|By Susannah Bryan, Sun
SentinelMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 09, 2013--HOLLYWOOD -- It's a new kind of condo, one with a twist.
Costa Hollywood, an upscale condo-hotel resort village, will include 304 condo-hotel units, a gym, spa, upscale restaurants and shops -- and, if demand dictates, a synagogue.
The $180 million project, given the initial nod by commissioners this week, is expected to break ground by March and open by December 2014, says developer Moses Bensusan, owner of Liberty Grande.
The address has a lucky ring to it: 777 North Ocean Drive.
"It's a five-star resort," Bensusan said. "Three of the five restaurants will offer fine dining. One will be on the rooftop facing the Intracoastal. We will also have a rooftop pool deck."
The six-story Costa building will rise two blocks south of Margaritaville, a long-awaited Jimmy Buffett-themed project with 17 stories and 350 hotel rooms.
Guests at Costa will have views of the ocean and Intracoastal.
Initial plans called for a 1,000-foot synagogue that would accommodate 50 people and be used exclusively by hotel guests and unit owners.
Last year, Bensusan said funding for the 5-acre project would come partly from sale of condo units to Europeans and South Americans, including Jewish tourists who would prefer the convenience of a synagogue on site.
"It could be something very exciting if we do it," he said of the synagogue. "It depends on the demand. Most of the buyers are from Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia and Canada."
Industry experts loved the notion of including a synagogue on the premises.
"It definitely is unusual," said Lewis Goodkin, president of Goodkin Consulting in Miami. "I think it's a damn good idea."
Roy Rogers, a former vice president for Weston's developer Arvida-JMB Partners, applauded the plan, saying a synagogue can be just as important as nearby schools and parks for today's buyers.
"I say hooray," Rogers said. "It tells me the guy is really smart in terms of the vision he has. I salute him."
Commissioner Patricia Asseff, a real estate agent, thinks the synagogue would be a hit with buyers.
"A lot of people will buy there because they will want to have a chabad there," Asseff said. "It's an international hotel and a lot of people will want to come to the chabad."
Bensusan says he already has pre-sale commitments on half of the one- to three-bedroom units, where owners and guests can stay for up to 150 days at a time. The units, priced from $225,000 to $400,000, will come with modern furnishings reminiscent of South Beach.
For the past few years, the developers have been buying up distressed properties near Pierce Street, just south of Margaritaville.
The Costa project will come with nearly 500 parking spaces, split between an automated robotic garage and conventional parking garage.
Bensusan says his vision will lure tourists and locals alike, with families holding weddings and bar mitzvahs in the courtyard.
The project is expected to come before the commission for final approval on March 6.
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