Identifying Signs of Urban Life: Retail Outlook (Parkwest’s Pros)

Image: The Parkwest Skyline as seen from Biscayne Boulevard

Continued from Parkwest’s Woes

Parkwest: The Hole in the Center of the Donut
Let’s consider the lay of the land. The map below is intended to illustrate the condition of Parkwest’s periphery. The neighborhood is the most central in the entire urban core. This was not always the case. The CBD held that right for decades, but the expansion of development northward towards the Design District stretched the Core beyond its traditional limits. Since Parkwest is so centralized, it is affected by numerous surrounding neighborhoods. The effects are both negative and positive. Dana Nottingham, director of the DDA, is quoted as saying that Parkwest is the “hole in the center of the donut.” Let’s see what he’s talking about:

About the map’s colors:

  • Blue represents the Parkwest sub-district as defined by the DDA.
  • Green represents significant development activity with a positive spillover effect on Parkwest.
  • Yellow indicates encouraging signs of growth but not enough to create a positive spillover effect.
  • Red indicates low income housing, little to no development activity, and a general negative spillover effect.

We’re talking about linkage. When the term “spillover effect” is used, it means that activity from one area can pass into and influence the next. Parkwest’s future is linked to that of its surrounding neighborhoods and vice versa. Let’s further consider the quadrants colored on the map above:

The Red Quadrant
This area includes East Overtown and S.W. Wynwood. Although S.W.Wynwood is better positioned to benefit from nearby development than East Overtown, it is still far from being stable. There is little to no new development or retail activity in either of the two areas. The I-95 does provide a barrier for parts of East Overtown and the I-395 for S.W. Wynwood, but the reality is that any headway Parkwest makes could be clouded by instability in these areas.

Upper Yellow Quadrant
The Media and Entertainment District is making positive strides although several developments have either been held back or are at a standstill. Nevertheless, the City’s designation of the area gives it direction and the PAC is a solid anchor. Currently, only Parc Lofts stands in defiance of the area’s instability, but Filling Station Lofts is soon to join it, and the MAX Tower may soon join the mix. The further stabilization of this section of the M&E will have a positive spillover effect on S.W. Wynwood, which may in turn mitigate its current negative state.

Green Quadrant
This quadrant includes a part of the M&E, South Edgewater, Biscayne Boulevard, and the east CBD. This entire swath of the City is arguably the most active in terms of new development, capital improvements, and public space initiatives. Additionally, it faces the waterfront. There is no doubt that it’s continued progress is a huge benefit for Parkwest.

Lower Yellow Quadrant
This area includes the west CBD and portions of the Miami River district. There is spotty development through out and the presence of the River is a solid foundation for further expansion, but the CBD interior remains largely untouched by new development except along the Miami River.

The Bite in the Donut
The yellow quadrants, although not yet established and stable, will likely be both in the near future. In other words, those quadrants are expected to turn green. The red quadrant will likely gradually recede in the portion east of the I-95 as activity picks up, but it’ll remain an uphill battle. If Dana is right and Parkwest is the hole in the center of the donut, then the Red Quadrant is the bite.

Image: Model of Museum Park from the Parkwest vantage point

Development Anchors
An anchor is a building, project, public space or combination there of that exudes a tremendously positive effect on the area surrounding it by generating jobs, attracting visitors and overall attention to the neighborhood. These are important for retailers because their goal is to target high traffic areas. Let’s see what anchors play into Parkwest:

The Performing Arts Center: With all of the negative things one can say about how long it took to be built, the parking it lacks, the funds it continues to insatiably consume, and operational uncertainties, it is still a marvelous establishment designed by a world class architect and an undeniably vital contribution to Miami’s cultural scene and civic pride. This makes Parkwest a more desirable place for restaurants where PAC patrons can dine either before or after they frequent a show, or even return to on a non-show night.

Image: The AAA as seen from Biscayne Boulevard

The American Airlines Arena: The AAA lures tens of thousands of visitors to the Core every year. They park along the fringes of Parkwest. However, these people have little reason to endeavor into Parkwest before or after the game. The completion of Marquis, Ten Museum Park, 900 Biscayne, and Marina Blue, may change that with ground level retail that may include restaurants, but nevertheless the presence of the AAA is a major positive contribution. 600 Biscayne and Paramount Park remain pending but would further spread this type of retail activity if built.

