Category Archives: Brickell Village

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

Sidewalk View of the Boom

The vantage point of the images below are from a north Brickell Avenue sidewalk. Looking around, the construction boom surrounds you.

Looking North: 9 cranes are visible. 7 projects are under construction. What is most telling is what is missing. The three phase ICON Brickell is partially built out as is Epic. Met 2 and the soaring Met 3, not yet under construction, are missing from the picture.

Looking West: 500 Brickell is under construction in the foreground. Brickell on the River I (north) and II (south) are clearly visible. Ivy and Wind, both under construction, are visible through the spaces in between. Much of the River construction activity is blocked by the BOR towers.

Looking South: One can see the Related Group’s two phase Plaza development and the rapidly built and impressively crowned Avenue project. What is missing? 1101 and 1110 Brickell are not yet under construction.

As impressive as these images of the boom may be, they don’t do justice to seeing it in person. There is no doubt of the historic significance of the boom when surrounded by it on all sides. Amazingly, what these images show is but a fraction of the construction activity in Miami.

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Tracking Emerging Neighborhoods: Simpson Park Triangle

Map: Simpson Park Triangle

Orientation

There is an interesting pocket of development activity in the Brickell Village area. It is contained within S.W. 15th Road, the I-95, and S.W. 1st Avenue. East of the I-95, south of Brickell Village, and west of the Roads, the neighborhood forms a triangle slightly smaller than Brickell Key. The Metro-Rail runs adjacent to it.

Above: Crown of One Plaza West Brickell
Accessibility

The Simpson Park Triangle is isolated by the I-95 on the west, which only affords it one entrance ( S.W. 1st Avenue), and the Metrorail line to the east. There is one east entrance into the neighborhood (S.W. 15th Road). All other east entrances are blocked by the Metrorail’s ground line to/from the Brickell Station. From the north there are two entrances (S.W. 2nd and 3rd Avenues).

Image: Rendering of Habitat I and II

Activity

On S.W. 1st Avenue, between S.W. 17th Road and the I-95, the Melo Group is planning the 22 story One Plaza West Brickell development. Directly to the north of the Melo site is what seems to be a foundation ditch. The parcel is owned by PCU Investments LLC. Moving along S.W. 1st Avenue, there is a single family home and a relatively new development Brickell View Condo at the corner of S.W. 1st and 17th Road.

Image: Construction of Brickell Roads Atriums

Turning north along 17th Road there is more activity on the corner of S.W. 2nd avenue and 17th Road, in the form of Habitat. This two phase project covers the north and south sides of S.W. 2nd avenue at 17th Road. The development is green and impressively planned.

Farther along S.W. 2nd Avenue there are a couple of vacant parcels and three unique developments. One of them, Brickell Road Atriums, is under construction and features intricately furnished split level lofts with rooftop pools. The second one, 1725 S.W. 2nd Avenue, has a sleek design and was recently built and occupied. Next to the Brickell Road Atriums site, on what is now a vacant lot, stands the third unique development: Bunker Brickell; formerly Barim at Brickell, developed by the Eurosuites Group.

Bunker Brickell will feature:

  • An independent 24-hour weather monitoring system.
  • Individual air conditioning units will be encased in each condo’s walls.
  • SOS – Safety Owner Storage, which is air conditioned
  • Hurricane-resistant with hardened glass and micro-perforated steel shutters.
  • Filtered water tank containing at least 30 days’ drinking water supply.
  • An independent power generation system capable of supplying more than 30 days’ full power in the event of a local power outage.


Image: Rendering of Brickell Roads Atriums rooftop pools

Along the the east side of 17th Road between S.W. 2nd Avenue and 2nd Court, a limited liability corporation named MJF Majestic Plaza, owns the land. There is no current information about plans for the site. The two parcels occupy 48,885 square feet.

The East Side

The east side of the Triangle, between S.W. 17th Road and 15th Road, is under utilized. There isn’t much in the way of new construction, but many of the well situated lots have been recently acquired in bundles and are owned by limited liability corps. The development along the west side of the Triangle will undoubtedly spur these entities to push forward their plans.

Image: Habitat I under construction

The isolated Simpson Park Triangle neighborhood is surrounded by the Roads, the S.W. 3rd Avenue Corridor, and Brickell Village on its three sides. It is a short walk from South Miami Avenue (under going major road improvements).

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Columbus Centre Tower Plans Scaled Back

Recently, the Miami City Commission rejected plans for the Columbus Centre Tower located on 15th Road and South Miami Avenue. Now, the developer, Nickel Goeseke, of Cervera Real Estate, has reduced the height of the proposed tower from 56 to 50 floors. The project’s construction is estimated to cost $490 million. The project will be on the May 24th agenda for the City Commission.

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Hong Kong in Miami (Swire Properties Ltd.)

