Daily Archives: November 18, 2006

A Closer Look: Uptown (North Edgewater NE 25th – 36th st)

This article is a continuation of a south to north evaluation of Edgewater beginning at 25th street.

N.E. 25th Street begins with a vacant lot in the south entrance of the street and Latin America Café in the northern front lot. As one continues down this street the Mondrian occupies a good portion of the south side. It is important to note that 25th street has quite a few parcels for sale—more so than most other streets in Edgewater. More of what the street will appear like in the near future begins to emerge as you head towards the bay. There are two new unique loft projects—Baylofts, which is one of the two, is fully occupied and has quite a bit of activity. At the rear bay front portion of the street, Onyx and Star Lofts are both under construction. Onyx is all but topped off and Star Lofts is coming along quite nicely. The fact this street has two major bay front developments along the bay as well as relatively new loft projects along the rear interior, in addition to a significant amount of parcels for sale, indicates that N.E. 25th street is primed for rapid growth. It already is one of the more established streets in the area.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for N.E 26th Street. The two front Biscayne Blvd. parcels are occupied by under-utilized buildings. Majestic has one property for sale, and the rear south bay parcel is occupied by the north side of Onyx. The rear north bay front lot is occupied by a small condominium. The majority of the interior is filled with old buildings—little sign of activity.

N.E. 26th Terrace to the north has more of a single-family home residential feel to it. Other than a long rectangular lot the site of the mid-rise Absolute Bay Lofts project, there isn’t much activity to report on the surface, but let’s dig deeper. Much of the homes have been owned by the same owners since the 1980’s. However, on the 501, 525, and 535 lots (all next to one another) things change. They were bought in 2005 by a company called JS 26 LLC. Clearly, the odds are that this company is probably going to spearhead an urbanization effort on the street. The real development on this street is the presence of Aja on the bay (formerly Electra) on the south bay front lot of the street. This development will change the street for good and embolden the multi-parcel owners on the interior to get moving with their urbanization intentions, and possibly persuade the old owners to sell and cash out. The north bay lot is owned by a religious group.

Continuing north into N.E. 27th street, there are some interesting on the surface developments. First, the sign for District Lofts remains in place. There is no activity on the site to report. This mid rise project represents a trend of mid rise development along Biscayne Boulevard and within Edgewater. This type of mid rise densification will create a unique streetscape when combined with some sporadic high rises through out. Still, the new 31 floor Lyghte project is located on 27th Street along the southern portion of the bay inlet, and this development, which has an extremely appealing design and illumination concept, will likely serve as a catalyst for future similar development along the street. Lyghte is next to a bay front property owned by a religious group. It is not clear what will happen with properties owned by religious groups. In fact both rear N.E. 27th street bay front lots are owned by a religious group. Interestingly, the same company that has three parcels on N.E. 26th terrace (JS26 LLC.) owns multiple parcels on 27th street as well. They own 520, 532, 600, and 512. When combined with the 26th terrace parcels that they own, the total is 8 lots all situated next to one another on two streets. This company probably has major plans for these 8 parcels. Still, 27th terrace, especially as it nears Biscayne Blvd. has a significant amount of multi-family apartment units that have been old for a long time. The development of Lyghte and anticipated future development will boost the value of the street and possibly encourage those owners to sell, but Lyghte has to get off the ground first.

N.E. 28th street is important because it is home of the Onyx2 lot, which has no activity on it and the sales center looks abandoned. The Onyx2 lot is for sale and so are the project’s plans and permits. 28th street is much shorter than the most Edgewater streets because it runs into a bay inlet. The two front Biscayne parcels are under-utilized and there are quite a few parcels in the interior of the street that are for sale. When researching land acquisitions one realizes that the south side of 28th street has parcels that have been owned longer than the north side, which has quite a few recent acquisitions. There are no groups acquiring parcels in bundles though, at least not under the same corporate entity. Much of the acquisitions on the north side of the street took place around 2004. Unless the Onyx2 project begins construction, which doesn’t seem to be happening, N.E. 28th street looks to remain, more or less, at a stand still. The Onyx people own the bay lots on 28th street. If they can’t build, someone will surely step into the fold real quick.

Moving on up to N.E. 29th street, development activity is slow, except for Moon Bay on the northern part of the inlet. The rear bay lots are occupied by a condominium to on the south and a property that has been owned since 1975 to the north. 29th street is alos home to the abandoned Vista projects. The lot is currently for sale. Across form the Vista lot are two parcels on vacant land that are owned by Aquablu LLC., plans remain unclear. The north part of 29th street has a surprising amount of recent acquisitions. In contrast, the south part of the street has almost no recent acquisitions. Through a land acquisition standpoint, the street is evolving in an uneven pace. Still, as far as the recent acquisitions are concerned, there are no clear big plans.

