Shul of Downtown and Brickell to bring synagogue, community center near Mary Brickell Village
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
A synagogue and community center is to rise adjacent to the Mary Brickell Village complex to serve Brickell's growing residential community.
For real estate agents, the center, which is to feature a preschool, meeting rooms and ground floor retail, is a valuable new asset to include in their sales pitch when attracting renters and buyers, especially families, to the urban core.
The three-story Shul of Downtown and Brickell is slated for a vacant lot at South Miami Avenue and Southwest Ninth Street currently used for parking and is estimated to cost $3.5 million to build, said Rabbi Chaim Lipskar, who heads two Chabad-Lubavitch synagogues in Miami.
The 15,000-square-foot center, designed by Zyscovich Architects, is to encompass retail and a lounge on the ground floor, he said, and on the second and third levels is to house a synagogue, social and study halls, classroom space and a mikvah, which is a Jewish ritual pool.
"We want to make it like a community center where different people can go, whether older or younger," Mr. Lipskar said.
The group bought the property in May for $590,000, according to county records, significantly below its value during Miami's real estate boom.
Location was important when selecting the site.
The parcel is centrally located for downtown and Brickell's growing residential base, Mr. Lipskar says, especially as newer condo towers begin to fill.
The permitting process with the City of Miami has already begun, he says, and he hopes to have approvals by mid-2010. Plans are to break ground on the synagogue and community center by next October to open doors in 2012.
"We are a quarter of the way there," Mr. Lipskar said, adding that a capital campaign was recently launched to raise more funds for construction, with naming and dedications opportunities available.
"We'll like to make it happen as quick as possible," he said.
The Orthodox Jewish group is also looking for developers and other professionals in the building community to sit on its building committee, Mr. Lipskar said, which would advise on matters related to the construction.
As this is the first synagogue to be built in the city in more than 60 years, he said, it's a "tremendous opportunity to get involved from an active level."
Construction of a synagogue and community center also allows area real estate agents to better market Brickell to prospective residents of the Jewish faith and new businesses.
Patrick O'Connell, managing broker and senior vice president of development at Esslinger Wooten Maxwell Realtors in Brickell, says these types of family-focused additions make the Brickell and downtown neighborhoods much more appealing.
"Anything that we can do to add services and places of worship that would attract families to move to the area is better for the community and the market," Mr. O'Connell says. "The Shul is an exciting addition. It's going to help to attract more families with children to the area."
The Orthodox Jewish group currently rents two smaller locations, one on the second floor of 1101 Brickell Ave.'s north tower and the second at 48 E Flagler St.
Once the building is completed, Rabbi Lipskar said, plans are to keep the Flagler location open but move operations from Brickell Avenue to the new Brickell address.
Amenities at the planned center are to include a lounge for university students who now reside in Brickell and downtown and a centrally-located preschool for parents with young children.
"People can walk out of their apartment all over Brickell and just come right over," Mr. Lipskar said. "It's very accessible with two Metromover stations, making it accessible for people to join us for services right in the mix of things."