Coconut Groves Ritzcarlton Hotel Again Delays Opening
By Jaime Levy
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A late change in construction firms is causing another delay in opening the Coconut Grove Ritz-Carlton Hotel, now scheduled for Aug. 15.
With the $150 million combined hotel and condominium project coming into the home stretch – General Manager Marco Selva said only the public spaces and some outdoor detailing have yet to be completed – the partners managing the project, SunAmerica and McCann Real Equities Development, just named HG Beck of Dallas to finish the two towers.
Until the switch, Armonk, N.Y.-based McCann was the construction firm working on the complex.
"The prior construction company who is a partner in the project was unable to complete it within the budget, so they made the decision to bring in a larger company who has quite a bit of experience building Ritz-Carlton hotels," said Rob Drawbridge, a principal with Dallas’ Quorum Hotel Advisers, who is consulting Los Angeles-based SunAmerica on the project. Beck built two Atlanta-area Ritz-Carltons.
McCann bought most of its consolidated parcel in 1997 for $18 million, but the project since has stalled repeatedly. In October 1998, soon after construction began, building stopped when contractors uncovered 3 feet of water – a problem that required extensive re-engineering; as of January 1999, McCann representatives said they expected a summer 2000 opening. At least two other schedule changes occurred between summer 2000 and this January, when the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau estimated that the hotel would open during the first quarter of 2002.
Mr. Selva said the most recent delay will probably be the last.
"Obviously there was Sept. 11, and we decided it was prudent to slow down the project," Mr. Selva said, emphasizing that it was not a cash shortage that slowed development. "Then there were some construction issues, delays in the schedule. We’re very confident with the new dates, the company and frankly, the economy, too. It’s better to open in late summer than in early summer."
In the meantime, the residences at the site are selling for $300,000 to $4 million, Mr. Drawbridge said, with the first tower 90% sold and the second filling rapidly. Mr. Selva is relocating hotel guests who had advance reservations and scheduled events to the Ritz-Carlton on Key Biscayne.
"We’re very fortunate to have a sister property in town. We’ve been able to relocate most if not all of the events to Key Biscayne," Mr. Selva said. "As a company, Ritz-Carlton takes seriously the people doing business with us. If we have to relocate them, we oversee the whole process and make sure they’re well taken care of."