Plans for South Florida Training Center Progress

Magna Entertainment's plans for a year-round training facility in South Florida moved forward Aug. 27 when Palm Beach officials amended local laws to allow the company to build accomodations for up to 500 grooms at its site near Boynton Beach. The previous limit was 20 grooms' quarters.

"No one had ever considered a facility of this magnitude when the code was developed," said Doug Donn, who is spearheading the project in his role as Gulfstream chairman, "Now we can formally amend our plans and submit them for approval within six weeks."

Magna last year purchased the land, a vegetable farm, for $22 million. The 460 acres is located west of the Florida Turnpike and north of Hallandale, where the company's Gulfstream Park is located. Magna hopes to transform Gulfstream into a "multi-dimensional entertainment complex," and in the process will have to demolish almost half of the track's barn area.

Donn said that while there are several pending permits, including one for excavation, he believes that in a best-case scenario, ground-breaking could commence in 30-60 days and the first phase of the project -- construction of 1,000 of 1,900 stalls -- could be finished within 12 months.

"It is just the nature that this whole project is quite time-consuming," he said.