Mexican developer close to buying landmark hotel in downtown Miami
By Frank Norton
A Mexican development firm plans to buy downtown Miami's landmark Everglades Hotel.
CABI Developers, the US division of Mexican real-estate giant GICSA, has a contract to buy the 376-room hotel from majority owner Tropero Investments NV, a city and industry officials said. An offer on the property by Dallas hotel chain La Quinta fell through, they said.
"We know for a fact that they have a contract, but as far as I know, nothing has been bought yet," said Justo Mayo, general manager of the America Hotel, a small lodge on the south side of the Everglades that is part of the same property.
Otto Boudet-Murias, adviser to Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, said CABI has a contract on the corner property and might be planning two high-rise residential buildings.
The once-posh 17-story Everglades at 244 Biscayne Blvd. was built in 1926 to attract wealthy travelers to Miami but has fallen into disrepair in recent years. Rooms currently rent for $75 a night.
"It's probably one of the best if not the best properties in downtown," said Mr. Mayo, who has met with CABI officials, including principal Elias Cababie. "I told them I would not hesitate to buy one or two condo units if they do buy and build something."
Mr. Mayo said he was unaware of possible redevelopment plans.
Mr. Boudet-Murias said he could not say whether plans call for knocking down the beige and brown hotel or building on space in an adjacent parking lot on the Everglade's west side.
Jacobo Cababie, chairman of CABI's parent group, said the firm has strong growth potential in South Florida. It is developing several projects in Aventura, including the Parc at Turnberry Isle, a $40 million condo project to include two 22-story towers.
Everglades General Manager Demetrio Castillo, a partner in Tropero, said through an assistant that he is bound by a confidentiality agreement and could not comment on the hotel's sale. Real-estate brokers for CABI and Tropero also declined comment.
But Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton said redevelopment of the Everglades into high-rise residences would make economic sense for the city.
"It would really march development in the One Miami area right up Biscayne and could eventually fill the gap in the Park West area before you get to Omni," he said.
Just three blocks south of the Everglades, MDM Development Group is planning to build three residential towers and an entertainment complex on 6 acres of paved lots. Abutting that project to the east is One Miami, a twin-tower residential project at the mouth of the Miami River being developed and aggressively marketed by Related Group of Florida.