One Miami's vision now calls for entertainment, residential and office buildings
By Paola Iuspa and Frank Norton
Plans to build three residential towers and an entertainment center on 6 acres at the mouth of the Miami River could change the focus of an area dominated by offices and convention hotels.
Developers of Brickell Avenue's JW Marriott and Barclays Financial Center are proposing to build a mixed-use project between the Hyatt Regency Miami, 400 SE Second Ave., and Hotel Inter-Continental Miami, 100 Chopin Plaza.
Executives from MDM Development Group of South Miami last week met with Miami Mayor Manny Diaz to share their vision for three downtown parcels now used for parking and planned as part of the One Miami project.
Four parcels totaling 9 acres, land for One Miami stretches from Biscayne Bay and the Hotel Inter-Continental west to Southeast Second Avenue and the Hyatt Regency Miami and north of Biscayne Boulevard Way to south of Southeast Second Street.
A month ago, the MDM group contracted to buy 6 acres from Miami One Centre, headed by Larry DeGeorge, Ned Siegel and Morris Stoltz II. The Related Group of Florida, led by Jorge Perez, in under contract to buy One Miami's other 3 acres on the bayfront, south of the Hotel Inter-Continental.
Mr. DeGeorge said he expects to close on Related's $20 million deal this month. Mr. Perez plans to build about 900,000 square feet of residential and 100,000 square feet of office space.
MDM's plans call for one condominium, two apartment towers and a four-story entertainment venue with movie theaters, restaurant and retail, said Otto Boudet, senior adviser for economic development with the Miami mayor's office, after seeing the plans on Friday.
The proposal would bring 1,500 residential units to the downtown's central business district, he said.
"This is entirely pedestrian oriented from both the residential and retail perspectives," said Timothy Weller, MDM vice president of development. "The key to revitalizing downtown is a residential community. And by building mixed use and creating that 24-hour community we are adding strength to that project."
While still in the due diligence phase, the group plans to close on the deal early next year, said Mr. DeGeorge, who would not disclose the sale price but said his company will retain some ownership on the project, as he will with the Related Group.
That ownership percentage still has to be determined, Mr. Weller said.
"Ricardo Glas is a well-known developer and always ends up doing what he says," Mr. DeGeorge said referring to one of the principals with MDM. "We are 100% behind his project."
Mr. Boudet said the developers' plans support converting the one-way streets around the parcels into two-way traffic.
"Certainly we think two-way traffic is beneficial to a residential environment," said Mr. Weller, who said he is interviewing traffic-engineering firms and looking at urban planners to consult on the project.
"The mayor is very excited about this project," Mr. Boudet said. "The developer already met with city planners and agreed to incorporate in the design some of the staff's comments."
Mr. DeGeorge said MDM's part of the project will require a major use special permit from the city, a process that includes public hearings.
The developer expects to get the permit by the year's end, Mr. Boudet said.
MDM hired the architectural firm of Nichols Brosch Sandoval & Associates Inc. of Coral Gables, the firm that designed the JW Marriott, a 21-story luxury hotel, and the Barclays, a 30-story office building.
The firm also participated in the $600 million renovation of The Diplomat Resort & Country Club in Hollywood. The glass-covered and futuristic-looking renovation project consists of a 1,000-room hotel, 107-unit condominium, 250,000-square-foot convention center, 60,000 square feet of entertainment retail and a 3,000-space parking garage.
City of Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton, whose district includes the One Miami properties, said he was not aware of the specific uses planned for the parcels but hopes the project moves forward.
When asked if he would support the developers' plans, he said: "It would have to be a pretty lousy developer for anyone to oppose development of that site."