Scaled-down Met 3 downtown project revived
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
After putting downtown retail and residential project Met 3 on hold, MDM Development Group is reviving and retooling the project with plans to begin construction first quarter 2011.
The development group moves forward with a scaled-down version that seeks to meet two downtown needs: a supermarket and more parking.
Met 3's first phase is to encompass a 40,000-square-foot supermarket and 2,000-space garage, said Tim Weller, MDM vice president.
Instead of a condominium, the second phase is to include an extended-stay hotel, he said, which would add to Brickell's growing hotel inventory.
Met 3, at 200 SE Third Ave., is the missing piece of a conceived $1 billion Metropolitan Miami complex rising just over the Brickell Bridge.
Originally, Met 3 was to break ground in the first quarter of last year and would have included a Whole Foods Market. That January, the Texas-based natural and organic grocery chain pulled out after signing a lease more than two years prior.
But MDM hopes to bring the grocer back, Mr. Weller said.
"That's our goal. Our intention is to have Whole Foods," he said, adding "we are actively working on that."
Negotiations could be under way, but Whole Foods didn't confirm a store opening at Met 3, spokesman Liz Burkhart said. With 290 locations, she said, Whole Foods does have plans to continue growing rapidly.
International law firm Greenberg Traurig, which is leasing six floors at Met 2, considered the Met 3 development when selecting this building over competing new office towers.
"The amenities existing and proposed were very attractive for us," said Rick Giusto, co-managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig's Miami office. "At the time we entered efforts to lease, Met 3 had slated Whole Foods to go in that space. That was very attractive for our employees, keeping consistent with affordable and healthy living."
Aside from the supermarket and garage, initial plans for Met 3 called for a fitness center that has now been scratched. So have designs for a 74-story residential component.
Mr. Weller wouldn't comment on the project's financing.
After more than six years of designing and building, the envisioned Metropolitan Miami complex is coming together.
The 447-unit Met 1 condominium is occupied with new residents and home to Chophouse Miami on the ground floor. Met 2 is nearing completion, with office tenants expected to move in starting in July and the hotel to open in October.
Met 3's amenities are to benefit not only residents, office tenants and hotel guests of nearby Met 1 and Met 2, Mr. Weller said, but serve the local community. Downtown's business and residential neighborhoods don't have a supermarket.
"It's a great service to the downtown area, which has been lacking something like this forever," he said.
A few years ago, all these new projects were drawings, but now many are finally a reality, Mr. Weller said, and those downtown condos are filling up.
The Met 3 project, he said, offers an "opportunity to take another look at the reality and viability of sustaining any retail in downtown."