Mellon United takes Barclays space, naming rights to 30-story Brickell tower
By Frank Norton
Mellon United National Bank will move into the top two floors of the Barclays Financial Center and rename the 30-story Brickell Avenue building, vacant since Barclays' August transfer of Latin America operations to New York.
The high-profile lease and naming-rights transaction is the largest in Miami in three years, involving 50,000 square feet at an undisclosed price, said Stuart Eisenkraft of Insignia/ESG in New York, who helped close the deal.
The actual name on the building's exterior will change in the next couple of months, he said. The purchase of the tower's name catapults the Mellon brand to a stratum shared by few others in Miami, such as Bank of America, Citibank and SunTrust.
"The move is indicative of our commitment to the South Florida market," said Charles E. Porter, Florida president of Mellon Private Asset Management, adding the new location would raise the profile of the bank.
Part of Pittsburgh-based Mellon Financial Corp., the bank now occupies a four-story building across Brickell at 1399 SW First Ave.
Company officials are still pondering what to do with the existing location, said Mr. Porter, whose offices will be making the move to Brickell, but a retail branch will probably remain at the First Avenue site.
"The rough estimate is that we'll be moving some time in the first quarter of 2003," he said, "but there are a lot of details yet to be worked out."
Mellon United plans to expand operations in South Florida, Mr. Porter said, which now include domestic private banking, commercial and real estate.
Acquiring naming rights to the building is "somewhat ego-driven but it's also a legitimate advertising move, and banks love to advertise their name," said Michael Cannon, managing director of Integra Realty Resources-AREEA/South Florida.
As for closing the deal, sources said negotiations were complex and protracted.
"This was a very difficult deal and a complex transaction. The building changed hands right in the middle of it all," Mr. Eisenkraft said.
Spanish real estate giant Testa Inmuebles en Renta bought the building for $130 million in July, complicating both negotiations and the final structure of the transaction. Mr. Eisenkraft said, however, the sale to the Spanish firm, part of the Vallehermoso Group, did not impede talks.
"Americans think foreign firms don't understand our way of doing business, but they were exceedingly commercial and will bring a lot of class to Miami ownership," he said of Testa.
Although two floors of the tower are now leased, Barclays has yet to unload 25,000 square feet on the 28th floor. Mr. Eisenkraft said several candidates are looking at that space.