Craig Robins talks details on Design District progress

Twenty more building to come in 2015

Dec.December 02, 2014 09:30 AM

Developer Craig Robins showed off the nearly finished first phase of the Design District’s $1.4 billion transformation into a hub for luxury brand retailers during a tour of the area Monday afternoon.

Robins told The Real Deal the partnership between his company, Dacra, and L Real Estate is on schedule to complete 15 new buildings by the end of the month.

“We’re going to be adding 20 more buildings in 2015,” Robins said. “We’re tackling this project in waves. We want to debut new experiences constantly.”

Bulgari, the tenant of a new structure with a glass-, gold- and silver-plated exterior at 3841 Northeast Second Avenue, already opened on Nov. 28. Signs on the windows of two nearby storefronts that feature facades designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto announce that luxury watchmakers Jaeger-LeCoultre and Hublot are coming soon. Construction crews worked on the interior of an Aranda/Lasch-designed retail building on Northeast 39th Street and First avenue that will house Tom Ford and three other luxury brands.

Since Robins began redeveloping the Design District more than a year ago, land prices in the neighborhood have gone up dramatically and attracted New York developers to the area. The price per square foot hit $2,200 for one commercial transaction closed in November, according to Metro 1 Properties CEO Tony Cho.

And a development group led by New Yorkers Ayal Horovits, Isaac A. Gindi and Raymond Gindi bought the site of a church located two blocks away from the Design District for $12.5 million in November. They are planning a mixed-used project with 82 condo units, 100,000 square feet of commercial space and a community garden. The acquisition came on the heels of an equity deal that involved General Growth Properties and Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. teaming up to acquire a 20-percent stake in the Design District’s redevelopment project. The companies paid $280 million to Miami Design District Associates, the partnership between Dacra and L Real Estate.

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