Miami developer buys Artegon mall land, eyes car museum & entertainment center

An affiliate of Miami-based Dezer Development paid $23.75 million on Tuesday for the 104-acre Artegon Marketplace property in Orlando's tourism corridor, with early plans for mixed-use and new attractions that would maintain the shopping mall, a lead executive with the company told GrowthSpotter.

"The Dezers have been looking at the Orlando market for a while, and saw this as an opportunity so we moved on it," said David Reimer, general counsel for Dezer. "We're excited about the property, excited about the market, and have a number of big plans for changes and development of parts of the property. We'll see where that evolves over the next few months." 

Dezer does not currently plan to demo the mall building, Reimer added, and anticipates putting a classic car museum at Artegon to showcase vehicles from the vast personal collection of founder Michael Dezer, similar to a Dezer Auto Museum the company is opening in Miami. 

The Dezers will also include in Artegon's redevelopment an attraction by David Goldfarb, a UCF alumnus and owner of PrimeTime Amusements in Fort Lauderdale, which rents and sells arcade games and creates themed entertainment spaces, with clients like Universal Orlando, AMP Group's I-Drive NASCAR, and the world's largest McDonald's on International Drive. 

Goldfarb has partnered with the family on South Florida projects, and plans to open an entertainment center at Artegon similar to his 230,000-square-foot Xtreme Action Park in Fort Lauderdale, said Reimer. It's attractions include a go-kart track, bowling, roller skating, a rope course, escape rooms and trampoline park.

New York-based Lightstone Group began marketing the former mall for sale in late August 2016, led by CBRE Orlando's land services team with Robert H. McEwan, Preston Hage and retail specialist Bobby Palta. 

Palta ultimately procured the buyer, after introducing Dezer to other retail properties in the Orlando market. He confirmed the closing on Tuesday.

Dezer is an experienced multifamily owner and developer. Its high-end residential tower properties in South Florida's Miami and Sunny Isles Beach feature partnerships with luxury brands, including the Trump Palace, the 60-story Porsche Design Tower and a partnership with The Related Group and fashion designer Giorgio Armani on his first residential tower. 

The company holds a portfolio of more than 20 commercial properties with 1 million-plus square feet between assets in South Florida and New York. 

Located at 5200 International Dr., the Artegon mall site stands to gain from a new Interstate 4 flyover bridge that was completed in late 2017, and now links adjacent Oak Ridge Road to Caravan Court across I-4, a block from one of the main entrances of Universal Orlando. 

Lightstone began working up its own mixed-use redevelopment plans for the property in mid-2017, which included a mix of retail-commercial, hotels and multifamily. It shared those concept plans with the city last May but never filed for a formal Master Plan, holding them as an option in case a buyer never emerged.

Dezer acquired those plans in the deal, but is not sure what elements it may include in its own redevelopment vision, Reimer said. 

Dezer has not hired any local design or engineering professionals to lead its Artegon planning, he added, but has met with Orlando-area firms to discuss its options. 

Lightstone owned the majority of Artegon and its parking lot (64.47 acres) through an affiliate, as well as nearly 40 additional contiguous acres comprised of easements and stormwater retention area. 

It paid $25 million for roughly 131 acres of mall property in 2011 and worked to re-position it as Artegon Marketplace in the years that followed. But the company subdivided and sold off more than 27 acres in late 2015, more than recovering its original investment.

Bass Pro Outlets (16.74 acres) and Cinemark Theaters (6.27 acres) remain open and operating as shadow-anchors at Artegon, with separate owners behind their parcels. 

Dezer is not currently trying to buy the Cinemark and Bass Pro parcels, and "looks forward to working with them in bringing people back to the mall," Reimer said.

Fuddruckers and Orlando Putting Edge also remain open and operating within the Artegon mall.

Some former tenants still have active lawsuits against Lightstone's ex-land owner entity over its abrupt closure of the mall in February 2017. Reimer declined to comment on the litigation and how it may impact Dezer's ability to redevelop.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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