About a month after I posted about Miami’s future skyscrapers, where I introduced seven of Miami’s biggest high-rise projects, five additional projects have been revived and/or proposed for the Greater Downtown Miami area. The city is back to its old housing boom ways…
1400 Biscayne is being revived from the original building that was proposed for this site before the economic crash. 1400 Biscayne is mixed-use, although primarily residential. It is designed by the architects Pei Cobb Freed Partners. The building would rise 651 feet or 198 meters, towering over theArsht Center, located just a block south of this project. The building is designed with a ground floor courtyard with retail, perfect for cafés and restaurants for the theater crowd. Above this would be about 100,000 square feet of office space and 710,000 square feet of residential space, totaling 428 residential units.
The previous design for 1400 Biscayne was more airy, incorporating a lot more glass than the current, heavy design does. Currently on the site is a dull, three-story office building from 1971, which would be demolished to build this tower. The area around the Arsht Center is desolate with vacant lots surrounding every corner of the performing arts center. After a show, most patrons leave the area for other neighborhoods for dinner and drinks. 1400 Biscayne could be the catalyst for infill development around the beautiful performing arts center to finally create a 24/7 urban neighborhood here.
The original design for 1400 Biscayne. The Adrienne Arsht Center can be seen to the right of the tower.
Ground floor view of the new design for 1400 Biscayne.
Aerial view of the new design of 1400 Biscayne.
Designed by architect Enrique Norten, Brickell Flatiron was initially proposed to much fanfare in 2006 as one of Miami’s most exciting high-rise designs. Unfortunately, construction never began and the lot became a parking lot. In 2011, the lot’s southern corner was the proposed site of a small pocket park designed by Raymond Jungles. Work began on the park in 2012 but as of October 2012, work has been stalled for months. Now, the high-rise is back and the developer is in the permitting process with the city to get this built. Scrap the park idea.
Brickell Flatiron is located at 1015 South Miami Avenue, on a triangular lot. The design of the building takes advantage of this unique lot shape with a design reminiscent of Manhattan’s Flatiron Building. Brickell Flatiron will be 794 feet (242 meters) tall with 70 stories. Inside will be 554 residential units with 254,043 square feet of office space, 30,316 sf of retail, 16,913 sf of restaurant space and 820 parking spaces.
Brickell Flatiron building as seen from South Miami Avenue looking north.
Brickell Flatiron as seen from SE 10th Street looking south.
The triangular lot’s southern tip will become a public plaza. The developer is currently going through a land swap with the city to transfer the lot’s southern tip to the city for public use. In exchange, Brickell Flatiron would get the tiny pocket park on the northeast corner of this block to develop.
Crimson Tower is a 205 foot (65 meters) high, 18-story, 83-unit apartment building proposed for theEdgewater neighborhood at 527 NE 27th Street. Crimson Tower is designed by the architecture firm IDEA. The building is great in that it’ll provide greater population density in the growing Edgewater neighborhood, especially considering it will be built over a currently-vacant lot, however, the design is horrid. Of all the new proposed towers in Miami, this is the least favorite and most aesthetically painful.
With 150 parking spaces, there’s also way too much parking for an 83-unit apartment building. The city should discourage developers to include so much parking, especially in a neighborhood as walkable as Edgewater. Just looking at the elevations of this building and it’s clearly half parking, half apartments. Especially for a waterfront location, the city’s planning and zoning department should be more stringent on design standards. This is Miami, the city deserves quality urban design. Very unfortunate.
In total, Crimson Tower will be 219,350 square feet, half of which is dedicated to parking. 83 apartments, 6,654 sf of open and green space, 150 parking spaces and 7 bicycle racks.
Element was originally proposed in 2006 and was later cancelled. Originally designed by Chad Oppenheim, the same Miami architect who designed Ten Museum Park in Miami’s Park West neighborhood, Element has been revived with a new design by Dorsky+Yue. Element is to be 412 feet (126 meters) high with 389 apartments in 36 floors. Element’s new redesign is beautiful with a public baywalk. Unlike other projects, such as Icon Bay that pretend to open the bay up to the public, Element’s baywalk is much more successful.
The old design for Element as designed by Miami architect Chad Oppenheim in 2006.
The new and current designed for Element.