What do Hong Kong and Miami have in common? Well, for one, they are nearly on the same latitude. The city’s both deal with massive tropical storms, except call them by different names (hurricane and typhoons). Both metropolises are a hub for hundreds of multinational corporations, but Hong Kong is still leaps and bounds ahead of Miami. Aside from these basic similarities, the Magic City has a little bit of Hong Kong in it: Swire Properties Ltd. This international conglomerate is a big part of Hong Kong’s vertical evolution. The firm is one of the largest developers in the Chinese island-metropolis. They are the builders of Taikoo Shing, a 61 tower development. Swire also developed the monolithic multi-phase Pacific Place project, which includes four towers with three hotels (Shangri-La Hotel, Conrad Hotel, and J.W. Marriot – all with a presence in Miami: SLH in Island Gardens). Pacific Place also includes a high end shopping mall. Also in Hong Kong, the firm is the master mind behind the highly successful City Plaza project.

Their Far East projects are not confined to Hong Kong. They are building Taikoo Hui Cultural Plaza in Guangzhou (formerly Canton), north of Hong Kong. The impressively designed three tower project looks more like a new United Nations than a cultural plaza. The three towers are connected by a major hub in the center that includes a convention center, shopping mall, commercial spaces, along with a major transit interchange. The building’s main lobby is a massive glass-encased cube. Swire has built and is building dozens more major projects in Hong Kong and throughout the region.

  • Image Source: Emporis – Taikoo Hui Cultural Plaza in Guangzhou

The multi-faceted international conglomerate has the ability to build more than just “big”. Now, consider their involvement in Miami’s urban market. Swire has all but claimed Brickell Key (Claughton Island) as their own Miami outpost. As of late, Swire is responsible for all three Tequesta towers, the Courts, Courvoisier Courts, the Mandarin Oriental, the Carbonell, and their latest development, Asia (pun intended). As a result, Brickell Key has evolved into a highly unique urban island community. Swire Properties has played the role of catalyst.

What is amazing about Swire is that their projects go vertical consistently, quickly, with minimal buzz, and the result is always an excellent development. Strikingly, since the 1970’s, Swire has focused its North American real estate activity solely on Miami. From their site:

Swire Properties Inc., the USA real estate operation of Swire Pacific, has been active in the development of investment and trading properties in Florida since the 1970s. Its primary focus is on Brickell Key in downtown Miami, where a number of commercial and residential properties have been developed.

Could there be something in Miami that reminds Swire of Hong Kong? There is, and you can rest assured that it isn’t the weather. Miami’s abuzz with economic activity and Swire’s latest Miami developments have been their most ambitious to date. The Far East firm has a proven track record of success on Brickell Key. Its efforts have largely remained within the quaint man made island, but there have been mini-forays into other nearby markets: South Beach’s Floridian and Jade Brickell. A mini-foray however is nothing compared to what this quiet giant could really accomplish.

Swire’s activity on Brickell Key could be a microcosm of what might happen in mainland Miami should the firm delve heavily into it. Let’s just say that Swire is running out of space on Brickell Key, and the mainland looms temptingly close. Should Swire move more aggressively into the Miami urban market, there will be no doubt of its ability to execute and in grand style. The resulting development could bring Miami closer to Hong Kong than previously thought.

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Almost Two Years After Wilma, Glass Still Broken

It’s painful to look at the Espirito Santo Building’s damage almost two years after the building was hit hard by Hurricane Wilma. I know that the issue was not lack of windstorm insurance, but for the sake of God, how long does it take to get the claim through the red tape? What if a major storm would have hit last season?

Here we have one of the city’s most striking buildings looking as if it belongs in Beirut’s battered skyline. What’s even more baffling is that it’s home to one of the city’s most high-end hotels, Conrad. Where’s the sense of urgency? Anyhow, the glass is finally getting replaced and hopefully the Espirito Santo will get back to its original form soon.

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Brickell’s Most Repulsive New Building: The Club at Brickell Bay

Who came up with the idea of painting a gigantic bright green parabola on the building sides with accents of royal blue in the front and rear? This is horrible for the skyline! First off, we all have to look at it. Secondly, if you own at the Club, and would like to add dark wood or light marble floors to your unit, what do you do about the bright green wall outside in your terrace area? Nothing. What can you do except hate it? There goes any interior décor harmony. It’s even worse for those with partially painted green walls. This is all part of the parabola effect. As if painting the walls this painful color combination is not bad enough, they painted the steel railings too!

There is a much bigger problem with the color scheme: the bright green and blue will fade. The building is near the bay and salt air will diminish the color faster than if it were farther inland. This means that the condominium association will have to paint the building every couple of years. This is no minor cost. We’re talking a couple of hundred thousand dollars per instance. It all could have been avoided with lighter tones. This means that the condominium association will have to fund their reserves to allocate money for the expected repainting of the green parabola exterior. Funding the reserves, although prudent, is not always done in order to reduce monthly maintenance assessments. The alternative means special assessing the unit owners for the funds—not a desirable option. In the case of The Club, the color of the exterior is so bright that if it faded, it would look too terrible to ignore. This means more maintenance and higher assessments for The Club’s unit owners.

