UPDATE: PrimeTime Amusement's David Goldfarb issued a statement clarifying that they are no longer a part of the Artegon project. "We have decided to go a different direction as a company in this project, and are no longer affiliated with Artegon. We wish Dezer Development only success moving forward."
Back in January, when South Florida developer Michael Dezer and arcade operator giant PrimeTime Amusements purchased the failed Artegon
mall property, and it was clear that the two intended to add their own concepts
to the Bass Pro Shop and Cinemark Theaters anchored complex
In March, after much speculation on what exactly was planned for the gutted mall building, PrimeTime Amusements issued a statement clarifying that plans were still in the works for the site. With the majority of their machines in the Orlando market, PrimeTime Amusements explained they were shifting their base of operations to Orlando.
"Though headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, the bulk of the company’s operations reside in Orlando. The number of arcade locations operating PrimeTime Amusements machines will continue to rise over the years (expected to be well into the 3000’s by years end), and as such, a new base of operations in Orlando, was necessary, and the former Artegon mall will not only provide ample storage space, but is also centrally located in terms of other venues being operated by PrimeTime Amusements. Beyond that, it was a unique economic opportunity given the purchase price that David Goldfarb could simply not pass up, especially given that the majority owner, Michael Dezer has built a billion-dollar empire on real estate his entire life.”
The press release
went on to explain that an Xtreme Action Park
, like the one the two companies operated together in Fort Lauderdale, could be in the works for the old mall but a mixed-use redevelopment plan was in the works for the 104-acre site.
In May, signage was spotted
on site for the “Orlando Auto Museum” at the “Dezerland Action Park.”
Michael Dezer has one of the most extensive private auto collections in the world, including the world’s largest Vespa collection and the world’s largest James Bond collection. His massive international car collection is accented by other rare items including dozens of jukeboxes, thousands of antique metal signs, and movie memorabilia ranging from airplanes to props from the Flintstones movies.
Three Dezer Auto Museums
(in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and
Las Vegas) used to house the collection, with the most substantial being in Miami, but now both the Miami and Fort Lauderdale auto museums are closing. The Miami location once stretched across more than 250,000 square feet, but slowly gave way to a Dezer-operated family entertainment center, which will be rebranded as Dezerland Park
It’s still not clear what parts of the Miami and Fort Lauderdale collections will be moved to Orlando. Some of the other celebrity cars and memorabilia could move to the Vegas museum, which specializes in Hollywood cars. That location may be getting its own Dezerland-style FEC eventually, though Michael Dezer has indicated
that he wants to wait five to seven years before moving forward with that project. First
a new football stadium will open just a few blocks from the Vegas museum, which might make the property more desirable for redevelopment.
Besides Artegon, Dezer's other projects include the world’s first Porsche-branded residential project, as well as multiple Trump Towers and properties. Luxury condos and hotel rooms are possibly in the long-term plans on the Artegon site. But for now, it looks like Dezer
and PrimeTime Amusements
are moving forward with just getting the mall itself reopened.
Dozens of cars have already begun to be moved into the massive space, which started out as a traditional mall, then called Festival Bay.
Even without the Bond collection, the Orlando Auto Museum will very likely be one of the premier auto collections in the world. The Microcar collection, the largest in the world, has already begun arriving in Orlando, along with parts of the Vespa collection.
The Fort Lauderdale museum’s military collection will also be part of the Orlando exhibit. The Rolls Royce collection, which includes one car valued at $2 million, is also likely to make an appearance in Orlando.
Like its predecessor in Miami, all of the former museums have featured large, life-size dioramas that set the scene for the cars. 1950s America is a favorite theme, with thousands of authentic items from that era on display at the museums.
The auto museum has been confirmed for Orlando, but few other details have been provided.
Engineering, environmental and energy consulting and design firm Partner confirmed to a trade publication
that it was working on the Artegon project. The article explained that Partner “contributed pre-development due diligence here for luxury developer Dezer Development in turning this struggling mall in a prime location into an entertainment complex and event center. The redevelopment includes an automotive museum featuring Mr. Michael Dezer’s private collection of James Bond movie vehicles. A movie theater and non-traditional anchor tenant, along with the large parking lot presenting hospitality opportunities will ultimately bolter (sic) the property’s value and overall experience.”
That article from May does mention the Bond collection, valued at $50 million, moving to Orlando, but in late July it was confirmed
that the Bond exhibit would remain in its current location and be a part of the new Dezerland Park. The nontraditional anchor tenant mentioned by Partner is the Bass Pro Shop, which has a separate landowner despite being surrounded by the Artegon site on all sides. With this location rumored to be one of Bass Pro Shop’s most successful stores, it will likely remain open no matter what happens with the surrounding property.
The Orlando-based Dezer Action Park will likely draw inspiration from Fort Lauderdale’s Xtreme Action Park and Dezerland Park. Specifics of what may be included in that have yet to be shared, but the mall formerly housed an indoor/outdoor skate park, a trampoline park, and a ropes course that has since been entirely dismantled. Cars and antique metal signs now fill the majority of the spaces visible inside the former mall.
One corridor near the Cinemark movie theater and the blacklight miniature golf attraction, both of which are still open, is lined with pinball machines but there are
currently no visible signs of the "action park" attraction with the vast majority of the former mall now filled with Dezer's car collection.
The Fuddrucker's restaurant is also still open and has taken to blasting pop music out in front of the business to attract customers to the former mall entrance, which now looks more like a ghost town.
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