REAL ESTATE

Motor-themed restaurant/retail concept revs up for U.S. debut

BY Marianne Wilson

Start your engines: Ace Café, a motorcycle and car-themed chain, has parked itself in downtown Orlando.

The 35,000-sq-ft. entertainment, dining and retail destination is the first North American location of the London-based brand and the sixth Ace Cafe in the world. Ace Cafe Orlando spans two floors and features a full-service restaurant, four bars, a coffee bar, a stage, a mezzanine that overlooks the main floor dining area and stage, and private and semi-private spaces for groups.

The retail components include Rockers Speed Shop, which sells official branded Ace gear and apparel, a BMW motorcycle dealer, and Dainese D-Store, a high-tech riding gear and accessories brand from London. Also featured: Stonebridge Motor Gallery, which sells original motorsports and rock ’n roll-inspired artwork, photography, sculptures, and memorabilia, as well as collectable vintage and rare, one-off custom motorcycles; and EagleRider, a motorcycle rental company.

“We have built a special place for everyone, from petrol-heads and enthusiasts, to the after-hours work crowd, families, music lovers and everybody in between,” said Mark McKee, CEO. Ace Cafe North America. “For those passionate about cool motors, great music, inspired food and drinks, and good times, Ace Cafe Orlando is the place to be.”

The menu offerings emphasize made-from-scratch home style comfort food that captures the spirit and flavors of some of the best diners and backroad joints across the country. Select British favorites are also offered in a nod to Ace Cafe’s roots.

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REAL ESTATE

Walmart making big investment in Florida

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart is expanding—and updating—its footprint in the Sunshine State.

The retailer will open nine new stores across Florida in its current fiscal year, creating more than 800 jobs, and also execute a multi-million-dollar capital investment plan by remodeling more than 40 locations across the state. Walmart currently operates 375 stores in Florida.

The coming months will also see Walmart announce the official grand opening of its 150-acre e-commerce distribution center in Davenport, Florida. The facility, which has recently been certified as fully operational, represents an approximate investment of more than $300 million with two buildings spanning more than 2.2 million sq. ft.

The discounter also confirmed plans to break ground later this year on a new distribution center for perishable goods in the City of Cocoa, Florida. The company is planning an investment of more than $145 million on the planned 640,000 sq. ft. facility.

"This year has been an exciting one for Walmart in Florida, and we’ll build on that momentum as we continue to focus on how to better serve our customers through innovation and investments so they can save both time and money,” said Elise Vasquez-Warner, Walmart’s VP and regional general manager in North Florida. “We’ve had a sharp focus on making our store experience second to none and our customers are telling us that our plan is working."

Walmart’s 2017-2018 investment plans build on the chain's growth last year in Florida, which included:

*Hiring more than 3,225 Floridians by opening more than 20 stores/clubs across the state.

*Investing millions of dollars in more than 30 store remodels across the state.

*The expansion of its online grocery pickup service to 70 stores and the launch of Walmart Pay statewide.

*Opening a state-of-the-art supercenter in Lake Nona that showcases new approaches to technologies, services, products and store layout, which will be tested with customers and evaluated for potential implementation in other locations across the country.

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REAL ESTATE

Long-delayed megamall inches closer to reality with new financing

BY Marianne Wilson

American Dream, the long-stalled retail, dining and entertainment destination in New Jersey, has a new opening date — and some badly needed new funding.

Triple Five Group of Companies, owners and operators of Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall, announced that it has closed on $1.67 billion private construction financing for American Dream. The project, located in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and close to Manhattan, is now slated to open in March 2019.

“We are pleased to have worked with J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs on the financing for this transformational project. The construction loan paves the way for the completion of American Dream, and allows us to aggressively move forward with the construction and opening of the project,” said Don Ghermezian, president and CEO, American Dream.

American Dream, formerly known as Xanadu, broke ground more 12 years ago, but its construction was never completed, delayed by various problems, including bankruptcies, lawsuits and financing difficulties. In 2011, Canadian developer Triple Five Group officially took over control of the project and rebranded it as American Dream.

The developer has signed up an impressive list of entertainment attractions for the project, including DreamWorks Water Park, Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, Big Snow Indoor Ski & Snowboard Park, a 1,350-seat live-performance Cirque Du Soleil theater, Sea Life Aquarium, Legoland Discovery Center, Kidzania, an 18-hole miniature golf course, and an NHL-size ice rink. The project will also feature an expensive lineup of department stores and specialty retailers, ranging from Saks Fifth Avenue to Hermès, along with an assortment of restaurants.

The new financing deal announced by Triple Five is expected to set the for a billion-dollar bond issuance that would provide the rest of the funding for the 2.9 million-sq-ft. first phase of the project, according to northjersey.com.

To read more, click here.

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