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(Crystal Proenza is associate editor of Real Estate Florida.)

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL-The Village at Gulfstream Park, a 490,000-square-foot, high-end retail, office and entertainment project under construction at the site of an existing local racing and casino destination, has secured tax-increment financing. Developers Forest City Enterprises Inc. and Magna Entertainment Corp. have negotiated with the City of Hallandale Beach for up to $900,000 per year for 15 years of TIF. The first phase of the Gulfstream development is expected to cost anywhere from $240 to $250 million, and is also being financed by bonds, a private bank and the equity of the development partnership, says Brian Ratner, president of East Coast development for Forest City.

The project has been in the works since 2000 and movement on the site began in 2007. Construction is about 80% done on the base building, and the Village at Gulfstream is on schedule to deliver 410,000 square feet of retail and 80,000 square feet of office in February 2010, Ratner tells GlobeSt.com. Development can continue after that, as the site has entitlements for over $1 billion of facilities, including 750,000 square feet of retail, 1,500 condo units, a 2,000-seat move theater, 150,000 square feet of office and a hotel.

The existing racetrack on the 50-acre site, located at Hallandale Beach Boulevard and US 1, was completely redone by owner Canadian-based Magna Entertainment in 2007 to include a casino aspect. The synergy created with the in-place entertainment is also expected to draw shoppers to the center, which is already 49% leased. Signed tenants include restaurants III Forks, Ola Cuba by Chef Douglas Rodriguez and Texas de Brazil; home stores Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn and West Elm; designer clothing retailers Fender Rock & Roll Religion, Martier and Vogue Couture; and nightclubs Santanera and Greenhouse.

Rental rates for the property were not disclosed, but Achikam Yogev, senior commercial associate with Coral Gables-based Colliers Abood Wood-Fay, says given the site’s location and amount of investment, the developers could be asking for rents from the $30s and $40s per square foot. The project’s neighboring town of Aventura, which is 90% to 95% leased, makes it able to command higher rents than its neighbors on US 1 in Hollywood, which have rents as low as $16 per square foot. Gulfstream’s location between those two towns, and less than half a mile from the upscale Aventura Mall, will also work to its advantage in attracting both locals and tourists, as well as the crowd that is already going to the site to gamble, he adds.

“However, it’s going to be a challenge to lease the remainder of the development at rates they were initially pro forma-ed for,” says Yogev. “Many tenants in this environment where sales are down are requesting and getting reductions and abatements from landlords. The amount Gulfstream has already leased is definitely a credit to them–the developers are very reputable–but going forward it will take time before the rest of the space is full.”

Ratner says the company is patient, even through the current economic downturn: “We’re believers in Florida long term.” Cleveland, OH-based Forest City has several properties in Florida, including one other project currently under development in Land O’ Lakes, north of Tampa. The residential land development, called Suncoast Lakes, includes 514 residential sublots, of which 493 have already been developed and sold.

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