A hop and skip away on N.E. 30th street, things really pick up steam. 30th street is the closest one gets to a glimpse of the future of Edgewater. This is where the Yorker, Platinum, and Porti Di Oro are. Plans for Platinum on the Bay, if successful, will make this street one of the most active in Edgewater outside of North Bayshore Drive to the south. The street has a mid rise feel to it. The activity, in terms of development picks up as one nears the bay, but the front Biscayne lots have been purchased in 2005, so the implication is that given the neighborhoods current positive state, those Biscayne lots are almost sure to see activity soon.

The biggest problem on N.E. 31st street is the Village Rehabilitation facility for addicts. There are plans for Element, formerly Ice 2, but there is little activity to be excited about. The truth is: few people want a rehabilitation facility for drug addicts on their block. The facility owners occupy about 11 parcels on the street and their presence is bogging down the value of the block.

As we near the northern fringes of Edgewater, we get to 32nd street. The proposed 33 floor Park Lane tower is planned for the vacant Biscayne north lot. To the south is Walgreens. This Park Lane development, should it get topped off, will mark a potential tipping of the development scales towards high rise construction on Biscayne Boulevard versus mid-rise. Cite, Uptown, City 24, 3333 Biscayne and District Lofts are some examples of the mid-rise wave. But, the Chelsea, Cardinal Symphony, Soleil, and Park Lane are examples of a high rise shift on the boulevard. 32nd street has quite a few under utilized properties through the span of the street. At the rear bay front lot, there are plans for Ice. The site has no activity. On both 31st and 32nd streets, the Element and Ice developers own nearly half of the parcels.

33rd Street is seeing an interesting development in 3333 Biscayne, which is located on the north lot of 33rd street. The south lot is occupied by the Park lane tower. With the advent of both towers, the street will be impacting to enter. When traveling along 33rd street there are quite a few under utilized properties and the bay front parcel is occupied by the Bay Park Condominium. There isn’t much in the form of recent acquisitions on 33rd street.

The front south parcel of N.E. 34th street will be occupied by 3333 Biscayne. The front north parcel is occupied by the BP gas station. Directly across Biscayne Blvd., it is important to not that there are plans for Boulevard, a new development. The rear south bay front parcel is vacant. It seems to be the lot designated for Sky Residences. There is absolutely no activity on the site. The condominium association at Hamilton was in litigation against the Sky developers. The litigation seems to have cost the developers a pretty penny. Hamilton occupies the north bay front parcel. Directly to the west of Hamilton is a retirement home. There are quite a few recent acquisitions (within the last three years) on the south side of 34th street, but there is no dominant buyer.

35th Street has Pollo Tropical in the front south and McDonald’s in the front north parcels. A company called Productions and Invest Colombus Inc. owns four major parcels along the north side of 35th street. This could be the sign of a future major development taking place there. Currently, there are no clear plans. The rear bay lots are occupied by Hamilton on the south and the 600 condominium building on the north.

N.E. 36th street most popular structure is Blue at the north rear bay front parcel. The south rear bay front lot is occupied by the 600 condominium building. There are plans for the 22 floor 5th Avenue lofts tower, which will probably encourage westward development along 36th street.

In summary, the Edgewater neighborhood is seeing major development activity, but it is sporadic. The bay areas, naturally, are seeing the most major developments and high rise construction. But, the Biscayne Boulevard parcels have several interesting, mostly, mid rise, developments as well. There are many factors working in favor of this neighborhood. For one, it is a bay community. All parcels are within a short walk from the bay. Secondly, it is sandwiched in between four burgeoning neighborhoods (the PAC district to the couth, Midtown Miami toe immediate west, the Design District to the north west, and the exclusive Baypoint gated community to the north. However, there are still too many pockets of under utilized structures, many parcels that have been owned for over a decade, at least one retirement community, a rehabilitation center for drug addicts, and several major properties that are owned by religious groups. Additionally, the neighborhood isn’t exactly easy to navigate by car. Through a development standpoint, none of these factors work in the favor of the community. The advent of projects Onyx, Moonbay, Star Lofts, Platinum, Uptown Lofts, City 24, Mondrian, and Blue will keep the momentum going, but the problems seen with Onyx2, Element, and Sky Residences are holding the community back. This neighborhood will be vastly different within the next 5 years. Many of the older residents will find it far too lucrative not to sell. The large amount of recent land acquisition, and importantly, bundle acquisitions, indicates that there is a lot of planning going on behind the scenes. It is encouraging to see new ambitious developments such as Lyghte, 3333 Biscayne, and Park Lane. Hopefully, they won’t get frozen like some other near by examples. Still, the area, whether there are defunct projects or not, is extremely valuable, well situated, and will have the influence of art and culture spilling over from Wynwood, the PAC District, and the Design District. This will be one of Miami’s most energetic and exciting neighborhoods, but not traffic ridden or noisy. I suspect that the area will keep as certain quiet residential feel despite all the nearby activity. I mean this in relation to neighborhoods like Parkwest, the CBD, and the PAC District. Continuing to monitor this vital urban neighborhood’s progress is a top priority for Bob.



