Friday, December 16, 2016

#1 Story for 2016: $4 Billion Dream: Miami to Get Largest Mall in America

The American Dream is alive and well in the minds of mega-developer Triple Five Group. The family-owned conglomerate, is preparing to build the nation’s largest shopping mall and entertainment complex on more than 200 acres of former cow pasture by Interstate 75 and Florida’s Turnpike, near Hialeah in northwestern Miami-Dade County. 

The massive $4 billion project is being backed by the developer of the Mall of America in Minnesota, presently the largest entertainment and retail complex in the United States.

Some of the components include a 16-story indoor ski slope, a 20-slide water park, a submarine ride in a man-made salt water lake with an artificial reef, a climate-controlled theme park, a 14-screen 3-D movie theater, a performing arts center, a 2,000-room hotel and much, much more.

The mall would also have 3.5 million square feet of retail space. In contrast, Aventura Mall, the third-largest mall in the U.S. and Florida’s biggest, has 2.7 million square feet of retail.

When completed, American Dream Miami encompass 6.2 million square feet, making it the largest shopping mall and entertainment complex in the United States.

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The project is expected to create some 25,000 construction jobs, 9,500 permanent jobs, and will provide a historic boost to the county’s economy.

The mega-mall would add $1.36 billion in taxable value and generate $1.6 billion in annual sales of goods, services and leases. That would generate $48.5 million in revenue for local taxing authorities, such as the county and the school board, and $93.6 million in sales tax for the state.

Triple Five Group hopes to break ground in early 2017 and complete the project in late 2019.

The Canadian-based development company is controlled by the billionaire Ghermezian family, which has ventures in real estate development, solar energy, oil drilling, vehicle manufacturing and mining.

This will not be the family’s first super-mall. In 1981, Triple Five built the 5.3 million-square-foot West Edmonton Mall in Alberta. Now the largest mall in North America, West Edmonton Mall has a giant water park, carnival rides, a casino and other forms of amusement.

In 1992 the Ghermezians had co–developed the 4.2 million-square-foot Mall of America in Minnesota, with an aquarium and the Nickelodeon Universe theme park among its features.

The Mall of America is the largest shopping mall in the United States; Triple Five recently broke ground on a $325 million project to expand it further.

Triple Five is also constructing American Dream Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey, a 4.8-million-square-foot retail and entertainment facility near MetLife Stadium.

Using $2.5 billion in private bond money and $1 billion from the state of New Jersey, Triple Five will be building hundreds of stores, dozens of restaurants, a 12-story-tall ski slope, a 200-foot drop ride, a giant aquarium and a water park.

Monday, December 12, 2016

#2 Story for 2016: Massive Development Planned by Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody

A massive mixed-use development, known as High Street, will soon begin to rise across the street from the Dunwoody MARTA station, near the under construction State Farm campus. The project, which has been in the works for more than a year at the intersection of Hammond Drive and Perimeter Center Parkway, is just one of many that promise to bring density to the area previously dominated by Perimeter Mall, the epitome of 'suburbanization'.

Renderings from Boston-based GID Urban Development, offer a glimpse at a mini-city, complete with office high-rises and six-story apartments atop retail, all surrounding a large linear park.

The posh buildings offer an eclectic array of styles.

The 42-acre High Street development is conceived as a premier mixed-use project that will transform Atlanta's Perimeter Center area and become its urban heart.

High Street will provide a sophisticated mix of high-, mid- and low-rise buildings that integrate residential, retail, restaurant, office, hotel and parking uses with signature open spaces.

The project's master plan takes shape around a dynamic public space that forms the social core of the community.

A series of internal districts emphasize the kind of variety in architectural style and programmatic use that distinguishes authentically memorable urban settings.

Tree-lined streets and wide sidewalks accentuate the project's respect for pedestrians, deftly weaving High Street into the surrounding city.

Based on LEED Neighborhood Development principles, the project demonstrates a consistent commitment to green building and smart growth.

Upon completion, High Street will feature:
  • 8 million square feet of mixed-use space
  • 400,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space
  • 3,000 residential units
  • 1 million square feet of Class-A office space
  • 750 hotel rooms
  • 8,500 parking spaces
  • New streets, landscaped promenades, signature parks and plazas

Energizing its living and work dynamic, High Street includes a distinctive retail and restaurant scene that will draw residents, workers, consumers and visitors.

Its adjacency to the local MARTA rail system will make High Street a destination attraction and an icon of sustainable, transit-oriented development.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

#3 Story for 2016: Two 30-Story Condo Towers to Rise in West Palm Beach

Billionaire developer Jeff Greene has received approval from the City of West Palm to construct a $250 million mixed-use project at 550 North Quadrille Boulevard. The buildings will be shiny modern and massive – and the tallest in the city.

The 829,000-square-foot development, called One West Palm, will include two 30-story towers, retail shops, restaurants, office space, a hotel and luxury condominiums.

The project, which takes up an entire block on the north side of downtown, will be comprised of two modern towers that look like stacked blocks, designed by Arquitectonica of Miami.

The ground level will feature retail shops, restaurants and corner parks. One tower includes 410,000 square feet of Class A office space. The other will feature a five-star hotel with 209 guest suites and 84 luxury condos above that.