Museum Park: Having two outstanding museums in your neighborhood is rare. Rarity and high value often go hand in hand. Granted, Bicentennial Park remains an outpost of homeless activity but the Museums architects have been selected and the plans are moving forward. Museum Park will benefit the entire city, but Parkwest is going to feel the direct effect of visitors streaming in and out. It is also important to note that the plans for repositioning the I-395 calls for the creation of park land along the current I-395 path. This would mean that the northern boundary of Parkwest would go from a loud eyesore of an overpass to a scenic park.

These anchors are visitor attraction mechanisms. Parkwest sits in the middle of this visitor gravitational pull. This, along with the new construction being seen along Parkwest’s east side, is creating a rather favorable situation for prospective retailers.

Images: Nightclubs and lounges in Parkwest

Downtown’s Nightclub Hub
Parkwest is the focal point of Downtown’s club scene with a strip of nightclubs and lounges that currently runs along N.E. 11th street and N.E. 2nd Avenue. It adds a unique economic and social layer to the community. Were the retail sector to develop in Parkwest, the hood’s nightlife might influence operating hours to extend. Restaurants stay open longer. Stores persist with their selling into the evening–à la South Beach. If you’re a Miamian, you should know the routine by now. There are those who argue that it will conflict with the residential component by creating loud noise and fostering lascivious activity, but this is not new. SoFi is still going through this same issue with it’s surrounding towers and the nightclubs nearby. This will pan itself out as occupancy settles the area.

Zyscovich’s Master Plan and FEC Corridor
The master plan developed and proposed by the ingenious folks at Zyscovich and promoted by the DDA calls for the creation of a hotel and conference facility in Parkwest.

Here is a quote from the Zyscovich Parkwest report, as seen in Risa Polansky’s recent Miami Today article,

“[Parkwest] is ideally located as a future expansion area for office and hotel development,” the plan’s executive summary states. “The area could accommodate construction of a new Miami Conference Center facility and conference hotel, tying the area west of Biscayne to the waterfront and park along a new public open space as well as providing street level retail, dining and entertainment uses compatible with a conference center.”

The planners call for at least 1,000 hotel rooms, a widening of the streets, increased access to the waterfront, and new landscaping features. Parkwest’s appeal to the hotel market is no mere coincidence. Aside from a proposed conference center that would lure business conventions and trade shows, the presence of the PAC, AAA, and in the future, Museum Park, make Parkwest more than alluring to tourists. It’s in the center of the Core, close to South Beach, near the waterfront, and home to a rowdy nightlife. Almost like a perfect setup were it not for the bite in the donut.

Image: Street car system near the FEC Corridor–before (above) and after (below).

The Corridor
The FEC corridor could be a future public transit route for a streetcar/trolley or the people mover. Although it bisects a vast swath of Miami. Its southern end begins just south of Parkwest, which would be directly affected by any FEC corridor transit initiative. Zyscovich has a plan for the corridor, which would link areas to the north directly to the center of the Core. The resulting enhanced linkage to other areas of the City would make Parkwest even more desirable for retailers and residents.

Parkwest Land Acquisition Map (Boymelgreen and Kodsi):



Map: Boymelgreen-owned parcels are shown in blue and Daniel Kodsi -owned parcels are shown in red.

Under the Surface
Regarding land acquisitions, either Daniel Kodsi (Royal Palm) and Shaya Boymelgreen can’t find buyers for their Parkwest lots (along N.E. 2nd Ave), or they simply aren’t letting go of them. The fact remains, they are the effective landlords of Parkwest. This may be old news, but it’s good news. They’re still sitting at the table and haven’t folded. Their plans may very well be far reaching. Rest assured, they’re watching closely to see if the Zyscovich plans get approved.

Last Glance
It appears that Parkwest will shape out to be a touristy neighborhood. Ironic when one considers the current deplorable state of security. For now, tourists have no place to eat or shop at within Parkwest, but plenty of places to dance. Still, retailers will not remain blind to the area’s potential. As occupancy settles, the ground level retail will be filled. That might not be a big deal, but it’s better than what there is now, nothing. Whether it takes four years or ten, Parkwest is poised to become a superstar neighborhood–worthy of international acclaim. This is if all goes through. That’s not a small if, but there aren’t many neighborhoods where one can set up a business with such tremendous possibilities. Retailers, hoteliers, and restaurateurs aren’t likely to ignore this.

