Monthly Archives: September 2007

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Development Outlook: Midtown Miami & Vicinity

Image: Midtown Four and Midblock

The Foremost Symbol of Miami’s Emerging Urbanism

Midtown Miami is, in many ways, the most obvious symbol of Miami’s rapid urban transformation. It exhibits Miami’s architectural star power, represents the most ambitious push west for urbanism in the city thus far, sits on a formerly blighted and infrastructureless area of the city, and incorporates large-scale commercial and residential elements. For all intensive purposes, it is a city-within-a-city.

Image: The shops at Midtown Miami’s northwest side

The Skeptics Viewpoint

Yet, despite this, there are those that recall the past failure of the much hyped Omni Mall when considering Midtown’s prospects for success. However natural this historic allusion may seem, the Omni, which never had the residential component Midtown has, is currently owned by a New York-based firm with billion dollar plans that span 10-15 years. Suffice to say times have changed. Then there are those that claim the project is too vast and will never be fully completed. This is to suppose that after all that has taken place, the remaining land and phases are going to be disregarded. This is hogwash, as I see it.

Image: West entrance into the Shops at Midtown Miami

What Prospects Does Midtown Miami Present for Uptown’s Future?

Sunset Place in South Miami is a good starting point for considering how a large-scale destination-retail facility can affect its periphery. Before I continue, I am in no way claiming that Sunset Place is a model for Midtown to emulate, rather I am using it as an example of the effects of a large-scale destination-retail facility on its periphery. Acting as an anchor luring thousands of visitors to the heart of South Miami, Sunset Place’s southern flank along Sunset Drive has become a hub of economic activity. There are restaurants, taverns, wine bars, lounges, stores, and cafes along Sunset Drive across the facility. Each of them is a testament to Sunset Place’s catalytic effects.

Image: Sunset Place in South Miami

Is Midtown Miami’s Peripheral Effect to Be Any Different?

There are those who argue that South Miami is a more stable section of the city with an enclave of well-off single family homeowners in the surrounding the area. This same argument is predicated upon the idea that Midtown is in the inner city where stability is fleeting at best. Naturally, the “inner city” refers to the Wynwood area that only within the last few years began gaining recognition as the center of a burgeoning art scene, but remains, for the most part, largely overlooked by visitors and tourists. We’ll get further into the Wynwood aspect later in the post, but to suggest this is also to ignore the presence of two nearby exclusive bay front communities: Bay Point and Morningside. These two neighborhoods are no slouches when measuring affluence. Edgewater’s rising prominence will add luster to Midtown’s prospects as well.

Image: Restaurants, taverns, and cafes across from Sunset Place

What Makes Midtown Miami Different?

Aside from the three aforementioned neighborhoods, Midtown Miami is situated next to two highly distinctive urban nodes: the Design District and Wynwood Arts District.

Image: Underutilized properties directly across from Midtown Miami.

The DD

The Design District’s Dacra-propelled plans and resulting buzz has lured numerous high-profile international tenants into the aesthetically alluring DD. Although some would describe the Design District as movie-set-like, that is to say absent of real life, there should be no doubt as to Craig Robins’ knack for smelling out the City’s next hot spot. Positive developments and activity in the Design District are sure to have a spillover effect on Midtown Miami and vice-versa.

WAD

Then, of course, there is the Wynwood Arts District, which for years, while simply known as Wynwood, had the stigma of an unsafe inner city neighborhood. Today, the hood is at the forefront of Miami’s art scene. There is a greater concentration of art galleries in Wynwood than in Coral Gables or Miami Beach. So many, in fact, that there is a website dedicated to tracking and showcasing them. However, on the surface, Wynwood doesn’t exude this fact. Passing by the neighborhood, only a keen eye will notice the various little galleries that dot the place. But, let’s be serious, Wynwood is gritty not commercial. It’s a neighborhood that is propelled by earnest passion for art not a desire to be accepted. Wynwood represents a breaking of the mold while Midtown represents a casting of it. Given such opposing characteristics, it’ll be interesting to see how the neighborhoods interact with one another.

