Category Archives: CBD: Overtown

Parkwest and Falcone Further Considered

The New Landlord of Parkwest

Under normal circumstances, Falcone’s plans for Parkwest would be astounding, but in Miami, normal circumstances are hard to come by. There are other projects that resemble Falcone’s vision for a city-within-a-city nearby: CitiSquare, Omni, and Midtown. In fact, his vision is simply the latest of Miami’s mega projects. This does not change the fact that his vision is unprecedented in scale and scope.

Since Lev Leviev and Shaya Boymelgreen acquired the Hank Sopher parcels beginning in 1999, they were the primary land owners in the area west of Bicentennial. Daniel Kodsi, around 2003 began his acquisition patterns in the area as well, and although busy developing Paramount Bay has yet to start Paramount Park. Today, the three real estate giants are no longer the landlords of Parkwest. The title is now Art Falcone’s. Let’s take a closer look at the area in question:

Map: The area highlighted in blue west of Bicentennial is where 85% of the Falcone acquisitions have taken place. North of the I-395 are two blue areas. The one south of 15th street is roughly the area allocated to Citi-Square, and the area north of it is the Omni. I have also repositioned the I-395 itself to illustrate, more or less, what the realignment of the over pass would look like. The current track of the I-395 is highlighted in green as the current FDOT plans call for the creation of park space along the current track once the project is completed.

With three mega-projects planned so near to one another, the prospects for the future of both Parkwest and the Media and Entertainment District are tantalizing big and forward-thinking. The trend seems to be the total overhauling of existing infrastructure in favor Miami 21 building guidelines; wider streets and avenues, new thoroughfares, more green space. The Falcone rendering even includes a rotunda and grand fountain on N.E. 1st Avenue.

Image: Rendering of the Parkwest plans from aerial vantage point

The plans seem to compliment the Parkwest’s newest towers well and are in the preliminary stages. However, with so many residential projects now stalled or canceled, it’s difficult for some to get enthusiastic about even this massive new development. If you have doubts about Falcone’s seriousness, then consider that other than strategically amassing this impressive Parkwest portfolio, in anticipation of executing to the best possible outcome, he and his team have traveled to

Europe, China, Dubai, Japan, India and across South America and the United States for ideas. Favorites include Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills, Paris’ Champs Elysées, Dallas’ Victory Park and Rio de Janeiro.”

and are collaborating with the likes Zyscovich and Elkus Manfredi. It’s clear that Falcone recognizes the historic opportunity for development he has in Parkwest. His international visits tell me that he and his team have high urbanism standards and want to apply the best urbanism ideas to their plans for the Magic City. Being in the heart of the Core, whatever happens in Parkwest will surely spill over an effect the CBD and M&E. Although early in the planning stages, owners at Parkwest’s newest condos must be rejoicing at the thought of Falcone’s plans, and they certainly shouldn’t be alone.

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

Big Plans for Parkwest

Image: Rendering of the envisioned Parkwest

I have spent a considerable amount of time evaluating Parkwest’s prospects. Its location in the heart of the CBD, proximity to the proposed Museum Park, new ultra-luxurious condos, among other things, makes the neighborhood an important piece of Miami’s urban puzzle. Boca Raton builder Art Falcone, the latest billionaire in the Miami development mix, has, according to the latest Herald article (via-addictedtospace; skyscrapercity), quietly acquired 20 parcels in Kodsi and Boymelgreen-dominated Parkwest.

“the project has been the subject of intense planning and design for more than a year. Elements include offices and shops, hotels and meeting spaces, residences and entertainment and an educational component.”

The project’s plans are expected to coincide with the master plan being drawn up by Zyscovich’s firm. The project’s first phase plans are expected to be submitted to the city in the first quarter of next year.

More from BoB:

Identifying Signs of Urban Life: Parkwest’s Woes

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Filed under CBD: Financial District, CBD: Jewelry District, CBD: Overtown, CBD: Parkwest

Skyline Gap a Reminder of Miami’s Possibilities

Image: The empty gap between Parkwest’s towers on the right and the Financial District to the left (Firefox users right click to view larger image).

