Monthly Archives: March 2007

Argent Venture’s $1 Billion Omni Plans Approved!

Great news for the Media and Entertainment District. Argent Venture’s plans for the Omni Mall have been approved by the City of Miami. The developer’s legal counsel, Lucia Dougherty, paved the way for the approval, which Marc Sarnoff acclaimed. Mr. Sarnoff said that the project is like a “second Midtown Miami”. It has been stated here before that Uptown has three mega projects. These are massive city-within-a-city developments. Argent’s plans for the Omni will span 15 years and comprise 6 towers:

  • Omni West Tower 3 643ft. 65 floors
  • Omni East Tower 3 624ft. 61 floors
  • Omni West Tower 2 623ft. 63 floors
  • Omni East Tower 2 604ft. 63 floors
  • Omni West Tower 1 604ft. 61 floors
  • Omni East Tower 1 584ft. 58 floors

The $1 billion project will reshape the city’s skyline to the north of the I395. By the time the fifth and final phase of the Omni project is completed, the FDOT’s repositioning of the I395 should have already taken place. The project is adjacent to Pedro Martin’s 10 acre site for his proposed City Square and Herald Square mega project. We’re talking two mega projects side-by-side. It looks like Uptown is, well, coming up.

The Omni development will also incorporate new bisecting streets flanked by retail: certainly aimed at increasing pedestrian friendliness and bolstering the project’s communal feel.The project will apply for LEED certification as per the recommendation of the City Commission. This project alone, is so massive, that if placed in Orlando, it would over shadow its existing skyline. In Miami, it is only one of three mega projects that are dramatically changing the urban fold. Again, this is evidence of the anomaly that is Miami’s urban development track.

Residents and buyers in South Edgewater (1800 Club, Opera Tower, Venetia, The Grand, Cite, Quantum, and Paramount Bay) should be popping champagne due to this excellent piece of news, because it represents the long term stabilization and progression of their urban neighborhood.

When looking at the big picture and factoring in the PAC, the plans for City Square, all the proposed and existing projects in and around the M&E District/South Edgewater, and now Omni, the Media and Entertainment District is well on its way to becoming a thriving urban experience worthy of international attention.

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Filed under BoB Articles, Commercial Developments, Residential Developments, Uptown: Edgewater, Uptown: Media & Entertainment (PAC) District, Uptown: Midtown Miami, Uptown: Wynwood Arts District

Office Condo Development Gains Momentum

The Real Deal, a New York based real estate publication, has an interesting article regarding office tower development in Miami. I have said in the past that Miami’s current residential boom will likely be followed by a commercial development surge. This seems only natural as, historically, throughout the nation, high density development has been primarily commercial/office. Miami has broken the mold with its mostly residential high density explosion in construction. Now, with the announcement of three new office towers (Brickell Financial Center, Met 2, and 1450 Brickell) the residential status quo could be shifting in favor of office space. The Brickell financial Center has already drawn the attention of MSNBC for its environmental friendliness.

This trend, should it continue and mature into a boom in office development, will likely result in taller skyscrapers than the residential boom has produced thus far. Also, the office towers are all inland and not on the Bay. This is another sign of skyline maturation since Miami’s urban development during its brief existence has been largely confined to bay areas. Two of the three office projects are in Brickell. Again, this signals a potential shift of the Central Business District (CBD) to the south of the Miami River. With so much activity, forecasting urban development patterns becomes rather challenging, but the latest news is good and all should hope that this office-condo pattern continues.

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Cardinal Development Press Release for 3333 Biscayne

Brickell-based Cardinal Development (builder of Baylofts, New Wave, Cocowalk, and Cardinal Symphony), a self touted pioneer in development, has publicized their first press release for 3333 Biscayne

I enjoy reading press releases for new projects. They tend to be filled with unusual adjectives describing the building’s design, features, and lifestyle concept, but more importantly, by reading these, one can surmise what type of buyer the developer is targeting. 3333 Biscayne, a medium scale office-condo development on the east side of Biscayne Blvd on 33rd street, is a continuation of mid-rise development along the Biscayne corridor parallel to Midtown Miami and Edgewater.

