Category Archives: Maps and Illustrations

Series of urban development maps and and illustrations

Under Utilization in the CBD (INTRO)

Image: Under utilized buildings near the BOA tower are highlighted.

The Purpose

Boom or Bust focuses much of its efforts on tracking the new construction that has consumed Miami. But, what about the older, neglected, and under-utilized properties in the Central Business District? No one seems to care about them unless they’re being demolished to accommodate a new tower or revamped in grand style, yet knowing the level and forms of under-utilization is vital in helping to understand the development challenges facing Downtown. This week’s aim is to demystify under-utilization in the urban core by answering these fundamental questions:

  • What constitutes an under utilized building?
  • What current uses are derelict buildings lending themselves to?
  • What are the use alternatives?
  • What is the effect of under-utilization in the CBD?
  • What role do these buildings play in shaping the social and economic environment of the CBD?
  • What is the current proportion between vacant land, new construction, and under utilized properties?
  • What are the under-utilized structure age patterns?
  • How many of them have restoration potential?

These are just some of the questions that are to be addressed this week as we delve into the nitty gritty of the matter. I have developed a color coded chronological development map to assist in the study.

Image: Portion of the Chronological Development Map. The color codes will be explained in the 2nd installment.

The chronological map, which will be explained later, will be used to illustrate when certain areas of the CBD were built out. In the end, the Central Business District’s historic nature, restoration potential, and level and effects of under utilization will be addressed and tied into surrounding new construction trends and Miami 21 zoning.

(To be Continued)

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Filed under BoB Articles, CBD: Financial District, CBD: Jewelry District, Gentrification, Maps and Illustrations, The Big Picture

Miami Map Index

We’ve added a Miami Map Index Page to BoB. The purpose of the index is to list useful Miami maps. The index includes many map types, for example, some pinpoint art galleries, new construction developments, zoning boundaries, demographic patterns, master plans, historic districts, etc. The index will be constantly updated.

Keep an eye on it to watch the index grow:

I just thought of the idea so the list is in no particular order and short, for now. Keep an eye on it to watch the index grow:


Filed under BoB Articles, Maps and Illustrations

If Google Maps Street View Could Look Up

Wouldn’t it be nice if Google Maps Street View could look up? Pardon me for complaining despite the revolutionary break through the feature represents, but there is always a way to improve. Let’s consider this thought for a moment:

Looking forward – Google Maps Street View image of Met 1:

Looking up – View of Met 1 as photographed from street level:

Now that’s an improvement. My money’s on Google making it happen.


Filed under BoB Articles, Maps and Illustrations

Developer Pinpoint Map

One can see some interesting patterns when map-plotting developer activities. The purpose of this map is to identify which developers are the most influential in the different areas of Miami’s urban core. This map has several colored placemarks. Each one represents a project either built, under construction, or planned by one of four (4) developers:

  • Related
    • In looking at this map there is no doubt that Jorge Perez’s Related Group is the dominating force on all fronts except Uptown/M&E. For whatever reason, The Related Group has stayed away from the area north of the I-395. The Map clearly displays how the Related Group dominates high density development in South Beach.
  • Terra
    • Pedro Martin’s Terra Group activities are mostly in and around the M&E District and Park West. In the absence of the Related Group’s presence in the area, the Terra Group is moving to cement their role as the dominant force there. The Omni and Midtown developments dilute their influence a bit but not much.
  • FECR
    • The map shows the heavy influence of Tibor Hollo’s Florida East Coast Realty in the M&E/Omni area. FECR has a diverse land portfolio that covers the M&E, CBD, and Brickell Village. Their most ambitious project to date, One Bayfront Plaza (1000+ footer) is in the heart of the CBD.
  • Swire
    • Lastly, Swire, the Hong Kong-based conglomerate’s near monopoly of Brickell Key development is clearly illustrated, as is their joint venture project, Jade, onBrickell Village. This goes back to the question: will Swire remain on Brickell Key for long or will they delve into the mainland on a similar scale to their Far East projects?

Only four developers are covered here. Including too many would have made the map too cluttered, but pinpointing developer activities is one way of seeing how the market is physically changing and which firms and individuals are most dominant in specific areas.