In 2005, the Parkwest side was flat. Today, four towers are jutting into the sky. Most skyscraper enthusiasts have been envisioning this “Parkwest Wall” since the towers were announced, but now that they are a reality, there is a pronounced gap between Everglades on the Bay and Marina Blue.

Rendering: The Biscayne Wall as it would appear with Paramount Park and 600 Biscayne in the mix.

Four developments are planned within the gap. The Empire World Towers, Paramount Park, 600 Biscayne Building, and MDC Wolfson Campus building, would convert the area from a gap to the focal point of the skyline.

Rendering: The Oppenheim-designed MDC Wolfson building as it would look with 600 Biscayne and Paramount Park to the immediate north

Currently, there is no activity to speak of regarding any of these developments, but the plans are in place. It’s just another reminder of what could be. If the gap is filled with existing plans, Miami’s skyline, will for the first time appear seamless (no major gaps) from the MacArthur Causeway vantage point–that is until Island Gardens partially blocks the view.

Rendering: Empire World Towers

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Filed under BoB Articles, CBD: Financial District, CBD: Jewelry District, CBD: Overtown, CBD: Parkwest, The Big Picture

Under Utilization in the CBD: Part III (Un-designated Historic)

Continued from Part II of Under Utilization in the CBD

Historic but not Designated

In the last Under-Utilization post I discussed buildings that are designated as historic by the HEPB and the set of eight criteria used to officially distinguish them. It was noted that there are a few examples of impressive and well-known antiquated buildings that are not officially designated historic. In considering these un-designated but old structures, I will only refer to those that either are being well utilized or demonstrate favorable utilization/restoration conditions. Let’s consider some of them.

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The Seybold Building serves as the central hub for the Jewelry District and jewelry market in the region. Most of the major diamond and gemstone wholesalers are based in and around it. The building interior is finely appointed with marble floors and columns, but the attention to detail is mostly confined to the first floor (main gallery) where the main jewelry stores are situated. As important as the Seybold Building is to the local jewelry industry, the exterior sides are deteriorated and an eyesore. Despite its functional and historic significance the Seybold remains un-designated.

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  • Burdines (Macy’s) Building (1947)

The Burdines (Macy’s) Building is probably the poster child of an under-utilized historic structure. It is not designated as historic by the HEPB, since an application has not been filed. Still, since Federated converted the store to a Macy’s, there have been no real changes to the exterior or interior of the multi-story historic structure.

The Macy’s building is the largest of its kind in the region. The location and structure scale fits the profile of some of Federated’s most high-profile Macy’s locations throughout the country, yet it seems Federated is pushing for incentives to remain in place. The rumors have gone back and forth regarding FDS’ ultimatums, but Dana Nottingham indicated that despite reports to the contrary, FDS has played an active role in planning for the overhaul of Flagler and the Downtown area. If this is true, then it may mark a change in the under-utilized status quo. a Macy’s revamp would propel reuse in the direction of retail in the surrounding area.

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This Dade Commonwealth Building has undergone both the 40-year recertification and a renovation by the Titan Group. It is one of the most colorful additions to the portfolio of (un-designated) historic buildings in the CBD. The Building is not being used in any unorthodox way and houses a variety of small offices. Such a building is too big to house one retail entity such as is the trend in with historic structures along the Collins Avenue Shopping District. It does, however, fit in well with what is being done with residences in the Security Building and First National Bank Building.

There are inherit problems with such a change of use: lack of quality views, terraces, and high ceilings. One would have to incorporate innovative floor plans and respectable luxurious appointments to draw the necessary interest. Green features would make such a project even more interesting albeit pricey to re-develop. Still, there is a market of architecturally conscience buyers that might find such a development appealing.