If successful, this office-condo project may help tilt the scales of development interest in favor of office-condos. Granted, this project is not a catalyst but it could serve as a valuable contribution to a larger commercial development pattern that has not yet fully materialized.

Here is an excerpt from the press release:

3333 Biscayne has been influenced by artistic elements from its inception. The project is a unique fusion of ideas; the design incorporates a balance of practicality, art and fantasy, resulting in colorful and invigorating spaces with utilitarian value. The innovative, soft and curvaceous plan for the building’s exterior originated as a stark geometric blueprint, but slowly evolved into a rounded and whimsical vision throughout the planning process. Even the building’s number, “3333”, fits the feminine and curvaceous aesthetic. “The genesis of 3333 was based on invigorating a forgotten quarter of the city and its purpose is to bring back the class and prestige of a 1940’s Miami,” says the building’s architect, Pat Bosch of Perkins+Will. Perkins+Will is the #1 firm with LEED accredited professionals as well the 3rd largest firm in Architecture and Interiors in the country.

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Filed under BoB Articles, Commercial Developments, Uptown: Edgewater, Uptown: Midtown Miami, Uptown: Wynwood Arts District

BoB Prediction: Macy’s Downtown will Get Revamped

Image: Macy’s in downtown Cincinnati

Federated Department Stores, the nations largest operator of department stores, as recently as December of 2006 was threatening to pull its massive Macy’s out of Downtown Miami. The DDA and City officials intervened and the move has been halted for now. As Transit Miami had pointed out in late last December, the threat to pull out made no sense, because after a long period of neglect, Downtown is finally seeing a major surge in construction activity and infrastructure improvements. Now, in a move to further solidify its position in the Miami retail market, FDS is investing in its Lincoln Road Macy’s. It seems FDS made all the noise about leaving Downtown to get concessions from the City of Miami–at a time when the City is seeing a boost in tax revenue. The concessions seem to have been provided to FDS, quietly, since no more fuss has been made about the issue.

So, in consideration of the current news out of South Beach, I see it fit to make a prediction: FDS will revamp its Downtown Miami Macy’s store (the largest it has in S. FLA) within the next three years and will make it their flagship Miami store–similar to Macy’s on 34th street in Manhattan, Union Square in San Francisco, and Marshall Fields on State Street in Chicago. This revamp will follow the completion of the nearby Wind, Mint, Ivy, Epic (Dupont towers), Metropolitan Miami towers, and Icon Brickell towers–among others. The over sized and old department store is due a revamp as it is, and FDS cannot expect for the urban store to enjoy profitability in its current overall physical state. It is ideally positioned to capitalize off of Downtown’s rapid development and FDS is sure to plan for it–as they did in Cincinnati. To further speculate, it could be that FDS put pressure on the City for concessions back in December of 06′ to lay the groundwork for a large investment in the Downtown location down the road. The CBD’s existing and incoming residents will benefit most if BoB’s prediction is right.

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Should Government Funds be Used to Build New Sports Facilities?

This issue has been brought up quite a bit lately. Here is an informative article on the matter (pay attention Trenton):

“Yes: Such facilities are critical to the long-term growth and stability of most urban centers.

Mark Rosentraub is one of a small, but well-publicized, group of individuals who have made their reputations in part by criticizing decisions by local civic leaders and voters regarding the construction and value of new sports stadiums. These critics underestimate not only the economic impact of new facilities but the intangible effects as well. The evidence and support of this positive impact is impressive. Economic analysts Dick Conway and Bill Beyers have conducted four studies during the last 12 years on the impact of the Seattle Seahawks football team and Seattle Mariners baseball club in that community. They have concluded that professional sports, like good schools, the arts, low crime rates, museums and parks add to the quality of life in a region. In that way, they make the region a better place to live and a better place to locate a business. Regions known for a high quality of life have a clear edge in this aspect of the competition for economic growth.

