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ORLANDO-Mall at Millenia, the largest retail development ever attempted in metro Orlando, opened today at an estimated 80% occupancy, based on 100 of the 130 signed tenants.

About 150 of the total 280 available retail sites remain unfilled. About 30 tenants expect to open by Dec. 1.

New York-based Macy’s, at 276,000 sf, is the largest retailer in the mall and in Central Florida. The department store is Macy’s largest in Florida. Bloomingdale’s of New York and Neiman Marcus of Dallas are the other major anchors.

Macy’s expects to do an estimated $150,000 on its debut, according to a published report. Average quoted asking rents at Millenia are estimated $35 to $55 per sf, plus a percentage of gross annual sales, area retail brokers following the mall’s progress tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity. That estimated rent range is double Downtown Orlando rents.

The $250 million, 1.3 million-sf, 405-acre Mall at Millenia already is triggering a second gargantuan nearby venture–an estimated $3 billion mixed-use park that will encompass two million sf of office, one million sf of retail and three hotels totaling 1,000 rooms. Buildout is expected by 2008.

Taubman Centers Inc. of Bloomfield Hills, MI, headed by president/CEO Robert S. Taubman and the Forbes Co. of Southfield, MI, headed by managing partner Nathan Forbes are developing Mall at Millenia at Conroy Road and Interstate 4 in southwest Orlando.

Retail consultants and brokers familiar with the project tell GlobeSt.com the city of Orlando has taken a calculated gamble in building a $35 million interchange at the mall site in a 25-year deal with the Michigan developers who will repay the interchange cost through property taxes.

Without the interchange, the mall would not have been developed because there would have been an awkward access for customers to the property, area land brokers intimate with the mall’s background tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

The biggest risk-takers and the biggest winners in the mall project and the planned adjoining $3 billion undertaking are principals in Orlando Southwest Partners, the land owners and master developers of both projects. The joint venture partnership comprises Schrimsher & Rife Properties, two longtime Orlando area families, and Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle.

Orlando Southwest Partners purchased the 405 acres in 1992 from French and Mexican owners for $17 million or about $41,975 per acre (96 cents per sf).

Orlando land brokers tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity the land today could probably sell for at least $500,000 per acre or about $11.48 per sf.

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