September 1, 2014

Hospitality

A Resort for a Song

Mike Vogel | 11/1/2010
Margaritaville in Hollywood, FL
Rendering: Margaritaville resort in Hollywood

A Parrothead notion came to Lon Tabatchnick as he puzzled over what could serve as a draw to a resort he wanted to build on Hollywood’s beach. He knew he had the right idea as he attended a Dolphins-Jets game and heard Jimmy Buffett lead the crowd in “fins to the left/fins to the right.” Says Tabatchnick, “He got the best response to that song.”

"We're going to be the 800-pound gorilla in the marketplace. It's a Florida brand."

-- Developer Lon Tabatchnick

Tabatchnick needs a great response. Hollywood lacks the beach hotel cachet of its neighbor’s famous strip to the north. To get more from the beach, Hollywood last year sought proposals to develop a site controlled by the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, a politically tumultuous body that has been through four executive directors in a year. Of the last two directors, one quit after three months and the other quit before starting.

This doesn’t faze Tabatchnick. His $131-million, 350-room resort will be the first resort under Buffett’s Margaritaville brand. (Palm Beach-based Margaritaville has a hotel in Pensacola along with its eateries.) Margaritaville will run its namesake restaurant at the resort while Naples-based Coral Hospitality will run the rest. “The brand will bring them in,” predicts Coral CEO Lee Weeks.

Financing is complex: A 99-year land lease; a loan from the Hollywood CRA; capital through a federal visa program for foreign investors who want to invest their way to U.S. residency; a quasi-governmental community development district to fund the parking garage.

Tabatchnick hopes to break ground by the end of 2011 and be open by late 2013. “We’re glad we’re not necessarily open today.”

Tags: Southeast

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