Moves to suburbs don't jeopardize Miami's core business, brokers say
By Sherri C. Ranta
As some banks, consulates and other firms relocate to Coral Gables and the suburbs, office brokers say the movement is natural and does not signal a demise of downtown Miami or Brickell Avenue markets.
Tenants will review their options as their leases come up for renewal and some will move elsewhere, but the core businesses - financial, professional and government - aren't going anywhere, said Charles V. Barton, principal, CRESA Partners, tenant representatives.
'I don't see it as a trend that should worry building owners. We've seen one or two move out, but I don't see it as a major flow," he said.
Some firms, such as boutique law or other professional firms, will make that decision because it's a personal work choice. It's not an indictment of downtown and Brickell markets, Mr. Barton said.
Seeing a few firms move out of the downtown areas is not a trend, said Hank Klein, vice chairman of Codina Realty Group
"You've had a few law firms move out. Colson Hicks Eidson moved to Coral Gables," he said. "It was an important move - a well-respected, prestigious law firm moved out of the First Union building. But I haven't seen a lot of that kind of movement lately - not anything of serious consequences," Mr. Klein said.
Tenants are looking at locations throughout the county to get the best deal for their companies, said Dick Neve, senior vice president of The Hogan Group, manager of the Waterford complex, a 2.2-million-square-foot office complex at Blue Lagoon near Miami International Airport.
"We're seeing some small law firms looking to move out here. There are higher rents on Brickell and a charge for parking. We haven't seen any banks out here yet. I still feel Coral Gables is the next step for them," he said.
One direct move out of Brickell, Mr. Neve said, came in July when the Orange Bowl Committee relocated to the Waterford. Another relocation to Blue Lagoon came in October when Burger King moved its worldwide headquarters to a nine-story, 212,000-square-foot, build-to-suit building, he said.
Many companies find it more palatable for their people to drive to West Dade than to sell them on going to downtown and Brickell, Mr. Neve said.
Occupancy at the Waterford stands at about 87%, he said. The park's newest building, 703 Blue Lagoon, is about 40% leased. Some tenants, he said, are new and some are relocations. Cemex, an affiliate of a Mexican cement company, is a new tenant. Air Transport Association and Cannon relocated to the Waterford from other Miami-Dade sites, Mr. Neve said.
While recent moves from downtown and Brickell aren't causing serious concerns, businesses moving from Miami's central business district to western Miami-Dade County actually began in the 1980s.
For example, Carnival Cruise Lines moved to the Doral area - Northwest 87th Avenue and 41st Street - in the late '80s, said Bob Orban, senior vice president of Corporate Advisory Services for the Trammell Crow Co.
"Now it's a regular office location. Carnival was a pioneer in that area," he said.
Businesses in general, Mr. Orban said, are re-examining whether they need to be in central city locations, and those that don't go elsewhere.
Before Interstate 75 opened, Mr. Orban said, Miami Lakes was considered the in-between point for Broward and Miami-Dade counties. That area, he said, has been somewhat supplanted by newer office and industrial properties in South Broward.
A recent example of the move westward, he said, is a client in the insurance risk-management industry, he said, located north of downtown. The company is planning to relocate to the western end of Miami-Dade County because most of its employees will be able to commute more easily via Florida's Turnpike.
Pike Rowley, director of Broward Division of Codina Realty Services Oncor International, says his division sees the business exodus from Miami-Dade to Broward County.
In the past two years about 25% - or three companies - of the business exodus from Miami-Dade Mr. Rowley said he's seen has come from the Brickell-downtown markets.
"There is a consistent exodus out of (Miami-Dade) and a certain percentage out of Brickell," Mr. Rowley said "What drives the deals I see are the executives residing in West Broward. They are living there and don't want to commute."