Identifying the Signs of Urban Life (Intro)

What Does the Media Know Anyhow?

Since the rampant negativity plaguing the media is now on everyone’s mind, it’s important to consider whether or not it’s too soon for the gloom. Parkwest, for example, has had one building completed: Ten Museum Park.

Marina Blue, 900 Biscayne, and the Marquis remain under construction. 600 Biscayne and Paramount Park have not begun construction.

In the CBD, only One Miami and the Lofts 1 has been completed. Epic, Metropolitan Miami, The Lofts 2, Everglades on the Bay, Wind, Mint, Ivy, Flagler First, Capital Lofts at the Security Building, and 50 Biscayne all remain under construction and unoccupied.

In Uptown, Cite, Blue, Uptown Lofts, Onyx, and a handful of small midrises have been completed. For the upstart neighborhood there is a long list of buildings that remain under construction. For all intensive purposes the area is still hatching.

A Study: Signs of Urban Life

The City hasn’t had a chance to show signs of “new” life and the media has engulfed Miami in gloom. The reality is rather different. As we explore signs of life in the urban core, we will:

  • Identify the peripheral effects of the new construction
  • Factor in new retail/commercial activity.
  • Supplement the study with an acquisition analysis that will factor in what properties have been recently sold and/or acquired near new development.
  • Identify what major impediments remain in the advancement of the core, neighborhood by neighborhood.
  • Explore just what kind of change we can expect given current physical and political conditions.
  • Put the market aside, for now, and look at the city through a livable standpoint. The standpoint that so many bought into.

Miami was America’s biggest boom town at the onset of the 21st century and the story doesn’t end with the market bust. There is a truly singular city emerging from the settling of the construction dust and the signs are there if you know where to look.

(to be continued…)



Filed under BoB Articles

16 responses to “Identifying the Signs of Urban Life (Intro)

  1. You are totally right… we haven’t seen the full scope of the Urban Evolution… particularly in the CBD. I am currently living at OneMiami now and I see the area changing every day. I can honestly say that I would not want to live anywhere else and my lifestyle has truly changed for the better. I think the best is yet to come. For anyone who purchased a condo in this area (to live), I think you should see passed the negative press and truly enjoy what Miami has to offer. The market will come around!

  2. pakio

    What, a Starbucks fastfood moving across form the legal services building is a positive thing?
    I’m sure all the artists and their followers will be clawing all over each other to live in the neighborhood now. What, w/ the new alternative stores in the neighborhood has to offer like bed bath and beyond as well as elm street and marshals. How countercultural and cool. Pretty soon miami will have it’s very own venice beach only better. Honestly, burger king, checkers, wendys and taco bell have been in the neighborhood for awhile along w/ several gas stations. An additional starbucks fastfood chain is not proof that the neighborhood is hatching. And if it morphes into just another suburban strip mall, what’s the point of living in the cite anyhow. I think we still have a long way to go. Honestly, maybe a crash in the market is the best thing possible for the neighborhood because it will allow for a much broader diversity of people to afford to populate the neighborhood which will create a much more stimulating environment than a bunch of yuppees in their volvos w/ cheesy hillary clinton stickers.

  3. James Wilkins

    Alex, I appreciate your spirit, that will bring Miami to it’s fruition. Pakio you bring up really good points, although like a canary in a coalmine I do think Starbucks is a good arbiter. It may be a chain, but it’s business plan has been unbelievable, they don’t make a lot of mistakes when it comes ,to choosing locations with a bright future. I wish I could open a lifestyle shop in Edgewater. Music, art, a few food items, flowers, a few hand designed clothes. I hope this is the kind of shops you have in mind.

  4. A,
    Glad to hear you don’t regret your decision. You’re role, although small, is instrumental in pulling the city out of the slump. The best is definitely yet to come. What a great thing it is to track the progress.

    Yes a Starbucks is positive. Economic activity is a good thing. My thoughts are on par with James on the matter. I see what you’re getting at though and I appreciate your standpoint. We’ll see what the findings are but this isn’t intended to forecast occupation patterns and demography changes nor is there any presumption here that the Core’s evolution will involve cookie cutter commercialization. I embrace the type of social urbanism you point out.

    The”lifestyle shop” example that you give is the kind economic activity that when seen in bundles can reshape and re-energize a community in the longrun.

  5. Pakio needs to watch the South Park episode Gnomes, where “evil” Harbucks comes to town and takes business away from the little mom and pop coffee shop until surprise, the town realizes that the coffee from the mom and pop shop sucked.

    I understand your point (look at Lincoln Road) but we talking about several neighborhoods here not just one mall. We already see an increase in live music (due in part to Studio A’s ambition to bring down more obscure acts), the gallery walks are only becoming more popular, streets are being cleaned up.

    Before this boom, the neighborhood was affordable and nothing was happening. Give the yuppies a chance, at least they are moving in.