In March 1996, the voters in Hamilton County, Ohio, passed a 520 million referendum that included partial funding for new dual stadiums for the Cincinnati Bengals football and the Cincinnati Reds baseball teams. The teams also are committed to raising funds for the project. And this referendum committed $10 million annually for 20 years for the repair of Cincinnati public-school buildings.

While critics reject the need for public support for facilities, voters who stand to benefit from more-convenient and comfortable amenities in these new stadiums have approved public expenditures for NFL facilities in seven straight referenda during the last two years. For example, in November 1996, voters in Wayne County, Mich., approved partial funding to build a new sports-entertainment complex that includes a new football stadium for the Detroit Lions and a new baseball stadium for the Detroit Tigers in what traditionally has been an economically depressed section of the city. Mayor Dennis Archer and County Executive Ed McNamara led the effort in this public/private partnership. Archer did so because the project will create 4,700 construction jobs and 3,800 related jobs, increase tax revenue for the city and attract additional convention and concert revenues. Of course, Lions owner William Clay Ford also will contribute millions of dollars to the project for his club. The baseball owners will as well for their stadium. Sports owners, indeed, are paying their share of these projects — something the critics often conveniently overlook.

It takes a broad cross-section of voters to pass these stadium referenda. Voters in Nashville last year ratified a $292 million finance package to build a new football stadium that will be the home of the state’s first professional sports team, the Tennessee Oilers. Elaine Goetz, a grandmother and retiree, stated her reasons for voting in favor of the new project. “For me, it has nothing to do with football. I’m for it because of the legacy we will leave for our children and grandchildren. I have studied the situation carefully and am impressed by what this project will do for Nashville…. I’m confident that I’m doing the right thing by voting yes.” Although opponents quickly downplay the positives, economic projections show that 1,300 new full-time jobs, $65 million each year in new revenue, a revitalized East Bank of the Cumberland River and positive national exposure for the city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee will be created by the public/private partnership with an NFL franchise.

Rosentraub and I debated the issue of public financing for sports stadiums at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Philadelphia. After the panel discussion, I was approached by three women from western Pennsylvania who were big Pittsburgh Steelers fans. All three volunteered to do whatever they could to help pass the upcoming referendum that is scheduled in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area in November. If passed, the referendum would allocate public financing in a 10-county area for a new civic center and other public buildings — including a new 44,000-seat baseball park for the Pirates, a $260 million expansion of the Pittsburgh Convention Center, a new football stadium for the Steelers and other initiatives in the Pittsburgh Cultural District. These women understood that the development of such facilities is critical to the long-term growth and stability of their region.

At the same conference in Philadelphia, Washington state Sen. Jeanne Kohl also described how a local community’s investment in a professional sports team is vital to an area’s growth and development. Kohl chronicled her political involvement in the decision last June by King County, Wash., and Seattle voters to build a multipurpose facility which will be the new home for the Seahawks, but which also will serve the community in a number of other ways. She explained the intangible impact of a professional sports team on a community, as well as the new dollars that are anticipated to be spent in King County by both the residents and, especially, out-of-town visitors. Although not an avid sports fan, Kohl emphasized the pride and unity associated with having an NFL franchise in her community. She added that Seattle’s decision to construct a new facility for the Seahawks, which is only one of many such community decisions to renovate and/or construct public facilities each year, will attract new entertainment to the area, including professional soccer. There also will be a much-needed larger venue for trade shows in the new exhibition center. This multipurpose facility also will create the potential for revitalizing an otherwise underdeveloped region of the city and will keep Seattle a major-league winner.”

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Two State Legislators Oppose Marlins Stadium Funding

Two Florida legislators (Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando and Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton) oppose using State tax funds to help fund the Marlins stadium. Their argument is that there are much more important matters that deserve tax funds and the voters should ultimately decide. Yet, I have no doubt in my mind that if Orlando wanted a new ball park and needed tax funds, then following the rules of pork barrel politics, Scott Randolph would support it.

