Q&A with Joseph Kavana on Metropica, the Broward market

On the southwest Broward market: "You have to sell the potential"

Oct.October 27, 2015 02:30 PM

A movie theater, luxury retail, restaurants and open green space are among the amenities Metropica is touting as developers celebrated the project’s groundbreaking in Sunrise on Tuesday.

The project will span a whopping 65 acres in southwest Broward, and will include eight residential towers, 400,000 square feet of retail, 650,000 square feet of office space, and landscaped parks, the latter of which will be designed by EDSA. When completed, the community will include a health and wellness center, a resort-style beach club and elevated recreational amenities such as tennis courts and mini soccer fields. Chad Oppenheim is the lead designer.

John Moriarty & Associates is the general contractor for YOO at Metropica, the first of eight residential towers. Philippe Starck is among the designers behind the YOO brand. “The whole idea is that each tower will have a different designer,” Joseph Kavana, chairman and CEO of the KGH Development said.

Developers KGH along with the Trillist Companies broke ground on the 28-story condominium, which will have 263 units and 10 penthouses when completed in 2017.

The Real Deal sat down with Kavana, who is leading development of the mixed-use community to discuss demand, his timeline and the surrounding area.

How are sales?

Even though there’s been a slowdown in Miami lately, sales are doing well. We’ve exceeded 40 percent of sales at YOO at Metropica. We always knew that [in] trying to launch this community that the first tower was not going to be easy. Understand, we are developing a very special community that people have to understand. We are not in Miami Beach. We are not in Brickell. This is southwest Broward. Most of our customers haven’t heard of this area. You have to sell the potential.

[vision_pullquote style=”3″ align=””] “People have access to the Internet. They’re not going to come here to ‘just buy something.’ They’ll come here because they want to have great food, great stores. That’s the kind of shopping that has sustainability.” [/vision_pullquote]

Why Sunrise?

When we bought this land, we realized this location is the epicenter of South Florida. We are right next to four major highways: 595, I-75, the Turnpike and I-95. We’re less than 10 minutes from Weston where you have the Cleveland Clinic. We’re within walking distance of the BB&T arena, where you have close to 200 functions a year. We’re right next to Sawgrass Mills, which is the shopping destination in South Florida with more than 28 million people a year – the second most in Florida after Walt Disney World.

When you have a company like American Express moving here within steps of where we are – they’re going to bring more than 6,000 people here.

Who are you targeting?

A lot of the people who are buying now are from different countries, buying these units as their second home or as an investment. Here, you have real people who live here and have jobs. It’s not like other areas where you’re selling to tourists. Once the project is finished, they can finance that. Fifty percent deposits are more difficult for the local buyer.

At a certain point, we’re going to open it up to the local buyer.

[vision_pullquote style=”3″ align=”right”] “We are not in Miami Beach. We are not in Brickell. This is Southwest Broward. Most of our customers haven’t heard of this area. You have to sell the potential.” [/vision_pullquote]

What about the commercial component?

We’re calling it a green urban oasis. The eight towers are built around a central park, a lot of native species, green space. We didn’t want retail on the ground floor where strangers would come and park next to your home. We created an area within walking distance, in excess of 20 acres, where you can walk and have beautiful restaurants, movie theaters, bowling and exclusive shopping. We’ll have 400,000 square feet of open retail, open streets, landscaping, squares.

We’ll also have an exclusive, select-service hotel and a 150,000-square-foot office building within the mixed-use retail park. The other office component will be 500,000 square feet in the northern part of the property.

Any new tenants?

I cannot release the name of any tenants. But keep in mind that Sawgrass Mills has 2.5 million square feet of retail. Our idea is to offer an assortment of tenants that people cannot find there but would have to travel to Aventura Mall, Galleria.

Shopping at Sawgrass Mills is a pretty rough experience. People go in the morning, buy [luggage] and then they spend 18 hours there. They shop till they die and then they go back. People are looking at packages where they’ll have a good experience, spend three or four days at the hotel, go shopping.

We want to offer more of an experience than anything else. Shopping will be a consequence of having a good time. Today, it’s a whole different experience that it was 10 years ago. People have access to the Internet. They’re not going to come here to ‘just buy something.’ They’ll come here because they want to have great food, great stores. That’s the kind of shopping that has sustainability.

What’s the timeline for the community?

It will open in phases. Once we sell 75 percent of the first tower, we’ll launch the second one, and so forth. The entire residential component will take five to seven years. There will be a point where you’ll have three or four towers being built at the same time. We’ll have the first one completed in September or October of 2017.

Again, it depends on the demand. Right now South Florida is going through a valley. American buyers are holding off and we’ll see them again. We may finish the towers earlier. We’re doing very well but we have to prepare ourselves because the project is large enough [that] it will go through peaks and valleys. This is a conservative estimate based on experience.

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