The proposal calls for a much more pedestrian-friendly design. The “curbless” cobblestone street would place car traffic and pedestrians at the same level, separated by bollards and landscaping

On-street parking would be mostly removed in favor of wider sidewalks, with more room for restaurant seating and other amenities.

The presentation was obtained by The Next Miami from Miami’s Downtown Development Authority. Directors voted in February to stop ongoing construction work that had been in planning since at least 2011, in order to consider implementing the new plan.

The new plan would cost an additional $6 million and 36-42 months to build. Funding for the current project comes from the city, county, DDA and stakeholders in the area, but county funding may be at risk if the project is delayed, according to Miami Today.




Source: The Next Miami

Miami has long been marked as the Gateway to Latin America. But with a revitalized urban core and a hot retail market, Miami is increasingly being seen worldwide as a global city.

Miami hit a tipping point, per se, a couple of years ago and the growth has yet to slow. With nearly 6 million residents and an economic output of more than $300 billion, Greater Miami is one of the largest economic regions in the US and the world. In fact, Miami is comparable to Singapore and Hong Kong, according to a study from the FIU-Miami Creative City Initiative.

“We already look at Miami as a major global gateway city,” Peter Muoio, chief economist at Ten-X, tells “It is a nexus for tourism and investment for Latin America owing to its large Hispanic population with cultural and language ties to the region. It also has major attachments to Europe, assisted by its attractive climate and beaches.”

As the study points out, Miami is the hub of the Southern Florida or So-Flo mega-region, extending to Tampa and Orlando, which houses 15 million people and produces more than $750 billion in economic output. That’s roughly the same as the Netherlands, making it one of the 20 largest national economies in the world.

With a coastal location at the southern tip of the eastern seaboard oriented toward Latin America and the Caribbean, Miami is now one of the 25 most important global cities, the report concludes. With its international airport and port, report authors say Miami is the economic and financial hub of Latin America and increasingly a gateway to Europe and the world.

“Southeast Florida’s three major airports have global connectivity, assisting in its gateway status,” Muoio says. “Interestingly, Miami can benefit from economic success in Latin America as wealth creation increases tourism and investment flows, as well as from turmoil in the region, as it offers a safe harbor.”


Source: GlobeSt.

A judge has rejected the city of Miami’s attempt to evict Flagstone Island Gardens from its development site on Watson Island and declared that the city violated the company’s lease.

Flagstone Island Gardens was approved for hotels, condos, retail and a marina on Watson Island in Miami.

The ruling could allow the mega-yacht and mixed-use project to move forward while leaving the city on the hook for million of dollars in damages and attorney fees. Attorney Eugene Stearns, who represents Flagstone Island Gardens, said the developer has spent over $120 million on the project so far.

“The city’s attempt to confiscate the huge investment this family made in this property has been revoked,” Stearns said.

City Attorney Victoria Méndez said the city is evaluating whether to appeal. That decision will likely be made by the City Commission, which voted 5-0 in May 2017 to declare Flagstone Island Gardens in default on its ground lease.

The judge’s decision followed a seven-day trial that wrapped up earlier this month. Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge William Thomas ruled that Flagstone Development Corp. is in full compliance with its lease for the city-owned property. On the other hand, he said, the city breached the lease by refusing to approve routine building permits and by declaring the developer in default for no valid reason. The city’s notice of default to the developer is invalid, the judge ruled.

“The city’s breaches have directly and proximately caused damage to Flagstone in an amount to be determined after further proceedings,” Judge Thomas said.

Flagstone has continued to operate the marina because it obtained a stay of the eviction, but it was unable to move forward with development plans. The judge noted that city of Miami staff found no grounds for default before the commission acted.

“City staff concluded that Flagstone was in compliance with the agreements and this court concludes that the substantial and competent evidence supports no other conclusion,” Judge Thomas ruled.

