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Pestana Opening First US Hotel in South Beach

Portugal-based Pestana Hotels and Resorts Group plans its first North American hotel in the heart of South Beach’s Art Deco District. Portugal’s largest “tourism and leisure” group and Europe’s 25th biggest hotel brand also boasts hotels in Africa and South America.

Pestana South Beach will be located at 1835 James Avenue— one block inland from from Collins Avenue (not far from the planned Lennox Hotel). The Portuguese hotelier does not seem to think its relatively off-the-beaten-track location will deter reservations.

South Beach’s interior has long remained aloof of commercialization but there seems to be a gradual paradigm shift taking form in the nook between the Convention Center and the Bass Museum of Art—where resides some of the island’s finest Spanish Revival and Art Deco architecture.

The selection of South Beach as the launchpad for Pestana’s  North American operations is yet another indication of its remarkable gravitational pull on foreign investment.

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Filed under BoB Articles, Commercial Developments, Emerging Neighborhoods, Miami Beach: South Beach

Bust Ghost bites Dust: Onyx2 eclipsed by Icon Bay

Anyone who’s tracked Miami’s development long enough knows that fancy renderings need be taken with a grain of salt. Onyx 2, sister of BAP designed Onyx (completed), never disturbed the ground.

Now, the Related Group intends on developing Icon Bay on the same site. To think that people were counting out Mr. Perez, back in 2008. Funny. Continue reading


Filed under BoB Articles, Residential Developments, Scrapped, Uptown: Edgewater

Homegrown Architecture: MIA and the USA

A glimpse of the terrace of Palau de La Musica Catalan, a Montaner masterpiece.

The Architect and the City

No one can better represent a city than a local architect—whether you consider Fillipo Brunelleschi in Florence or Lluis Domenech i Montaner and Antonio Gaudi in Barcelona. The expression of their architecture is synonymous with the pride of their cities.

Miami’s architectural scene is robust and diverse. Its relationship with homegrown architectural firms, intimate. They’ve shaped its skyline with little external influence, making it uniquely Miamian.

To put this into perspective and draw comparisons with Miami, I surveyed seven major U.S. cities and ten prominent buildings in each one (for the sake of simplicity, in order of height):

  1. NYC
  2. Chicago
  3. San Francisco
  4. Seattle
  5. Atlanta
  6. Houston
  7. Boston

We’ll get to Miami, at the end. Continue reading

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Peek @ Monte Carlo Miami Beach

The team behind Estates by the Falls is diversifying its single-family oriented real estate portfolio by joint venturing with the Rilea Group to develop Monte Carlo Luxury Rentals— designed by Revuelta International—at 6551 Collins Avenue.

Project Specs:

rendering via

The project, located a hop and skip south of Canyon Ranch, is being constructed by the Coastal Construction Group of South Florida (builders of Trump Royale and Wind) and seems to be moving forward briskly. The strict residential-rental use leaves the door open for a condo conversion at some point along the way.

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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

Lennox Hotel is Tearing it Up in South Beach

Renderings from

Demolition activity is commencing at the planned Lennox Hotel (Peter Miller Hotel building) right across the street from the Setai. If completed, it will add to an increasingly impressive hospitality portfolio for architect Kobi KarpContinue reading

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Filed under BoB Articles, Commercial Developments, Emerging Neighborhoods, Miami Beach: South Beach

In Memory of Las Olas Riverfront

I seldom cross the border into Broward. I did this weekend and passed by Las Olas Riverfront expecting something lively and a bite to eat. Instead I found a taste of the post apocalyptic.  Continue reading


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Foram Group Bullish on Miami’s Class A Office Market

Condo Boom Stimulating Class A Office Development

Loretta Cockrum, President of the Foram Group (builders of the Brickell Financial Center) has said that the condo market boom has impacted the demand for Class A office space. Most agree that the condo boom, with all of its problems, does have one major positive aspect: the improvement of Miami’s demographics. For Miami, the status quo means mostly low income. Although not likely to quickly change, the incoming occupancy waves in and around the urban core will bring up income levels so that they are more compatible with declining home prices. This demographic improvement, according to Loretta, has and will continue to result in significant high quality commercial development.

Local Small Business Owners Uninterested in Green

Regarding the “Green” or LEED aspects of the Brickell Financial Center, Loretta stated that local small business owners have been mostly indifferent to green development but larger outside corporations based out cities like Chicago, NYC, and San Francisco have come to expect green buildings. According to her, these types of companies are the ones likely to set up shop and bring jobs and affluence to the local market.

Commercial Market is Looking Up

If large corporations are persuaded to do business in urban Miami, then corporate condo-bundle acquisitions at below prevailing prices (sometimes 30% less) are likely. All in all, Ms. Cockrum and representatives of Cushman and Wakefield agree that the Class A commercial market will remain strong as new inventory comes in 2009. With Class A rates stagnant throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, along with the lack of new inventory added, and a small office market compared to most other U.S. urban centers, Miami’s Class A market is primed for growth.

