Image: The Daily at Cite in Uptown
No Retail Activity. No Urban Life.
People need options. Construction activity and occupancy patterns aside, if there aren’t dining, shopping, and lifestyle options, then there is no community. One can view the new high density residential construction as an important component of forming a community, but the puzzle is incomplete without a vibrant retail sector. Retail activity is expected to pick up as new construction peaks and begins to subside. We will explore this expectation. Let us first consider the areas of interest:
The signs are evident throughout the Core, but mostly in Brickell Village, where retail activity is spreading westward. Mary Brickell Village, still a work in progress, is comparable in layout and function to Cocowalk in the Grove. Surrounding MBV is a buzz of restaurant and retail activity, but other than MBV there are no large-scale destination-retail projects planned for Brickell. Mixed use developments will further supplement the neighborhood with ground level retail. The area affords its residents the most options for dining and shopping in the entire Core and when fully considered, Brickell Village’s emerging retail potential might seem hard to eclipse.
Image: P.F. Chang’s Mary Brickell Village
Uptown and the Media and Entertainment District
In Uptown, retail activity is occurring in interesting patterns. For one, there is the elephant in the room: the Shops at Midtown Miami. This massive destination-retail project is creating a retail hub that is sure to have a catalytic peripheral-development effect. That is to say Midtown Miami will encourage economic activity along the fringes of the project’s 56 acres. We’ll look at acquisition patterns to see what’s happening under the surface. In addition to the Shops at Midtown, there is a smattering of retail activity mostly in the form of ground level mixed use. Biscayne Boulevard is becoming the artery that is poised to stream this form of retail activity north and south in between the I-395 and I-195.
Image: Parkwest, Club Space
In Parkwest, retail activity is non-existent. This, in a neighborhood that is emerging as an outpost for the extremely-well-to-do. Granted, occupancy has not settled the area, but iconic towers are quickly topping off along the neighborhood’s east flank and the presence of an active 24-hour nightclub scene adds a distinguishing element to the neighborhood. There is much to consider including but not limited to the state of Overtown, plans for Museum Park, nearby development anchors, and proximity to the heart of the CBD. Retail activity in Parkwest is imminent and might follow patterns seen in a certain neighborhood across the bay. We’ll get into that later.
Image: Brickell Village looking north towards the CBD
The Central Business District
The CBD is not seeing a marked increase in new retail activity and is something of an enigma. Most of the area’s structures are so old and under utilized that reuse is questionable at best, yet there are examples of small-scale un-designated historic buildings that offer appealing reuse options for retailers. The CBD, unlike Brickell Village and even Uptown, for the most part, is lacking in new westward development. This is attributed to the dense and antiquated interior. With the exception of Met Square, there isn’t much to consider in the form of destination-retail projects, but there are many paths the CBD can take in terms of retail activity. We’ll consider the probabilities.
Image: Ground Level retail spaces at City 24 (under construction) in Uptown
- Trek through the urban Core’s areas of interest evaluating the state of retail activity in each area,
- Look to other more established areas of the city for parallels,
- Look at acquisition patterns surrounding new development in order to consider the peripheral effects of new construction and under-the-surface activity,
- Consider the links between communities and how each neighborhood depends on neighboring communities,
- Compare destination-retail versus mixed use ground level retail,
- Identify what avenues and streets are to serve as the arteries for economic/retail activity expansion,
- Identify the missing pieces and impediments for growth,
- Consider the occupancy dilemma.
This is a lot of ground to cover, and it will take a few installments, but it is important to consider each of these aspects in order to materialize a short-term and long-term outlook on retail activity and urban life. In great urban centers, options abound. In Miami, cranes and questions abound. As the cranes do their work, we will examine the questions that remain: beginning with Brickell Village.
(to be continued…)