South Florida Business Journal by Oscar Pedro Musibay, Reporter
Date: Monday, November 12, 2012, 12:02pm EST – Last Modified: Monday, November 12, 2012, 12:05pm EST
Oscar Pedro Musibay
Reporter- South Florida Business Journal
An executive connected with the owners of Las Olas Riverfront confirmed his group has had talks with All Aboard Florida about locating a station at the site.
“We have had numerous discussions with them. They are committing the resources to make it a reality,” said Dev Motwani, about the overall All Aboard Florida plan. Motwani is president and CFO of Merrimac Ventures, one of a group of investors who purchased the center for $16.7 million.
A spokeswoman for All Aboard was not immediately available for comment.
All Aboard Florida, a subsidiary of Flagler parent Florida East Coast Industries, is looking at Las Olas Riverfront and another site on Northwest Second Street for its downtown Fort Lauderdale station, an environmental impact study says.
Motwani would not characterize the possible relationship between the parties, which could include everything from a joint venture to an outright sale of part of the property. All Aboard Florida has already staked out some ground in West Palm Beach, placing a contract on land that could be home to a station.
As for downtown Fort Lauderdale, the Riverfront location is the most logical because All Aboard Florida is interested in developing and leveraging commercial development at and around the station. It’s also in the heart of the central business district, offering a unique opportunity to spur more investment.
The landlord has been in the process of renovating the shopping center adding tenants, but otherwise keeping the property as is. At one point, the prior owner had considered knocking down the entire center and replacing it with high-rise condo development, but that scenario seems to be out of line with the current market, according to real estate experts.
As the real estate recovery continues, there is new interest in development in and around the downtown including a new courthouse, which is under construction. Additionally, the city is planning the Wave street car, which could integrate the shopping center with the local transit network.
On the south side of the river, Asi Cymbal is interested in developing more than 1,000 rental apartments where The Pirate Republic Seafood Grill & Bar are located today.
Motwani said that his site makes the most sense, but even if All Aboard were to choose to locate the station to the north, the shops would still benefit because of its proximity, being only two blocks away.
He likened the potential of the linkage between the rail and his property to Time Warner Center and the Shops at Columbus Circle in New York City.
“There is definitely room for additional density,” said Motwani, about the neighborhood around the Riverfront shopping center. “It’s really a function of All Aboard’s needs.”