  6. Pakio, living in downtown is not for everyone. If you feel this way, it’s probably not for you. I have yet to see “yuppees in their volvos w/ cheesy hillary clinton stickers” lol Actually, I’ve met some really interesting people out here. The overall vibe is different and I’m seeing a lot of diversity. When you get in the elevator, people actually say “hi, how are you?”, which is nice. I’d also like to point out that I have seen an increased number of beautiful women in the area. I’m not sure where they all come from, but they all seem to want to live here! OneMiami, being one of the first completed condos in the CBD, is just a small example of what downtown living will be like. All the new condos on the biscayne corridor will bring new life to the area. Most of them will have restaurants and retail space which is very convenient. Major retail and restaurant chains will soon follow to meet the demand. It’s great being a few minutes away from all the hot spots… most just a cab ride away. Don’t knock it until you try it.

  7. Brad

    “All the new condos on the Biscayne corridor will bring new life to the area.”

    Remember that “new life to the area” is contingent on people actually living in these condos– the buildings themselves do nothing but alter the skyline. A vibrant and energetic downtown needs residents first and foremost…and given the way things are headed now, it seems like that factor is (and will be) missing. And with regard to retailers/restaurants, they need to take a serious look at the actual or projected occupancy in the condos rather than invest in the area simply because the condos have been built….or else they are going to get burnt too. I’d like to see the opening financials for the big boxes in Midtown. I bet they suck.

  8. Big name retailers are going to wait. They’re not going to dive in to the scene when occupancy might be seasonal or partial. But, let’s be serious, these buildings will eventually be fully occupied and unlike touristy Miami Beach, the occupancy, once stabalized, is likely to be year round. I think Alex is thinking along farsighted lines. In the short run, occupancy lapses might be a problem for the retail sector.

  9. It’s definitely not going to happen over night. I think condos that are not in prime locations will be hurting really bad for a while and will be essentially “life-less”, but others in prime locations will be populated pretty quickly. OneMiami falls into one of these prime locations (being in the heart of the CBD) and both towers are highly populated by owners and renters. There are a lot of condos going up, but in reality there are only a select few that are in prime locations. It’s going to be interesting to see how this all plays out. In the end, I think Miami will just be a better place to live.

  10. Brad

    Sure, eventually they will be filled up…but when? I think it will take a fairly long time, especially since the majority of the newest condos are at a pretty high price tier. I just see a lot of affordability issues (correlated to occupancy) should prices fail to drop. I am still not sold on the whole idea that the city is experiencing (or will experience) a huge population boom of people willing to live downtown and able to afford at the current price points.

    Nonetheless, that columnist from Miami Today may be correct in stating that the condo crash may destroy some (investors, developers, GC’s, lenders) but will eventually be a benefit to the average MIami citizen by the expected price drops over the next few years that will serve as a catalyst for increased sales activity and eventuall filling up those towers. As our fearless former commissioner Johnny Winton once said, “Build ’em. If they fail, we’ll have affordable housing.” Maybe- and that would be good for everyone.

  11. rj

    It seems that almost the entire world hates Miami (many of us included) or it is envy. The local, national and international media does not waste an opportunity to blast our city; always focusing on the negative – that we have problems, YES, just like any major city in the world. Can anyone point out which other city in Florida (or in the US) has, in the past few years, erected such a beautiful skyline fronting Biscayne Bay, I do not care if the buildings are half full/half empty; just do a little travel around the State and you’ll see. Why is it that all you hear is the negative side, why not mention the positive ‘cause they just hate what we have, including the local media who instead of being constructive and proactive, chooses the opposite. Enough of this madness, Miami is beautiful and it going to get better!!

  12. This should mean something:

    TOWER HITS LANDMARK: A downtown Miami commercial tower has reached record occupancy, leasing officials say. The Bank of America Tower at International Place, a 600,000-square-foot Class A office tower at 100 SE Second St. with 21,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, is 97% occupied, highest in its 20-year existence. Newest tenants include Starbucks Coffee, insurance firm AXA Assistance of Florida, American International Investors and international money transmitter Money Express. Details:

    Posted on on July12th, 2007

  13. Brad

    I really don’t see how that is very relevant, considering the BOA Tower was built in 1986 and most of its tenants have been there for years and/or are well established in this city.

    Consider that 3.9M square feet of office space is currently under construction right now in downtown, and many developers/commercial landlords are operating with very high risk since they can’t find tenants and thus don’t have any leases locked up yet. Normally office developers will ensure that they have tenants before they start building…but that is not the case here.

  14. It is relevant in that we need existing office vacancies to fill before developers will push forward new office projects. This is especially significant if in the tower’s three decades it now hits this milestone.

    Brad, is the 3.9 mil a DDA stat? Is it based on the large scale development report? I think a lot of that space comes in mixed use complexes where big corporate names aren’t required to sign prior to construction. How many destination retail and/or strictly office complexes do we have going vertical? Compared to the high density residential, it is low.

  15. Brad

    The 3.9M is a stat from an article a few months ago in SFBJ but I was mistaken in that it represented all of South Florida and not just downtown. My apologies…but I do think that downtown is probably looking at over 750K sf of office development in the next 2 years.

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