Swerdlow Sees Econversion Drawing Tenants To Miracle Center
By John P. Hernandez
It didn’t work as a shopping mall, so now a team headed by the Swerdlow Group wants to turn the old Miracle Center building on Coral Way into an office building in hopes of attracting high-tech tenants.
"The building," said Richard Swerdlow, vice president of Lightspeed Infrastructure, the team responsible for the conversion, "will have back-up power generators, multiple fiber-optic service providers, dry pre-action fire safety systems, around-the-clock security and special video-conference rooms and suites."
Mr. Swerdlow would not disclose how much his company paid for the building but said by fourth quarter this year the structure should be ready for high-tech tenants. Bally Total Fitness would be the only remaining tenant when the building reopens.
"With some 3,000 square feet of space on six floors, this building sits in a unique spot in that we can attract high-tech businesses from Coral Gables and the downtown and Brickell areas," Mr. Swerdlow said. "We are seeing tremendous response because this is the first building that will have its own data center built in so that tenants don’t have to go to another building when a mission-critical server goes down or something."
He said the project would tap into a fiber-optic line running along Coral Way that allows for high-speed data transmissions with virtually no bandwidth loss.
"Because the line runs right in front of the building," said Frank Fernandez, an independent information technology consultant, "they won’t have to run a long cable for several miles in order to tap into that line. What that means is that the amount of bandwidth the building will get will be near optimal.
"The longer the line you run to tap into a major cable," he said, "the more loss of bandwidth you will experience. It’s like running a long garden hose from one end of the block to the other. It will take some time for the water to get to where you want it to go."
Built in 1989 and promoted as a "miracle," the Miracle Center project never came close to living up to the hype that surrounded its opening. The mall, designed by Arquitectonica International, never captured the interest of shoppers as other area malls such as The Falls and Dadeland did.
After only eight years in operation, the mall was overhauled and renovated from an art deco-colored structure with a mix of medium-sized stores to a Spanish Colonial shopping center with pushcarts, kiosks and specialty stores in 1997 when its name was changed to the Paseos Mall. But that use failed, too. Bally Total Fitness gym is the only survivor from that era.
Converting the old mall to a high-tech building won’t be the first project of its kind for Lightspeed Infrastructure, which is controlled by Swerdlow Group.
In April 2000 a partnership headed by Dallas-based Olympus Real Estate Corp. and Swerdlow acquired Beacon Tradeport, a technology park in Miami’s Airport West area, to convert it to the Miami Lightspeed Center.
Lightspeed, four miles west of the airport adjacent to the Florida Turnpike, is billed as a state-of-the-art telecom park and the first and largest secured and controlled environment of its kind in South Florida. The park features major telecom tenants such as Telefonica, a global telephone company, and Exodus, a large web-hosting company. BellSouth is now building a node for a network access point at the park that handles seven fiber-optic carriers such as MCI, Qwest and FPL Fibernet.