  • Brickell is represented in a green outline
  • CBD is represented by a red outline
  • Uptown/M&E District is represented in a dark blue outline
  • South Beach is represented by a light blue outline


Filed under BoB Articles, Maps and Illustrations

Map/Satellite Imagery No Substitute For Being On the Ground

In analyzing the urban transformation of Miami, using tools such as Google Earth, Microsoft Virtual Earth, and Google Maps/StreetView is extremely useful. However, when making final determinations, there is no substitute for surveying the reality on the ground–venturing out into the city, street by street. To illustrate this further, let’s take a look at these images:

A. GOOGLE MAPS (Satellite View): No Activity on Nordica Site

B. VIRTUAL EARTH (Birds-Eye View): Nordica Under Construction

C. On the Ground View: Nordica Topped off

Virtual Earth definitely has more updated satellite images. The more user-friendly Google Maps has satellite imagery that is pretty outdated–although Street View is recently updated. There is no doubt that both offer great tools for analyzing urban development patterns, but if you aren’t on the ground, you don’t know smack.


Filed under Maps and Illustrations, Urban Tech

The Landlords of Parkwest: Leviev/Boymelgreen and Daniel Kodsi


RED: Daniel Kodsi BLUE: Leviev/Boymelgreen

Lev Leviev and Shaya Boymelgreen are the biggest land owners in Parkwest, but Daniel Kodsi is stepping up to the plate. Leviev and Boymelgreen’s parcels are smaller than Kodsi’s large parcels. LB’s land acquisitions, for the most part, took place either in 1999 or shortly thereafter. The parcels were acquired from local parking lot magnate Hank Sopher. Until 2005, Leviev and Boymelgreen had been the undisputed landlords of Parkwest. In 2005, Daniel Kodsi acquired several significant parcels in the neighborhood. This pattern is important to see because it indicates that these two separate entities are likely to be the most active in changing the area and capitalizing off of its progress. It also indicates that these developers consider the area to be a high priority on their land portfolio. The entire west side of N.E. 2nd Avenue from 11th street till 7th street is owned by either Leviev/Boymelgreen or Daniel Kodsi. For all intensive purposes they are the landlords of what is fast becoming one of Miami’s most important urban neighborhoods. In studying land acquisitions, one will find that Parkwest is where Leviev/Boymelgreen has the biggest cluster of parcels. Considering their extensive financial resources, development experience, and ambitious current plans, one can almost count on them transforming Parkwest to the point of being unrecognizable. Kodsi’s presence in the neighborhood implies that his Paramount Park project was more of a bridgehead in the area, while these later acquisitions are a sort of invasion into the heart of Parkwest. He will have room for at least two more major developments on parcels located on the west side of N.E. 2nd avenue on 9th and 10th streets—behind 10 Museum Park and 900 Biscayne respectively. Leviev’s plans for Marquis West on their N.E. 2nd avenue and 11th street lot indicate that their future projects will be similarly dense. Although high density is a safe guess, it’s not clear what Daniel Kodsi will do with his parcels to the south of the Marquis West. Considering all of his Paramount projects, he is likely to think and act big. Under the surface, Parkwest is rumbling with activity. Look for these development juggernauts to steamroll forward with big plans for Parkwest soon.


Filed under CBD: Parkwest, Maps and Illustrations

New Miami Skyline: Height/Density Distribution Charts

The Charts below are designed to track both the distribution of density and height of Miami’s proposed, under-construction, and recently topped off high-rise developments among three urban neighborhoods: Brickell Village, the Central Business District, and Uptown. Chart A, below, includes 97 of the newest and tallest projects in Brickell Village, Uptown, and the Central business District (CBD).

Chart A

Top 97 New Tallest

B. Village (red)

42 (43%)

CBD (yellow)

29 (30%)

Uptown (blue)

26 (27%)

Chart A indicates that Brickell is seeing the most development taking place. 43% of the newest high profile projects are in that neighborhood. Importantly, the Central Business District is not far ahead of Uptown. Only 3% percentage points separate the two. Let us take a look at chart B, below, which only factors in the tallest 20 new buildings.

Chart B

Tallest 20

B. Village (red)

8 (40%)

CBD (yellow)

9 (45%)

Uptown (blue)

3 (15%)

Chart B indicates that most of the top twenty tallest towers are being built in the CBD–9 in all. Brickell Village is not far behind with 8 projects in the top twenty. When it comes to the tallest of Miami’s new buildings, Uptown is far behind with only 3 in the top twenty. However, as recently as 3 years earlier, Uptown was barely a concept and would not have even been part of the discussion. Moving on to Chart C, below, which covers the tallest buildings after the top twenty up until about 102 on the list of new high density high rise developments, indicates some interesting patterns for Uptown.

Chart C

Tallest 20 – 102

B. Village (red)

36 (44%)

CBD (yellow)

20 (24%)

Uptown (blue)

26 (32%)

As you can see above, Brickell Village has the most developments with 44%, but Uptown is a surprising second with 32%. The Central Business District is last among the three urban neighborhoods. A decade ago, this would have been thought next to impossible. The Miami skyline has come a long way.

