Coconut Grove-based TM Real Estate Group has plans to develop a mixed-use project on 25 acres in Plantation.
Plantation Midtown Square is slated for the site now occupied by the 70’s-era American Express building. It will feature 598 residential units, in addition to retail. American Express began slowly vacating its Plantation office at the end of January and is moving to a new, $200 million, 400,000-square foot campus in Sunrise.
Matthew Pellar, principal with TM Real Estate Group, spoke with The Real Deal about his company’s plans to reinvent the site, once the financial services company leaves. “We build rental apartments and hold on to them,” he said. The proposed new plan, which will be heard by the development review committee on March 14, calls for 480 mid-rise apartments, 117 townhouses, 10,000 square feet of retail and 11,540 square feet of restaurant space.
TM plans to build two apartment buildings, each with 240 units, one at a time, on the east and west sides of an existing three-story garage, which will be kept, Pellar told TRD. The townhomes – which will have two or three bedrooms and two-car garages – will be for sale and there will be two restaurant pads.
Pellar said that tearing down the American Express building will take about six months, and the project will be completed and “stabilized” in about four-and-a-half years.
Plantation 25, LLC, a company managed by the TM Real Estate Group, bought the approximately 650,000-square-foot complex in April 2014 for $33.5 million. Records show the seller, Plantation-based Kan Am American Express, paid $73 million in November 2007 for the property at 777 American Express Way.
“We bought the property knowing that American Express was leaving,” Pellar told TRD. “It is a difficult building to reconfigure [for multiple tenants] because it was designed for one user and the South Florida market doesn’t lend itself to large-scale users. The typical tenant wants 20,000 to 30,000 square feet,” he said.
“We’ve tried to lease the building and, if a tenant wants it, we are open to negotiations,” Pellar told TRD. “But we haven’t found anybody.” Since the real estate group knew that it would be difficult to lease the building to office tenants, Pellar said that he and his fellow investors realized that “going for a rezoning” would be a likely alternative.
Although Pellar would not speculate on how much the development will cost, he said that financing would be a combination of equity and debt. He declined to say how much equity will be a part of the financing structure.
The apartments will be market-rate, luxury units designed for “young professionals and people starting families; there will be a good mix of two and three bedrooms,” Pellar told TRD.
Although Pellar thinks that his project will take a few years to get up and running, he is optimistic about its chances for success. The area is very desirable, he said, noting that other developers, such as Lennar, which is building nearly 300 apartments immediately south of his proposed development, are also flocking to Plantation.