Work expected to start soon on project near UM
By Marilyn Bowden
Construction is set to begin soon at Santona Corner, an office and retail project across from the University of Miami on US 1.
The site, at 1430 S Dixie Highway, once was occupied by a Howard Johnson hotel. Project developer Taha Properties operated it as a Terrace Inn for the past few years while planning and getting permits for the new development.
"We have demolished one of the buildings," said Danny Taha, "and we hope to demolish the other in a couple of weeks.
"Once the demolition is complete, we will be about 18 months from completion."
Santona Corners, designed by Mateu Architecture, will house about 55,000 square feet of office condo space and 45,000 feet of ground-floor retail.
Bert Checa, a Holly Real Estate broker who is selling the office component, said everything that has been put on the market - about 75% of the space - is under contract.
"We're saving the best units in the all-glass tower to sell at the end of construction," he said. He estimated they will go for about $400 a square foot.
"Most of the buyers are end users," Mr. Checa said. "Many are small companies - mom-and-pops that are currently leasing. If they live in Pinecrest or Coral Gables, they would prefer to own closer to their homes to avoid the commute downtown."
The businesses, he said, are "entrepreneurial and professional - accountants, lawyers, architects, engineers, real brokers and investors. We won't have any medical offices or other high-traffic users." Among them are the project's architect, engineer and contractor.
Tenants get three spaces in the parking garage per 1,000 square feet of office, he said, with the option to lease more. There's a free visitor parking area.
With offices along US 1 and a residential neighborhood just behind it, Santona Corner is proving popular with retailers, Mr. Taha said - just under 40,000 square feet is under negotiation.
"Right now we have a real estate brokerage and a retail bank coming in," he said. "These kinds of users that don't only rely on foot traffic are ideal. We also have several letters of intent, from restaurant users, a kitchen and cabinet store, and trade retailers such as dry cleaners and a high-end hair salon.
"We think the retail space will fill up in a really great way."