Vintage Urbanism in the CBD

Image: Flagler First

The vicinity around the intersection of Flagler Street and N.E. 1st street and 1st Ave has good examples of vintage or restored urbanism.

Images: Flagler First

  • The first example, Flagler First, is the most notable and expansive in the area. It involves the restoration for the historic First National Bank. It is being developed by Sergio Rok. The project is striking in that it looks like a more traditional representation of urbanism with brick walls and intricately etched columns. It lends a sense of dynamism to Miami’s mostly new construction-oriented skyline.

Images: Capital Lofts at the Security Building

  • The Capital Lofts (Do not mistake it for Capital on Brickell) at the historic Security Building, being restored by the Arbel Group, is the second example of vintage urbanism in the area. A short walk from Flagler First, Capital Lofts, again is a more traditional representation of urbanism. Unlike Flagler First, which lacks a standout crown, Capital’s crown will rise as an architectural beacon in the neighborhood. Its restoration is the most conspicuous advancement of the site’s renovation. Capital is more slender and tall than Flagler First and is not situated on a corner, so it’s not as noticeable and the city views aren’t as desirable.

Images: 1st and 1st Jewelry Center

  • Across from Capital Lofts is a unique retail development that has not amounted to anything but is still a fine example of restored urbanism. It is the Jewelry Center at 1st and 1st. Here again, when looking at the building, one gets a sense of being somewhere else. The facades etched concrete, archways, high entrances, and decorative balconies gives it that storied look. It’s not clear what will happen with the site. Currently, some of the exterior areas are popular as bathrooms and bedroom for the homeless.

Image: Carrion Building

  • Across the intersection, lays the last example of a restoration that has lent character to area, the Carrion building. It was restored by Carrion Mfg., a local successful jewelry manufacturing business, and it is now their main office. It also has retail at the ground level with an unrelated jewelry store and a pizzeria.

The Financial District has several historic structures (Congress building, Ingraham building, Dade Commonwealth building, and Dupont Building, to name a few) that could use a revamp. Not all of them would be good to harbor residential, but some could be for office condos, or mixed use. The core cannot continue to progress with the area’s oldest structures remaining in a derelict state. Dynamism in new construction design is great but there is something special about having past architectural styles intermingle with new ones. Just as the restoration of Art Deco in Miami Beach helped propel economic development, the same can be done in Flagler Street to boost retail activity with restorations, for example, at the Macy’s and Lerner buildings.



Filed under BoB Articles, CBD: Financial District

8 responses to “Vintage Urbanism in the CBD

  1. Juan Ortega

    In terms of urban redevelopment, I’m always inspired by cities that know how to restore/redevelop some of their older neighborhoods. The Financial District represents an entire area in the city that has multiple buildings that can be retouched to reposition the area as it competes with new development to the north and south.

    I’ve been thinking about redevelopment lately and how adaptive reuse of buildings may be an exciting approach to pushing forth responsible urbanism.

    Check out the architecture firm Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn, which specializes in adaptive reuse. I don’t know if they’re licensed in Florida, but it would be awesome to see them do a project in Miami.

  2. Brad

    On a related note, Business Monday of The Herald focuses on the delapidated state of downtown and calls developers, property owners, and government to make an effort to clean up that blighted section of the city. So much potential in that area, but instead its overrun with homeless, cracked sidewalks, garbage, poor planning and an array of shady/unsavory characters. Maybe once the residential component is introduced to that area some positive changes will be instigated.

  3. J,
    I’m going to keep an eye on that firm. They have a great portfolio. I definitely feel that the CBD, in the future, will represent a rich blend of new construction and restored structures. The only issue with these restorations is that they are generally not as marketable as more modern structures. It’s unfortunate but true. If retail picks up, my gut tells me that many of the old small structures will be revamped to accommodate extra space and a unique shopping environment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a proponent of restoring architecturally valuable buildings, but many of them in the CBD don’t meet the criteria.
    The potential that the CBD has through a restoration standpoint is incredible–a major distinction Brickell lacks. Craig Robbins is pushing a restoration movement in the Design District. The City is pushing one in the MiMo Distirct along Biscayne Blvd.. It has worked excellently in South Beach and is expanding to Mid and North Beach with an emphasis on Mimo as well, but the CBD is lacking in this respect. I don’t get it.

  4. Juan Ortega


    I agree. I’m thinking some buildings within the Jewelry District neighborhoods and Flagler St.

    Heck, even the Macy’s building should be redone. One of the keys to the area is the strong presence of the Metromover, so if redevelopment could be done right, and if you do some modern components (a la Circle Centre) then perhaps you can compete with brand new construction….

    Just a thought…

  5. J,
    Connectivity in the CBD via the metro mover is a definite plus. Here’s what I see as the restoration stigma: a restoration project from the 1920’s as is the case with Rok’s First National Building project, involves major concrete restoration, electrical rewiring, and mechanical work. We’re talking a complete overhaul of all three building elements due to years of deterioration and neglect. A common consumer fear is that given shoddy construction in new condos, a restoration may have even more construction-related issues. Unless you have a GC that specializes in such work with an architect to match, consumer concerns are not likely to be allayed.

  6. Juan Ortega

    Yeah, I agree. It’s all in the GC and the Architect.

    Also, if one were to do a residential conversion, you probably need to differentiate the project from the luxury projects going up everywhere else in the city. Perhaps some NY style lofts at a reasonable sales price would be more attractive.

    Then again, sometimes, conversions are WAY more costly to do than new construction.

  7. It could be more expensive in that one really doesn’t know the full cost of restoration until you start chipping away at the concrete. You’d have to pay an engineer top dollar to do the report, and due to the nature of the project, expect constant change orders from the GC.

  8. Juan Ortega

    You have to walk the entire building with your GC and your MEP consultants before you put your “hard money” deposits in place. Then you have to decide on a full scope of the work so that the GC can be involved early and start getting you some realistic construction budgets.

    If you get into the project before having your GC and engineers work with you on the scope, you’re screwed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s