Miami World Center:
Oh, Miami World Center. After Brickell CitiCentre, this is one of the most exciting and promising projects for Miami. It’s scale is massive, its urban and economic impact is incredible and its design is amazing.
Miami World Center was first proposed in 2007 and then it died down during the Great Recession. Now, with recent land purchases and activity it seems Miami World Center and it couldn’t be more exciting. Miami World Center would take over eight, mostly vacant city blocks in the heart of the city and convert them into a dense, busy neighborhood with thousands of apartments, offices, stores, restaurants, theaters, etc. It’s the kind of development that any city could dream of. Everything is still very abstract and preliminary about Miami World Center, so nothing is exact quite yet. Depending on the aggressiveness of the developer, a project of this scale would no doubt, easily take many years to complete.
Miami World Center is divided into five districts:
- Worldcircle: The central public plaza of the project. It would feature an impressive fountain and sculpture. Business and retail activity would center around this public plaza.
- First Avenue: Lush shade trees would line First Avenue with stores, restaurants and cafés on the ground floor of hotels and high-rise apartment buildings.
- Seventh Street Promenade: Seventh Street would be a pedestrian-only promenade connecting the American Airlines Arena to the east with the Historic Overtown/Lyric Theatre Metrorail station to the west. Seventh Street would have cafés and restaurants on the ground floor with apartments above. Think South Beach’s Lincoln Road, but with much more density.
- Worldwalk and Worldplaza: A diagonal road connecting Bayfront Park to Miami World Center. This area would have wide, open public spaces with lush shade trees.
- Worldsquare: This would be a massive semi-interior public space forming a courtyard space within one of the buildings. This space would be covered with a trellis-style roof canopy connecting five stories of retail on either side. This space is billed as ideal for Miami Fashion Week.
Miami World Center looking east towards Biscayne Bay.
MWC looking north towards Edgewater and Wynwood.
MWC Worldcircle would be the center of the retail and business activity in the new neighborhood.
MWC Seventh Street Promenade. Seventh Street would be a pedestrian-only promenade connecting the Overtown Metrorail station to the west to the American Airlines Arena to the east.
Urban and pedestrian-friendly streets of Miami World Center.
Miami World Center’s Worldplaza would be the perfect location for Miami Fashion Week.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – April 12, 2012 – In most cases, people who purchase condominium units from bulk buyers won’t be able to sue them if there are construction defects or other problems.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott last week signed a bill that extended the protections for investment groups that have bought multiple units in a building. That means the investors don’t have any more responsibility than other buyers in the building.
The measure went into effect July 1, 2010, and Scott extended it for three more years until July 2015.
The exemption for bulk buyers boosted sales of distressed condos, helping the housing market recover, proponents say. Critics insist the measure isn’t consumer-friendly and shouldn’t become law permanently.
Florida law used to consider a developer anyone who bought more than seven units in a building of 70 units or more. Those buyers were forced to assume the same legal and financial risks as developers who build condos.
The bill eliminated the title of developer for bulk buyers, giving investment groups more incentive to make deals for deeply discounted units.
While investors scooped up South Florida condos, “a lot of other areas in Florida are having problems in terms of absorbing unsold units,” said Marty Schwartz, a Miami lawyer and a co-sponsor of the bill.
Some investor groups have proposed making the bill’s protections permanent.
“I still think there’s a need for it, but only for a limited period of time,” said Donna DiMaggio Berger, a Broward County lawyer who represents condo associations statewide. “Why would we want to make it permanent when the (housing) market is no longer distressed?”
From late 2008 until September 2011, investor groups made more than 100 bulk deals for condos in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, according to CondoVultures.com, a Bal Harbour-based consulting firm. The total dollar value was nearly $3 billion.
Copyright © 2012 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Paul Owers, Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Distributed by MCT Information Services.
No vacancy in Miami’s condo canyon
The latest report card on downtown Miami’s condo market shows almost all of the units built during the housing boom are full. That’s thanks to renters, who would be priced out if not for all of the cash purchase deals.
BY DOUGLAS HANKS
Miami’s infamous condo canyon is almost full, thanks largely to a steady flow of cash from Latin America.
The latest survey of downtown high-rises built during the housing boom shows more than 90 percent of the condos are occupied. After Latin American investors snapped up condos at distressed prices amid a wave of bankrupt high-rises, they turned to local renters to fill them. Four years into the buying spree, vacant units have almost disappeared.