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Commercial Development: Brickell Village Outlook

The chart below is one of several I prepared that are based on the latest DDA Development Activity Breakdown Report. It represents office/retail development (built, under construction, and approved) from 2002 to mid-2007 in Brickell Village. In an effort to compare DDA data with with an alternative source (to get the best overall picture), I deferred to CBRE’s market outlook. Let’s look at the DDA derived chart first:

Chart Data Source: DDA

According to the DDA, there is currently 1.45 million square feet of office space under construction in Brickell Village. Let’s take a look at what CBRE reports:

The CBRE office construction sum (which doesn’t include office condo development) is +/- 1.4 million sq. ft. This coincides with the DDA figures. Since 2002, there has been a total of 461,000 square feet of new office space added to the Brickell market. The 2007 office construction figure constitutes a major increase in inventory compared to the last five years. There is an underlying concern that the demand for new office space is insufficient for a healthy rate of absorption, but falling vacancies and rising lease rates are contradicting this claim. Let’s take a look at Brickell’s vacancy history since 2004:

Chart Source: CBRE (Market Pulse)

In the second quarter of 2005, while the residential condo market was still hot, vacancies in the office market were at a dismal 16.9%. However, since then (in the third quarter of 2007), vacancies have gone down to 8.0%.

Let’s take a look at recent rental rate averages:

Chart source: CBRE (Market Pulse) [Firefox users, right click to view larger clearer image]

From when the vacancies were at their highest level in the second quarter of 2005 to their lowest point in the 3rd quarter this year, the average rental rate per square foot has gone up from $28.34 to $33.03–with one instance of an asking rate of $50.00 in a prestigious Class A office development (according to CBRE, a first for the Miami office market). Decreasing vacancies and increasing rental rates are healthy growth indicators but the 1.45 million sq. ft. of new space brings the market’s absorption rate into question. Let’s take a look at the rate of absorption for new construction in Brickell Village since 2004:

Chart Source: CBRE (Market Pulse) [Firefox users, right click to view larger clearer image]

As you can see above, there hasn’t been much new space added to the market since 2004 when 260,000 sq. ft. came online. Still, 247,982 sq. ft. was absorbed that same year compared to the 260k added–a pretty good absorption precedent, but minimal when considering the projected 1.4 million sq. ft. coming online during the next year or so.

2008 is going to be pivotal for Brickell Village’s office market. The addition of over 1.4 million square feet of new space will test the market’s vitality but a successful transition will increase the overall value of Brickell Village real estate, create new jobs, add to the commercial and residential allure of BV (which already has higher office rental rates than the CBD), and balance the scales of development more evenly with the heavy residential side. If all goes well in 2008 and into 2009, and growth is proven sustainable, then who knows, the office sector might see a significant construction surge.

NEXT: Commercial Development: Central Business District


Filed under BoB Articles, Brickell Village, Commercial Developments, Economy

Borges + Associates

Borges and Associates brings to mind sharply designed loft developments. Although specializing in many aspects of their field, including urban planning, interior design, and architecture, Borges and Associates’ bread and butter is the loft project. Here is a short list of some of their loft and mid-rise designs:

  • The Lofts at Mayfair
  • District Lofts
  • Loftika
  • 757 Condo
  • Nautica
  • Brickell Townhouses
  • Rosabella Lofts
  • Urbanea

Not known for towering highrises, Borges + Associates is shedding this perceived portfolio deficiency with Infinity I and II. The towering Infinity I is nearing completion and will stand as the firm’s flagship Miami developments.

Rendering: Infinity II

B+A designs are not known for their curves. Oppenheim-like in their tendency to incorporate sharp, straight lines, and cubes, their designs still somehow manage to refrain from predictability. Unfortunately, quite a few of their designs have remained on the drawing boards as Miami’s boom has subsided in favor a slump. The Miami Flatiron–not to be confused with the Brickell Flatiron–was never built. Biscayne Vista was canceled and the Design District Lofts seems to have been scrapped as well.

Despite this inevitable consequence of the bust, B+A has still excelled in Miami and, through their international partnerships (Global Studios and DRU Architectural Consultancy), are engaged in a couple of noteworthy developments overseas:

  • Galaxy Island, Bahrain
  • Dubai Creek Hotel

Rendering: Galaxy Island, Bahrain

B+A’s activities in Bahrain and Dubai add to Miami’s international architectural reach–with firms like Arquitectonica, BAP, and Oppenheim already heavily in the global mix while Fullerton Diaz and RVL are dabbling in it. Not yet considered one of the big players, B+A is on the up-and-up. Their international reach is sure to gain then additional notoriety, and Infinity I and II’s towering ambitious designs raise the bar for the loft-oriented firm. Expect B+A’s star to continue rising.

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