Image: More under utilized properties across from Midtown Miami. Notice the neatly landscaped median–attributed to Midtown

The Midtown Periphery As It Is

Currently, there isn’t much new activity attributed to Midtown Miami around its periphery. This is natural since Midtown has yet to establish itself. Midtown Miami is the product of a NY-based development firm. In looking at land acquisitions in the periphery, almost all of the parcels located north of Midtown Miami are owned by NY-based firms. There is no direct connection to Cayre-Samuel that I’ve seen. Not surprisingly, the west flank of MM–and farthest from active Edgewater–has the least activity in terms of recent acquisitions. In other words, the most recent acquisitions took place in 2004, and the majority have been held for at least 7 years or, in most cases, longer. The south and east sides of Midtown are also lax on new acquisitions. If Midtown is to trigger activity along its periphery, then many existing land owners may just be playing a waiting game until the timing is right to make a move.

Image: Cynergi, which would never have been built were it not for Midtown Miami, is a prime example of the positive effect Midtown Miami presents to the area.

Anticipating Change

In anticipating the type of commercial activity that may take place around Midtown, the Sunset Place comparison becomes useful. Currently, Midtown doesn’t really offer dining options. The Design District does a better job at filling the void, but Midtown remains depressingly behind in this respect.

It’s a simple formula: where there is big box retail and new residential towers, we can expect restaurants, lounges, wine bars, and cafes to follow suit.

Sunset Place bore witness to this and Midtown Miami shouldn’t be any different. Will this happen in a few months? Of course freaking not! It will take a couple of years gradual and often painstakingly slow progress–which I will endeavor to cover–before people realize that the area is truly phenomenal. It boggles my mind to think that people doubt the positive influence that MM and the DD will have on the Uptown area. It just seems so shortsighted to me. I have heard people say that South Beach’s heyday is over and the Urban Core has only one way to go: up. Although I disagree with the South Beach side of the assertion, I know that much of our city’s dynamic social energy and economic influence will be shifting to the Core. It’s already happening. But, I bet, as time unravels its secrets, Midtown Miami will be pivotal in instigating this paradigm shift.

Map: Midtown Miami proper is outlined in Blue. Its vicinity in yellow. The WAD is colored in red, Edgewater in green, and the edge of the Media and Entertainment District in blue. The Design District lies directly across the I-395 to the north and Bay Point to the north east.

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Filed under BoB Articles, Commercial Developments, Emerging Neighborhoods, Uptown: Edgewater, Uptown: Media & Entertainment (PAC) District, Uptown: Midtown Miami, Uptown: Wynwood Arts District

Back to Regular Programming

Out of town. BoB will return to regular updates on Monday Tuesday. Thanks for reading!

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Bogus Ammenities at Casablanca Villas?

Image: Casablanca Villas

Casablanca Villas is a new mid-rise development on Indian Creek and 63rd street on Miami Beach. It doesn’t have beach front access but claims to offer its buyers exclusive access to the ocean and rights to other ocean front amenities via a neighboring building. Take a look:

The above description was taken from this site.

Condoideas.com further elaborates on Casablanca Villas’ supposed amenities:

“The development is located just across the street from the Casablanca Hotel, including beach access, use of an ocean side pool, restaurant, and bar facilities, as well as a business center and gift shop”

Image: Casablanca Condominium on the Beach

This might seem normal except for the fact that the “Casablanca Hotel”across the street is actually a condominium with a rental program. Quite simply,  guaranteeing the use of the common areas and amenities of a neighboring building is extremely difficult because it infringes on the rights of the owners in the neighboring building. Although possible, doing so would require the Association’s ratification and approval of the owners unless specifically provided for in the Association condo docs, which might be the case, but is doubtful.

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3rd Quarter 07′ Construction Tour: Miami Beach

Let’s take a tour through Miami Beach to take a look at the third quarter status of recently topped off buildings, ongoing construction, and recently started foundation work:

APOGEE (topped off)

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VICEROY (no activity)

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CONTINUUM II (topped off)

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SOUTH OF FIFTH (construction)

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RITZ PLAZA (renovation)

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PARC PLACE (Construction)

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RESIDENCES AT THE W (Construction)

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PARADISO (renovation)

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RIVAGE (no activity)

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RESIDENCES AT THE RITZ – SEVILLE (no activity)

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CIPRIANI (no activity)

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OCEAN 3651 (no activity)

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CARIBBEAN (topped off)

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FONTAINEBLEAU III (topped off)

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EDEN ROC (construction)

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MANSION ON THE BEACH (topped off)

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MEI (topped off)

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TERRA LOFTS (construction)

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63 NOBE (construction)

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CASABLANCA VILLAS (topped off)

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AZUL LOFTS (no activity)

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NOBE BAY (construction)

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REGATTA (recently completed)

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CANYON RANCH (construction)

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1111 LINCOLN (no activity)

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CAPRI (construction)

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MONDRIAN (renovation)

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VITRI (incomplete)

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SHOPS AT FIFTH AND ALTON (ground cleared for construction)

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BEACH HOUSE (no activity)

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CABANA ON COLLINS (renovation)

For more construction tours click on the links below:

Post Script: Do you think this report missed something? If so, Contact BoB. Your input is appreciated.

