Category Archives: CBD: Jewelry District

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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BoB Prediction: Macy’s Downtown will Get Revamped

Image: Macy’s in downtown Cincinnati

Federated Department Stores, the nations largest operator of department stores, as recently as December of 2006 was threatening to pull its massive Macy’s out of Downtown Miami. The DDA and City officials intervened and the move has been halted for now. As Transit Miami had pointed out in late last December, the threat to pull out made no sense, because after a long period of neglect, Downtown is finally seeing a major surge in construction activity and infrastructure improvements. Now, in a move to further solidify its position in the Miami retail market, FDS is investing in its Lincoln Road Macy’s. It seems FDS made all the noise about leaving Downtown to get concessions from the City of Miami–at a time when the City is seeing a boost in tax revenue. The concessions seem to have been provided to FDS, quietly, since no more fuss has been made about the issue.

So, in consideration of the current news out of South Beach, I see it fit to make a prediction: FDS will revamp its Downtown Miami Macy’s store (the largest it has in S. FLA) within the next three years and will make it their flagship Miami store–similar to Macy’s on 34th street in Manhattan, Union Square in San Francisco, and Marshall Fields on State Street in Chicago. This revamp will follow the completion of the nearby Wind, Mint, Ivy, Epic (Dupont towers), Metropolitan Miami towers, and Icon Brickell towers–among others. The over sized and old department store is due a revamp as it is, and FDS cannot expect for the urban store to enjoy profitability in its current overall physical state. It is ideally positioned to capitalize off of Downtown’s rapid development and FDS is sure to plan for it–as they did in Cincinnati. To further speculate, it could be that FDS put pressure on the City for concessions back in December of 06′ to lay the groundwork for a large investment in the Downtown location down the road. The CBD’s existing and incoming residents will benefit most if BoB’s prediction is right.


Filed under BoB Articles, CBD: Financial District, CBD: Jewelry District

Museum Park Plans Questioned

According to Riptide 2.0 (The Miami New Times blog), Museum Park plans (Miami Art Museum and Museum of Science and Planetarium)are getting complicated by diverging viewpoints. At Wednesday’s public meeting in the PAC, a group called Neighborhoods United claimed that the plan did not include enough open park space. This was reiterated by several people in the crowd, including a group called Citizens Against Everything Bad. Some concern was based in part on an initiative that was voted on by City residents in 1974 that would ensure green space at Bicentennial Park.

These folks are thinking about an initiative that took place 34 years ago. 34 years ago the level of massive construction in Miami would have been unimaginable. Much has changed since then and basing their arguments on a 1974 vote seems like an archaic way of going about dealing with the current state of development affairs and planning for the future. This is not to say that past initiatives should be disregarded, but 34 years is a long time. In looking at Copper Robertson’s plans, there seems to be plenty of green space incorporated.

It is not a matter of discrediting the legitimate concerns of Neighbors United, but frankly, what is more important, more open space or larger world class centers of culture and learning? Apparently, these folks feel that the actual structures need to be scaled down in order to accommodate more green space. This would come at a high cost: a decrease in space for exhibitions, fewer lessons to be taught to our children, less art to be admired, etc. The emphasis needs to be on fostering culture and knowledge not having more space to have picnics and walk dogs. Certainly the plan should be balanced but more important are the museums themselves not the green space outside.

The City of Miami has several under utilized urban parks that need funds to improve their use. It would be a good idea to put pressure on the City to use added tax revenues for a more effective public parks master plan than it is to stress more green space in the proposed Museum Park. Bringing up these issues is constructive, but one must factor in the compromises that would have to be made in order to accommodate their requests. In doing so, most will see that the cost of facility reduction outweighs the benefits of more green space.


Filed under BoB Articles, CBD: Financial District, CBD: Jewelry District, CBD: Overtown, CBD: Parkwest, Culture, News, Parks

A Closer Look: CBD (Jewelry District)

A Global Neighborhood
Miami’s Jewelry District is not often talked about. Considering how important a hub for jewelry it is throughout the region, it probably should. Miami-based international jewelry distributors supply jewelry stores in St. Maarten, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Aruba, Mexico, North, Central and South America. Miami’s Jewelry District is one of the most important in the country due to its influence throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. In the neighborhood, you can find loose rubies, emeralds, peridots, aquamarines, and tanzanite at, for example, Ruben’s House of Stones or Royal Gems, in the Seybold Building. In the Jewelry District, Lebanese, Iranians, and Syrians do business with Jews from around the world. English, Spanish, Hebrew, Russian, Arab, Farsi, Urdu, Mandarin and Hindi are spoken by business owners. Vendors from throughout Asia fly-in and meet with existing and prospective clients. Everyday, FedEx, UPS, and DHL trucks clog up the streets due to the heavy volume of jewelry exports and imports from throughout the world.

