Dania Pointe center expected to be a major regional draw
Four months after knocking down the longstanding wooden roller coaster in Dania Beach, developers are moving forward with plans to replace it with an $800 million shopping and entertainment mecca featuring major restaurants and retailers, apartments and condominiums and a walkable Main Street.
Leasing has started for Dania Pointe, just east of Interstate 95 at Stirling and Bryan roads, said Paul Puma, president of the Southern Region for Kimco Realty Corp. Construction is expected to begin early next year on the 102-acre site, he said, and the 300,000-square-foot first phase is on track to open for the holiday season of 2017.
"Those buildings will go up fast," Puma said. "[The retailers] are motivated, and so are we."
Puma said he has leasing commitments for about half of the first phase. No tenants have been announced, but they will be a mix of restaurants, "big box" retailers and smaller merchants, he said.
The Hurricane, the 100-foot-tall coaster, was a familiar sight for I-95 commuters. It opened in 2000 and quickly became a hit. In later years, though, the appeal faded, and the coaster closed in 2011 following the economic downturn. City officials wanted the choice property used for a new development.
Construction on Dania Pointe's 550,000-square-foot second phase is expected to start in 2018. It will include additional shops and restaurants, including fashion and home furnishings chains, a Main Street and open spaces for entertainment and special events, Puma said.
"If people don't want to shop, they can still stroll the Main Street and enjoy themselves," Puma said. "It's a project that we think will be a destination in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area."
The second phase also will have two hotels, 1,000 residential units and 500,000 square feet of offices. The entire project will be built over several years, Puma said.
Master Development and Salzman Real Estate Advisors are partnering with Kimco on the outdoor project.
Waiting to build the condos and apartments will allow the developers to avoid what some observers see as a softening taking place now in the housing market, said Jack McCabe, an analyst in Deerfield Beach.
"Timing is so important," he said. "There's a lot of concern lately about a slowdown in sales and construction financing in the marketplace."
David Duckworth, principal of Capital Markets for the Avison Young commercial real estate brokerage, said open-air centers are replacing enclosed malls as community hubs that offer patrons a variety of experiences.
"I think it's going to be a total home run," he said of Dania Pointe.
Puma said he expects the project to draw people from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. However, Greg Masin, senior director of retail brokerage services for Cushman & Wakefield, wonders how many Palm Beach County residents will consistently patronize Dania Pointe.
Still, Masin said there's more than enough of a population base in Miami-Dade and Broward to support the center.
Masin said the popularity of Amazon.com has changed the retail industry, but he sees Dania Pointe as a major regional draw in South Florida, given its size and proximity to I-95.
"People still need a place to go and chill," Masin said. "I believe it's going to be successful. If what they're promising they actually deliver —and I have no reason to believe they won't — then what they're creating is an environment that doesn't exist in Broward County today."