What do Hong Kong and Miami have in common? Well, for one, they are nearly on the same latitude. The city’s both deal with massive tropical storms, except call them by different names (hurricane and typhoons). Both metropolises are a hub for hundreds of multinational corporations, but Hong Kong is still leaps and bounds ahead of Miami. Aside from these basic similarities, the Magic City has a little bit of Hong Kong in it: Swire Properties Ltd. This international conglomerate is a big part of Hong Kong’s vertical evolution. The firm is one of the largest developers in the Chinese island-metropolis. They are the builders of Taikoo Shing, a 61 tower development. Swire also developed the monolithic multi-phase Pacific Place project, which includes four towers with three hotels (Shangri-La Hotel, Conrad Hotel, and J.W. Marriot – all with a presence in Miami: SLH in Island Gardens). Pacific Place also includes a high end shopping mall. Also in Hong Kong, the firm is the master mind behind the highly successful City Plaza project.
Their Far East projects are not confined to Hong Kong. They are building Taikoo Hui Cultural Plaza in Guangzhou (formerly Canton), north of Hong Kong. The impressively designed three tower project looks more like a new United Nations than a cultural plaza. The three towers are connected by a major hub in the center that includes a convention center, shopping mall, commercial spaces, along with a major transit interchange. The building’s main lobby is a massive glass-encased cube. Swire has built and is building dozens more major projects in Hong Kong and throughout the region.
- Image Source: Emporis – Taikoo Hui Cultural Plaza in Guangzhou
The multi-faceted international conglomerate has the ability to build more than just “big”. Now, consider their involvement in Miami’s urban market. Swire has all but claimed Brickell Key (Claughton Island) as their own Miami outpost. As of late, Swire is responsible for all three Tequesta towers, the Courts, Courvoisier Courts, the Mandarin Oriental, the Carbonell, and their latest development, Asia (pun intended). As a result, Brickell Key has evolved into a highly unique urban island community. Swire Properties has played the role of catalyst.
What is amazing about Swire is that their projects go vertical consistently, quickly, with minimal buzz, and the result is always an excellent development. Strikingly, since the 1970’s, Swire has focused its North American real estate activity solely on Miami. From their site:
Swire Properties Inc., the USA real estate operation of Swire Pacific, has been active in the development of investment and trading properties in Florida since the 1970s. Its primary focus is on Brickell Key in downtown Miami, where a number of commercial and residential properties have been developed.
Could there be something in Miami that reminds Swire of Hong Kong? There is, and you can rest assured that it isn’t the weather. Miami’s abuzz with economic activity and Swire’s latest Miami developments have been their most ambitious to date. The Far East firm has a proven track record of success on Brickell Key. Its efforts have largely remained within the quaint man made island, but there have been mini-forays into other nearby markets: South Beach’s Floridian and Jade Brickell. A mini-foray however is nothing compared to what this quiet giant could really accomplish.
Swire’s activity on Brickell Key could be a microcosm of what might happen in mainland Miami should the firm delve heavily into it. Let’s just say that Swire is running out of space on Brickell Key, and the mainland looms temptingly close. Should Swire move more aggressively into the Miami urban market, there will be no doubt of its ability to execute and in grand style. The resulting development could bring Miami closer to Hong Kong than previously thought.