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Biscayne Blvd. Planned Resurfacing & Uptown’s Retailization

Image: Section of Biscayne Boulevard in the Upper East Side undergoing an extensive reconstruction.

Biscayne Boulevard is undergoing extensive work along the CBD, but the area north of the I-395 up to 36th street, represents a separate phase of Biscayne Boulevard’s enhancement, and is currently unaffected by the Boulevard’s improvement initiative. According to DDA records, the work in the Uptown section of Biscayne Boulevard is expected to begin sometime this year with completion slated for 2008. An area that is currently affected by resurfacing work is Biscayne Boulevard north of 55th Street where stores with US-1 frontage are facing bulldozers, barricades, and crawling auto traffic. There’s little doubt as to the negative effect that the resurfacing initiative is having on those businesses. As a retailer, you don’t want a construction site situated on your front door step. As a consumer, you don’t want to have to traverse through construction traffic, dust clouds, and fragmented roads unless you have to.

Image: Same section of Biscayne Boulevard as the image above.

The resurfacing is necessary and highly beneficial, but there will be a price to pay for street level retailers. The effect will be severely felt in Uptown where newly built mixed-use developments are adding much needed retail space along the Boulevard. Already, these fledgling retailers are itching for nearby towers to become fully occupied, but when the resurfacing begins, so will their real woes. Many may not be able to wait out the temporary (assuming there won’t be major delays) negative effects the resurfacing may have on their operations. Others who may be interested in opening up shop might opt to wait till after the resurfacing takes place. The retailization of Uptown, along Biscayne Boulevard, is beginning to take shape, and is crucial to the urbanization of the area, but the resurfacing will present it with a major challenge. It’s critical that the work commence ASAP and proceed as efficiently as possible. Otherwise, there will be considerable consequences to be had.

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Filed under BoB Articles, Transportation, Upper East Side, Uptown: Media & Entertainment (PAC) District, Uptown: Midtown Miami, Uptown: Wynwood Arts District

Signs of Urban Life: Retail Oulook (Uptown’s Pros – M&E)

Image 1: An under utilized retail structure with blue awnings on NE 24th street and Biscayne Boulevard is shown in the foreground with new developments surrounding it.

Continued from Signs of Urban Life: Development Outlook (Uptown’s Woes)

Uptown is the largest of the three primary urban core segments (CBD and Brickell Village being the other two). It contains four unique sub-segments:

  1. Media and Entertainment District
  2. Edgewater
  3. Wynwood Arts District
  4. Midtown Miami & vicinity

Map: Uptown and its four subsegments are shown above. The Media and Entertainment District is shown in blue, the Midtown Miami vicinity is shown in yellow, Edgewater in green, and Wynwood in red.

The Media and Entertainment District

This post will concentrate on the first of these subsegments. The Media and Entertainment District, known to some as the Omni District, which surrounds the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, is located just north of the I-395 and Parkwest. Along with the PAC, the Miami Herald and Omni buildings are located within the M&E. The M&E’s character is very much non-existent. Surrounding the PAC is a considerable amount of vacant land and derelict buildings. However, there are several interesting patterns that may indicate the retailization of the area.

Image 2: View of the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts from Biscayne Boulevard

The M&E’s Layout

Looking at the map of Uptown, you’ll notice that the M&E, as defined by the DDA, juts to the north along Biscayne Boulevard. This extension is where Cite, City 24, Uptown Lofts, and Biscayne Plaza are located. These developments are vital because as mixed use projects they contribute retail space at the street level. Cite and Biscayne Plaza are good examples of how the filled retail space will enhance lifestyle options and pedestrian activity along Biscayne Boulevard.