Led by Mehmet Bayraktar, Flagstone Island Gardens LLC and Flagstone Development Corp. was selected by the city in 2002 to lease and develop a project on Watson Island, which is along the MacArthur Causeway on the way to Miami Beach. Work on the site stalled during the recession, then again when community activists opposed to the project unsuccessfully pursued lawsuits.

In 2016, Flagstone completed the Island Gardens Deep Harbour mega yacht marina with 5,000 linear feet of boat slips. It opened a restaurant, but was forced to shut it down for permitting reasons. Bayraktar planned to build two hotels, condos, retail, and restaurants, including a fish market and a harbormaster building.

The developer signed a ground lease with the city in 2016 for the retail and parking phases on 24.2 upland and submerged acres. The deadline to start construction was April 30, 2017.

A group of local activists called the Coalition Against Causeway Chaos started a campaign to block the project over traffic and height concerns, filing lawsuits and submitting numerous letters to city officials. Stearns, the attorney from Stearns Weaver Miller, said this group had major influence on both city staff and the city commission in stifling Flagstone Garden’s progress. Building permits that should have been granted were stalled, he said.

“The City Commission took the unprecedented step of stripping the Planning and Zoning Department of all its authority to act on Flagstone’s application,” Judge Thomas ruled. “As a result of CACC’s actions, all formal actions taken by the city related to the project was overly examined and overly inspected beyond the normal approval process.”

In the city’s notice of default, it claimed that Flagstone failed to start construction by the April 30, 2017 deadline. However, Judge Thomas ruled that the developer laid rebar and poured concrete to build the foundation of the fish market and harbormaster building well before that deadline.

Miami Commissioner Ken Russell, a leading opponent of Flagstone, told the Miami Herald commissioners would continue to flight.

“At the end of the day, the commission made the right decision and our case is very strong on appeal – the developer was in default and the contract was broken,” Russell said.

But Stearns said Flagstone fully intends to develop the project and he expects the city to issue a building permit. He will ask the judge to issue a restructured lease to account for the city’s default and provide new time frames for construction.

“I am enormously grateful to have been able to tell his story while having misleading political motives exposed in a forum where truth stands taller than hysterical falsehoods, Bayraktar said. “The vision we have for this project is alive and well and will prove transformational for this great city now that we will have the opportunity to finish it,”


Source: SFBJ

What was once Dean’s Gold, a Miami Vice-era North Miami Beach strip club that the Miami Herald dubbed a “historical landmark,” will one day be the site of a one million-square-foot mixed used development.

CK Privé Group’s Uptown Biscayne project just received City Council approval to build a complex, the South Florida Business Journal reported. The project includes a 16-story residential tower, 35,000 square feet of offices, more than 170,000 square feet of retail spanning a grocery store, restaurant and fitness club, and more than 1,000 parking spaces — along with a pedestrian Main Street and 40,00-square-foot garden.

Arquitectonica is behind the design of the mixed-use center, which will span nearly five acres of highly visible intersections. Construction is expected to kick off this year.


Source: Curbed Miami

On an ordinary day, George Dotzler may deal with wind speeds equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane, torrential rains akin to a monsoon and seismic shifts that feel like an earthquake. Rounding out the day could involve a heat wave and an arctic blast.

Mr. Dotzler, 58, is the director of operations for the Construction Research Laboratory, where builders, developers and architects go to test the durability and stability of glass building facades, called curtain walls. Located at what looks like an abandoned airfield in Miami, the lab has 38 sealed test chambers and all the equipment to replicate the forces of nature.

“It’s like ‘Mad Max’ here,” Dotzler said, referencing the 1979 movie’s dystopian landscape.

