Turnberry Associates tries to turn real estate into gold. The company develops and manages commercial and residential real estate, primarily in South Florida and Las Vegas. Key developments include the nearly 3 million-sq. ft. Aventura Mall in Florida and The Residences condominium hotel at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The company also renovated and expanded the iconic Fontainebleau Hotel & Resort in Miami, the largest hotel in South Florida. Turnberry Associates has developed more than $7 billion of property, including office space, hotels, apartments and condos, since it was founded in 1967 by managing partner Donald Soffer. The Soffer family continues to control the company.
Turnberry Associates and its leaders have struggled during the recession, which hit key markets (Miami and Las Vegas) especially hard. Much of the problems stemmed from associations with Fontainebleau properties and failed financial firm Lehman Brothers. The company first began renovating the once bankrupt Miami Fontainebleau in 2005. The end result (which reopened in 2008) includes three condominium towers, 11 restaurants and bars, and a spa at the 22-acre site. Australian gaming company Crown Limited stepped in to acquire a 20% stake in Fontainebleau Resorts in 2007. Then Dubai-based Nakheel Hotels bought 50% of Fontainebleau a year later.
The Soffer family continued to be investors in other Fontainebleau projects (including the bankrupt Fontainebleau casino in Las Vegas). The Soffers and others spent some $2 billion to build the unfinished tower, before funding for the project dried up and the project failed in 2010. The vaccant tower was sold to Carl Icahn's Icahn Enterprises for pennies on the dollar. The Soffers and their network of holding companies face several lawsuits regarding the failed project. The future of the Fontainebleau in Vegas is foggy. It most recently was used for firefighting drills.
Another problem area for Turnberry Associates is Town Square mall in Las Vegas. Lenders for the 100-acre outdoor shopping mall are looking to foreclose on the property. However, the Soffers are fighting to keep control of Town Square, which was financed by Lehman Brothers.
In order to spread out the economic risk and increase capital, the firm has teamed with others including Burroughs & Chapin and Centra Properties to develop high-end retail projects in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Economic conditions forced Turnberry Associates to discontinue at least one luxury condo project in 2008. Construction at a planned tower in Houston was scrapped as construction lending sources dried up. However, the company went ahead with similar projects, such as Turnberry Tower in Arlington, Virginia and The Residences at Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
In 2011 Turnberry Associates sold the Tower Shops in Davie, Florida for more than $67 million to Federal Realty Investment Trust. – less