Developer wants to refit Miami River shipyard for retail, dining, housing
By Susan Stabley
A former World War II shipyard is under contract for purchase by a developer who wants to make it part of downtown Miami's new riverfront - a strip where visitors can carouse by boat or by foot.
The Miami City Commission has approved rezoning 2.2 acres at 615 SW Second Ave., just east of the bridge. The change turns the high-density, mixed-use land from industrial to restricted-commercial designation.
Local developer Kevin Riley says he wants the site to become a blend of residential units, retail and a restaurant but that it's too early to give specifics.
The parcel is owned by Marjorie O. Brickell and William O. Brickell of the Brickell Family Trust, with the contract purchaser of the property being Riverfront Village, which is owned 100% by Mr. Riley, according to city documents. Mr. Riley is the developer behind Brickell Station, set for completion in June 2005, with two residential towers of 700-plus units and ground-level retail at 1101 SW First Ave.
"Our project on the Miami River is an important component of the new vision for the riverfront - a place where people will live, work, dine and stroll along the river's promenade," he said Tuesday.
The development would create an extension of the Brickell area riverfront, with an emphasis on the waterfront corridor. With the rezoning, up to 150 residential dwelling units per acre will be allowed on the site under city regulations.
Build-up along the city's riverfront is monitored by the Miami River Commission, which gave its blessing to this project's application before the city commission. The site was once the location of the now-vacant Brickell Shipyards, said David Miller, managing director of the commission.
Piece by piece, developers are creating a corridor of recreation and commerce along the river, Mr. Miller said, that will encourage more people to enjoy the river.
That's the vision for the area from the mouth of the Miami River to Fifth Street, with residences and retail along a public walkway and tie-up spaces for boaters. The city now requires developers there to incorporate a walkway, he said.
"As many as are under way, many more are planned. We're very happy with that," Mr. Miller said Friday.
From Fifth Street to 22nd Avenue, he said to expect more mixed-use, small marinas and water-dependant businesses.
At the river's upper end, from 22nd to 27th avenues, the area will be encouraged to remain home to water-dependant business and other marine industries.
Charles J. Foschini of L.J. Melody & Co., a real estate investment banking firm that has arranged an annual volume of $9 million in permanent financing nationally, considers the land along the river as very desirable.
"I think it is a superior location," he said, "well-located near Publix and other Brickell amenities and very appealing for an condo developer."