How the Brightline train will transform the Sunshine State and its real estate
By Dan Weil
All Aboard Florida’s Brightline train service between Miami and West Palm Beach, scheduled to begin this summer, has the potential to be transformational for South Florida, local real estate experts agree. “This will change the way travel and development and redevelopment occur in South Florida,” said Rick Gonzalez, president of REG Architects in West Palm Beach.
“You can now work in downtown Miami and live in Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach.”
Brightline, which has been under construction for almost three years, also includes a stop in Fort Lauderdale and will ultimately be extended to Orlando as well, possibly by next year. Developers will benefit from the consumer traffic around the stations, said Arden Karson, senior managing director of CBRE South Florida, adding, “Brightline will … ultimately make these downtown areas much more attractive as a destination for residential, commercial and retail real estate investment and development.”
The train line will be a boon for tourism as well. “Someone visiting Miami can also stay a weekend at The Breakers,” Gonzalez said, referring to the ritzy Palm Beach hotel.
In addition to making a trip between the cities quicker and less stressful than driving, Brightline has the benefit of taking cars off the road.
“We can’t keep adding lanes to I-95 and the turnpike,” said Harvey Oyer, a partner specializing in real estate at the Shutts & Bowen law firm in West Palm Beach. “We’re out of space to build more roads, and we need a more environmentally friendly way to transport people.”
Jeff Greene, the billionaire real estate investor who owns about $300 million of property in Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, hopes that Brightline will usher in a lasting era of mass transit for the region.
“Millennials have opted for a simpler life oriented toward mass transit,” Greene said. “Maybe they will be more inclined to ride trains.