Fortune buys $5.6 million parcel for Brickell retail center
By Jaime Levy
As Brickell Avenue becomes an increasingly dense residential district, Fortune International Realty is poised to add retail space to serve the area's inhabitants.
In a land deal completed Friday, Fortune paid $5.6 million for a 40,000-square-foot parcel at 1414 Brickell Ave., said Fortune owner Walter DeFortuna. Currently home to a one-story brick building, the property - specifically, a vacant section facing South Miami Avenue - will accommodate 12,000 square feet of retail, Mr. DeFortuna said. He said the strip center should be completed by fall, or six months after it receives city approval.
"Everyone is thinking residential, residential, residential," Mr. DeFortuna said of several projects, including Fortune's Jade, that will bring hundreds of apartments and condominiums to Brickell in the next several years. "Basically, nobody is thinking about where these people are going to eat or send their clothes to be cleaned. There's no service-oriented spaces for people to take their stuff."
"By and large, there has been forever a deficiency from a retail-support standpoint," said Wayne Stringer, president of the Brickell Area Association, who was unaware of Fortune's plans. "Generally speaking, we're very supportive because of the obvious critical mass accumulating, from a residential and business perspective, in the population here."
Fortune purchased the 1414 parcel from an El Salvadoran family, said Andy Elfmont, the broker who represented the seller. The parcel, whose 7,500-square-foot building was once known as the Lawyers Title building, had been in the family's hands since the late 1970s, Mr. Elfmont said.
"They decided to put it on the market because now was a very good time," Mr. Elfmont said. "Miami is reaching its critical mass."
Mr. DeFortuna said his company is conducting studies to determine what it will do with the existing building.
Fortune, owner of several sites along Brickell Avenue, including the Jade residential tower in the works on Brickell Bay Drive, is also planning another retail center nearby, Mr. DeFortuna said.
Purchasing 1451 Brickell Ave. about a year ago, the firm had initially planned to build office space. Recently, however, the company executives began to rethink that plan and are considering a smaller-scale retail building.
"All these people want to stay in the area, but there's no place to accommodate them," Mr. DeFortuna said of local retailers and merchants that lost their space to residential development. "We think this is going to be rented in no time. We wish we had more space."