Work on Aventura town center scheduled to begin in October
By Leslie Kraft
Work is scheduled to begin in October on Aventura's new town center planned at Loehmann's Fashion Island.
The town center's first phase, a $100 million project called The Venture, will include 500 residential units and 18,000 square feet of retail space in two buildings as well as a courtyard and garage, said Ashley P. Bosch of The Related Group of Florida, which is developing the project with Prudential Insurance Company of America owner of the property since 1997.
A movie house and four other buildings on the property, at 18711 NE Biscayne Blvd., will be torn down this fall and redevelopment is to begin in spring 2004, Mr. Bosch said.
Construction of the town center will take five to seven years, said Aventura City Manager Eric M. Soroka.
"The concept for it will be similar to that of Mizner Park in Boca Raton in that it will have a new-urban design involving mixed-use residential and commercial property in a pedestrian-friendly place."
The town center will be developed in phases, each of which must be approved by the city in accordance with a master plan designed in 2002 by Arquitectonica, he said. Only the first phase has been approved and a cost estimate is not available for the completed town center.
While the use of the property will be similar to Mizner Park, the Aventura center's design will not mirror its Mediterranean look, said Mr. Bosch. He added that Related hopes to work with Prudential on additional phases of the center.
"The concept for it is modern, with buildings characterized by parapets with angles and waves. It will be a hip design, unique and not seen before in Aventura."
He wouldn't give a price tag for residences but said they would be targeted for sale to young professionals who have been priced out of the city's housing market.
Craig Studnicky of International Sales Group, which has provided staff to several Aventura residential developers, said units would probably sell for $150,000 to $400,000.
One of the buildings is planned for 11 floors with 308 units; the other is to have seven floors with 192 units. A hidden, four-story parking garage will be in the project's landscaped courtyard, Mr. Bosch said of the project that Related has been planning since 2001 with Prudential and the city.
There will be a fitness center and spa area along with several cyber lounges, an indoor children's recreation room and a club room.
Tenants have not yet been signed for the project's ground-floor retail area, Mr. Bosch said.
"Upscale restaurants, art galleries, book stores and other high-end retail shops should do well in this project, as the Aventura area is underserved for this sort of offering," said Mr. Studnicky. "The project as a whole will likely sell quickly and not add to any traffic burden because of its pedestrian orientation."
Mr. Studnicky, whose offices are in the Loehmann's Fashion Island, said that he has watched merchants there struggle over recent years against competition from the Aventura Mall. The plaza is now anchored by Publix, Loehmann's and Prezzo restaurant, but it is not known if those shops will remain as the town center is developed.