A mock-up of a facade at the testing lab.(Photo Credit: Scott McIntyre for The Wall Street Journal)

With skyscrapers sprouting up around the world, demand for structural testing is strong. Big-name architects are increasingly designing towers with quirky shapes, and developers must go to greater lengths to ensure that the unusual curves and crannies can withstand even the harshest conditions. While some testing is required by municipal law, most developers are going the extra mile, since they can’t afford to start mending ruptures and leaks once their buildings are up. Only three or four facilities in the U.S. have experience testing super-tall structures, Mr. Dotzler estimated.

In recent years, the company has been testing 53W53, a 1,050-foot-tall tower designed by architect Jean Nouvel that is under construction adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art in midtown Manhattan. Scheduled for completion in 2019, the 82-story building will have 145 luxury condominiums. The developers—a partnership between Houston-based Hines, Singapore-based Pontiac Land Group and Goldman Sachs —decided on a tapered structure with criss-cross structural framing on the exterior.

“Everything in this curtain wall is bespoke, custom-made for this building,” said David Penick, managing director at Hines. “Every piece of aluminum. Nothing is off the shelf.”

The developers had 6,000 panels of triple-paned glass custom-made by German manufacturer Interpane. Some were incorporated into two mock-ups, which typically include the trickiest, most vulnerable elements of the building, such as the corners, joints and vents, what Mr. Dotzler calls a “Frankenstein arrangement.”

“It’s like a doctor wanting to test a human being by putting together a mock-up with one ear, one nose and one elbow,” Dotzler said.

The mock-up went through a litany of tests. In one of the chambers, both inward and outward pressure was exerted on the glass as part of a water-infiltration test to see how much the design could sustain without cracking or leaking. The pressure was equivalent to about 77.5 mph winds.

Later, a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 aircraft engine with 13-foot propellers was positioned in front of the mock-up. Mr. Dotzler turned on the water spray rack and cranked up the speed of the generator to simulate a dynamic wind load—an effect that’s similar to a hurricane. Researchers then attached a hydraulics system to the structure of the building and shoved segments right and left in an attempt to determine whether they’d be secure in case of an earthquake or wind drift.

“Some of the pressures exerted on these facades far exceed what is likely to occur naturally,” Dotzler said. “If the facade survives these loads, it’s been well-designed and is sufficiently strong. The testing took several weeks and cost about $150,000. No major changes to the facade were made as a result.”

National Certified Testing Laboratories, based in York, Pa., tested a mock-up of an 88-story luxury condo tower scheduled for completion next year in downtown Manhattan. The building, called 125 Greenwich Street, was designed by Rafael Viñoly and features rounded corners.

Steven Della Salla, a managing partner at Bizzi & Partners Development, said his company paid about $210,000 to create the mock-up of 125 Greenwich Street, and another $163,000 for the tests themselves.

Mr. Dotzler said his company also is popular with Hollywood filmmakers, who like to shoot the facility’s post-apocalyptic aesthetic.

“We’ve hosted a couple of episodes of ‘Graceland’ and ‘Burn Notice,’ ” Dotzler said. “But we try to have them only after hours or on weekends.”


Source: Wall Street Journal

The Magic City Innovation District Special Area Plan was submitted to the city of Miami for review last month.

According to the documents, the developers are proposing to build:

  • 2,490 residential units
  • 1,763,820 office square feet (net)
  • 432 hotel rooms
  • 313,165 retail square feet (net)
  • 5,547 parking spaces in garages

In total, 17 buildings with the tallest at 27 stories are planned. Completion of the entire conccpt will take 10-15 years, with construction to begin in 2020, according to the project website (although existing buildings will be rehabilitated before then).

In a letter, the developer says they intend to build a Transit Oriented Development, with a stop to be built on the Brightline/Tri-Rail Coastal Link track.

Cirque Du Soleil Billionaire Guy Laliberté is listed as having a stake on an ownership statement submitted with the proposal.

Arquitectonica is the architect.

Source: The Next Miami

Developer EDEN Multifamily topped off construction of NOMA, an eight-story, 347-unit apartment building at 2145 Northeast 164th Street in the heart of North Miami Beach.