There are still many underutilized structures that contribute nothing to the fold. Many of them are For Sale. In fact, Uptown has a greater concentration of derelict structures for sale than the CBD and Brickell Village to the south. There are implications that follow suit:

  • The area remains undeveloped
  • Many announced projects have either been scrapped or stalled
  • In terms of acquisitions, the area is conducive to extensive redevelopment

Image 3: The same structure with the blue awnings from image 1 is shown here from street level. The right side is facing south toward City 24 and the M&E and the left side is facing north away from the M&E. While the streetscape is under construction in preparation for new ground level retail on the south side, the north side remains under utilized.

In these ground level retail spaces, we’re witnessing a wide variety of businesses spring up: wellness facilities, restaurants and cafes, banks, all sorts of stores. Aside from residential units being occupied, the advent of these new businesses to the area is the most important aspect of creating a truly urban environment.

Image 4: Banner ads for restaurant in Biscayne Plaza

Ground Level Retail

Currently, only Cite and Biscayne Plaza have fostered this kind of street level retail activity. Uptown Lofts and City 24 will add more ground level retail to the M&E. Staples, interestingly enough, is constructing a store in the heart of the M&E and it’s not attached to any existing or planned project. This is indicative of a pattern that may continue along Biscayne Boulevard as under-utilized buildings get replaced with retail. Biscayne Boulevard serves as an ideal artery to spread this kind of activity along Uptown.

Image 5: People mover elevated transit line with the Marriott and Radisson in the background

Connectivity

Importantly, although most of Uptown remains disconnected from the public transit rail system, the M&E is not. There are two stations servicing the M&E (Omni and School Board stations). This allows for connectivity with the other two Core segments to the south.

Hotel Hub

The Media and Entertainment District also boasts the only major hotel chains (Doubletree, Marriot, Hilton [formerly Radisson]) in all of Uptown making the neighborhood tourist friendly. The nearest hotels are in the Financial District to the south. Here again, this is good news for retailers. Although there isn’t much reason for hotel occupants to walk the streets of the M&E just yet, the presence of these hotels adds more value to the neighborhood.

Citi Square

There is more to the M&E, however, than meets the eye. Sure, the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts is hard to ignore, but it’s what you don’t see that’s most telling. Pedro Martin’s Terra Group has plans for the land surrounding the Herald. The plans required the rezoning of the parcels to accommodate Mr. Martin’s vision of two 64 story towers and a major destination-retail component called Citi Square (641,104 sq. ft. of retail space). Since the original buzz generated by the announcement of the potential land acquisition and vision for land-use, there hasn’t been much said about the project, but the deal between the McClatchy Company and Citi SquareGroup LLC. (Pedro Martin) appears to be a work in progress.

Image 6: View of the Omni from across the PAC

The Omni Center

The Omni is another critical longterm component. New York-based Argent Ventures’ $1 billion plans for the 1 million sq. ft. property span up to 15 years in four phases and include 6 large scale towers as well as 350,200 sq. ft. of retail space. A plan that spans 10-15 years is not at the mercy of existing market conditions but is susceptible to the uncertainty of time. Thoroughfares will be incorporated into the mega-project making it a city-within-city of sorts. Marc Sarnoff considers it a second Midtown. Argent recently closed on a $200+ million dollar loan to begin work on its plans.

Image 7: Filling Station lofts under construction

The M&E’s West Side Residential

The side of the M&E west of NE 2nd Avenue is rather desolate, but there are two residential developments that provide a glimpse of how the M&E’s interior may unravel: Filling Station Lofts and Parc Lofts. The latter is completed and the former is under contruction. Both are well designed mid-rise loft developments that stretch the notion of urban pioneering to the limit. Surrounding the two projects are plans for the Bayview Market, a destination retail facility, and MAX Tower, an innovative mixed use project designed to lure media and art-oriented tenants. Neither of the two have disturbed the ground yet, but add potential to the area.

Wrapping it Up

The presence of the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, incoming street level retail, incoming occupants, presence of major hotels, large-scale long-term plans for Citi Square and the Omni, connectivity to the People Mover transit system, and its designation as a Media and Entertainment District make this urban neighborhood a very interesting prospect for retailers.

To be continued with installments dedicated to Edgewater, Midtown, and Wynwood…

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Another Downtown Logo

A BoB reader from NYC, Joe, has submitted what he thinks should be the Downtown logo:

As a Gothamist living the hectic Big Apple lifestyle, he sees his second home in Brickell Village’s the Plaza as an outlet for relaxation, hence the upside down “A”, which represents a drink. Joe even included the skyline gap for realism. I’m not sure the DDA’ll dig the whole alcohol undertone, but I do. Cheers and thanks for submitting Joe!

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