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  • 22 N.E.1st Street – a.k.a. International Jewelry Center (1930)

This building’s interior was restored to a respectable degree. Marble was laid in patterns, floor to ceiling glass storefronts were installed to lure retailers, and the elevators were newly installed as well. The purpose was to lure jewelry related businesses away from the Seybold Building. The effort thus far has not materialized and most of the stores remain vacant. This building is situated adjacent to the Seybold and there have been rumors that its acquisition by the folks at Seybold is imminent. The purpose of such an acquisition would be to connect the two structures and enhance the main floor space at the Seybold (its important to note that this building is actually separated into two properties which have grandfathered-in the electrical and mechanical systems. The other side is known as the Flagler Jewelry Center)

The failure of the International Jewelry Center to gain tenants in the realm of the Jewelry industry brings to question the viability of such a narrow approach. Would it have been better to target retailers not necessarily associated with Jewelry? Was naming the building “International Jewelry Center” a deterrent for other non-jeweler tenants to come in? The reuse of this building has been a failure despite a serous interior renovation.

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  • Lerner Building (1925)

The Lerner building, situated next to the Macy’s building, is currently in a haunted-like state. The 1920’s era building has appealing marble facades. The reuse of such a building screams retail. This building does not, in my opinion, lend itself to much adaptability. It falls under the kind of structures that have been lending themselves to retail use in the Collins Avenue Shopping District except on a bit larger scale. Such a structure can house a high end Tiffany-like jewelry store or a high end retail boutique. Clearly, the market and on-the-ground conditions don’t foster such a reuse but if Federated gets it act together next door as they are doing with the Macy’s on Lincoln Road, then it’ll go a long way in making the Lerner property more desirable for reuse.

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  • Royalton Apartments (1923)

The Royalton Apartments are being renovated, as you can clearly see in the image above. Although I’m not sure as to what the use of the newly renovated structure will be, this is an ideal candidate for a boutique hotel. There are currently none in the downtown area although that can change as the George Washington of Boutique Hotels, Ian Schrager, owns the nearby Continental Riande Hotel on Biscayne Blvd., and has not yet disclosed his plans. Regardless of what the use of this building might be, the fact that it’s undergoing a renovation is a step in the right direction.

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  • 33 N.E. 1st Avenue (1925)

This building is easily over looked being sandwiched in between its neighbors. Situated on the same block as the First National Bank renovation, the 33 building is ideally scaled for retail or even restaurant use. It is symbolic of a few others in the CBD that are similarly scaled and aged. Miami 21’s T6 zoning of the area will probably pave the way for their demolition, but some represent interesting reuse potential.

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  • Biscayne Building (1926)

Since the Biscayne Building is situated on a corner, it makes a residential reuse more appealing–as is the case with Flagler First at the First National Bank Building. However, the scale of this building and the lack of unique architectural features leaves it vulnerable to scrapping. The lower portion of the structure has intricate concrete etchings but the top is lackluster. Among the least desirable of the un-designated historic buildings, it is currently being used by small professional firms.

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  • 101 S.E. 1st Street (1920)

Recently renovated, 101 S.E. 1st Street is a great candidate for retail reuse. It is situated conspicuously on a corner on S.E. 1st street and 1st Avenue. A Banana Republic or Kenneth Cole store comes to mind, but again, the CBD has no new retail precedent to fall and the lack of change at the Macy’s is not helping.

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Dade Federal Savings

Similar to the 101 building, the Dade Federal Saving Building is ideally located and scaled for retail. Everything that has been placed there has been an utter failure but incoming occupants in the Security Building and Flagler first developments might help to bolster its reuse desirability.

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Preserving the Historic Integrity of the CBD

As you can see there are a number of buildings in the CBD that are not protected by a historic designation but probably should be. Many would argue that the emphasis should be on demolishing the old in place of the new, but there are plenty of un-restorable under-utilized buildings in the CBD along with vacant space that would better suit new construction.

The aforementioned buildings should be maintained and reused in order to preserve the historic integrity of the CBD. There should be an open mind when it comes to considering adaptive reuse options for these buildings. New building and green technology should be incorporated wherever possible to make their reuse potential greater. The CBD’s historic nature lends itself to the evolution of an architecturally and historically multifaceted core if the cards are played right

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Filed under BoB Articles, CBD: Financial District, CBD: Jewelry District, CBD: Overtown, Gentrification, History

Where Overtown Meets Parkwest

Image: A scenic N.W. 1st Avenue with the Miami Arena to the right

Visionary Mode

It never fails. Every time I am in the vicinity of N.W. 1st Avenue and the old Miami Arena, visionary mode kicks in. Visionary mode, by the way, is when an area’s potential is blindingly bright, despite its existing blighted state. This little section of the CBD is located, more or less, where Overtown meets Parkwest.