Scheduled to be completed in fall 2018, NOMA is EDEN’s first development in North Miami Beach and represents a significant milestone for the city, which is experiencing a renaissance following the 2015 completion of the City’s Mixed Use Town Center zoning district. The multifamily project is located in the emerging Community Redevelopment Area on the east side of the city.

EDEN and Coastal Construction, the project’s general contractor, are set to host a topping off celebration at the project site on February 2 at noon. City of North Miami Beach commissioners, city officials and other invited guests will be on hand to tour the project and enjoy the festivities.

“We are finding a strong demand from renters for boutique apartment buildings in urban areas—or the downtown areas of suburban markets—as an alternative to the high-rise towers that dominate these areas,” EDEN Multifamily president Jay Jacobson tells “These renters are seeing that you can find value and convenience at new boutique buildings without sacrificing the level of amenities. The challenge for multifamily developers is to identify areas where this type of product can be delivered on a cost-effective basis.”

NOMA includes studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, an eight-story parking garage and ground-floor retail space. Building amenities include an inner courtyard with a heated pool, an elevated sundeck seating area with a firepit, community rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness center with a yoga/spin room and a dog walk and grooming area.

EDEN will enhance the public greenspace along the Snake Creek Canal with extensive landscaping, public seating, a walking path/bikeway and a significant public art installation. The multifamily property offers common area Wi-Fi and large community gathering spaces.

Coastal Construction is the general contractor. MSA Architects is the NOMA architect, with Bruce Howard and Associates providing landscape architecture and ID& Design Internationalas the interior designer.


Source: GlobeSt.

Property Markets Group acquired the site of a downtown Miami church along Biscayne Boulevard for $55 million, with plans to build a major mixed-use tower.

The First United Methodist Church of Miami sold its 1.15-acre property at 400 Biscayne Blvd. to New York-based PMG. The deal was partially funded by Toronto-based Greybrook Realty Partners, which previously announced plans to invest $32.2 million into the project. The site is near American Airlines Arena, Miami Dade College, and the College/Bayside Metromover Station.

PMG’s Ryan ShearEvan SchapiroMatt Ellish, and Yechiel Ciment negotiated the deal. They were represented by Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr attorneys Luis Flores, Rebecca Sarelson and David Yontz, plus Josh Kaplan at Bilzin.

“This is our third investment in the Biscayne corridor, increasing our ability to create innovative living experiences for residents,” Shear said. “We feel that this market is one of the most important areas of Miami from a future growth perspective, general location and view standpoint.”

The developer said it plans to build over 690 units and about 20,000 square feet of commercial space. The property is zoned for about 50 stories. The apartments would be branded by PMG’s new X Social Communities division, which appeals to young professionals seeking more attainable pricing. Its nearby X Miami apartment building, which is under construction, is part of the same brand.

The 400 Biscayne project would have co-working spaces, an oversized fitness center, communal kitchens, smart package lockers, smart home technology controlled by an app, and many pre-furnished units. As part of the project, PMG will build a new church on the site with a separate entrance for FUMC Miami.

“FUMC wanted to rebuild the church in the same location, so the relationship with the potential buyer was very important,” Flores said. “They liked the young and thriving energy that PMG brings to its developments and could see themselves doing business with the developer in the short and long term. The transaction is unique because we had to wear different hats at different times since we are the buyer and builder of the future church.”

“It was the right time for the church to take advantage of the revitalization of its neighborhood,” Pastor Dr. Audrey Warren said. “The project will ultimately allow the church to grow and meet its future operating needs.”

PMG said the architect of the building is Sieger Suarez, and Carlos Ott is consulting on the church that will be included in the structure.


Source: SFBJ

Developers planning to redevelop a former home of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in Miami borrowed $26 million to finance the project.

Three entities managed by Ye Zhang Florida Fullview Immigration Building, Fullview Immigration Building I and Wealthy Delight — borrowed the money from an affiliate of Madison Realty Capital.

