Around the State
Cary, North Carolina-based FAC Realty Trust, a shopping center real estate investment trust, announced plans to acquire 11 shopping centers in the southeastern U.S., valued at nearly $100 million, from privately held Konover & Associates. The combined entity will be spun off as Konover Property Trust and headed by Konover's founder, Simon Konover.
Republic Industries (NYSE-RII), parent of the AutoNation USA used car superstore chain, will eliminate 593 jobs from its five used-car reconditioning centers nationwide. The cuts, which represent 67% of its reconditioning work force, include 116 positions at its Miramar center.
Port Everglades announced the addition of three cruise lines - Premier Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Mediterranean Shipping Cruises - bringing to 12 the number of lines serviced at the port. Port Everglades is the second largest cruise port in the world, behind the Port of Miami.
Demaco, a worldwide manufacturer of industrial-size food processing equipment, will relocate its corporate headquarters to Melbourne from Ridgewood, N.Y. The company expects to employ 110 at its new 49,000-square-foot facility.
For the first time, full-time faculty members of Miami-Dade Community College (MDCC) approved a collective bargaining referendum, choosing United Faculty, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Florida Education Association/United, as their bargaining agent. MDCC is among the largest community colleges in the U.S.
Construction has begun on a 30,000-square-foot NikeTown retail/entertainment outlet, one of only 12 opened nationally by Oregon-based Nike Inc. Grand opening is scheduled for October at the new Sunset Place Shopping Center.
Jan Bell Marketing (ASE-JBM) announced plans to purchase Coral Gables-based Mayor's Jewelers for $92.8 million in cash, stock and assumption of debt. Jan Bell operates 447 leased jewelry department operations in Sam's Club outlets throughout the U.S.
WEST PALM BEACH
In anticipation of a proposed downtown convention center, West Palm Beach-based Servico Inc. (NYSE-SER) purchased the 350-room Downtown Sheraton Hotel for $14 million. Servico, which owns and operates hotels throughout the U.S., will invest $3 million upgrading the property.
The Miami Skyline...
...... could change dramatically. Despite a sluggish economy and lingering fiscal and political chaos, Miami is on the brink of a real estate development boom. Over the last few months, plans have surfaced for three downtown-area hotels, five high-rise residential towers and the first office tower within Miami's Brickell Avenue financial district in more than a decade. Other deals are reportedly in the works. Among them: a 67-story office tower and a 75-story tower. Both would surpass Miami's tallest building, the 55-story First Union Financial Center.
Analysts say the building boom is a response to pent-up demand for hotel rooms and office space, coupled with bargain land prices. In addition, progress on the NBA Miami Heat's $165 million bayfront basketball arena and the nearby $140 million Performing Arts Center may be stimulating interest in downtown Miami renewal.
The recent rash of new construction attests to Miami's staying power as a hemispheric center of trade and commerce, according to city officials. If nothing else, they say, major investments such as these reveal the private market's confidence in the long-term stability of Miami's economy. Unlike the high-flying 1980s, much of the current development is being financed with private capital.
But not everyone is so bullish on Miami. Michael Cannon, president of Appraisal and Real Estate Economics Associates, says the current building boom may be an overreaction to high office and hotel occupancy rates. What's more, he adds, Miami's image remains in tatters, with prospective office tenants and business visitors throughout the world questioning the wisdom of doing business in a city beset with troubles. "No question, downtown Miami has been under-hoteled for years, and our glut of office space is disappearing," says Cannon. "But do we need this much? The jury is definitely out on that one."
- David Villano