Here are 10 11 reasons why I like it:

  1. The metro rail runs through it and there is a station servicing the area
  2. The FEC corridor, which is a likely future public transit route runs through the heart of the neighborhood to further supplement the hood’s transit potential
  3. N.W. 1st Avenue, which runs through the center of the neighborhood, is palm tree lined, and has a spacious median, making the Avenue pedestrian, auto, and eye friendly.
  4. Glenn Straub owns the Miami Arena and the site represents a potential development catalyst for the area, depending on what the Wellington-based millionaire finally does with the property. At first he considered re-utilizing it, then selling it, now razing it to the ground in place of a new development. He didn’t spend 28 some odd million dollars for nothing. Look to see some action soon.
  5. Logik, a proposed office development, is planned for the neighborhood
  6. Miami-Dade Transit recently relocated its offices to a new state-of-the-art building in the neighborhood
  7. It’s a short walk away from the heart of the CBD, Biscayne Bay, and burgeoning Media and Entertainment District
  8. Parkwest flanks the east side of the neighborhoods with hundreds of millions worth in new development
  9. Miami 21 zones it T6, which means it will be ripe and ready for further densification
  10. The area is heavily under utilized, under valued, and filled with vacant land (this means it’s a blank canvas for new development).
  11. The FDOT’s future plans to reposition the I-395 would add park space to the northern boundary of the area

Activity

There are currently two large scale residential developments: the Madison and Park Place. The former being a condo and the latter being an apartment complex. The periphery of the area is riddled with low income housing. The average Joe probably wouldn’t feel comfortable riding a bike or walking through this neighborhood due to the presence of vagrants and murky elements. Still, the area, despite its lackluster on-the-surface appearance has much going for it and will likely see a transformation within the next couple of years. Sorry gentrification activists.

Neighborhood Map

Image: Map of the area. The blue line represents the existing Metrorail line, the red line represents the FEC rail line (probable future public transit line), The red plot is the site for the proposed Logik, the green plot represents the new site for Miami-Dade transit, and the Orange represents the Miami Arena.

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Filed under BoB Articles, CBD: Overtown, CBD: Parkwest, Emerging Neighborhoods, Gentrification

Your Crummy Building Has Ad Potential

Are vacancies keeping you down?

Have you tried everything?

Don’t fire the leasing manager just yet. You can join the billboard building bandwagon today:

Tenants don’t need the windows. Hurry up. Spaces are limited.

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

Under Utilization in the CBD: Part II (Historic Designations)

Image: The Related Group’s Loft II (left) and the historic Congress Building (right)

Continued from Part I

Historic Designations

Since the CBD is filled with antiquated structures, there are many that stand no hope of restoration and rehabilitation, but there are some examples of historic buildings with potential for adaptive reuse. I’ll defer to Chapter 23 of the City Code, which sets forth a set of 8 criteria for the designation of a historic structure/site worthy of preservation:

  1. Are associated in a significant way with the life of a person important in the past
  2. Are the site of a historic event with significant effect upon the community, city, state, or nation
  3. Exemplify the historic, cultural, political, economical, or social trends of the community
  4. Portray the environment in an era of history characterized by one or more distinctive architectural styles.
  5. Embody those distinguishing characteristics of an architectural style, or period, or method of construction
  6. Are an outstanding work of a prominent designer or builder
  7. Contain elements of design,detail, materials, or craftsmanship, of outstanding quality or which represent a significant innovation or adaptation to the Florida environment
  8. Have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history

At least one of the requisites must be met for designation consideration. Having said that, let’s take a look at some of the structures that have already been designated as historic by the HEPB, so that we can assess the current state and composition of preservation in the CBD:

Image: Chipped masonry in the Courthouse facade

Dade County Courthouse

Completed in 1928, the Dade County Courthouse is built in the Neo-Classical style. The structure is currently being rehabilitated. The masonry as you can see from the image above is chipped in several places. This remarkably designed granite-covered building is one of the City’s most recognizable historic structures.

