Monthly Archives: February 2007

More Density in Brickell Village

One year ago, this image would have been plain with only the yellow building to the left along with some rather unimpressive buildings in the periphery. Now, the new construction is giving way to some serious urban density. This image is a microcosm of the larger urban puzzle, but it symbolizes the growing densification trend in Miami.

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Almost Two Years After Wilma, Glass Still Broken

It’s painful to look at the Espirito Santo Building’s damage almost two years after the building was hit hard by Hurricane Wilma. I know that the issue was not lack of windstorm insurance, but for the sake of God, how long does it take to get the claim through the red tape? What if a major storm would have hit last season?

Here we have one of the city’s most striking buildings looking as if it belongs in Beirut’s battered skyline. What’s even more baffling is that it’s home to one of the city’s most high-end hotels, Conrad. Where’s the sense of urgency? Anyhow, the glass is finally getting replaced and hopefully the Espirito Santo will get back to its original form soon.

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What’s What?

The neighborhood south of 5th street in South Beach is a remarkably high end community, but what is it called? The area is referred to by three names: South Pointe, South of Fifth (SoFi), and Portofino. So, what’s what? Are the names synonymous? Surely there must be a difference.

The nearby Murano’s official name is “The Murano at Portofino” so is the “Yacht Club at Portofino”. So where is Portofino? Presumably on that same spot. The name Portofino seems to be derived from the Porofino Tower, which was the first new skyscraper in the neighborhood. Then, the area started being referred to as South Pointe–the name of the neighborhood’s park. This seemed more logical since it wouldn’t be proper to name a neighborhood after a building, but then came South of Fifth (SoFi).

Suddenly, there were too many names. It seems that SoFi refers to the entire area south of 5th street; including the mid-rise dominated interior and high-rise dominated southern tip. The Portofino and South Pointe titles seem to refer to the extreme southern tip and bay front slither along the west side of the neighborhood. In any case, this matter deserves some clarification prior to Bob’s upcoming Miami Beach Report, which will include a detailed section on this important yet small beach front neighborhood.

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Reader Submitted View: Sunny Isles

View of Sunny Isles and the Intracoastal Waterway from Coastal Towers. Submitted by a Bob: Miami reader. Thanks for the view Frank.

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Finders Keepers.

If you’ve lost something valuable on the sands of South Beach, rest assured that it was probably found by this well-equipped gentleman. He’s a bonafide treasure hunter. Specializing in finding lost jewelry and watches, this dude will make sure that your lost Rolex doesn’t go unnoticed.

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Uptown’s Mega-Projects

Lately, I’ve been in the Uptown mood. Nothing against Brickell, the CBD, or South Beach, but like a true Miamian, I appreciate change. Although all of Miami’s urban neighborhoods are experiencing drastic change, Uptown’s is, well, different. As far as Miami’s urban development goes, things change rapidly. Neighborhoods flourish and take on new identities in brief periods of time. This is the story of Miami, but Uptown is the city’s latest intriguing chapter. Sure Brickell and the CBD have several spectacular towers planed and under construction. Some are individual standouts: Brickell on the River, Jade, 50 Biscayne, Marina Blue, etc. Others come in pairs: One Miami, 500 Brickell, Villa Magna, The Plaza, Axis, Epic. There are even trios: Icon Brickell and Brickell Citi Center. However, Uptown takes it to a higher level.

Uptown is home to the mega-project. This is loosely defined as a project that is larger than four phases (towers/major structures) bundled together within several adjoining acres. I’m referring to One Herald Square and City Square (10 acres and multiple towers), Midtown Miami (56 acres and 18 new city blocks), and Argent Venture’s massive and ambitious Omni redevelopment (6 towers on 12.5 acres). These projects stand apart. They are bigger, more expensive, riskier to develop, and therefore carry the heaviest weight of uncertainty. They also occupy the most urban space, affect their surroundings profoundly, and have the greatest economic impact.

They are the big ones. The mega-projects. Uptown has three. This will play as a major factor as time passes and Miami’s urbanism evolves. Uptown’s gravitational pull is getting stronger and these Mega-projects have yet to be built. The effects of their construction will be fascinating to observe and will spread far in all directions. The South Edgewater and the Media/Entertainment District neighborhood’s will stand to benefit the most due to close proximity to the Omni Redevelopment and Herald/City Square projects. Midtown Miami, the most expansive of the mega-projects, will have significant effects in the Design District, North Edgewater, and Wynwood. Uptown’s interior density will fill in more rapidly than its counterparts to the south. The area is a veritable blank canvas for development. Ripe for the pickings. The mega-projects change the equation. Uptown is measured differently because of them.

