OKO Group, the US-based development company founded by international real estate and hotel magnate Vladislav Doronin, and Cain International, a privately held real estate investment firm, have revealed plans for 830 Brickell, the first new office tower to launch in Miami in nearly a decade.

The soaring 57-story, 724-foot-tall skyscraper designed by one of the world’s leading architecture firms will introduce a premium commercial offering to the city’s booming financial district and will reinvent the workplace lifestyle for the highest-caliber of global workforce. Cushman & Wakefield’s leasing team is launching the marketing of the building to prospects now, ahead of 830 Brickell’s completion in 2022.

At the core of 830 Brickell’s innovative approach to office space is its stunning design by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG), the internationally acclaimed firm responsible for the world’s tallest buildings, including the Burj Khalifa, Jeddah Tower and the tallest residential building in the U.S., New York’s Central Park Tower.

The tower will feature spectacular only-in-Miami panoramic ocean and city views, floor-to-ceiling windows, column-free spans, state-of-the-art digital infrastructure with Wired certification and a LEED Silver certification due to its progressive environmentally efficient design. It will be Miami’s most contemporary office tower, befitting the city’s growth into an international capital of business.

Set within the urban destination of Miami’s Brickell neighborhood, 830 Brickell is at the center of the city’s most exciting cultural, culinary and retail experiences. Tenants will have direct, walkable access to Brickell City Center, Mary Brickell Village, Downtown Miami offering a suite of upscale hotels and restaurants. Known as the city’s financial district and the Wall Street of Latin America, Brickell is a rapidly transforming neighborhood for residents, tourists and businesspeople alike. The location is also convenient to Miami International Airport as well as the Port of Miami.

830 Brickell will also be differentiated by its unprecedented lifestyle offerings for a commercial tower, which will promote out-of-the-box collaboration, work-life balance and wellness. Aimed at attracting the world’s largest companies and progressive visionaries, the project touts an elite roster of first-rate amenities – including an upscale rooftop restaurant and bar on the 56th and 57th floors, a 30th floor sky lobby with a nearly 2,500-square-foot health and wellness center and first-class conference facility, a 14th floor outdoor terrace designed by Enea Landscape Architecture, valet parking and electric vehicle charging stations, cafés and shopping.

Offering white-glove customer service, the tower also boasts a forward-thinking culture of seamlessness, highlighted by a 24-hour concierge responsible for event planning and coordination, booking restaurant reservations, sending out dry cleaning, organizing deliveries and more.  Additional services will include bicycle storage, a shoe shining stations and much more.

This project is innovative through its use of programming outdoor spaces that serve as amenities for the tenants, both at the podium level and at the skyline level. The rooftop restaurant and bar are outstanding amenities, affording sweeping views of downtown that will energize the building at night. Additional roof terraces will allow tenants to enjoy the Miami weather without being on the street level. The 30th floor sky lobby with café and fitness center offers more advantageous views to all tenants.

This commercial tower will set the new gold standard in Miami and will be the catalyst for additional high-end development in the area. The design of 830 Brickell was influenced and inspired by the world-class-quality of art infused in the city since the introduction of the Art Basel Miami Beach fair in 2002. AS+GG’s aim was to elevate the architectural expression of the building to the level of museum-quality art.


Source: The Real Deal

North Beach’s new main street might include tiny apartments, 200-foot towers and homes that double as businesses.

This vision for the “Town Center” area along 71st Street, developed by city planners, is designed to turn a stretch of the island that has seen little development into a hub where residents can live, work, shop and eat without ever getting into a car.

“We think that there’s an opportunity to make Town Center more walkable and more liveable and we want to see Town Center thrive,” said Thomas Mooney, Miami Beach’s planning director. “We wanted to have more of a 24-hour feel.”

Mooney and his team have proposed allowing developers to build up to 200 feet if they provide a public benefit, such as affordable housing or a contribution to a fund that could be used for a variety of neighborhood projects. He said limiting the height to 12 stories (125 feet), which was recommended in the master plan for North Beach, would generate “static” buildings and wouldn’t leave much room for creativity.

“We wanted to build in the ability for a good architect to be able to creatively redistribute” the allowed density in a taller structure, Mooney said.

In addition to allowing micro-units — tiny, furnished apartments in buildings with shared amenities — city planners have recommended permitting artisanal retail where goods like artwork, food and beer are produced and sold on-site and neighborhood fulfillment centers where shoppers can pick up goods they order online. Units where residents can live and work in the same space would also be allowed.

But not everyone agrees with this vision for Town Center.

The redevelopment of the area between Collins Avenue and Indian Creek Drive/Dickens Avenue from 69th Street to 72nd Street was approved by voters last November when they authorized an increase in density. Voters approved an increase in the overall size of buildings in the area, but the referendum didn’t get into specifics. That was left up to the city’s planning department.

Some residents object to allowing 200-foot towers and are skeptical about the micro-units, which they say will only attract tourists. (Short-term rentals are legal in the Town Center area.)