Everything Jewelry
You can find coral strands, South Sea, Tahitian, and Akoya pearls, Cartier watches, diamond tennis bracelets, natural fancy colored canary diamonds, and just about any other rare stone or material used in jewelry. A Hip-Hop producer or professional athlete can buy himself a 32-inch diamond tennis chain with 155 individual ½ carat diamonds set on platinum. Gold is prepared in labs at places like Atomic Gold in the old Foremost Building, now One Flagler. There is more silver in A.G.M. Mfg. than anywhere else in the Florida, at least. Gold chains hang from racks by the hundreds and look like cascades of gold. The entire jewelry industry is represented in the District. There are stone setters, gold mixers, diamond vendors, mold-makers, engravers, polishers, casters, gemologists, watch-makers, pearl stranders and they all do business for the jewelers. There are suppliers for neckpieces , gift boxes, jewelry trays, diamond paper, scales, tweezers, testers, loupes, and just about any piece of equipment or tool related to jewelry. The Miami Jewelry District is the primary supplier for jewelers in Florida and the Caribbean. OroGemma, Accar ltd., Nemaro, Coral and Stone, Michael’s, Ely-M, Metro Gold, Haimov, A.G.M., Diamond Club, Freddy’s Diamonds, Carrion, and Hidalgo are among the most important jewelers in the Southestern U.S. The area, although not large, is filled with activity and is commercially well-established. Not all stores sell to the public.

Neighborhood Composition
The Seybold Building, built in the 1920’s, is the most popular shopping venue with over 280 jewelry businesses and serves as the center of Miami’s Jewelry District. Other establishments to note are Metromall, the International Jewelry Center, the Flagler Jewelry Center, Dupont Building, and there are jewelry stores throughout the area. The Seybold Building has valet parking. There is a garage on N.E. 3rdstreet. The neighborhood is three blocks east of Biscayne blvd. 50 Biscayne, Everglades on the Bay, the Lofts I and II and Met 3 are a short walk away. Capitol Lofts at the Security Building and Flagler First are in the center of the District and are both historic restorations being converted into condominiums. The area will probably become more upscale and retail-oriented as time passes. As it is, the neighborhood is no Fifth Avenue, but given the amount construction, diamonds, jewels and gold present in the area, the District will rapidly evolve and draw more attention than ever before.

The Ifs and Buts
If the Marlins stadium gets built north of the Stephen P. Clark Center, then it will create a hugely positive effect only a few blocks away from the Jewelry District’s heart. There are plans for City Tower on N.E. 3rdStreet. Lynx is two blocks south, but the project is up for sale. There are some Jewelry shopping facilities that were planned but never opened (The Jewelry Center at 1st and 1st) , there is a new one that was opened but is still mostly vacant (International Jewelry Center), there are several that are a bit old and under-maintained (Metromall and Commonwealth Building) . Flagler One, the old Foremost, is now selling office/condos. The new developments on the north of the Miami River (Mint, Wind, and Ivy) are about two and half blocks south. There are rumors that Jorge Perez’s Related Group has plans for the parking lot west of the Metromall on N.E. 1st street, which if proved to be true, would mark his most interior development in the CBD; a sign of major progress for the neighborhood. Currently, no Related Group acquisition has been entered into the books, but given his Loft I and II projects and the potential Marlins Stadium in the far west interior, it wouldn’t be surprising if Mr. Perez did spearhead a more westward development effort in the CBD. It is important to note that Macy’s has their largest Miami store in the Jewelry District. Although it isn’t new, it is huge with multiple floors and can be easily revamped to become its flagship Miami store by riding the neighborhood’s development wave. All the new projects within and around the Jewelry District will provide more shoppers for the District. The sidewalk and street improvements are already benefiting the area as is the new landscaping and palm tree lighting. Currently, the area has no nightlife whatsoever. Maybe that will change after buildings nearby get topped off, new residents occupy the area, and stores and restaurants stay open till later.


Map of the area:

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Live From the CBD

Location of randomness: N.E. 1st Street across from the Seybold Building in the Jewelry District

Logical explanation: None

Significance: Less negative than the insane guy spitting at and kicking cars on N.E. 1st avenue.

