Category Archives: Brickell Village

The CBD may be shifting south towards Brickell and developments abound.

Radar Blip: Simpson Park Triangle Activity

This isolated corner of Brickell is tucked behind Simpson Park, hemmed in by the metro rail line to the east and the I-95 to the west, and is accessible by three roads.

I first noticed it in 2006 when several buildings started to go vertical. Prior to 2006, the area was completely off the development radar.  I called it Simpson Park Triangle, for lack of a better name. It’s emergence was one of the boom’s most interesting but little known surprises—representing the most far reaching example of Brickell westward infill to date. Continue reading

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The Neighborhood Economy Barometer: Starbucks

Starbucks on 47 West Flagler, in the Central Business District, not surprisingly has the least working hours of all others in Miami

I’ll have a double espresso and a glance at the neighborhood economies, please. Starbucks can provide more than an array of caffeine rich products. It can tell us a bit about the vitality of neighborhood economies. How? Hours of operation.

Starbucks and the Hood

Starbucks is an indicator of neighborhood economic activity because its operating hours, more often than not, coincide with that of its neighbors. For example, in South Beach, Sushi Samba on Lincoln Road and Pennsylvania closes at 2AM on Saturdays, a half hour after Starbucks across the street. Nearby Van Dyke Cafe opens its doors one hour after Starbucks, daily. In Brickell, Publix (in Mary Brickell Village) opens its doors a little over an hour after the nearby Starbucks, and PF Changs, right around the corner, closes at the same time as Starbucks on Saturdays and just one hour later on the weekdays. The correlations repeat wherever you go.  Continue reading

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Filed under BoB Articles, Brickell Village, CBD: Financial District, CBD: Jewelry District, Economy, Uptown: Edgewater

(Park) Poor Brickell

The Infrastructuralist has a good article on the most notable urban parks in the world. It is a list of the vast green lungs on which great cities breathe–something our emerging City is starved of. There is no great urban park in Miami. There are bay-front lawns that are scantily used, poorly stewarded, and do little to bring the urban fold together. What Miami has, and is largely overlooked, is a lot of vacant urban land. Being that vacant land is a prerequisite for park space, these parcels, in and of themselves, while not much, together, represent true urban park potential.

Aerial view of vacant parcels in the Brickell Interior--reserved for the development of Brickell CitiCenter

Miami, unless it’s willing to imminent domain land on a 1960’s Overtown-devastating scale, cannot have an uber-large urban park the likes of what the Infrastructuralist mentions, and must instead seize smaller parcels and convert them to park use, a’ la Savannah (with its squares). This, if not done, will result in an urban environment devoid of green space to chill out, converse, converge, and depart from the daily grind.

Parks, aside from, among many other things, being meeting points and a boost to peripheral land values, can showcase local art. There is no better example than Gaudi’s famed Parc Guell in Barcelona. Commissions to create fountains and public art installations can give a much needed boost to local artists and do well to reflect Miami’s artistic depth, but this is not meaningfully discussed.

Aerial view of vacant land at the confluence of S. MIami Avenue and SE 1st Ave.

The parcel of land that shown in the image above was once going to be the site of a building known as the Flatiron–an allusion to its namesake in NYC. This project, like so many others, was scrapped, and what remains is a vacant lot used, at times, as a parking lot. If you put on your rose tinted urban glasses, you might see a park with a grand fountain surrounded by buildings. A canvas for local art. A fountain representative of our City’s soul, it’s place in the world, anything but another building. Let the City be a living room, a gathering place, a showcase for the people, and not just a narrow stomping ground for impatient pedestrians, a concrete and glass labyrinth.

Admittedly, Brickell has its share of parks. Let’s see: Simpson Park, which, in its fenced-in state, is not exactly welcoming; Southside Park, which is on the fringes of urbanism; and if you want to count the Miami Circle, the City’s very own, ancient who knows what the hell, then you have one more. Affluent Brickell is park poor and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime, ever.