Importantly, the data indicates that although Brickell Village leads all three in development activity, it is by no means one sided. In fact, the new developments seem to be fairly evenly spread out–a pattern that has come to full fruition in places like New York City, Hong Kong Island, and Chicago. Miami, still has a long way to go, but is evolving in a rapid yet balanced manner that will render incredible results in the very near future. The Miami skyline, as it is turning out, will be quite wide or long (depending on how one views it), stretching from the most southern reaches of Brickell Avenue to the I-195 (Julia Tuttle Causeway). Based upon the anticipated new developments, there will be no obvious gaps in the skyline, at least from the Biscayne Bay vantage point. Currently, there are significant gaps as the skyline evolves.

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Filed under BoB Articles, Brickell Village, CBD: Financial District, CBD: Parkwest, Data, Maps and Illustrations, The Big Picture, Uptown: Edgewater, Uptown: Media & Entertainment (PAC) District, Uptown: Midtown Miami

Is the CBD Shifting to Brickell or Uptown? (Continued)

Defining a CBD 

What is a CBD? Central Business District: generally an area of intense commercial development in the center of an urban area. The CBD as defined in a transportation study may differ from the census definition. In the case of Miami, the CBD has always been in the Financial District where the Bank of America and Wachovia buildings reside. Now, with the dramatic influx of residential skyscrapers in the Financial District, the area is becoming less commercial and more residential. Within 3 years, residential and commercial skyscrapers will intermingle in a way that makes it difficult for the observer to employ the definition of a CBD as being mostly commercial. So then, 3 years from now, how will one determine where the CBD lies? Well, in the case of Miami, until a substantial commercial boom takes place, it is where there is the highest concentration of high rise density. Currently, the densest urban area remains the CBD.

However, Brickell Village is quickly coming into its own. Uptown, with several ambitious projects is not too far away from the CBD crown either. The only way to properly forecast where, or even if the CBD is shifting, is by gathering all the available existing and proposed building data and creating visual representations of the forecasted building density.

Above: Brickell Village Bar Graph-each bar represents a building that is either proposed, under-construction, or recently built. Right click to view full image.

Brickell Village’s Density 

Data can be misleading at times, whether it is in this case will soon be determined. I have employed the use of bar graphs that are designed to visually represent new building density in three neighborhoods, which will be the subject of this analysis: Brickell Village, CBD, and Uptown. According to the bar graphs (scroll down to view all), the current CBD seems to be in for an uphill battle, especially versus Brickell Village. BV has more new development taking place. The neighborhood’s newest buildings are going to be averaging the mid-500ft. level in height. There will be 7 buildings at, near, or above 800 feet in height. To put that in perspective, what was once the city’s tallest Wachovia tower is shorter than all of them. Already the city’s current tallest, the Four Seasons, is in Brickell Village.

Density is spreading west from Brickell Avenue towards South Miami Avenue and west along the Miami River. There are impediments to the growth, however. To the south west of Brickell Village is an upscale residential area called The Roads. This area will not be touched by the wave of high density developments, although it is likely to be sandwiched in-between high rises in Brickell Village and mid-rises on SW 3rd Avenue. Still, the area creates a development boundary. Such a boundary does not exist in either the current CBD or Uptown. Brickell Village is seeing some interesting commercial development taking place with projects like Mary Brickell Village but there are no other major retail complex developments worthy of note. The current pattern of growth, despite its impediments, is rapid and aggressive; certainly enough to keep the CBD on notice. Through an urban density standpoint, Brickell Village seems to be on pace to outpace both the CBD and Uptown to the north. So what chance does the CBD have at maintaining its current status when the development is clearly tipping towards the Brickell Village side of the scale? Well, first one must consider events taking place north of the I-395.

Density in Uptown and the M&E 

Below: Uptown density Bar Graph-each bar represents a building that is either proposed, under-construction, or recently built. Right click to view full image.






In Uptown, the Terra Group has massive plans for the 10 acres bordering the east side of the PAC, and even plans for the actual Herald property and the land next to the Venetia Condo. Add one 700+ tower in 1490 Biscayne and a total of seven 600+ footers in the area; an amount that would outdo the current CBD were it not for the CBD’s current rate of development, and you start to get the picture. However, the Uptown area has a healthy concentration of 500+ footers as well; nine in all. This is without mentioning the New York based Argent Group’s plans to demolish the Omni and possibly build up to seven 600+ towers on the site. The details are sketchy, but the implications are that the Argent Group plans to demolish in order to build big. Certainly, the Argent development combined with Terra’s 10 acre project and the other impressive projects nearby, make for a compelling argument that the CBD has a rival to the north as well. But most importantly, the Uptown area has an excessive amount of vacant land and under utilized land, which make new developments much more practical and cost effective to initiate and push forward. Add access to the PAC, proximity to both the Design District and Midtown Miami and the formula for success is clear. However, the Uptown area would have to see a sustained commercial development pattern outside of Midtown Miami, if it were to realistically vie for the CBD title, but even with the advent of the Terra Group’s City Square, the possibility is too far along the road to ponder.

