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Not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Just ask Philip Goldfarb, recently appointed president and COO of Aventura, FL-based Turnberry Associates. The firm has been making news with its 1.5-million-sf Town Square lifestyle center, but the mixed-use approach is one that the firm is spreading throughout its ever-expanding development pipeline. Indeed, the Town Square is only the tip of the iceberg for the investment/development firm, whose stock in trade is most heavily weighted toward the luxury condominium market. In fact, according to its website, the firm’s development portfolio boasts $7 billion in commercial and residential property. This includes approximately 1.5 million feet of class A office space, in excess of 2,000 hotel and resort rooms, and some 5,000 luxury apartments and condominium units in addition to 20 million sf of retail space. It also includes names such as the coming Residence at Atlantis in the Bahamas; the Aventura (FL) Mall; and the Fontainebleau III-Ocean Club in Miami Beach as well as the sprawling Vegas project. In a recent, exclusive interview, Goldfarb took us on a sort of talking-tour of the firm’s various areas of interest–office and hotels included–and throughout his bullish attack on the market came through.

GlobeSt.com: You’re going counter-cultural with the Town Square aren’t you, with a non-casino hotel. What was the thinking?

Goldfarb: We don’t intend to compete with the giant convention and casino hotels on the strip. We’re building a 230-room boutique luxury hotel with more of a residential experience. We’re in final negotiations with Marriott to make it a Renaissance. It will be marketed primarily for business and leisure people who don’t want to stay in the middle of the mega-casino resorts. There’s a market there and we found a niche. Before shovels went into the ground we did our homework and we knew there was a big demand for additional retail, more so for the residential community surrounding Vegas. We also have almost a 100,000-sf movie complex as well as food and beverage outlets. And that will be marketed to local residents first.

GlobeSt.com: Are you finding a growing trend among developers to include non-retail in their retail projects?

Goldfarb: Yes. Personally, we’re very excited about the mixed-use concept. We’re doing a second one in Destin, FL, where we currently have 450,000 sf. It’s a high-end retail and office complex. We’re going to add another 150,000 sf of retail as well as another office building and a hotel component.

GlobeSt.com: The development process must be extraordinarily complicated and, for that matter, risky.

Goldfarb: It’s complicated because you’re developing different products and marketing to different customers. In terms of the risk, it’s true, but the only way we would do a mixed-use project was if each element made sense. Obviously, if the local hotel market is saturated, we wouldn’t put a lodging asset up. For example, Destin is hot and growing and we’ve exceeded expectations on both the retail and office side. The hotel market is underserved there so in this expansion there’ll be all three components.

GlobeSt.com: Geographically, where do you see Turnberry’s growth coming from?

Goldfarb: On the residential side, Texas is definitely an area of growth, as is Southern California and Washington, DC. On the hospitality side, it will be Nashville, Destin and Las Vegas. In the office sector, Destin and Aventura. Retail growth will be in Las Vegas, Destin and Aventura. Our first international contract is a joint venture with Kersner [International] for a luxury condo hotel–it will be more than 500 units–at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

GlobeSt.com: Will that lead to more international development?

Goldfarb: Eventually. There are so many opportunities we’re looking at that the answer is yes.

GlobeSt.com: Are we looking at 2006?

Goldfarb: It’s possible, but it will certainly be sooner rather than later.

GlobeSt.com: You’re a big practitioner of land re-use. Tell me about your approach.

Goldfarb: We’re seeing a trend. Because the land is often more valuable than the building sitting on it, it’s often more efficient to take, say, an old motel on Miami Beach, knock it down and build new. We own a Best Western in Arlington, VA. We’re about to close it, knock it down and replace it with a high-end condominium called Turnberry Capitol Tower.

GlobeSt.com: Hotels of course, are hot, but are you finding the so-called amenity creep getting out of hand? How do you maintain your value proposition?

Goldfarb: A lot of that trend is dictated by the brand, but amenity creep is getting very expensive. In the markets in which we like to do business, it’s not as difficult as others. We’re in Florida and Las Vegas primarily for hospitality. We have two hotels in Nashville, including a 330-room Hilton resort, and it leads the market so we don’t have that problem.

GlobeSt.com: But that adds to the problem, no?

Goldfarb: I wouldn’t want to compete with us. But eventually amenity creep will have to reach a ceiling.

GlobeSt.com: It’s harder to justify office, is it not?

Goldfarb: There are certain markets that are severely underserved with office space. For instance, we feel there’s a tremendous office need in a market like Destin. We have 70,000 sf there, and we’re putting up another 70,000.

GlobeSt.com: It sounds like all upside. What worries you?

Goldfarb: I’m not as concerned as some about the general economy. It’s typically cyclical and there’ll be very strong periods. This euphoria can’t last forever, although the trends are strong for a continuation. What scares me are the things you can’t control, like another terrorist event. But we’re very bullish on what we’re doing.

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