BOCA MAGAZINE

Bring on the Mandarin at Via Mizner; the Other Midtown in Delray

More than two years after the Boca Raton City Council approved Via Mizner 2 and 3, construction should start soon on the Mandarin Oriental hotel and the adjoining luxury condos that will have privileges at the hotel.

That’s the word from Al Piazza, senior vice-president of development for Penn-Florida Companies. We spoke in late December. The two buildings will join Via Mizner’s first phase —the 366-unit apartment building at Camino Real and Federal Highway. The Mandarin Oriental will be in the middle, with the condos at the north end. All three buildings will face the Boca Raton Resort & Club.

The project, which the company has called “an urban resort,” will bring a new level of distinction to Boca Raton. Mandarin Oriental has only one other location in Florida—Miami—and just five elsewhere in the United States—New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Las Vegas. The chain’s roughly two dozen foreign locations range from Hong Kong to Morocco to Barcelona.

And it all happened, Piazza said, because Penn-Florida President and CEO Mark Gensheimer made a cold call to Mandarin Oriental.

“He was trying to figure out what to do with the project and wanted to give a sense of what the community is all about,” Piazza told me. “He saw a void for a five-star hotel and made the call. That started a dialogue.”

Penn-Florida will own the building and Mandarin will operate the hotel, which Piazza said is typical of properties with the Mandarin brand. It will have 164 rooms and suites. That’s fewer than Miami but more than Atlanta and Boston.

The number of condos was 104 when the council approved the project. It dropped to 85 and settled at 92 as Penn-Florida adjusted the layout. Units will range in size from 1,400 square feet to 9,000 square feet—for the penthouse—and from $2 million to $20 million.

Just who will own those condos may surprise you. Conventional wisdom might be that most buyers would be from outside this area. Actually, Piazza said, he now expects that between 50 percent and 60 percent will be from Boca Raton or just outside the city.

“They’re older and living on the beach or a golf course,” Piazza said, “and want a newer product and less to worry about.” Piazza also rattles off the number of Michelin stars earned by Mandarin restaurants. The brand has had more stars combined than any other hotel chain since at least 2014, according to news reports.

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