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Museum Park Plans Questioned

According to Riptide 2.0 (The Miami New Times blog), Museum Park plans (Miami Art Museum and Museum of Science and Planetarium)are getting complicated by diverging viewpoints. At Wednesday’s public meeting in the PAC, a group called Neighborhoods United claimed that the plan did not include enough open park space. This was reiterated by several people in the crowd, including a group called Citizens Against Everything Bad. Some concern was based in part on an initiative that was voted on by City residents in 1974 that would ensure green space at Bicentennial Park.

These folks are thinking about an initiative that took place 34 years ago. 34 years ago the level of massive construction in Miami would have been unimaginable. Much has changed since then and basing their arguments on a 1974 vote seems like an archaic way of going about dealing with the current state of development affairs and planning for the future. This is not to say that past initiatives should be disregarded, but 34 years is a long time. In looking at Copper Robertson’s plans, there seems to be plenty of green space incorporated.

It is not a matter of discrediting the legitimate concerns of Neighbors United, but frankly, what is more important, more open space or larger world class centers of culture and learning? Apparently, these folks feel that the actual structures need to be scaled down in order to accommodate more green space. This would come at a high cost: a decrease in space for exhibitions, fewer lessons to be taught to our children, less art to be admired, etc. The emphasis needs to be on fostering culture and knowledge not having more space to have picnics and walk dogs. Certainly the plan should be balanced but more important are the museums themselves not the green space outside.

The City of Miami has several under utilized urban parks that need funds to improve their use. It would be a good idea to put pressure on the City to use added tax revenues for a more effective public parks master plan than it is to stress more green space in the proposed Museum Park. Bringing up these issues is constructive, but one must factor in the compromises that would have to be made in order to accommodate their requests. In doing so, most will see that the cost of facility reduction outweighs the benefits of more green space.

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Filed under BoB Articles, CBD: Financial District, CBD: Jewelry District, CBD: Overtown, CBD: Parkwest, Culture, News, Parks

McCain Discusses Latin American Foreign Policy in Little Havana

McCain made a campaign stop in Little Havana. It seems fitting that McCain would talk about Latin America issues while in Miami. After all, it is the Banana Republic, right? In any case, he stated that if elected he would make his first Presidential trip to several Latin American nations in order to reinforce confidence in the United States’ stance regarding the region. He stated his concern about Venezuela’s rising socialism and the region’s growing discontent towards the United States. As expected, he also said that he would not endorse a Cuban embargo lift. The audience included aging Bay of Pig veterans and former Cuban political prisoners.

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Move.com Launches “Move Trend Spot”

PRweb reports on Move.com’s latest innovation: Move Trend Spot. MTS allows one to view rental and purchasing trends throughout the country. You can compare rentals in Miami Beach to Portland, Oregon, and discover the most vast rental price disparities imaginable:

All Rentals Are Not Alike: From Ultra Luxurious to
   You-Can't-Believe-It Great Deals
   Beautiful rentals range from $100,000/month in Miami Beach, FL to
   $560/month in Portland, OR

A $100,000 per month rental on Miami Beach? Not too shabby.

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News Tid Bits

  1. County considers pumping up to 1 billion dollars into the delayed MIA expansion
  2. Downtown Stadium proposal runs into another funding obstacle
  3. Local car rental agencies are scrapping it out with national car rental agencies over space in the proposed Intermodal Center.
  4. The Fed decides to not include the Miami Circle in Biscayne National Park
  5. Manny Diaz is pushing green buildings in Miami
  6. Set in Miami, Clubland, a documentary about Miami’s club scene, has wrapped up production.
  7. Crane topples in Aventura. One worker injured.
  8. A look back at the rise of Miami Beach’s Art Deco District

Winter Music Conference News:

  1. London’s Ministry of Sound hits up Miami
  2. WMC draws the world to Miami
  3. NYC’s The Village reports on the WMC

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