UPDATED: JANUARY 18, 2018 12:43 PM — Redeveloping the 104-acre Artegon Marketplace property that sold on Tuesday should start late this year by filling the mall with unique new entertainment anchors, and may try to replicate the retail success of nearby outlet malls, a partner in the buyer group told GrowthSpotter.
David Goldfarb, a UCF alumnus and owner of PrimeTime Amusements in Fort Lauderdale, is a minority investment partner with the principals of Miami-based Dezer Development in their purchase of the former mall property for $23.75 million. He said the group was only drawn to the land listing about 60 days ago.
"Michael Dezer said there was a possible project he'd like to do in Orlando, he knew I knew the market and had success here, and so he invited me in," Goldfarb said on Thursday. "When you take his real estate background and accomplishments, you're dealing with someone who has been a success his whole life."
The Dezers previously joint-ventured with Goldfarb on the 230,000-square-foot Xtreme Action Park that opened in Fort Lauderdale last year.
"We took over that warehouse and turned it into the state's biggest entertainment center, which evolved to 230,000 square feet and has been extraordinarily successful," Goldfarb said. "So we're looking to scale that concept in Orlando, which will have elements of it inside the (Artegon) mall."
Goldfarb said early conceptual plans for redeveloping the Artegon property include a mixed-use destination with apartments, condominiums, a hotel, dining and retail -- the latter of which would likely focus on outlet stores.
"We don't want a repeat here of what happened before," he said. "Big box retail today is increasingly complicated. The only thing that seems to be working in retail consistently is these outlets.
"This redevelopment must be a facility that will cater to an audience that can stay there all day," Goldfarb continued. "With the weather in Florida, half the time it is raining or too hot and people want to be indoors."
That will include a local version of Xtreme Action Park, the size of which Goldfarb said hasn't been determined. In Fort Lauderdale it features indoor attractions like go-kart racing, bowling, a roller rink, an expansive arcade, aerial ropes course, laser tag, a dark ride theater and escape room.
But Goldfarb wants to set a higher bar for his attraction choices in Orlando, saying it's the toughest market in the country for independent entertainment venues to achieve prolonged success because of how Disney and Universal dominate most days of an average family's vacation.
"We need to go get the most premiere new attractions we've seen at IAAPA's (annual convention) and elsewhere to implement into this facility," he said.
"This has to be on another level from Fort Lauderdale. Now with some of our attractions we won't be the first ones (in market) doing it, but the difference is we'll be in a facility so big -- with two major tenants established in the no. 1 Bass Pro Shops in the country and Cinemark -- that we'll all benefit from overflow in a building that can hold up to 5,000 people."
Goldfarb said he, the Dezers and a consultant are very early in their "think-tank process" this week for what steps to take next on redevelopment of the property.
He anticipates Phase 1 to focus on utilizing the existing mall building, establishing anchor entertainment tenants that he and the Dezers would own and operate, then bringing on third-party food and beverage operators.
That includes a classic car museum to showcase vehicles from the vast personal collection of founder Michael Dezer, similar to a Dezer Auto Museum the company has in Miami, a lead executive with Dezer Development said on Tuesday.
"We'll start with the perimeter of the mall, and with something that will get people's attention," Goldfarb said. "I'm here at the (property) now driving around, and it's even bigger than I remember. You could build a small city here."