Displaced Miami Beach Chamber Seeking Temporary Home Court
By Marilyn Bowden
The Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, dislodged from its present address by the space demands of new tenants, is looking for a place to hang its shingle for six to eight months until its new headquarters is built, says Executive Director Bruce Singer.
While a new facility is under construction at 1920 Meridian Ave. its long-time home the chamber has taken shelter at 420 Lincoln Rd.
With demand for Miami Beach office space far outstripping supply, that property now undergoing a $12 million renovation by the Cejas family to bring it to contemporary class A standards is hot, says building manager Sally Baumgartner.
"The demand is incredible," she says. "This was an abused, battered and unloved 60-year-old building before the Cejas family began pouring profits back into it."
She says negotiations are in progress with two large users who would virtually fill available space in the seven-story, 255,000-square-foot building.
The chamber, now housed in the former Barnett Bank space, must relocate into two smaller spaces on the second floor within 10 days, Mr. Singer says. The Visitor Center will take the more visible spot, formerly occupied by Miami Beach Travel. The business offices will be down the hall in a space vacated by the Miami Beach Law Library.
"Our lease for both spaces runs out March 2001," he says. "We don’t anticipate that our new building will be done until the fall of 2001. That leaves us with a shortfall of six to eight months in which we don’t have a home."
The chamber hopes to break ground on its new headquarters this summer.
"We would be happy to move out sooner," Mr. Singer says. "The landlord is being generous with us."
The chamber is not in a position to pay market rates, Mr. Singer says, so "a great deal of generosity would necessarily be involved. But we bring a lot of prestige. The landlords would get a high degree of visibility for their generosity."
In the absence of any takers, he says, the chamber is looking into putting up a double-wide trailer on land owned by Equity One at the northwest corner of 17th Street and Meridian Avenue.
"There are zoning issues," he says. "But it would work for us. It’s right down the street from where we’re building."