Friday, March 24, 2017

Miami's $4 Billion Dream: Build the 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.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

2,400+ Hotel Rooms Planned for Booming West Palm Beach

Tourism is booming in Palm Beach, and so are plans for construction of several of new hotels. Plans are being dusted off for a hotel on Clematis Street, in the heart of downtown. Meanwhile, a new hotel outside the downtown is in the works.

In addition, a controversial plan to build a hotel at the Palm Harbor Marina on the waterfront downtown just won a major legal battle, paving the way for construction of the 8-story, 108-room hotel.

Combined with all other planned or proposed hotels, West Palm Beach could be looking at more than 2,400 hotel rooms opening during the next two to three years.

The timing is good: A record-breaking 7.35 million visitors came to Palm Beach County in 2016, a 5.8 increase over 2015’s level, according to county tourism officials.

The increase marks the eighth consecutive year of tourism growth in the county, according to Discover the Palm Beaches, the county’s official tourism marketing organization.

Downtown, Robert Samuels of Provident Jewelry is reviving plans to build the Hotel Clematis, a 94-room boutique hotel at 335 Clematis Street.

In 2012, Samuels received city approval to build up to 10 stories, but wasn’t able to line up a suitable hotel partner with financing. That’s ready to change with the growth of the downtown and the strong demand by major chains seeking urban locations for their hip boutique brands.

Also helping bolster construction: A recent report showing a big jump in hotel occupancy and room rates. The report showed average daily room rates in West Palm Beach now close to the mid-$200s per night, up from $140 six years ago. Average occupancy also rose to more than 70 percent, up from 47 percent.

Hotel Clematis is designed to have an entrance and elevator on Clematis, allowing diners to go directly to the planned third-floor restaurant and garden terrace overlooking the busy street.

Meanwhile, over at the Palm Harbor Marina, it’s full steam ahead for a long-planned hotel. The marina is at 400 North Flagler Drive.

Plans include a grand ballroom, a trendy restaurant and bar and a rooftop pool. The developer expects the hotel to open by 2019. Although a hotel brand has yet to be selected, the Marriott and Wyndham brands are both in contention.

Other new hotels will include:

• Developers of the old city hall site plan to build a 210-room Autograph Hotel by Marriott, plus 251 apartments, 19,000 square feet of retail and 11,493 square feet of restaurant space. The property is east of Olive Avenue between Banyan Boulevard and Second Street.

• One West Palm, a twin-tower, mixed-use project by Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene. Greene plans to build 201 hotel units, plus 209,405 square feet of office space and 328 apartments. 

• Sunview Companies of Miami plans to build two eight-story hotels along the Rosemary Avenue corridor. A 224-room Indigo Hotel would be at Railroad Avenue, between Third and Fourth streets, while a 218-room Aloft would be on the west side of the block, facing Rosemary Avenue.

• Finally, a group planning to build a 14-story, 150-room Canopy Hotel next to the Two City Plaza condominium is moving forward with building permits.

Investors say hotels are good for downtown businesses, and vice versa.

Having the 400-room Hilton West Palm Beach hotel now open adjacent to the convention center allows the venue to book larger events, which in turn creates greater demand for hotel rooms.

So strong is the success of the Hilton’s first year that The Related Cos. is likely to build another, 200-room Hilton brand next door, according to Ken Himmel, chief executive.

But new hotel plans aren’t limited to downtown West Palm Beach:

Outside of downtown, an investment group wants to build a 160-room hotel along Interstate 95, on vacant land behind Rachel’s Gentlemen’s Club, an upscale strip club at 2905 45th Street.

Last year, as spring training fever heated up with construction of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, they decided to get the 2.7-acre vacant land ready for development, a process that will be completed within six to eight weeks.

The 45th Street hotel marks the second new hotel tied to baseball.

Last month, the Houston Astros paid $6.5 million for one of three towers that make up the Forum office complex at the northeast corner of the boulevard and Congress Avenue. The empty office tower will be transformed into a 197-room hotel.

It will be used by the Astros to house players, coaches and support staff during spring training every January, February and March. The rest of the year, the hotel will be available to the public.

The Astros would like to open their hotel by 2018.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Aston Martin Guns for Piece of Miami's Luxury Condo Market

Aston Martin is the latest luxury brand to gun for a piece of South Florida’s condo market. The British car maker — known for giving James Bond his wheels since Goldfinger — announced that it will partner with wealthy Argentine developers on a 66-story condo tower called the Aston Martin Residences at the mouth of the Miami River in downtown Miami.

The 817-foot luxury tower will include a spa and pool deck on levels 53 through 55, units with private elevators, 561 indoor parking spaces and a lighthouse on the top floor. Prices will range from $2,000,000 to $8,500,000 for conventional units; with penthouses priced up to $50,000,000.

A team from Aston Martin will design the building’s common areas and amenities, including lobbies, fitness centers and spa.

The company wants to make its mark “in all the cities where it’s important to be, and Miami is one of those,” said Katia Bassi, a vice president at Aston Martin.

Argentina’s Coto family, which paid a record $125 million two years ago for the vacant waterfront land next to the Epic Hotel, says it has enough horsepower to get the 391-unit project going.

Three factors will work in the tower’s favor, developer German Coto said at a press conference:
•    A brand name with global appeal.
•    A coveted location where the Miami River meets Biscayne Bay.
•    The Coto Family, with pockets so deep they can afford to build the high rise without a loan.

“We plan to give buyers a unique experience,” Coto said. “That’s why we thought about Aston Martin, because we’re talking about luxury, we’re talking about authenticity.”

Renderings show a soaring, sail-shaped structure, necessitated by the long and narrow site on the Miami River’s north bank.

Pricing hasn’t been set but will be competitive with the most expensive downtown condos - that means at least $1,000 per square foot.

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The Argentine developer plans to break ground this summer, with a completion date for the massive tower set in 2021, when the financial climate is expected to have improved.

The Aston Martin’s brand, as well as a prime location, will help the project stand out in a crowded market.

The Miami River, once an industrial waterway popular with drug runners, is now teeming with development. New condo and restaurant projects are going up on both banks. Developers eager for waterfront land have been snatching up properties.

The Coto family, one of Argentina’s wealthiest, owes its fortune to a national chain of supermarkets in Argentina. Coto Supermercado says it has annual sales of over $5 billion and employs 25,000 workers. It is also developing mixed-use residential and commercial projects around new supermarkets.

-    Developers are building Porsche Design Tower and Residences by Armani/Casa in Sunny Isles Beach.
-    Another team is developing Fendi Chateau Residences in Surfside.
-    Doronin has enlisted the Italian fashion house of Missoni for his Edgewater tower.
-    Two projects branded by Ritz-Carlton are also underway.

When built, the Aston Martin project will also connect a gap in Miami’s Riverwalk. The vacant site hasn’t been linked up to the city’s growing public walking trail. As part of an agreement with the Miami River Commission, which unanimously approved the project in April, the developers will build the riverwalk at 24 feet wide.

“It’s a grand building, the kind you’ll see on postcards,” said Horacio Stuart Aguirre, the river commission’s chairman. “And it does not detract from the enjoyment of the waterfront by regular people.”