Conversion Starts To Drive Omni Mall Up Hightech Lane
Written by Candi Calkins on July 27, 2000
By Candi Calkins
The new owners of the Omni mall are proceeding with plans to convert the 1 million-square-foot retail complex to high-tech use.
Mark Teitelbaum, principal of Argent Ventures, which bought the Omni this spring, said demolition of interior spaces is under way. The developer plans to renovate the three-story mall as a web-hosting and data center.
Argent Ventures is among 10 to 15 companies bidding to become South Florida’s Network Access Point, observers say.
Mr. Teitelbaum said he is in discussions with several possible tenants and hopes to announce the first deals within 30 to 60 days.
"The first to lease will probably be the technology space," Mr. Teitelbaum said. "It’s unclear what the total square footage will be. But it will be significant."
Mr. Teitelbaum said the mall is too large for the current retail market but stores may be added later as the retail market improves. He said retail remains the best use for the ground floor.
Developers are creating a master plan for routing fiber-optic networks and power supplies needed by Internet service-providers and other telecommunications companies.
John Peters, CEO of Technology Real Estate, who is leasing agent for the project, said he expects 10 to 30 high-tech tenants.
Once interior demolition is complete, he said, contractors will create shafts for fiber-optic cables. Vaults will be created on exterior walls to bring the fiber-optic cables into the building.
Mr. Peters said the high ceilings, heavy-duty floors and large interior spaces make it easy for high-tech companies to install computers, generators and other equipment.
"We’re well under way with our construction to do our infrastructure improvements," Mr. Peters said.
"It’s going to bring a high level of jobs to the area," Mr. Teitelbaum said. "It’s going to be one of the biggest telecommunication facilities, certainly in Florida."
"It will obviously have a very positive effect on the immediate area if they are successful in filling it up," said Jack Lowell, vice chairman of the Codina Group. "The facility has a lot of the elements that are appealing to the telecommunications industry."
"I think everybody’s question," Mr. Lowell said, "is just how deep is that industry?"
He said several downtown Miami conversions for high-tech uses have already proven successful. "We’re hoping that the market is there for more of it."