While downtown Boca Raton is seeing a huge building boom, no project yet rivals the scope of Via Mizner.
The ultra-luxury project, developed by Boca Raton-based Penn-Florida Cos. at an estimated cost of just under $1 billion, encompasses a Mandarin Oriental hotel, condos, a private club, rentals, shops and restaurants at Federal Highway and Camino Real.
101 Via Mizner, a 366-unit apartment building, is the first phase to be completed and began renting in August.
Construction will begin this spring on the 165-room Mandarin Oriental and the 84 condos in The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, both directly north of the rentals.
Those wanting to snap up a condo could make pre-construction reservations even before the sales center opens this month at 10 E. Boca Raton Road. Douglas Elliman Real Estate is the sales and marketing agent.
In all, nearly 1,500 spaces will be available in two floors of below-ground parking under the hotel and condo buildings, and on the second and third levels. Parking for the apartment building is in its first four floors.
The Via Mizner Golf & City Club will include an 18-hole golf course, located about 3 miles away, between Palmetto Park Road and Camino Real just west of Military Trail.
Golf legend Jack Nicklaus will redesign the course, which will be completed by the end of year, beginning in the spring. Once work at the site at 6200 Boca Del Mar Drive is completed, facilities will include six Har-Tru tennis courts, a fitness center, a clubhouse, a resort-style pool and restaurants.
The city club will be in the Mandarin Oriental. Members also will have access to the hotel’s rooftop pools, spa, restaurants and other amenities.
The entire project should be completed in 2019, with The Shoppes at Via Mizner as the final piece. The 60,000 square feet of shops and restaurants will line the base of the buildings.
“I think all of Via Mizner is trying to address a lifestyle in Boca that many people have been looking for but is not entirely here yet,” said Al Piazza, Penn-Florida’s senior vice president for development. “There is a level of sophistication … but it hasn’t been fully realized.”
New development has stirred passionate opposition from downtown activists who decry the changing character of their city. But 12-story Via Mizner, which does not exceed the city’s height limits for that part of downtown, has escaped the brunt of their wrath. In part, that’s because many residents saw the Mandarin Oriental as a desirable addition to the city.
John Gore, president of BocaBeautiful, said residents would be far more vocal if Penn-Florida proposed such a large project now.
“It was a beneficiary of timing,” he said of Via Mizner. Citing several other new downtown projects, Gore said, “If you proposed those buildings today, they would face a much more difficult regulatory and political process than they did. They came forward before citizens woke up. … They are not sleeping now.”
Via Mizner is all about luxury and lifestyle, the developer says.
The Mandarin Oriental will be only one of five in the U.S. that includes condos, with the others in Boston, New York, Atlanta and Las Vegas. The only other Mandarin Oriental in Florida is a stand-alone hotel in Miami, where rooms start at $539 and move up to $1,549 a night, according to its website.
After the announcement last year that the hotel and branded residences would be built in Boca Raton, “the number of calls Mandarin received exceeded calls for any other [Mandarin condo] project around the world,” Piazza said.
The condo owners will have access to all that the five-star hotel provides, including use of concierge, cleaning and valet services. They can get room service or have a chef prepare meals in their condos.
Piazza said the condos will sell for 30 percent to 35 percent more than an unbranded condominium. A one-bedroom starts at $1.8 million and the price climbs to $18 million for an 8,500-square-foot penthouse with ocean view. Amenities will include terraces with summer kitchens, spa-style baths, private elevator foyers and a wine cellar with private storage.
He estimates 10 percent to 20 percent of the buyers will be local residents, and the rest those who likely have other homes around the world.
“Typical buyers for this are obviously very wealthy, travel the world, very demanding and know what high-quality service and lifestyle is,” he said. “They expect it and demand it.”
Many local buyers may have lived in golf course communities, and no longer need large homes.
“But they don’t want to give up luxury, convenience or lifestyle,” Piazza said. “There has been strong demand from the local Boca buyer for that.”
Piazza thinks there are many potential buyers in that category. “The number of families with net worth exceeding $150 million [in Boca Raton] is just enormous,” he said.
The rentals, featuring European cabinetry and quartz countertops, also command a high price. 101 Via Mizner’s 18 studios are about $1,800 a month, while its 27 three-bedrooms start at about $4,500, topping out at nearly $6,000. There are 184 one-bedrooms and 137 two-bedrooms.
Piazza wouldn’t comment on how many had been rented, but The Real Deal, quoting another company official, reported in mid-November that more than 100 were leased.
Membership fees for the golf and city club haven’t been finalized, but all condo owners will be members. Membership likely will be by invitation.
“It is too early to say how many members we will have,” Piazza said. “It will not be overcrowded.”
The retail component is a work in progress, but Penn-Florida is setting the bar high.
Its website touts The Shoppes at Via Mizner as “destined to rival Worth Avenue, Bal Harbour Shops or Miami’s Design District.”
The only signed retail tenants at 101 Via Mizner so far are Citibank and SunTrust, whose buildings on Federal Highway will be torn down to make way for the hotel and condos.
Piazza said Penn-Florida is looking for luxury stores that are not now located in south Palm Beach County. Obvious customers will be the hotel guests and condo residents, but other shoppers could be drawn from Fort Lauderdale to Palm Beach.
“We are looking for stores you would find in Paris or Milan, that people at the Mandarin Oriental would be familiar with,” he said.
“There is a huge market here in Boca. People here now have to travel to shop.”
Restaurants will range from very fine dining to more casual eateries, he said.
Penn-Florida, which also has holdings in Tampa and Orlando, has developed many projects in Boca Raton, including One City Centre at 1 N. Federal and Atrium Financial Center at 1515 N. Federal. The company also is moving ahead with University Village, a residential, retail, office and hotel development on nearly 80 acres at Interstate 95 and Spanish River Boulevard.

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