In July 2012, Stronach’s group bought out Forest City’s 50-percent share of the shopping center, paying the company $15 million, according to Forest City filings. Stronach recently negotiated an extension on their debt, and has reported no overdue payments in quarterly disclosure statements to investors.
Gulfstream does not disclose sales figures, but publicly available financial reports suggest revenue figures far below industry norms. Hallandale Beach allowed Gulfstream to create its own taxing district to build the shopping center. Along with retaining some property taxes, the district charges customers a .05 percent tax on all shopping-center sales to fund the center’s parking garage, roads, landscaping and sewage system. Gulfstream borrowed $106 million for the effort, and special property tax and sales tax go toward the project’s yearly $4 million debt service payments.
In the 12 months that ended Oct. 1, 2012, the Gulfstream Park Community Development District reported about $365,000 from the sales tax — meaning it would have recorded $71 million in sales.
That’s 12 percent higher than the prior year’s $64 million tally. But even with the growth, the sales figure falls below industry averages. In its most recent report, Forest City reported average sales of $480 a foot for its portfolio of 44 retail centers and the International Council on Shopping Center reports average sales-per-foot of $460 in a recent report.
In a 2012 analysis, the Bal Harbour Shops ranked No. 1 in that category, generating $2,555 in sales per square foot. Gulfstream’s nearby competitor, Aventura Mall, was listed at $1,100 per foot.
Gulfstream executives would not confirm or deny the sales figure imputed by the fee revenue.
But Lesllie Vasquez, assistant general manager at Village of Gulfstream Park, noted that the mall was under Forest City’s control during the time of the report. “There was very poor management in the past,’’ she said.
A Forest City spokesman declined to comment.
The next steps for Gulfstream aren’t firm. While the Pegasus statue components are set to make their journey from China early next year, it’s unclear whether a full amusement park will follow. Gulfstream’s owners temporarily dropped plans for an amusement park from their zoning application when they hit resistance from the city’s planning department, and the retail complex has notified lenders it will stretch its final construction plan five years into 2022.
But with an addition of about 250 horse stalls, the track’s larger stables have allowed it this year to expand its racing offerings. Already, weekend races are on the schedule — bringing in more foot traffic that Gulfstream executives hope will boost sales at shops and restaurants. While the racing season typically ends in April, 2014 will be the first with a summer schedule, too.
The added activity means an optimistic outlook for Herb Barker. He owns the Barker Animation Art Gallery in the Village, where a life-sized statue from The Simpsons out on the sidewalk helps draw customers into his store. He called signing his Gulfstream lease “a smart decision” that is looking smarter.
“I have a lot of faith,” he said, “that it is only going to get better.”