Downtown Radisson To Become A Hilton
Written by Eric Kalis on July 26, 2007
By Eric Kalis
The owner of the Omni Center on Biscayne Boulevard struck a deal this week with the Hilton hotel company to replace the Downtown Miami Radisson by January.
Argent Ventures will begin a $25 million renovation of the 528-room hotel at 1601 Biscayne Blvd. next month, Argent COO Mark Teitelbaum said. The Radisson will remain open throughout the renovation, he said.
"The renovations will happen in stages of a couple of floors at a time," he said. "Since this is somewhat of an off-season, it shouldn’t affect much. The existing rooms are in good shape and will be gut-renovated to meet Hilton’s own requirements."
Hilton officials backed out of plans to partner with the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach for a condo-hotel project, leaving a void in the company’s Miami-Dade operations, Mr. Teitelbaum said. "What the Hilton brand brings to the table is a unique reservation system and the ability to bring large groups and convention business," he said. "With the flag out of the Fontainebleau, we’re happy they came to our property. The $25 million is well worth it."
The Class A office portion of the former retail mall’s redevelopment got a boost when commercial real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield signed a federal agency to lease 33,000 square feet — totaling a full floor, Mr. Teitelbaum said. The office portion is to occupy the second through fourth floors of the former Jordan Marsh building at the south end of the mall. Argent officials declined to reveal the federal agency’s identity, citing a confidentiality agreement.
Negotiations with several potential office tenants are ongoing and should conclude by September, Mr. Teitelbaum said. Meanwhile, construction of the office portion is under way, he said.
"Interior demolition has already started," Mr. Teitelbaum said. Leasing the federal agency "is a good kickoff to more leasing. The combination of the lease being signed and construction starting shows that we’re going ahead. This is happening."
Construction of the retail portion is to begin in the next few months, Mr. Teitelbaum said. Argent officials closed on a $225 million construction loan this month from an undisclosed bank, he said.
Argent has long-term plans to develop 5 million square feet of new structures at the Miami site in a $1 billion phased development plan spanning 10-15 years that includes a six-tower project with 5,766 residences described by City of Miami planners as a city within a city. The mall is vacant except for space used by the Miami International University of Art and Design.
Project officials are in no rush to start building the residential portion of the redevelopment, Mr. Teitelbaum said. With an influx of residences in the pipeline for downtown, the most appropriate course for Argent is to wait and observe how the market evolves, he said.
"The market doesn’t give any clarity right now," Mr. Teitelbaum said. "It would be foolish to think about [building residential] right now. It’s no secret on the residential condo front that it’s going to get worse before getting better."