Bal Harbour Shops founder are branching out in a joint venture with Hong Kong-based Swire Properties to develop the retail portion of the future Brickell CityCentre

June 17, 2013

 

Stanley Whitman could reinvent luxury retail , again, the owner and founder of Bal Harbour Shops, learned a precept he continues to live by: luxury is an inelastic good.

The shopping center north of Miami Beach, which opened in 1965, was named last year the world’s most productive shopping center, measured by sales per square foot, on the planet.

For consumers of luxury from cities like Buenos Aires and Moscow, Bal Harbour Shops, which Whitman opened as a retired U.S. Navy officer in 1965, is synonymous with Miami – a mecca for high-end shopping.

Now the Whitmans are branching out in a joint venture with Hong Kong-based Swire Properties to develop the retail portion of the future Brickell CityCentre, a $1.05 billion mixed-use complex.

“Our interest in the Brickell CityCentre is very simple: Bal Harbour was the only location available to get this huge tourist business, but now we have tourists coming from the Mandarin Oriental and Four Seasons in Brickell. There’s no change to the concept, it’s just a bigger market, and Latin America and other parts of the world have gotten very wealthy,” Whitman said.

In transient South Florida, Whitman, 94, and his family, including executives Randy, Whitman’s son, and Matthew Whitman Lazenby, Whitman’s grandson, will receive an award from Urban Land Institute for “sustainable retail.”

The award is an acknowledgement of what the Whitmans have achieved with Bal Harbour, and what observers and residents hope will achieve with CityCentre – nothing less than a lasting impact.

Bal Harbour and CityCentre differ on one huge point: parking. Stanley Whitman innovated at Bal Harbour, enraging some by charging for validated parking, to discourage beachgoers from filling up the lot. By contrast, at CityCentre, the MetroMover will stop at a station inside the facility and all parking will be underground, driving construction costs through the roof to provide pedestrians with street-level storefronts.

 

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