Defending Downtown

In defense of the current CBD’s status, for one, the CBD currently has the most density. All future development will only add to an already fairly dense area. Additionally, there are big plans for the Financial District, which for argument’s sake, I’m combining with Parkwest. After all, Parkwest is situated next to the Financial District and is not separated from it by any obvious barrier except the rail road tracks adjacent to the Freedom Tower. Parkwest’s boundaries are blurred at best. In mentioning “big plans” for the CBD,  I mean: the Empire World Towers,  the Lynx development,  and the 3-phase Metropolitan Miami project. These projects are truly monolithic by any urban standards. The proposed EW Towers at 1,124ft are to be the tallest condominium towers in the world. The aforementioned multi-phase projects, excluding Met 1 and 2, average out at approximately 965ft in height.

Other developments such as Epic, One Miami, Everglades on the Bay, and the other Metropolitan towers contribute with two towers each. Importantly, Parkwest has served to supplement the CBD’s density to the North. Parkwest will boast two 700+ and three 600+ footers. An extremely important factor in determining the location of a CBD is identifying where major transit lines meet and people congregate. Having the American Airlines Arena, Bayfront Park, Bayside Marketplace, and Museum Park located in your neighborhood can be considered obvious points of massive social congregation. The Government Center, which is the closest Miami has to a Grand Central Station is located in the CBD, and most of the People-Mover tracks and stations run in and around the CBD. Through a transit standpoint, no other neighborhood can get close to the current CBD. Access to the Port of Miami is found only in the existing CBD, and there is no clear strong pattern of commercial development in Uptown, although a decent amount is taking place in Brickell Village.

Comparing All Three Areas 

However, a decent amount of commercial development is not going to make up for the Financial, Jewelry, Media and Entertainment District, and Courthouse Districts of the current Central Business District’s fold. Furthermore, the current CBD has more park space in Bicentennial (the proposed Museum Park) and Bayfront Park than its counterparts to the north and south. Parkspace is another important social congregation requirement in identifying a CBD’s location.

So maybe, after all, the visual data is misleading and the CBD is not going to shift north or south. Maybe despite there being a potential surpassing of building density in Brickell Village or even Uptown, the CBD simply has too many strategic variables in its favor; transit centrality, major civic centers, government facilities (local, state, and federal) and public parks. It is hard, if not impossible, to depict the social and transit advantages of the current CBD on a building height/density bar graph, but regardless the bar graph illustrates a compelling occurrence: the densification and expansion of the Miami skyline well beyond its current confines.

Below: CBD density Bar Graph-each bar represents a building that is either proposed, under-construction, or recently built. Right click to view full image. Continue reading past bar graph for additional notes.










Understanding the bar graphs:

I have taken a number of buildings, most of which are proposed or under construction, others which have just recently been topped off. This study has been aided by three bar graphs. Each bar graph is named after and represents one of three neighborhoods: CBD/Parkwest, Brickell Village, or Uptown. Each bar within the graph represents a building. The number scale on the left vertical margin of each bar represents height in feet. Therefore if a vertical bar reaches the 750 hash mark then the bar represents a 750ft. tall building in the neighborhood referred to at the graph title.

Side notes:

1. I have excluded most buildings on the Miami River both on the Brickell Village and CBD sides. I have done so because I believe that the riverfront development needs to be analyzed separately. The riverfront represents a different kind of neighborhood from its urban counterparts.

2. Not all buildings have been included in the bar graph. Certainly it was not necessary to display all building representations. For the sake of simplicity I have included each neighborhoods most significant developments. Typically, “most significant” means above 250ft in height; considering the level of development taking place that’s no small umbrella.



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Filed under BoB Articles, Brickell Village, CBD: Financial District, CBD: Jewelry District, CBD: Overtown, CBD: Parkwest, Data, Maps and Illustrations, The Big Picture, Uptown: Edgewater, Uptown: Media & Entertainment (PAC) District, Uptown: Midtown Miami, Uptown: Wynwood Arts District

Project Pinpoint Map: Central Business District


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Filed under CBD: Jewelry District, Maps and Illustrations

Project Pinpoint Map: North Central Brickel Village

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Filed under Brickell Village, Maps and Illustrations