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Bob’s First Critic.

Here’s what a Bob critic had to say recently on the excellent skyscrapercity.com site:

Originally Posted by FrenchyMiami View Post

Another interesting article from Bob
in Park West, there are six world class high rise projects going up. But, right now, barely anyone lives in the area, except homeless people. In the Central Business District, for example, there are currently no residents. Almost the whole area closes after 6pm.

Roark (the critic) say’s: This was either written last year, or Bob doesn’t get out much. If written recently, Bob is dead wrong! As a matter of FACT, I drove North on Biscayne Boulevard TODAY at 6:44pm. Lot’s of pedestrian traffic coming out of One Miami and the Citibank Building. Bayside was jumping and there was clearly lot’s of traffic ahead for the MiamHeat -v- Sonics game. I turned west…more people!!! That pesky Miami Dade College! With 164,000 students and an upcoming International Book Fair it the CBD. Anyone else in the car with me would say that Bob is mischaracterizing the area as dead. Continuing with my drive I turned north and had to drive past theCarnival Center…as you may guess…it was all lit up and very lively. People were walking from the Grand, exiting the Metromover and heading to tonights show. Maybe they were coming from the half dozen or so restuarants in the Grand…who knows. What I know for sure is that the CBD isn’t dead today, and it’s very unlikely that it’ll be dead tomorrow. The 6 skyscrapers aren’t occupied yet, and the road construction/sidewalk isn’t even finished and it’s anything but dead.
I’ll stop right there. I don’t have the stamina to debunk all of Bob’s rant.

BOB’s response: Ever taken a walk into the CBD interior at 8PM Roark? Let’s put aside that extremely pleasant walk for Heat fans to the AAA from those far away parking lots at night. I know all too well how pleasant those walks can be: the puddle hopping and mingling with homeless beggars. Between you and I Roark, Heat fans usually go from their cars straight to the game and get out. Sometimes they trickle over to Bayside. The CBD, in its current nightly state, cannot cater to them and isn’t safe. Oh, and those Miami-Dade college night students, which by the way, 164,000 students for all dozen or so MDC campuses throughout the county has little to do with the CBD. It could be that many of the MDC Wolfson campus students hang out in the CBD at night after class. Maybe they go to the shady cafe across N.E. 1st avenue to hang out with the shadowy characters there. With so many dining options, its hard to know what to eat at night when going along N.E. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Avenues.

Roark, I SEE THE REAL CBD. The one that becomes a ghost town at night. The one that’s hard to feel safe in at night. I’m refering to the majority of the area. Not the thin slither of land along the bay that you refer to in almost all your points. I’m not saying that this wont change. I’m saying that it is what it is. Bayside is an isolated shopping/dining/entertainment facility. People park in Bayside garages, go into the facility, get back in their cars and leave. They don’t go around the CBD at night. The PAC and the Grand along with Bay Parc Plaza, in Uptown, do have some residents and tourists that drift outdoors at night; and that area, as I have stated clearly in my past articles, represents huge potential, but even it gets quiet at night. In so far as the supposed “half a dozen” restaurants inside of The Grand, well the two restaurants, one delli, and two bars are good for the residents of the building and those tourists staying inside the hotel, but the city is outside. How about we stick to the streets Roark. How many restaurants are open in the PAC district right now folks? How many are open into the evening along the interior of the CBD? Ask Roark. He knows tons. As far as what the book fair has anything to do with walking the CBD at night, only Roark knows.

One Miami and the Loft I are the only new buildings that are occupied in the CBD. These two projects are a positive change, but are certainly not enough to build a bustling community at night. I know what its like to leave the CBD at 8pm, hungry, wishing that Nostra Pizza on NE 1st Avenue or La Floridita Cafe on NE 1st street, were open. But, the owners know that there aren’t too many people like me out there, yet. I’ve tried, in vain, to convince them otherwise. Roark, I respect your opinion. And, you know what? You’re right about one thing thing. Maybe saying that everything closes after 6PM is a bit off on my part. Its more like almost every retail store and restaurant in the CBD closes after 6PM. Although I posted it recently, that article is somewhat old, Janurary 2006 to be exact, but I posted it for my archives. So, I was not wrong when I said that there were no residents in the CBD, because back in January, there were none. By now, obviously, there have been new occupanices at One Miami and the Loft I. Regarding your claim that I am “mischaracterizing the city as dead”. If you would have read the article that Frenchy Miami had quoted, you would have known that the point of the article was to address the emerging Parkwest and CBD neighborhoods as having enormous potential. Still, potential doesn’t mean things have materialized. The fact is that although there is much about to happen, most of it hasn’t happened yet.

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