Boca’s luxury Via Mizner project nears completion of first phase

Boca’s luxury Via Mizner project nears completion of first phase

Via Mizner is a U.S. Immigration Fund Project

Originally posted by Sun Sentinel, July 15, 2016, By Paul Owers

The first residents are expected to move in next month to Via Mizner, a downtown Boca Raton development featuring ultra-luxury living.

Penn-Florida Cos. is finishing construction of a 366-unit apartment building at the corner of Camino Real and Federal Highway. The developer said the building should be ready for tenants in late August, with monthly rents ranging from the $1,600s to the $3,500s.

The rest of Via Mizner is still about two years away.

In addition to the apartments, the project will include 85 condominiums starting at just under $2 million; 60,000 square feet of high-end shops and restaurants; a 164-room Mandarin Oriental Hotel and an exclusive club inside the hotel.

All three, 12-story buildings should be complete by the end of 2018, Penn-Florida said.

Al Piazza, senior vice president of development for Penn-Florida, said the total value of Via Mizner upon completion could exceed $1 billion.

There are 29 Mandarin hotels worldwide, including one in Miami, where three-bedroom suites rent for more than $1,000 a night, according to the chain’s website.

“The Mandarin brand carries its own cache,” Piazza said.

Penn-Florida plans to open a condo sales office in the next few weeks and will start signing contracts within 60 days, Piazza said. Penthouses – ranging from 2,500 to 8,800 square feet – are priced from $3 million to $18 million.

He described potential buyers as “outrageously discriminating,” saying Via Mizner will be their second, third or even fourth homes.

“It’s not uncommon for them to have a home in Paris, New York, Vegas and Boca,” Piazza said.

Still, some real estate observers are skeptical.

Jack McCabe, a housing analyst in Deerfield Beach, said Penn-Florida appears to be “shooting for the moon” at Via Mizner.

While the rental market is hot, much of the demand in South Florida is for more middle-income apartments, McCabe said. He added that condo buyers will be reluctant to spend millions on a project that isn’t on the water.

What’s more, McCabe is forecasting a slowdown in housing prices next year, particularly in the luxury sector.

“That’s going to put a damper on these upper-end projects,” he said.

Beverly Rothstein, a real estate agent throughout South Florida for Re/Max ParkCreek, said Penn-Florida will have to target a “nebulous group” of condo buyers that prefers Boca Raton to Miami.

“People who have that kind of money will choose Miami before they choose Boca Raton,” Rothstein said.

However, Piazza said the Mandarin name will drive demand for high-end condos in Boca Raton. He pointed out that none of the other Mandarin hotels with attached condos sits directly on the water.

“People understand the product, and they aren’t questioning the prices,” Piazza said.

Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie also is optimistic.

Even though Via Mizner isn’t a waterfront location, some renters, owners and hotel guests will have views of the Boca Raton Resort & Club, as well as the ocean and Intracoastal Waterway, Haynie said.

The development will enrich an already-vibrant downtown, the mayor said.

“I think it will do really well,” Haynie said. “I believe they can get those prices.”

Powers@SunSentinel.com, 561-243-6529 or Twitter @paulowers