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Identifying Signs of Urban Life: Retail Outlook (Parkwest’s Pros)

  1. James Wilkins

    Thanks for all the good info. It seems like a waiting game right now with regards to Land ownership. The next year or two will be interminable as we all wait to see how many will occupy the new buildings, what the museums will look like etc.

    What area are the logik towers planned for. Is that in the red section?

    It will be a big help.

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  2. Woo! Go yellow! (hehe it’s where I live).

    By the way, update on River Drive Shoppes. I do not see the pre-leasing sign anymore. I have a feeling the project ended before it even started.

  3. J,
    The next two years are pivotal. No doubt. I’m intrigued by how Kodsi and Boymelgreen are sitting on all this land in Parkwest.

    Logik sits slightly on the red side roughly where the quadrants meet. It’s definitely a worthy precedent of office development to stand on in that area, but its bleak out there.

    Chris,
    And you’re waterfront. About the project collapse, some of these guys just can’t pull their shit together. That area is money.

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  4. I couldn’t agree with you more about the area’s long-term potential. It’s inevitable given the pricing in South Beach and in the Brickell area. Many of our buyers (think discount oriented and patient) see this downturn as an ideal time to pick off quality units at shockingly low prices.

  5. Armando

    I think that Parkwest would make an excellent location for a Marlins stadium. I don’t understand why it hasn’t yet been considered by community and busines leaders. I believe this is an idea worth considering for the following reasons:
    1. It would spark the revitalization of the area (if adequately studied and if lessons are learned from other successful urban stadiums across the country)
    2. It would link well with the attached media and entertainment district
    3. Could access abundant transportation infrastructure though the Metrorail/Metromovers nearby as well as from new dedicated ramps and connections to I-95 and I-395
    4. Creative partnerships with athletic organizations and events such as the Series del Caribe could also impact the development of the area, particularly by providing an anchor client for new conference facilities attached to the stadium
    5. The stadium could be developed in coordination with residential, commercial, or civic projects such as a new incarnation of the Vertical Cities of the Americas
    6. Development would be planned with the pedestrian in mind, incorporating green space and pedestrian only streets centered on the stadium facilities
    7. This proposal doesn’t require waterfront land
    8. Possibility of joint development with residential, commercial, and civic projects in addition to creative partnerships could help to close the funding gap for the stadium.

    These are my two cents; please comment.

  6. Peter,
    I know your company is at the forefront of facilitating sales under such conditions. Do you see the trend shifting from investor-buyer to end-user or more of the same investor interest? If the prices are dipping as low as some are saying, then prospective end-users that were priced out of the market a while back may be shifting their sights back on to the Core to sniff out the deals you’re referring to.

    Armando,
    Although there are no plans that I’m aware of to build a Marlins Stadium in Parkwest, there has been a plan floating around to build it north of government center in what is the red quadrant in the article map. The location is not in Parkwest but is close enough to directly affect Parkwest, provide it an additional development anchor, and adhere to most of your points, particularly, point 1.

    Parkwest, unfortunately, does not have the vacant land to support a Marlins Stadium. Maybe if Glenn Straub demolished the old Miami Arena for the purpose of building the stadium, but that sounds a lot like a pipe dream. The north of Government Center proposal is more feasible in that its on public land but even that proposal has faced substantial opposition.

    I think it’s also important to note that I agree wholeheartedly with point 1, but there are those who don’t see the connection between a ballpark and revitalization. They use the Dolphins Stadium and Miami Arena as examples. I disagree, but it’s the devil’s advocate position. Thanks for your well thought out points.