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The Deadly Side of Development

It’s disturbing to see how often construction workers get injured on the job. Lately, I’ve been noticing more and more news of injuries and fatalities. The irony is that yesterday, while I was touring a construction site, I had a hard hat on and felt like it was uncomfortable and unnecessary. I couldn’t be any more wrong.

Here a just a few construction accident incidents in and around Miami:

50 Biscayne scaffold collapsed, 4 injured

Marina Blue worker falls 39 floors to his death–while another barely escapes death

Construction worker electrocuted to death

Worker crushed by steel scaffold

Bal Harbour collapse kills three workers

This is no surprise, but it is a stark reminder of the deadly side of development. Much acclaim and respect goes to developers, architects, and engineers, but it is the construction worker who puts his life on the line for meager pay and no respect.



Some facts regarding construction accidents:

· Accidental injuries are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.

· On average, there are 11,200 disabling accidental injuries every hour during the year.

· One out of every 10 construction workers is accidentally injured every year.

· The most common accident at construction sites is falls, either on the same level or from height. More fatalities occur from falls than any other construction activity.


Data from the NIOSH National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities (NTOF) Surveillance System indicate that electrocutions accounted for approximately 450 (7%) of the 6,400 work-related deaths from injury that occurred annually in the United States during the period 1980-89 [NIOSH 1993a]. Each year an average of 15 electrocutions were caused by contact between cranes or similar boomed vehicles and energized, overhead power lines. The actual number of workers who died from crane contact with energized power lines is higher than reported by NTOF because methods for collecting and reporting these data tend to underestimate the total number of deaths [NIOSH 1993a]. More than half of these crane-related electrocutions occurred in the construction industry.


From 1982 through 1994, NIOSH conducted 226 onsite investigations of work-related electrocutions under the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. Twenty-nine (13%) of these incidents (which resulted in 31 fatalities) involved crane contact with overhead power lines. Nearly half of the incidents occurred in the construction industry. Because the FACE investigations were conducted in only 16 states, these fatalities represent only a portion of the crane-related electrocutions during the period 1982-94.


A study conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) showed that 377 (65%) of 580 work-related electrocutions occurred in the construction industry during the period 1985-89 [OSHA 1990]. Nearly 30% (113) of these electrocutions involved cranes.


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Sneak Peek: The Lofts at Mayfair

Here are some images from my tour of the Lofts at Mayfair. The project is located directly across from the Mayfair Hotel in the heart of Coconut Grove.

The complex is seperated into two buildings connected with an elevated bridge.

Most of the units are 1 1/2 lofts. Some feature split level lofts with spiral staircases.

The interior halls are almost finished. The work is on schedule. The ceiling heights are impressively high.

The above image is of an unfinished penthouse unit. The penthouse units all come with split levels plus a rooftop terrace with panoramic views.

Above is a penthouse rooftop terrace.

Above: The courtyard, still under construction is more impressive and ample than meets the eye is small but quaint with a uniquely designed pool.

View of Downtown Miami from the penthouse rooftop terraces

Overall, this project is excellently situated, is being constructed on time, and the ammenities are above average. The design is impressive and versatile (combining sharp lines with curves), the floorplans are smartly designed, and the views are surprisingly good. There are only a handful of units left. Closings begin in Mid-March.

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The Half Penny Tax Has a Mascot!

Earlier today, on my way to Burger King, I quickly passed by one of the many infrastructure improvement signs along Miami-Dade county’s roads, but something caught my eye. On the sign, I thought I saw a half vanilla half chocolate cookie cartoon with arms, legs, and a face. I got a bit closer. It was no cookie. The half penny tax has a mascot: the Half Penny. Obviously much thought went into its elaborate design. To say nothing else, the thing is slightly ridiculous, and I wonder how it came about. At what point did someone in the county decide that the half penny tax needed a face, and it needed to look like this:

Did the County sponsor a fifth grade drawing competition? Could this be the winning drawing? God I hope so.

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Coming Soon to BOB: Sneak Preview of the Lofts at Mayfair

Today I was taken on a tour of the Lofts at Mayfair. The construction manager showed me the progress throughout the impressive site. I’ll post up images of the inside of the units so that you can get an idea of what its like from within the construction zone. Unfortunately, my usb cable has abandoned me and I have to replace it. Damn!

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