In 2013, the developers paid $12.5 million for the former INS location at 7880 Biscayne Boulevard, which the federal agency vacated in 2008.

The developers have razed the building the INS occupied and plan to turn the 1.4-acre property into a mixed-use development called Triton Center, designed by Stantec.

Triton Center would encompass a 139-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel, 324 apartments, approximately 585 parking spaces, and 25,000 square feet of commercial space.


Source: The Real Deal

Macy’s historic location in downtown Miami is among the latest of its stores to fall victim to a national cutback plan that will include the elimination of 5,000 jobs in the United States.

The company said last week that it expects to save $300 million by closing 11 stores around the country early this year, cutting payroll and streamlining some in-store functions.

“We anticipate our net headcount reduction will be approximately 5,000, including the staffing adjustments across the stores’ organization, further streamlining in some non-store functions and impact closure of 11 stores,” said spokeswoman Jacqueline King in an email.

Besides the Miami store and one at The Oaks Mall in Gainesville, the company will shut four locations in California and others in Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Vermont. The moves are the latest in a plan disclosed in late 2016 to close 100 stores. Thus far, the company has disclosed 81 of the 100. The latest on the hit list will start eight- to 12-week clearance sales.

Macy’s said it intends to close about 19 more stores as leases expire or real estate sales are completed. Last year, Macy’s closed its store at CityPlace in West Palm Beach. Nearly a dozen stores remain in operation in Broward and Palm Beach counties. More than a half-dozen operate in Miami-Dade County.

“Our primary focus in 2017 has been to continue the strong growth of digital and mobile, stabilize our brick-and-mortar business and set the foundation for future growth,” CEO Jeff Gennette said in a statement. “Looking ahead to 2018, we are focused on continuous improvement and will take the necessary steps to move faster, execute more effectively and allocate resources to invest in growth.”

The Miami building is viewed as an anachronism by developers, planners and analysts as the downtown area attracts a younger population that generally avoids department stores and prefers to shop online.

“The departure is a good thing,” Mika Mattingly, a Colliers International real estate agent. “There are so many positives. There are a lot of scenarios that are inviting. First among them: educational institutions that could use the space.”

Located at 22 E. Flagler St., the downtown Miami store once anchored the Florida-based Burdines chain, which got its start in 1898. Burdines joined Federated Department Stores in 1956. Looking to leverage the Macy’s brand, Federated lumped the names together into Burdines-Macy’s in 2004, only to strip away the Burdines label a year later. At one point, the location served as corporate headquarters for Macy’s Florida.

“I think this is a huge opportunity for the current owner to really capitalize on a piece of real estate that is completely underutilized,” said Zach Winkler of JLL, a national commercial real estate brokerage firm.

A decade ago, the Downtown Development Authority feared Macy’s might leave downtown as the company wielded the possibility as a bargaining chip for a more aesthetically pleasing downtown.

“It’s been a pillar of downtown for a long time,” said Alyce M. Robertson, executive director of the DDA. “It’s sad to see a major retailer go. Had this happened 10 years ago, we would have faced a much more serious impact.”

But now, amid a post-recession construction boom that delivered high-rise hotels, retail, condos and offices, the urban center is a more vibrant place.

“The population has more than doubled,” Robertson said. “It’s a younger demographic. The property itself could use a facelift. It’s not the most welcoming place. They used to have a restaurant on the first floor on the west side. It would be nice to have some kind of street-level presence to engage the pedestrians on the new Flagler Street when it’s built out.”

Jason Shapiro, managing director of Aztec Group, a Miami real estate finance and investment firm, said the building should be divided up into smaller spaces for restaurants, smaller retail and shared work spaces.

“It’s still the core of the core from a location perspective,” Shapiro said. “I’d be surprised if you didn’t see a wholesale change for the better in the next couple of years.”


Source: SunSentinel