The 3.3-acre project also features a day-care center and a 34,000-square-foot fitness center that includes indoor tennis courts — to complement the plan’s outdoor tennis courts.

The residential building also will include a high-end restaurant and bar on the top floor.

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The project, which will be one of the most complex and architecturally advanced developments in the city’s history, will be financed with a construction loan and equity put up by Mr. Greene.

The developer hopes to break ground on the project within three months and finish building it two years later.

“There’s nothing like it in West Palm Beach, maybe even all of Palm Beach County,” Greene says. The development provides one-stop living for upscale professionals.

“There’s everything you can imagine that you’d need, right across the bridge from Palm Beach,” the developer said. The bridge entrance lies on Quadrille, one-and-a-half blocks east of the project.

There is tremendous demand for office space in West Palm Beach, given that the last Class A building to open was CityPlace Tower at 520 Okeechobee Boulevard in 2008 — and that was the first one built since 1989.

The market for rental apartments and condominiums is very strong in West Palm Beach, and as for the hotel, there are none in the area that have the luxury amenities which are planned.

It’s the biggest of well over $1 billion in projects coming out of the ground or about to in West Palm, as one vacant downtown lot after another fills with apartment towers, hotels, shops, restaurants and an All Aboard Florida station to draw 30-plus trains a day.

The old city hall’s being redeveloped, as is the marina property in front of it. The Bristol luxury condo is about to rise from the former site of the Chapel by the Lake, on South Flagler Drive.

Developer Jeff Greene, a Palm Beach billionaire, has quickly become downtown’s biggest landowner, snapping up properties in and around the business district.

Just west of downtown, he recently completed a 548-apartment project called Cameron Estates.

And he just closed on another 11 acres on the Clear Lake waterfront next to it, between Okeechobee Boulevard and I-95. North of downtown, he has assembled land near Currie Park for residential development and possibly a Publix.

The developer recently acquired a 3.21-acre property at 419 Lakeview Avenue, a few blocks east of CityPlace, for $24 million, where he has plans to construct a five-star hotel, luxury condominiums, and a Class A office tower.

He plans to build high-end amenities, such a fitness center, indoor tennis courts, and a food and beverage program by a celebrity chef.

Friday, December 2, 2016

#4 Story for 2016: Hard Rock to Build 800-Room Guitar-Shaped Hotel & Casino

The oversized guitar has long been a beacon for the Hard Rock Casino chain, but the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood is looking to take to take that iconic symbol to new heights.

Plans for a colossal guitar-shaped hotel tower stretching 34 stories and containing 800 rooms were unveiled this week during a news conference with Gov. Rick Scott.

The tower is the feature attraction in the Seminole Tribe's $1.8 billion expansion plans. The structure looks every bit a guitar in scale but doesn't have a neck.

"We could have easily just built some rectangular building ... but the tribe is once again trying to create something that is iconic, that creates international tourism coming to Florida," said Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen. "We truly believe that that design alone will create additional tourism."

The expansion plans, contingent on the Legislature's approval of a deal brokered between the tribe and the governor, include the hotel tower and restaurants. The expansion is expected to bring nearly 20,000 jobs to Florida, the Seminoles said.

The hotel will increase the complex's rooms to 1,273 and add five new restaurants, a buffet and nightclub at its complex on U.S. 441 north of Sterling Road.

The tribe is committed to rivaling Las Vegas and other casino destinations around the world. "We truly think this will rival not only anything in Florida, but Atlantis and anything in the world," Allen said, pointing to an artist rendering on an easel.

The expansion includes spending almost $100 million on swimming pool space, Allen said. The plan adds a second pool and new pool bar. "Florida is about pools and the beaches and the ocean."

He said that while the aim is to create a destination that will continue to attract crowds many years from now, the expansion doesn't stretch far beyond the casino's current footprint.

While Allen focused on the Hollywood expansion, he also discussed plans for the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa, which will have new poker rooms, stores and restaurants.

The Tampa hotel and casino will also add a new tower with 500 hotel rooms and a live entertainment venue with up to 2,000 seats.

For the more affluent gamblers, there will be a helipad.

Scott asked numerous questions during the presentation. His verdict at the end: "Impressive."

Several business owners who work with the Seminole Tribe stood at a microphone and discussed how their businesses had been affected by the casinos.

A flower shop owner who started working with the Seminoles in 2010, said her business has grown from five employees to more than 100 full-and part-time employees. She said she buys and installs over 35,000 flowers annually at the casino.

From the onset, the emphasis was jobs. "It would be devastating" if the proposed deal doesn't pass.
Scott rehashed the numbers: 3,800 jobs lost if the gambling deal isn't signed and 4,800 direct and indirect jobs created, outside of construction jobs, if it passes.

The gambling deal would bring $3 billion to the state over the next seven years. In return, the Seminoles would get the exclusive right to have roulette, craps and other table games in its seven casinos.

The deal also caps the number of slots and tables casinos can have, but critics point out that the caps are so large they are essentially meaningless, including a 6,000-slot limit at any one casino.

The agreement also states that the Legislature can approve new casinos in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, a limited amount of blackjack tables in parimutuels and even allowing the race tracks to stop racing and simply operate as casinos.