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Shaq Forms Real Estate Development Group, Enters Miami Joint Venture

NBA Superstar Partners in Development of Major South Florida Project
September 19, 2006
Shaquille O'Neal's newly formed O'Neal Group has partnered with MDM Development on The Met, a $1 billion mixed-use project in Miami.
Shaquille O'Neal's newly formed O'Neal Group has partnered with MDM Development on The Met, a $1 billion mixed-use project in Miami.

Shaquille O’Neal’s season with the Miami Heat professional basketball team may have concluded with an NBA championship in June, but the star center has been hard at work to bring similar success to his newest team, The O’Neal Group.

O’Neal formed the Miami-based real estate development and consulting company this week, temporarily exchanging his #32 jersey for a suit and tie. The firm will focus on partnering with developers on mixed-use projects with integrated living spaces. According to Christopher Handy, executive vice president of The O’Neal Group, the firm intends to "acquire, develop and promote projects across the country."

Michael Parris, O’Neal’s co-agent and manager, is president of the firm.

The O’Neal Group initially plans to concentrate efforts in New Jersey, South Florida, Los Angeles and Louisiana, all markets in which O’Neal has spent a significant amount of time. The Newark, NJ native attended Louisiana State University and spent almost 10 years with the Los Angeles Lakers before being traded to the Heat. He started his NBA career with the Orlando Magic in 1992.

The firm also announced its first project, Metropolitan Miami (The Met), one in which the often larger-than-life O’Neal may have found an appropriately sized endeavor.

The O’Neal Group will partner with lead developer MDM Development Group of Miami on the $1 billion, mixed-use development located at the former Royal Palm Hotel site on 9.3 acres between NE 3rd and 4th streets in downtown Miami.

"We've scoured the country to find an appropriate venue through which we could launch The O'Neal Group," said O'Neal, "and ultimately we decided that the best place to start was in our own backyard with Metropolitan Miami."

The Met will feature 1,100 residential units in a 40-story tower, which is currently under construction, and a proposed 76-story tower, the latter being the tallest residential structure south of New York City. Also proposed is a 640-foot commercial tower that would contain 700,000 square feet of office space, 30,000 square feet of retail space and a 376-room Marriott Marquis hotel.

The Met will also include a Fitness/Shaq Ultra Sport fitness facility, a 45,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market, and a four-story, 120,000-square-foot entertainment complex with a 60,000-square-foot movie theater and 60,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. A 1,700-space garage will accommodate parking.

Aside from helping to fund the project, O’Neal’s team will assist with sales and marketing, raising the profile of the already prominent development. RTKL Associates Inc. and Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates Inc. are the project’s designers.

O’Neal has a private portfolio of residential and commercial properties valued at more than $50 million. His formal foray into the real estate field is preceded by pro athletes including Dallas Cowboy Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, who founded the The Staubach Co., and former L.A. Lakers’ great Magic Johnson, whose Magic Johnson Enterprises firm has invested in Lowes Theatres and Starbucks.
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