Image: Ingraham Building (above)

Ingraham Building

Built in 1927 in the “Chicago School” style of architecture, the Ingraham Building is one of the most intricately designed and historically impacting buildings in the CBD. One feels a deep sense of history when looking at and entering the building. It was renovated in 1990 and is currently houses professional offices and wholesale jewelry and diamond businesses. It is a staple of vintage urbanism in the CBD.

Huntingtion Building

As distinctive as the Huntington Building is with its knight-sculpture adorned crown, it remains easily overlooked. The building was completed in 1925 during the land boom and resulted in the developer going bankrupt during the ensuing bust. The Huntington Building is situated directly across the vacant lot for the proposed Loft 4 development and is an architectural gem.

Image: Congress Building surrounded by the Lofts I and II, and Everglades on the Bay

Congress Building

Completed in 1926 in the Neo-Classical architectural style, the Congress Building is actually composed of two separate buildings united as one. Surrounded on almost all sides by new construction, the Congress building strikes one as evidence of the boom meshing with old urbanism in the CBD. The least impressive of the designated historic structures, the Congress Building still encapsulates a unique architectural style.

Image: Dupont Building facade and interior

Alfred I. Dupont Building

The A.I. Dupont Building was completed in 1937, and at the time, was symbolic of Miami’s rise out of the depression. Designed in the Moderne architectural style that was common during the era, the Dupont Building has an ornate and intricate interior that alludes to local history. Currently, the building is home to law firms, jewelry businesses, and an assortment of professional suites.

Image: Theater main entrance

Olympia Theater Building (Gusman Center for the Performing Arts)

The first air-conditioned building in Miami, the second atmospheric theater in the U.S, and a fine example of American movie palace architecture, the Olympia Theater Building (Gusman Center for the Performing Arts), stands out as one of Miami’s most special buildings. Here, the intricacy of the masonry is evident from all angles, and the interior is arresting. The Olympia is across the street from the Dupont and a block away from the Ingraham.

Image: The old Walgreens Building

Walgreens Building

When the Walgreens was originally built in 1936, City residents viewed it as a sign of recovery in the City. The 1.6 million dollar construction cost, at the time, was staggering. The building’s Streamline Modern style is still striking today. Owned by the Alono family, the 5-story building is home to La Epoca department store.

 

 

Image: Close up of the Security Building’s distinctive crown

 

Not Included Here

I left out a couple of historic buildings in the CBD (the Post Office building, First National Bank, and Security Building are covered in the Vintage Urbanism in the CBD post). The Freedom Tower stands apart from those designated as historic in the CBD interior since it is rather well protected and will be incorporated into the 600 Biscayne development. The City National Bank Building, although designated as historic, did not strike me as being particularly impressive.

Undesignated Historic Structures

There are also quite a few historic buildings (i.e.: Burdines-Macy’s Building, Seybold Building) that one would expect to be included on the designation list but are not, these will be the subject of the next installment as the question of adaptive reuse is considered and we finally quantify (approximate) the proportion of historic structures with reuse potential versus those under utilized structures that need to bit hit with a wrecking ball.

(To be continued…)

 

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Filed under BoB Articles, CBD: Financial District, CBD: Jewelry District, CBD: Overtown, CBD: Parkwest, History, Past Developers

Logik Sets Class A Office Precedent for Overtown

The construction of Logik, a two phase Class A office tower project (I.C.E. Development), in the often overlooked Overtown area signals a positive stride in Miami’s office market and the urban core’s evolution. As it stands, Overtown represents an entire under utilized segment of the core. Park West is rising to the east, the CBD is busting at the seams to the south, and the M&E is seeing quite a bit of activity to the north. The well-designed Logik will help to fill in the Overtown development gap with Class A office. Construction is set to begin this year. The towers are slated for completion some time in 2009. Office condos start at the $300’s.

Logik specs:

  • 31 floors (352 ft. height)
  • 700,000 total sq. feet
  • 130,000 sq. ft. for office tower suites
  • retail component

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Filed under CBD: Overtown, Commercial Developments

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.

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

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