When we last left Wellington resident Rob Van Winkle, he was jumping a motorcycle over a monster truck filled with drunken fans. Now the man known to the world as Vanilla Ice is embarking on a quintessential South Florida venture: real estate.
Always a lover of vintage cars -- he owns the '67 Cadillac convertible Eddie Murphy drove in 48 Hours -- Van Winkle is now a partner in a Delray Beach project aimed at wealthy car collectors who want to sleep in the place where they store their toys.
The Car Loft, planned for a site north of Atlantic Avenue on North Federal Highway, is a cross between a condo and a souped-up garage. Each of the 22 units will have space to park three to four cars on shiny marble floors. There will be a kitchenette, bathrooms, and an 800-square-foot loft upstairs with space for a bed or a small office. Presumably, the residents won't mind the smell of motor oil.
The idea, says developer Hans Reinisch, is to provide space for tourists to store their collectibles and hang out with
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other car junkies. They can fly in from Europe or New York, show off their favorite caddies on Atlantic Avenue for a few nights, do a little golfing, then fly home. There's even a car wash on the property.
"I believe that Delray right now is the hottest place in South Florida," Reinisch says."We are very excited."
Having Vanilla Ice as a partner and owner of one of the units is no accident. Reinisch wants to build similar developments in cities such as L.A. or Dallas, each time using a celebrity buyer to draw crowds.
Reinisch, who lives on Atlantic Avenue, chose Delray as the pilot city. He says he's not worried about the monumental housing bust now gripping South Florida. He calls the $180,000 to $200,000 price tag for the units "very competitive" and says he's already sold six units in the past month. If all goes well, the project will break ground in July.