1.3 Million SF Retail Center Coming To Dania

At one time, it was known as the tallest wooden amusement park ride in Florida: the mighty Hurricane roller coaster.
Today, the Hurricane is little more than a 100-foot-tall timber statue sitting silently next to Interstate 95 in Dania Beach. Its thrills and chills screeched to a halt when it closed in 2011 in a sour economy. The coaster was supposed to be demolished or disassembled but never was.
Now the end may be coming.
The roller coaster sits among 100 acres that Bob Shapiro, president of Aventura-based Master Development, is assembling to build DaniaLive Marketplace. The 1.3 million-square-foot “open air” shopping center would combine big-box stores, restaurants, a hotel and apartments. Imagine something three times the size of the Village at Gulfsteam Park in Hallandale Beach.
Shapiro said he expects to complete land deals with eight owners after he gains a series of approvals from the city this fall. Under that scenario, the Hurricane would be taken down early next year, he said.
City officials are counting on the project to energize an industrial area surrounding Stirling and Bryan roads.
“The roller coaster is an eyesore, in my opinion,” Mayor Walter Duke said. “It’s not something you want sitting around in your city.”
Shapiro and Duke say DaniaLive also would mean the closing of Boomers, the entertainment complex on Northwest First Street adjacent to the roller coaster. A Boomers spokeswoman said in an email last week that she could not comment on the future of the recreation center known for its Go Karts, batting cages and laser tag.
Dallas-based Realty Income Corp. leases land to Boomers, which controls the roller coaster, Shapiro said.
On July 22, Dania Beach city commissioners signed off on a first round of zoning changes for two parcels that would help clear the way for Shapiro’s project. If he gets additional approvals, as expected, he would sign leases and start construction.
Shapiro hopes the first phase of DaniaLive would open in late 2015, though he said that could be pushed back to 2016.
“I think this is a game-changer for Broward County,” he said.
The $150 million to $250 million development north of Stirling and just east of Interstate 95 would be one of the largest shopping centers in Broward.
Shapiro, who says he has been working on the venture for two years, also envisions “white-table-cloth” restaurants, casual dining spots and quick-service eateries.
“People travel on their stomachs,” he said. “We think the restaurants will attract people from all over Broward County.”
DaniaLive also would feature 300 to 360 apartments and a 160- to 180-room hotel. Shapiro estimates the project could bring 4,000 to 5,000 construction jobs and roughly the same number of permanent jobs.
South Florida retail analysts say the project wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago because lender financing wasn’t available. But the economy is improving, interest rates remain low and developers can buy property at reasonable rates, analysts say.
“That one particular area has really been overlooked by developers,” said Alan Bush, chief strategy officer for Northlake Partners, a retail consultancy based in West Palm Beach. “One of the things you don’t see in that part of Broward County is the ability to build something of scale, and what Dania Beach offers is the ability to develop property of large scale.
“When you have the Dania Beach project under construction, others will buy property in the area,” he said. “It will be good for more than just the 1.3 million square feet. It bodes well for surrounding areas.”
Barry M. Wolfe, vice president of investments at Marcus & Millichap in Fort Lauderdale, said the development would attract tourists from Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
“It sounds like a very exciting project,” Wolfe said. “I think it will be a very positive addition. The roller coaster is not active, not doing anything for the area or the city.”
Shapiro, a longtime developer, said he has 6 million to 7 million square feet in his portfolio. He developed the Northridge Shopping Center in Fort Lauderdale and also renovated the old Delray Beach Mall into an outdoor center. He said DaniaLive would be his largest undertaking.
Duke, the Dania Beach mayor, stressed that DaniaLive still isn’t a done deal, but he said he’s confident Shapiro has the track record to complete the project.
“We turned down developers who wanted to build distribution warehouses there in the past couple of years, and we hated to do it because we’re so eager to increase the tax base,” Duke said. “But we did it, hoping there might be a better use for the property.
Source:  SunSentinel



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