  7. Armando

    Xavier,

    I understand your points related to my idea, but I disagree with you or have responses to several of your points:
    Although it is true that the Miami Arena and Dolphins stadium (and countless stadiums across the country) have done absolutely nothing to revitalize the area around them, I believe that is due to the design and planning of the stadium grounds as well as the conditions when these facilities were constructed. Dolphins stadium was built with fields of parking all around it, far from public transportation, and with no coordination with developers of adjacent land. Furthermore, it was developed at a time when urbanism was not fashionable and development was still fixated on the suburban, drive to everywhere you go attitude. Miami Arena suffered from the same issues, exacerbated by the complete absence in investments and development in the downtown area.
    However, I believe that the conditions today are different that they were when those two facilities were built: urbanism is finally in style, there is significant investment interest in Miami (even through the current credit issues), and downtown Miami increasingly a “hip” place to live. I believe that studying some examples of urban athletic facilities that led to the successful revitalization of the areas around them can lead to valuable planning insights. Studying stadiums such as Boston’s Fenway Park, San Francisco’s SBC Park, and to some extent the BankAtlantic Center in Broward can teach city leaders and the planners of this hypothetical stadium many lessons. Building a stadium as part of a much larger plan urban, mixed-use project would fix many of the issues that plagued the Miami Area and Dolphins stadium.
    As far as land concerns go, I believe that with sufficient will from government, business, and Marlins leadership would lead to a solution. If we conceptualize the area that includes ParkWest and parts of Overtown extending West to I-95 (Take the blue are on the map and extend it West to I-95) we would find that there are numerous options for development. It is true that little of that land is currently vacant. However, most of that land is worst that vacant, it is occupied by the most undesirable people and development imaginable for a successful downtown. Also, the vast Greyhound bus station is located in the area, and it has proven absolutely horrible for downtown, leading only to increasing populations of vagrants. That is another very good location for a hypothetical stadium. The land doesn’t have to vacant, there just need to be the appropriate partnerships with investors and developers to get the project going on land that may already be filled by dilapidated warehouses, parking lots, or low income housing. Developing the stadium as part of a greater project, such as was done with the Staples Center in LA, would help tie the project to private investors that would in effect help subsidize the stadium. Private and public partnerships between the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, the Marlins, and private investors/investors would be key.
    My vision is to develop a stadium that is part of a much larger mixed-use development incorporating office space, condos, a hotel, conference facilities, and development in the existing entertainment district to create commercial synergies for each of these individual parts. It would create a 24-hour economy in the area as there are patrons to restaurants and shops at all hours. Otherwise, I don’t see development accelerating in the area anytime soon. It is clear that a publicly-financed stadium in Miami-Dade County is unlikely. Loria obviously doesn’t want to bring in an outside investor to complete the financing gap because it would dilute his ownership of the Marlins. However, if he is presented a VISIONARY project that is much more than just a stadium and brings significant development around it, that could lead to him being more open to bringing in an outside investor. Imagine a stadium surrounded by office space, restaurants and bars, condominiums, conference facilities, public space, down the street from the entertainment district, down the street from civic buildings in the other direction, etc. True it would be challenging to bring together the $1bn+ investment needed to finance a project like that, but from my experience in investment banking, I believe that the $550 mm needed in addition to the $450mm in public financing already available for this vision is definitely achieveable.

  8. Armando,
    I was stating the devil’s advocate position regarding the lack of a connection between economic stimulation and a ballpark. It’s not my position, but one that I’ve had to defend against before. I present it as food for thought. Your explanations for the lack of success at the Dolphins and Miami Arena are well founded. I agree on your points.

    I don’t think anyone can disagree on the dilapidated state of the pocket immediately west of Parkwest, but also feel that involving too many entities in the process would hamper an efficient initiative. Your proposition, although forward thinking and beneficial, would depend on the cooperation of several private entities. What if a couple don’t cooperate for this or that reason? It would either compromise the plan or result in imminent domain, which would undoubtedly lead to complications.

    The land that was proposed north/east of government center is sufficiently close to Parkwest to have a positive economic impact on the area. This involves using vacant government land but I’m not sure it remains a viable option at this point. There was a lot of excitement when it was first proposed, then it kind of fell by the wayside.

    Again, I have no doubt of the advantages that a downtown ballpark would present for the stimulation of urbanism in Miami—whether in Parkwest, Overtown, or anywhere else Downtown. Personally, I favor the north of government center site. It sits in the lower yellow quadrant and can serve to stimulate it to green, which would have a positive spillover effect on Parkwest and the CBD to the east.

    Regarding the numbers, I’m sure it would be achievable with your estimated budget, but I sense that there is an excessively high cost to pay to pave the way for such an ambitious proposition (your budget is over at least 50% higher than other proposals).

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  10. Billie, Jackie, Sue, Johnny, Jerry and MelindaI’m so sorry about Ruth’s passing and so sorry I culdon’t come to the funeral. Ruth was such a kind and gentle person and when we were running around together I considered her my second mom . I know your hearts are broken and I will keep you in my prayers. I still catch myself all the time thinking, I’ll call mother and tell her or ask her that. Always remember the good memories and they will ease your pain.With all my love and sympathy,Faye

  11. Thanks for helping me to see things in a different light.

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