Category Archives: Biz Buzz

H&M Progress and Forever 21 Goes Big on Lincoln Road

Past glory (left). Present plight (right).

Recently, I saw a line stretch around a block to get into the H&M preview store (first such store I’d ever seen).  The actual store will occupy the historic Lincoln Theatre. I figured this must be good so I passed by to see the progress and found the theatre to be Continue reading


Filed under Biz Buzz, BoB Articles, Commercial Developments, Miami Beach: South Beach

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


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…


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

MiMo District Adaptive Reuse: Uva 69

Uva 69 is a quaint euro-style cafe located on Biscayne Boulevard and 69th street. The popular cafe’s interior is modern and gives little sense of the origin of the building it resides in, which is a Mediterranean style structure built in the 1920’s. Although the building is not MiMo per say, it is located in the Upper East Side’s MiMo District and is a fine example of adaptive reuse. The building’s main (lower) space is where the restaurant is situated.

The construction on Biscayne Boulevard and unsightliness of its surrounding is covered by a banner ad and blinds surrounding the dining area. Once inside, the cafe’s decor and ambiance captures the attention–not what’s outside. In addition to the restaurant below, there is office and gallery space upstairs. The unassuming old structure has been excellently adapted to suit rather than hinder the evolution of the Upper East Side. Importantly, it serves as an example of use-innovation in area now designated to preserve and adapt the use of MiMo-era motels.

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Filed under Biz Buzz, MiMo District

Staples Store to Open in Uptown

Image: Site of the under construction Staples store. Paramount Bay is seen under construction to the right.

The new Staples store will stand on Biscayne Boulevard and N.E. 22nd Street next to Paramount Bay (under construction). Cite, with its new ground level retail space is one block to the South. Already, pedestrian activity in and around Cite has increased since its ground level retail space began filling. Neighboring Paramount Bay’s plans call for the incorporation of ground level retail space with the Edgewater Square aspect of the project.

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Filed under Biz Buzz, Uptown: Edgewater, Uptown: Media & Entertainment (PAC) District, Uptown: Midtown Miami, Uptown: Wynwood Arts District

Construction Update: Shops at Fifth & Alton

Image: Active construction site for the Shops at 5th and Alton

The Shops at 5th and Alton, which will include 185,000 sq. ft. of vertical retail space and a 943 space parking garage at the 5th street entrance to South Beach, has begun to see activity on its site. U.S. Century Bank is financing development for the Berkowitz Development Group and Potamkin family. The Shops at 5th and Alton will serve as a development anchor for the West Avenue Corridor and SoFi, and further fill-in retail activity along 5th Street.

This project is also significant for shifting economic activity towards the west side of South Beach as well as integrating a novel vertical-retail approach that has worked quite well at Dadeland Station. Publix has signed a letter of intent for space in the new facility.


Filed under Biz Buzz, Commercial Developments, Miami Beach: SoFi, Miami Beach: South Beach

Biz Buzz: New to N.E. 2nd Avenue (Uptown)

Map of the area: N.E. 2nd Avenue is shown in green and Midtown Miami in blue

Economic Artery in the Making?

N.E. 2nd Avenue, which runs parallel to Biscayne Boulevard and the FEC Corridor in Uptown, has remained largely untouched by new development. This north-south thoroughfare is important because it links to the Performing Arts Center, Midtown Miami, the Design District, and is next to Edgewater and the Wynwood Arts District. Currently, the Avenue is mostly dotted with vacant lots and decrepit buildings for sale, which indicates a ripeness for transformation, but change, although small, is already turning N.E. 2nd Ave into something of an economic artery. Let’s take a quick gander:

Fantini Mosaico, founded in 1900 in Milan, Italy, is opening up shop on 2144 N.E. 2nd Avenue. The location is directly west of Paramount Bay and Biscayne Boulevard.

The Out of the Blue Cafe (2426 N.E. 2nd Avenue) opened its doors in February of this year. Already, the quaint restaurant has a dedicated following and has added to a growing buzz on N.E. 2nd Avenue.

Stoai Outdoor Concept Furniture opened its doors in March. It offers antique, outdoor, and patio furniture as well as different types of flooring.

the 18th Street Cafe (210 N.E. 18th Street) opened its doors a little over a month ago. According to the Daily Candy, this space was once a garage and is now a NY-style cafe.

Sidenote: the neighboring M Power Project Gym opened its doors a little over a year ago and is starting to see a pick in its membership according to the owner.

Pending Matters

There are numerous projects proposed in the area that have yet to see any activity, but greatly improve the area’s standing.

The most noteworthy commerce-oriented proposals are:

  • Bayview Market – large-scale destination retail complex (rumored to be luring Lowes and Wal Mart)
  • MAX tower: A mixed use media and art exchange concept that will incorporate Class A office space
  • 2222 Biscayne – Another Class A office building

If these are completed, then it will further cement the role of N.E. 2nd Avenue as a main economic artery for the entire area in the future, but as of right now, none have any on-site activity.


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