Downtown Miami tower to mix church, offices, residences, retail
In what’s described as a truly mixed-use project for the heart of downtown Miami, a developer plans a residential and office tower atop a new church and parking garage accented with retail uses.
PMG X Biscayne is designed at 49 stories at 400 Biscayne Blvd., former site of First United Methodist Church of Miami.
“The church has been our partner and will relocate back there,” said Javier F. Aviñó, attorney for developer PMG-Greybrook 400 Biscayne Trustee LLC. The high-profile site at Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast Fifth Street is due west of Bayside Marketplace.
The city’s Urban Development Review Board on April 17 recommended approval of the mixed-use tower designed by Sieger Suarez Architects, which includes 646 dwellings, 47,902 square feet of offices, 3,006 square feet of retail, and a religious facility.
The dark glass and steel tower is to rise up from a mid-rise podium, accented with light colors and large art pieces incorporated into the façade. The pedestal will include parking for about 527 cars, ground floor retail, a small chapel and multi-purpose meeting room, and a 329-seat church on levels 8, 9 and 10 with some mezzanine seating open to the sanctuary below.
In a letter to the city, Mr. Aviñó wrote: “A grand entry feature along Biscayne Boulevard provides an architectural expression of the church use within the building. A Forecourt and drop-off area is provided to the north of the Project to enhance the pedestrian experience and avoid disruptions to traffic along Biscayne Boulevard.”
More than half of the apartments – about 340 – will be studios.
The tower will share the block with Building 3 of Miami Dade College. The developer’s team noted the desire to offer affordable smaller apartments for college students.
The project will include recognition of the past religious uses, with displays of stained glass taken from the church and on the north a sculpture of Jesus seated on a bench, from the former church building.
Board member Neil Hall called the project “a great addition to Biscayne Boulevard” and he liked the “nice tip of the hat” to the original church.
A pedestrian paseo is to run through the pedestal. An amenity deck will have an L-shaped swimming pool and recreation area.
Board member Ligia Labrada complimented the “very elegant articulation.” Board member Dean Lewis said the developer’s team did a remarkable job getting all of those uses into a tight podium.
But Mr. Lewis called the tower too dark and contradictory to the lighter pedestal, describing a rendering as black glass and stucco. A developer’s representative said the glass isn’t really black but a shade of gray and said the rendering made it look darker.
Chairman Gerald Marston commended the developer for the mixed-use idea, saying that typically the board is presented a mixed-use project that’s basically an apartment building with some retail. “This one is clearly a mixed use, of very diverse things,” he said.
Mr. Hall moved to approve the project. Mr. Lewis wanted to amend the motion to recommend the architect reconsider the dark colors, but Mr. Hall wouldn’t agree. The vote was 4 to 1, with Mr. Lewis voting no.