Swire’s deep freeze puts icing on mega-project CitiCentre
By Scott Blake
Miami Today February 9, 2012
With its massive Brickell CitiCentre project, Hong Kong-based Swire Properties is bringing a different twist to downtown Miami development — underground parking — that also will involve a first for the city: groundwater freezing, a project official told Miami Today.
“It’s never been done in Miami,” said Steve Krysowaty, president of CBP Construction Consultants in Miami.
Currently, preparatory work is being done for the freezing around the perimeter of the site, he said.
Using rods or tubes containing super-cold liquid nitrogen, groundwater freezing is needed while building a barrier to prevent more groundwater from entering the site. Eventually, the water will be defrosted and sucked out of the ground to make way for the complex’s foundation and two levels of underground parking, he said.
Overall, plans call for a six-story shopping mall, two office towers, two condominium towers, a large hotel, and plethora of amenities such as restaurants, nightclubs, a movie theater and a bowling alley.
Construction is expected to start before the end of the year with completion hopefully sometime in 2015, Mr. Krysowaty said.
Project officials at Swire’s Miami office did not return calls for comment.
Until now, developers have avoided going underground for parking in Miami because of the extensive groundwater here. Likewise, groundwater is spread throughout the CitiCentre site, Mr. Krysowaty said, adding that the complex’s foundation will be anchored to bedrock some 50 feet or so below the surface.
The underground parking is necessary because Swire wants CitiCentre to be a “street level” development immediately accessible to both residents and visitors on the ground, according to people familiar with the project.
That’s a unique feature in Miami, where large developments typically have multi-level parking garages on the bottom floors, with the featured development on top.
In addition, pile testing has been done on the site to determine the ground’s capability in various spots to support the weight of the structures, Mr. Krysowaty said.
The CitiCentre site involved in the freezing is divided by Miami Avenue and located primarily along Southeast Eighth and Seventh streets. The parcels are boxed in on the west by Southwest First Avenue and go just east of the Eighth Street Metromover Station.