All Aboard The Passenger - Train Revival

Henry Fagler’s descendant company aims to repeat history in an attempt to revive private intercity passenger-rail service. Florida East Coast Industries, owned by Fortress Investment Group LLC, will start construction on a $2.3 billion passenger-train called All Aboard Florida.

The train ride will provide a three-hour ride connecting Miami and Orlando with stops in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Although there is positive backing for the new train system, the project faces challenges including an environmental review, residents’ opposition and uncertain federal backing. But even with this opposition, FECI believes the project will fill seats due to the clogged highways, long airport waits and low cost.

FECI is not just looking to connect the beach city to the family tourist destination. The company plans to invest in real estate by using a train station to house shopping, apartments and commercial space. If FECI completes the project with the rail system and real estate project, All Aboard Florida will be among the nation's boldest transit oriented developments.

The first phase of the project will consist of upgrading existing tracks between Miami and West Palm Beach and building three train stations. The second phase includes building 40 miles of track next to a highway to connect Orlando. Phase Two is still under environmental review. Even if the project is completed, there are concerns whether the train will be able to have enough customers to make the venture profitable. FECI believes the first trains will begin running by 2016. 

 

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Nick Banks

Nick created Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group in 2002 and spent the first eight years developing and acquiring office and retail projects in South Florida as well as North Central Florida. In 2010 the focus of the firm was shifted to primarily serve third party clients and perform brokerage, property management and mortgage banking functions. Nick has personally developed and acquired nearly 200,000 square feet of office and retail properties in markets throughout Florida. Prior to founding Front Street, Nick was the Director of Finance and Dispositions for Stiles Corporation in Fort Lauderdale where he financed and sold over $500 million in commercial real estate. Before joining Stiles, Nick was an Associate Director at GE Capital Real Estate where he sourced over $200 million in financing throughout Florida. Nick is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Finance and a concentration in Real Estate. He serves as a board member and current vice-chair for the United Way of North Central Florida where he also chairs the Development Committee. Nick is actively involved with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce where he serves as a board member and committee member for the Council for Economic Outreach. He is also a recent graduate of Leadership Gainesville which is a year long leadership program hosted by the Chamber. He is a member of Grace United Methodist Church where he has served as finance chair and as a member of the leadership council. Nick serves as an advisory board member of the University of Florida Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. Nick was recently named chair of the Gainesville committee for the North Florida chapter of Urban Land Institute (ULI). He is a licensed real estate broker in the State of Florida and is a long time member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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