Brickell projects a sign that Miami is 'growing up as a city'
By Sherri C. Ranta
At least nine mixed-use developments are under construction in Miami's Brickell area that will add 3,400 residential units and 300,000 square feet of retail.
The infill projects by developers such as the Related Group, Swire Properties and Constructa US signal Miami's maturing landscape, said Dana Nottingham, executive director of Miami's Downtown Development Authority.
"We're in the process of growing up as a city. Everybody is excited about the amount of residential development because at the end of the day, it's about community building," he said.
Mr. Nottingham and others say the projects signal a change in the Brickell area and the city as a whole as office workers choose to live near their jobs instead of commuting from suburban homes.
Constructa US's $90 million Mary Brickell Village, a mixed-use development on 5.2 acres along South Miami Avenue, is perhaps the most notable among projects under construction because of its 192,000 square feet of planned retail space.
Mary Brickell's retail component will fill a growing need for retailers in the Brickell area, said Kerry Newman, senior associate with Miami Beach leasing agent Koniver Stern Group.
Already under lease are a 35,000-square-foot Publix store, a 25,000-square-foot Bally Total Fitness gymnasium, several restaurants, home/decor shops and boutiques.
Developers expect to deliver space to tenants for individual buildout by the end of the year, Mr. Newman said.
Partners in the project - Paris-based Constructa, Brasilinvest Group and retired race-car driver Emerson Fittipaldi - recently sold development rights for the 380-unit residential tower to another developer. Constructa officials have not identified the buyer.
Anaheim, CA-based Fremont Investment & Loan is supplying developers with a $56 million construction loan for the project. The loan closed in November.
Fremont Vice President Tom Moore said Mary Brickell will be the center of retail in the Brickell area. "You have nothing like this in the Brickell corridor - there is no synergy of retail."
Just across the street is the former Firehouse Four restaurant at 1000 S. Miami Ave. Restaurateur Larry Harris has opened two new restaurants in the former City of Miami firehouse. Together, the restaurants seat about 250 people and have 70 to 90 full- and part-time employees, he said.
A fine-dining restaurant, Mosaico - serving contemporary Spanish cuisine - is on the second floor. A more casual restaurant, Salero, is on the ground floor.
Salero opens a coffee bar at 7 a.m. for office workers and residents making their way to work, Mr. Harris said. "There's a lot of pedestrian traffic in this area."
Across Southwest Eighth Street on South Miami Avenue, Millennium Partners, developer of Brickell's Four Seasons Hotel & Tower, plans to open Brickell Tennis Club, a private club for Four Seasons residents, hotel guests, office workers and a growing residential population, said Don Henderson, project consultant and tennis professional at Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne.
The club will consist of seven hydro clay courts and a clubhouse, he said, with men's and women's locker rooms and a Nike shop. Membership sales are expected to begin in March and the club is expected to open in the fall, Mr. Henderson said.
Construction is expected to begin on Brickell City Center, a mixed-use development at 851 and 901 Brickell Ave., in six to 10 months, said Victor Azria, head of Planet Realty.
The project, backed by Azria, an unidentified local developer and European interests, will consist of two towers and 40,000 square feet of retail space.
A local developer, he said, will develop condominiums in the South Tower. The Europeans will develop the North Tower with rental apartments and a 300-room luxury hotel that will be flagged by a major European hotel chain.
"They are powerful people. They are very confident they have the clientele for the hotel," he said.
At Coral Station on Brickell Way, between Coral Way and Southwest 15th Road, plans call for 95 loft condominiums in the North Tower and 386 residential units in the South Tower, said Jennifer Rademacher, vice president at Taylor Development and Land Co. The project is to include 45,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.
Taylor and co-developer BVT plan to build the 15-story North Tower and retail components of Coral Station, she said. But development rights for the 28-story South Tower will be sold to another company, she said, though she would not identify the buyer.
At one point, Ms. Rademacher said, developers had planned to build an office building at the 3-acre site now used as overflow parking for a Publix store. "The market has changed quite a bit. We've been working on this for quite some time," she said.
Sales of the lofts are expected to begin in two to three months. Developers, she said, hope to start construction by the fourth quarter of this year.
"There's so much going on in the market, so much going on in the area," Ms. Rademacher said. "It's an exciting time for Brickell."