“I always encourage my clients to bring their checkbook for the first month’s rent,’’ said Lauren Popham, an agent with Jeanne Baker Realty who specializes in rental units. “There is a lot more demand than there is supply.”
The study by Miami’s Downtown Development Authority found 93 percent of the nearly 23,000 condominiums built in downtown Miami after 2002 are occupied. Of that, only about a third are occupied by full-time by owners, with the majority serving as rental apartments.
Behind the statistics are a fundamental shift in real estate math allowing for downtown Miami to become one of South Florida’s hottest rental markets.
The boom prices, where top condos were selling for $600 or more a square foot, would require rents too pricey for all but the most affluent residents. Instead, investors who bought then hoped to flip their units for even more money to future buyers.
Even at the sharply discounted $200-a-foot purchase prices in the depths of the housing bust, many of the condos would be too expensive to generate enough rent to cover association fees and mortgages on the units, said Craig Werley, of Focus Real Estate Advisors and author of the DDA study. But with the vast majority of investors paying cash for their downtown condos, they require far less rental revenue each month to make the deals “pencil out” as reasonable investments, Werley said.
“Traditional financing wouldn’t have made these rentals viable,’’ said Werley, who conducted the study in a partnership with Goodkin Consulting. “If you had a mortgage on a half-million-dollar condo, the monthly costs would be way out of line with any reasonable rent you could generate.”
Not all condos being rented in Miami’s urban core depend on cash investments, and the DDA study only covers units built during the last decade. Other indicators point to a downtown that is an increasingly popular place to be. The bust didn’t stop a wave of new retail complexes from opening, including the Midtown Miami mall on northern side of downtown and the Mary Brickell Village mall to the south. Restaurant taxes have surged 77 percent within Miami city limits since 2005 compared to a 35 percent gain countywide.
Tyler Tejeda commutes almost an hour each way in order to spend weekends in Miami. The 24-year-old recruiter for a Fort Lauderdale firm moved into a Brickell Avenue apartment in August, despite having a job nearly an hour away. “I could move to Fort Lauderdale if I really wanted to,’’ Tejeda said. “But I’d rather be in Brickell on the weekends. It bothers me less to have to commute on weekdays than have to come down to Miami on the weekends.”
Paul Riemer could afford to buy a condo of his own, but the young insurance executive instead pays upwards of $2,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment at the Icon, a posh condo complex on Brickell Avenue.
“I’m not ready to make a big purchase yet,’’ the 23-year-old said. He cites a gap in what he can afford to rent and what he can afford to buy. Why move out of a luxury apartment to purchase his own condo somewhere else with a large mortgage?
“I have the money to comfortably rent,’’ Riemer said. “I don’t know if I’d be able to comfortably buy.”
The 93 percent occupancy rate in the latest DDA condo survey identifies little more than 1,000 vacants units in a condo market that came to symbolize the excess of Florida real estate. And it marks a big improvement over the 65 percent occupancy rate in the first DDA survey taken four years ago — a number that at the time seemed surprisingly high.
That was in 2008, at a time when South Florida real estate sales were just beginning to show a rebound. But prices were heading the other way, accelerating into a decline that has so far last five years, according to the Case-Shiller housing index. At the time, the DDA wasn’t sure it wanted to know how many people were living downtown.
“We were hearing from everybody driving down the road: Hey the condos are empty,’’ said DDA director Alyce Robertson. “You never know what the numbers are going to say. What if they really were all empty?”
With a hot rental market, downtown Miami has become a more expensive place to live. Mark McCann, owner of the Miami Apartment Locators brokerage, said a one-bedroom apartment in the downtown area went for about $1,300 a month several years ago. “Now that’s almost impossible,’’ he said. “Now it’s closer to $1,500 or $1,600. There is a lot of competition for the units. There was more supply before the recession.”
The rental market has helped usher in a new crop of condo projects downtown, a revival many thought might have to wait at least a decade after the big crash. Harvey Hernandez runs the company selling units in Brickell House, a 46-story building planned for 1300 Brickell Bay Drive. His sales staff runs weekly reports on the rental market — statistics that can help close a sale for a $400-per-square-foot unit at Brickell House.
“The rental market influences the buyer a lot. It is a great option,’’ Hernandez said. Miami “has about half the inventory available for rent we had four months ago. And four months ago, it was at least half of what it was four months prior.”