into a distribution headquarters.

The front office is still leasing space, although for a term of “one, maybe two years.” Marketplace workers are operating “business as usual,” according to an employee. However, vendor capacity is minimal and major blow-out sales were the norm among the skeletal layout.

Buyer IDI Logistics has filed a zoning change request with the city’s Planning and Zoning Board stating, “The impacts of COVID-19 will likely impact the way people shop well into the future which will continue to reduce the need for brick-and-mortar stores as people continue to do much of the shopping online.” The request will make its way through both the Pompano Beach and the Broward County Commissions. The developer still must file a detailed site plan.

Yorum Izhuk, current owner and CEO of IMC Management told the Sun Sentinel during a phone interview he’s promised Festival Marketplace’s more than 200 vendors, “They will have time to plan their life,” because IMC “made and agreement with [the buyer] that we won’t give them the property before 2 ½ years.”

IMC purchased Festival Marketplace in 2018 for $56 million, initially intending to revive the dying shopper’s paradise in 2021. The mega-management organization also owns several dozens of retail establishments throughout South Florida and one of them could be the site of a new marketplace. “We [also] live in South Florida,” said Izhuk, “and we are very sensitive to the incomes of people. Most of our [tenants] will have spaces in our other properties.”

The location of Festival Marketplace between major Florida thoroughfares makes 2900 Sample Road ideal for a distribution complex. According to IDI’s application, “This access will increase the efficiency and speed of delivery of goods to customers and also provides efficiency in delivery of goods to businesses located in the industrial warehouse space.” Quick entry to I-95, Florida Turnpike, and the Sawgrass Expressway could transform the property into a major distribution hub. A warehouse of this size would also potentially bring thousands of new jobs to locals in the surrounding communities.

Unfortunately, the closure means that many small business owners would be displaced. Businesses such as the New York Pickle Company will be closing its’ doors permanently. The Pickle Company’s owner, Iris Young, will retire be unless someone buys the business and can afford a new location.

Upset locals have organized an online petition to Save The Festival Marketplace. The petition can be found here at change.org. It’s a call to the Development Review Committee, along with City and County Commissioners to reject the application to demolish the property. The petition states that “dozens of small businesses and employees will have nowhere to go.” The signatures required for the petition to be effective are about halfway fulfilled.

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