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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

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Rethinking Brickell’s Interior (west side)

Image: (from left to right) Infinity, Axis, and Vue on South Miami Avenue

Envisioning Brickell During the Boom

Since the inception of the surge in construction activity that later became known as the boom, I have envisioned how the skyline would transform. As activity picked up, so many projects were being announced that I found it increasingly challenging to remember them all off the top of my head. Still, I would look at the skyline and consider the height and design of those projects that were anticipated to fill in the sky. Now that the boom has dissipated, it has become clear that many projects that were announced may never come to exist. Several examples of this can be readily found on South Miami Avenue. Let’s see what I mean on a map:

Map:

  1. Brickell CitiCentre
  2. Premiere Towers
  3. Beacon (it’s not officially scrapped, so let’s call it dormant)
  4. Brickell Flatiron
  5. Pointe at Brickell
  • A total of eight towers in five separate projects



Image: The site of Flatiron up for sale

Rethinking the Vision After the Boom

The section of South Miami Avenue between 12th and 7th street is filled with examples of what could have been. Even Mary Brickell Village, which is beginning to fill with tenants, had a tower component planned that has not, and may never, come to fruition. It’s not clear what has happened. The area has excellent access to rail, is relatively stable, runs parallel to Brickell Avenue, is near the bay and Miami River, and has a robust restaurant scene. For all intensive purposes, it’s excellently situated. However, one project after another was scrapped.

Image: The site for Pointe at Brickell up for sale

Brickell Village’s interior (west side) has and is still seeing major construction activity with Avenue, Axis, Brickell Station Lofts, Infinity, Capital at Brickell, 1450 Brickell, BOR I and II, Brickell Financial Center, 500 Brickell, Latitude I and II, Neo Vertika, One Broadway, and Vue. The area is a success story despite the presence of so many scrapped projects. Proposals and approvals don’t mean anything until the ground is disturbed and the cranes and workers take the project vertical. Today, reality has set in, and there is a much clearer understanding of how Brickell Village is transforming. The future remains impressive

Image: The site of Premiere Towers up for sale

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Filed under BoB Articles, Brickell Village, Commercial Developments, Residential Developments, Scrapped, The Big Picture

What’s Happening With Beacon Brickell?

The sales phone number on the sign is disconnected. That’s not encouraging. In 2005, Renzi’s plans for the Beacon were reportedly expanded from 38 to 50 stories. However, the unimpressively designed website doesn’t reflect the expansion while the sign on the parcel does (but at 53 stories). The reality on the ground shows no activity on the site. Some sources point toward a 2008 completion, but it seems that the project could be heading towards the scrapped book.

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Construction Update: Capital at Brickell (Foundation Work)

One of Brickell’s most impressively designed projects is under going work on its foundation. Capital at Brickell, designed by Fullerton Diaz Architects, has an award winning design, will include retail, office, and residential space, and is situated across from One Broadway. It’s being developed by Cabi Developers.

Image: Foundation work on the site of Capital at Brickell

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Scrapped: Brickell CitiCentre

The BCC site, which is bisected by South Miami Avenue, is up for sale. The land owner, Kevin Reilly, was supposedly affiliated with NY-based Millenium Partners–builders of the Four Seasons–, but the project gained little momentum. This would have been amazing to see come to fruition, but now it’s a pipe dream it seems.

Image: West lot (above)

Image: East lot (above)

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Scrapped: 1390 Brickell Bay

I remember walking into the sales center of 1390 Brickell Bay and thinking that the model kitchen looked like it belonged in a space station during the 1970’s (do space stations even have kitchens?). The sales rep barely spoke English, and the unimpressively laid out units were being sold as time shares. I was in and out in 5 wasteful minutes.

1390 Brickell Bay fizzled because it was a bad idea. The site is boxed in. The design and lifestyle concept wasn’t fresh enough to compensate. Timeshares don’t sell well here. The interior design element seemed to target cosmonauts, and the developer had zero experience. This project fizzled before the downturn. Why? Crap gets scrapped.

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Extell Development Near Completion on First Miami Project

New York-based Extell Development has a broad and impressive portfolio of office, residential, and hotel towers mostly in Manhattan and Boston. Their latest venture represents their first foray into the Miami market: Avenue Brickell.

Avenue has gone up rapidly, with no negative publicity, and the project, despite it being light on glass and heavy on concrete, is looking sweet.

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