In Miami, “mixed-use” generally means MOSTLY RESIDENTIAL. The mixed-use title comes from these types of buildings having a smattering of offices and a base of street level retail spaces. Since residential comprises the primary use, it forms the pedestrian foundation of the urban environment. These urban dwellers need options; dining, drinking, shopping, laundry, hair and nail salons, grocery stores, et cetera. A neighborhood with limited options is, well, crappy. As such, neighborhood vitality can be defined, in no small measure, by the retail sector. With the advent of new mixed use developments with major retail components, such as Brickell Citicenter, it’s important to ponder existing street level retail activity.
Let’s start with Brickell:
Notwithstanding its dire need of a paint job, the Vue at Brickell has also filled its retail spaces.These (mostly) dining (and watering hole) spots have complimented existing free-standing dining establishments Baru Urbano, Pericones, Dolores but you can Call Me Lolita, and Rosinella and have contributed both to the daily business lunch menu and the Brickell nightlife scene. The area west of Brickell Avenue along South Miami Avenue is becomming a rich mosaic of restaurants and bars.
One Broadway, with its tenants, Pie Ducks Pizza, Brickell Irish Pub and now PM Buenos Aires, has done rather well too. PM Buenos Aires took their time modifying the south west facade of the building to make for a lavish, inviting look, but the presence of ferraris and lambroghinis (not pictured here) seen in my frequent pass-bys does little to attract me.
Lucky Clover at Axis is another example of a major face-lift to retail frontage. Neighboring Mare Nostrum, also at Axis, seems to have altered the frontage considerably less. Still, the retail-use crown goes to Mary Brickell Village, which has, much like Coco Walk did for years in Coconut Grove (though it has markedly declined over the years), anchored much of the activity in the area. To this extent, Skyline Equities pans to crown the existing structure with its proposed Sky Palace.
Retail activity in Axis and Mary Brickell Village signal the continuous advance west of urbanization away from Brickell Avenue and marks a further maturation of the Brickell urban environment. Infinity and 500 Brickell still retain retail space vacancies. Infinity’s location next to Central Park Miami (under construction) with Akashi the Brickell Bier Garden might help lure an occupant to its vacant space.
Cranes a Comin’
While vacancies are gradually getting filled, it’s not clear whether the current rate of activity justifies more retail space coming online with Swire Properties’ one billion dollar Brickell Citicenter. Still, the construction of this new muti-tower mixed use complex will add to what is fast becoming a major retail hub in the heart of Brickell Village that, ultimately, will further vitalize an already well heeled area.
Seemingly endless road and infrastructure improvements along Brickell Avenue may continue to deter prospective retailers and hamper exiting street-level ones but to its west, things are poppin’.