Continuing on a negative note, the building’s parking garage is the biggest and nastiest that Brickell has seen in years. It exceeds the height of the neighboring building to the west. There was no effort to cover it, make it more attractive, or compact. Rather it is a blight spot in the beautiful Brickell skyline. For the nasty color scheme, impractical maintenance implications, blah design, and abhorrent parking garage, the Club is by far the most repulsive new building in Brickell. Congrats!

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Who’s responsible for this???

Here you have a banner that is supposed to advertise a development right off of Brickell Village near the Roads. It’s hard for me to tell you what the development is because the banner is blocked by a portable restroom. If you look more closely, it’s called One Plaza West Brickell. I’d be worried if I bought a unit at this place, although the project is probably dead in the water anyhow. If it isn’t, then the developer must be obscenely busy to not notice his graffiti-ridden ad banner being blocked by a mobile shitter. If I were the developer, then somebody would be in deep shit. On a lighter note, the partially blocked floor plan looks pretty attractive.

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The Proposed 710ft 56 floor Columbus Center Needs FAA Variance

  Real Estate Review: Planning Report
Lofty Brickell project planned, but economic realities may intervene

December 2006 By: Polyana da Costa
 

nother major mixed-used development is planned in Miami’s Brickell Avenue area, which already is a sprawling high-rise construction zone.

Project owner Nickel Goeseke of Cervera Real Estate is asking the city Planning Advisory Board to approve a 56-story tower with residential, retail and hotel components on nearly two acres at 1490-1492 S. Miami Ave.

A hearing on the proposed Columbus Centre is likely in January, but the item is not on a scheduled agenda, said Luciana Gonzalez, spokeswoman for the planning department.

Gilberto Pastoriza of Weiss Serota Helfman Pastoriza Cole & Boniske, the law firm handling the development, said he doesn’t see any obstacles to the project in an area designated restricted commercial.

The area southeast of the site is a mix of high- and medium-density multifamily units and single-family homes.

“We’ve engaged in a dialogue with neighbors, and both sides are working together, but I don’t think it will be a problem,” Pastoriza said.

Goeseke declined comment, and Pastoriza would not discuss project details, citing confidentiality reasons.

If approved, the development would include 211,449 square feet of office space, 219 residential units, 234 hotel units and 6,512 square feet of ground-floor retail space, according to documents filed with the city.

The first floor would be stores and offices, the next 18 floors would be offices followed by nine floors of hotel space, an amenities deck and 26 levels of condo units.

The tower would include 596 parking spaces in a two-level basement garage accessible from 15th Road and another parking garage with access to Southwest 14th Terrace.

The proposed 710-foot structure requires approval from the Federal Aviation Administration because of its proximity to the Miami International Airport flight path.

Preliminary analysis by the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department indicated it would allow a 623-feet structure. Anything higher would need special approval, according to documents filed with the city. The department required the developer to submit additional information for further analysis.

Other nearby developments have obtained clearance for taller buildings. Brickell’s Infinity II, a development planned by Colonial Development Group, was approved as a 736-foot, 65-floor project.

Goeseke, project attorney Tony Recio of Weiss Serota and architect Luis Revuelta of Revuelta Vega Leon attended the Brickell Area Association’s latest board of directors meeting Nov. 14 to present a project overview, said Gloria Konsler, executive administrator for the association.

“The only concern some people had was if the building would create a shadow over Simpson Park, but the architect assured them it won’t because of the way it’s designed,” Konsler said

Revuelta could not be reached for comment before deadline.

Several real estate insiders have doubts about the project’s viability. They say a large-scale project such as the Columbus Centre would not be advisable in a market already overwhelmed by new condo construction and during a time when many developers have killed or delayed projects.

“The project is highly realistic but not in this cycle … not in the next 36 to 48 months,” said Robert Kaplan, principal of Olympian Capital Group. “I wouldn’t advise them to commence for another 24 months until the existing inventory starts to be digested.”

The project is targeted for completion in 2011, according to city documents.

The site is owned by Javier and Alicia Cervera, Nickel Goeseke and Veronica Cervera-Goeseke. They have owned two of the three lots since 1993. Nickel Goeseke and Veronica Cervera-Goeseke bought the adjacent third lot at 1450 S. Miami Ave. for $2.03 million in 2003.

Goeseke could be working with a co-developer or planning to sell the site after the concept is approved since Cervera is not a major developer, Kaplan said.

“My opinion is they are either trying to maximize the value of the land by getting this approval or they are planning to find a venture partner to co-develop it, if they don’t already have one,” he said.

Alicia Cervera, as head of Related Cervera Realty Services, has close ties to Jorge Perez’s Related Group, which said it is not involved in Columbus Centre.

Another major developer, Alan Ojeda of Rilea Group, which completed One Broadway Brickell across the street at 1451 S. Miami Ave. last year, also said he is not involved.

Several other projects are being developed in the Brickell area, including the 60-story Icon Brickell complex and the 57- and 52-story Capital at Brickell under development by CABI at 1421 S. Miami Ave.

Source: http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/news.html?news_id=41225

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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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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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