New owner plans usage of former Burger King headquarters
By Marilyn Bowden
Sale of the former Burger King headquarters, between Old Cutler Road and Biscayne Bay at 184th Street, closed Tuesday. Buyer Grouper Financial is looking at a creative mix of uses for the 80-acre campus, said principal Scott Silver.
Grouper, which has had the property under contract since June, paid $18.5 million for the site, which includes three buildings and landscaped parklands where ibises and peacocks roam.
One strong possibility, Mr. Silver said, is that the smaller of two office buildings - a three-story, 34,000-square-foot structure - will be sold or leased to the Village of Palmetto Bay to use as municipal offices. The deal would include 5 or more acres of recreational land including a baseball diamond. If that deal happens, the property would be renamed Palmetto Bay Village Center.
"We're in discussion with them," Mr. Silver said. "They've appointed a citizens advisory committee to sit with us and town planners Dover Kohl & Partners to plan a charette that will take place in December."
Dover Kohl principal Victor Dover said the site is surrounded by a neighborhood of single-family homes residents "would like to see appreciate and be conserved. This is an opportunity to make a mark and leave behind a better neighborhood."
Through a charette, Mr. Silver said, "we will make certain that the desire of the community is for municipal uses such as a city hall, police station and public library. We're getting positive feedback, but it has to go through the planning process first."
Grouper will seek plan approval early next year, he said.
The 220,000-square-foot main building at 17777 Old Cutler Road is being marketed as Class A office space, Mr. Silver said. It contains four floors of offices atop two floors of covered parking.
"We have executive suites on the third floor, where Burger King's executive offices were," he said. "Many of them are already built out."
The fourth floor, which is divided by an atrium, will be broken into smaller office suites of 500 to 50,000 square feet, Mr. Silver said, and the fifth and sixth floors will be marketed to tenants looking for space of up to 60,000 square feet.
"At $18 to $24 a square foot," he said, "this is as nice as or nicer than anything downtown. It's Class A office space on the bay with a day-care center, fitness club and a banquet hall that seats 350 already in place."
Pamela Smith of Abood Wood-Fay Real Estate Group, who is marketing the office space with partner Mia Stierheim, said there are letters of intent on almost 78,000 square feet.
"With the closing, we hope to convert then into leases," she said.
Mr. Silver said lease proposals are out for an additional 100,000 square feet, some from medical users.
Ms. Stierheim said the property is being marketed through a series of events that have included an opening for brokers at Gordon Biersch, an onsite breakfast for 200 businesspeople, tours and presentations to business associations and chambers of commerce, mailings, canvasses and cold calls.
"We want to appeal to everyone," she said, "from small users to entities that may need a couple of floors of contiguous space."
"Even before the closing," Mr. Silver said, "we've gotten some great response. There's nothing else of any significance south of Dadeland.
"In between Palmetto Bay and Homestead, there are about 15,000 homes under construction or permitted. A large proportion of those new residents will be driving north to jobs along Old Cutler Road and US 1, where traffic is already bad. For businesspeople who live in the south end of the county and don't have to be downtown or on Coral Gables, this is a great alternative."
Commuters coming south to offices in Palmetto Bay would be moving against the flow of traffic, he said.
The third building on the property - a two-story, 51,000-square-foot structure that housed Burger King test kitchens, contains fully equipped kitchens, classrooms, conference rooms and labs, Mr. Silver said, and has covered parking on the ground floor.
"We're getting strong interest from schools," he said. "One we're negotiating with right now wants the full space plus an option to build a 90,000-square-foot expansion."
Mr. Silver said all three buildings were renovated to code after suffering damage from Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Since Burger King moved in 2002 to the Blue Lagoon office park in Airport West, the buildings have been fully maintained, he said, with air conditioning running and 24-hour security.
Miami-based Grouper, whose principals are Mr. Silver and Fred Garvett of law firm Silver Garvett & Henkel, has about 20 commercial and residential projects in South Florida. Among them are SouthPark Commerce Center in south Miami-Dade, 163rd Street Plaza in North Miami, 1110 Brickell Avenue and Le Manoir Restaurant in Coral Gables.
The seller of the building was New Cutler Bay Corp., which was represented by Codina Realty Services brokers Hank Klein and Keith O'Donnell.