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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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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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Project List: Central Business District

Central Business District:
Empire World Towers I 110 floors 1124ft Residential—Proposed
Empire World Towers II 110 floors 1124ft Hotel/Residential—Proposed
600 Biscayne 62 floors 649ft Residential—Proposed (Park West)
Met 1 40 floors 400ft Residential—Construction
Met 2 40 floors 400ft Residential—Approved
Met 3 74 floors 866ft Residential—Approved
Paramount Park 68 floors 756ft Residential/Hotel—Approved (Park West)
Lynx 75 floors 745ft Office/Hotel/Residential—Proposed
900 Biscayne 63 floors 740ft Residential—Construction (PArk West)
Marquis 63 floors 679ft Residential/Hotel—Approved (Park West)
Marquis West 41 floors 496ft Residential—Proposed (Park West)
330 Biscayne 56 floors 659ft Residential—Proposed
Marina Blue 57 floors 615ft Residential—Construction (Park West)
Dupont Plaza 60 floors 609ft Residential/Hotel—Construction
Dupont Plaza II 60 floors 609ft Residential—Construction
50 Biscayne 55 floors 554ft Residential—Approved
Everglades 49 floors 538ft Residential—Approved
Everglades 49 floors 538ft Residential—Approved
Island Gardens 48 floors 535ft Hotel/Residential—Approved
10 Museum Park 48 floors 528ft Residential—Construction (Park West)
Riverfront West 1 630ft Residential—Approved
Riverfront West 2 533ft Residential—Approved
Riverfront West 3 512ft Residential—Approved
Riverfront West 4 384ft Office—Approved
Riverfront East 1 601ft Residential—Approved
Riverfront East 2 501ft Residential—Approved
Riverfront East 3 500ft Residential—Approved
One Miami I 45 floors 480ft Residential—Construction
One Miami II 44 floors 460ft Residential—Construction
The Loft 23 floors 274ft Residential—Construction
Loft II 35 floors 433ft Residential—Construction
City of Miami Development 33 floors 357ft Residential/Parking—Approved
1001 Center 27 floors Office—Approved
Mirasol 24 floors 255ft Residential—Proposed
NeoLofts 21 floors Residential—Completed 2004
U.S. Courthouse 14 floors Office—Construction
Chanticleer 21 floors 196ft Residential/Office—Proposed
Riverview Square 8 floors 136ft Office—Completed 2005
Transit Village 17 floors Office—Construction
Galardi South 10 floors Retail/Nightclub—Proposed
City View 41 floors 418ft Residential/Parking—Approved
The Promenade
Downtown Overtown
Crosswinds 1,000 units

Civic Center:
Seybold Pointe 11 floors Residential—Completed 2005
Riverside 18 floors 190ft Residential—Proposed
Terrazas Park 20 floors Residential—Approved
Terrazas River 27 floors Residential—Approved
Miami Rivertown 35 floors 368ft Residential—Approved
Riverhouse 25 floors 299ft Residential—Approved
Brisas Del Rio 20 floors 247ft Residential—Approved
1690 North River 22 floors 240ft Residential/Office—Approved
Hidden Harbor 20 floors 200ft Residential—Proposed
Urban River 19 floors 197ft Residential—Proposed
Urban River II 19 floors 197ft Residential—Proposed
Miami River 16 floors 178ft Residential—Proposed
Wagner Place 17 floors 174ft Residential—Proposed
Miami CityView 13 floors 149ft Residential—Approved
Tuscan Place 13 floors 130ft Residential—Approved
Coastal I 12 floors 120ft Residential—Proposed
Coastal II 12 floors 120ft Residential—Proposed
North Riverview 10 floors 109ft Residential—Proposed
Amber Garden 10 floors 100ft Residential—Approved

The Grove:
Mercy Hosp. 33 floors 389ft Residential—Proposed
Grovenor 33 floors 341ft Residential—Construction
Gateway to the Grove 12 floors Residential—Approved

River Rapids 1 17 floors 200ft Residential—Proposed
River Rapids 2 17 floors 200ft Residential—Proposed
River Rapids 3 17 floors 200ft Residential—Proposed
River Rapids 4 17 floors 200ft Residential—Proposed
River Rapids 5 17 floors 200ft Residential—Proposed
Blue Lagoon 17 floors 215ft Residential—Proposed (7 towers)
Mediterranean Tower, 15 floors, Lejenue Rd and n.w. 2 nd st., airport area.

Little Havana:
Capital Place 19 floors 181ft Residential/Office—Proposed
Capiro Tower 15 floors 150ft Residential—Approved
1377 Condo 15 floors 149ft Residential—Approved
VOA 12 floors 132ft Office—Proposed
Palma 14 floors 124ft Residential—Approved
Latin Q Tower 14 floors 122ft Residential—Approved
Ehden Place 13 floors 121ft Residential—Proposed
1800 Club 14 floors 120ft Residential—Approved
Nuevo Centro 11 floors 117ft Residential—Approved
San Lorenzo 10 floors 110ft Residential—Approved
Brickell West 10 floors 105ft Residential—Approved
216 SW 12 AVE 8 floors 100ft Residential—Approved
Brickell Vista 17 floors Residential—Construction
Douglas Place 14 floors Residential—Construction
Diamond 10 floors Residential—Proposed
Altos De Miami, 16 floor condo tower, Flagler st. and 22nd Ave
Capital Place 17 floors 167ft Residential—Proposed
World Crystal 12 floors 150ft Residential—Proposed

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