Burger King Move Leaves Large Parcel Unused In Downtown Gables
By Marilyn Bowden
Burger King’s decision last week to move its headquarters to the Waterford office complex frees up two prime properties, economic development experts say.
The corporation, which is moving out of a South Dade campus, was also looking at a downtown Coral Gables site, both of which are consequently on the market again.
"Our immediate concern is marketing the South Dade site because it will be left vacant," says Carlos Leonard, a senior vice president at the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade’s public-private economic development agency.
"The Coral Gables site was to be constructed for them. So the decision not to go there won’t have a major impact."
The South Dade site, 17777 Old Cutler Rd., has about 60 acres, including a complex of three buildings with a total of about 300,000 square feet, says Codina broker Hank Klein, who represents the landlord with Keith O’Donnell.
He says ownership is looking to sell the property. Marketing strategies are to be discussed at a meeting this month.
Burger King’s parent company, UK-based Diageo Co., announced a decision to move to the First Union site at 2511 Ponce de Leon Blvd. early last April, but back-pedaled later in the month.
"Our current landlord has informed us that they would like to present us with a new offer they believe will meet our needs better than their previous offers," said Burger King CEO Dennis Malamatinas.
However, Mr. Leonard says, during the few weeks that the move to Coral Gables seemed settled, the Beacon Council began marketing the site.
"They are a major tenant," he says, "and we realize the impact their departure will have on South Miami-Dade. We immediately arranged a helicopter tour for a group of 10 or 15 site selectors throughout the country.
"The main thing is to let them know it’s available and that we are willing to work with them."
While it would be "great" to get a single tenant for the complex, Mr. Leonard says, "if it’s multiple tenants, that’s fine, too."
At the Coral Gables site, proposed developer Hines Interest Partnership of Chicago has obtained a special Regional Activity Center designation clearing the way to put up a 300,000-square-foot building, says Cathy Swanson, director of the city’s development department.
But Hines’ involvement was conditional on the signing of Burger King, she says as was the special designation.
"The site is controlled by First Union," she says. "That has always been the case.
"What does not go away," Ms. Swanson says, "is the phenomenal location for a significant development. It’s the largest downtown assemblage for Coral Gables."
She says the site is zoned for mixed-land usage and would support either mid-rise or high-rise construction.
Coral Gables imposes a height restriction on new development of 13 stories 16 stories if it adheres to the city’s preferred Mediterranean design. Details: Codina Realty Services, (305) 520-2326; City of Coral Gables Development Department, (305) 460-5311.