Future of racino condo projects depends on Gulfstream Park

Peter Zalewski
Peter Zalewski

Question: What do you think about the viability of “casino-condos” like Stronach Group’s planned condo project at Gulfstream Park? Does the proximity to gambling make a difference with buyers?

The owners of South Florida’s eight pari-mutuels – or racinos – that offer gambling options for wagering on races, slot machines or poker are constantly searching for ways to utilize their large land holdings in attempt to improve their bottom lines.

A 2004 Florida referendum cleared the way for these licensed horse tracks, dog tracks and jai-alai facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to bolster the struggling pari-mutuel industry by permitting the introduction of slot machines and poker rooms.

As the racinos have evolved in South Florida over the last decade, no ownership group has been more forward thinking than that of the nearly 300-acre Village of Gulfstream Park facility in Hallandale Beach in Southeast Broward County.

As most racinos focused on upgrading their existing facilities to accommodate the expanded gambling options permitted, Gulfstream Park replaced its original facility with a state-of-the-art complex that features a new grandstand and casino and entertainment complex including restaurants, bars and retail space.

A combination of factors – including the Great Recession – ultimately created an opportunity for the Stronach Group to buy out its partner to achieve control of the Village of Gulfstream Park.

Now that the South Florida economy is once again growing, the Stronach Group is pushing forward with some big ideas for the Village of Gulfstream Park, including the creation of a new horse museum and park anchored by a 110-foot-tall bronze statue of a winged horse.

As part of the latest initiative, the Stronach Group also launched presales for its first of several planned condo towers with up to 1,500 units slated for development at the more than 75-year-old park located at Federal Highway and Hallandale Beach Boulevard.

Phase one of the residential development plan calls for a 27-story condo tower with 182 units called the Gulfstream Park Tower to be located atop an existing parking garage on the west site of the park. The planned tower will permit condo units to be rented out monthly.

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Some 75 percent of the tower’s units have already been sold, with the current minimum price starting at $430 per square foot as of Sept. 5, according to the latest CraneSpotters.com Developers Pricing Survey for September.

(For disclosure purposes, my firm operates the website.)

Depending upon the success of this first condo tower at a racino site, the owners of South Florida’s other pari-mutuels could well follow the lead of the Village of Gulfstream Park by attempting to obtain approval to build similar residential projects at their own facilities.

The unanswered question going forward is whether buyers will pay a premium to purchase a unit in a traditional condominium located at a racino complex when the short-term rental capabilities of a condo-hotel project may be more appropriate for such a venue.

Thought Of The Week: Website’s Anonymous Owner Called Into Question

Some nine months after we first raised the question of who is running the anonymous real estate website ExMiami, the Miami New Times is asking the same question following speculation attempting to link a local public relations firm to the site.

Miami New Times published an article on Wednesday in which “PR maven” Tadd Schwartz of Schwartz Media Strategies issued a “denial” to accusations that his firm is behind the ExMiami website, which seems to have a knack for publishing articles based on public information before the information is available to all.

Given the market’s tremendous appetite for actionable information about real estate, the concern is that the anonymous website could easily promote – or pump up as fact – a slanted storyline that would only benefit a particular client’s agenda.

To this concern, Miami New Times asked: “So if the site does have a nefarious secret agenda, it’s tough to pin down what it is exactly. Then again, if there isn’t an agenda, why keep everything so secretive?”

Peter Zalewski is a real estate market consultant, non-practicing licensed real estate broker and columnist for The Real Deal who now answers reader questions about the South Florida real estate market in a new weekly Friday column. Questions and comments can be sent to southfloridanews@therealdeal.com. The TRD editors will choose which submissions will be addressed.