North Beach activist Kirk Paskal said 200-foot towers weren’t what voters envisioned when they cast their ballots because the height increase hadn’t been included in the master plan or agreed to by residents.

“Now suddenly, this new urgency for more height could severely damage the character of North Beach in a drastic and permanent way,” Paskal said in an email. “Any public benefits that may be proposed by way of this last minute effort to stray from the plan, could not justly recompense the harm that would be inflicted on the alluring human scale and cohesive character of North Beach by the incompatible and oppressive height of 200 feet.”

Paula King, a longtime North Beach resident, also has concerns about the maximum height.

“What they’re looking for is to build these high needles that are higher than any other building in North Beach so they can have the view and charge more for it,” King said. “Miami Beach is not New York. We don’t have the infrastructure to support this.”

Tiny Living

Micro-units are a trend in urban areas among residents who are willing to trade space for the opportunity to live in a neighborhood they couldn’t otherwise afford. Projects have sprouted up in Wynwood and downtown Miami, as well as in Miami Beach. A new micro-unit project at 6080 Collins Ave. offers apartments as small as 350 square feet, about the size of two parking spaces. Other micro-unit projects are in the works on South Beach’s Washington Avenue.

Mooney and his team have proposed allowing micro-units in hotels and apartment buildings in Town Center as long as the building includes plenty of shared amenities like community kitchens, business centers and gyms.

Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez is skeptical the micro-units will appeal to North Beach residents, however.

“What you have right there is a massive amount of transient tourism,” Rosen Gonzalez said. “It really is not reflective of what the community wanted,” she added, referring to the micro-units and the proposed height limits. “We can’t turn North Beach into South Beach.”

Others disagree. In order to attract young people and plan for the future, the regulations forTown Center need to leave room for new housing trends, said Commissioner Ricky Arriola.

“I think we need to be open minded and flexible,” Arriola said. “We can’t be rigid and just stick to the way we’ve always done things. The facts are that we are losing our millennial generation across the bay.”

North Beach residents have mixed views on the proposals.

Miguel Gonzalez, 36, said he wasn’t sure there is a market for micro-units right now due to a lack of job opportunities and public transportation. But Gonzalez, a lawyer who lives within walking distance of Town Center, said that could change.

“If you could work and live in the same place, like in downtown Miami, if they can convert this into that kind of area, more young people might be interested,” Gonzalez said.

Judith Acame, 77, lives in the Town Center area and said she thought the micro-units would appeal to young people, but not to low-income retirees like her.

“People my age will have to move to cheaper areas,” Acame said in Spanish.

Acame said she loves living in the neighborhood because she can walk to her yoga and Tai chi classes and to a nearby senior center. If the area gets more expensive and fills with buildings catering to young people.

“I guess I’d have to go to Hialeah, where my brother lives,” Acame said.

Ultimately, the city will have to be flexible in order to attract economic development to North Beach, said Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán.

“North Beach’s Town Center District has seen little new development since the concept originated in 2003,”Alemán said in an email. “This time around, it is imperative that the Commission err on the side of growth and progress. The North Beach community craves results.”

The planning department’s proposal, included in the draft of an ordinance that will regulate area development, will be evaluated by the city’s planning board on July 24 and by the Land Use and Development committee on July 31. The City Commission will have final say.

The draft ordinance includes a number of other proposals, including provisions to ensure ample space between towers so that air and light filter down, limits on the numbers of hotel rooms and apartments, and noise reduction requirements for businesses that provide entertainment.

Source: Miami Herald

As talk of the softening condo market buzzes through South Florida, a massive project in Miami’s urban core is unfolding.

As it debuts — and on schedule, no less — Brickell City Centre, a mixed-use complex of luxury condo towers, class-A office buildings, a five-star hotel, and a sprawling open-air shopping center featuring Saks Fifth Avenue, is expected to transform Brickell’s business district from a banking ghetto to a true live, work, shop and dine nexus.

The 5.4 million-square-foot development is designed to elevate the downtown Miami pedestrian experience and breathe new life into the neighborhood. With Swire Group’s track record of successful development on Miami’s Brickell Key and in the parent company’s home city of Hong Kong, the odds are in its favor.

“This destination is — and I don’t wanna overuse the word — pivotal, and a catalyst,” said Alyce Robertson, executive director of the Miami Downtown Development Authority.

The project’s caliber and scale have raised property values west of the waterfront. Surrounding developments have even taken to marketing their own projects around City Centre, calling it a neighborhood amenity.

Already built are two elements key to access: a Metromover station refreshed by Swire and integrated into the project, and underground parking stretching across five continuous city blocks, with entrances facing major arteries.

Reach condo residence with an east-facing view at Brickell City Centre, a 9.1-acre mixed-use project in downtown Miami, Florida, April 28, 2016. (PHOTO CREDIT: CHARLES TRAINOR JR.)

Reach condo residence with an east-facing view at Brickell City Centre, a 9.1-acre mixed-use project in downtown Miami (PHOTO CREDIT: CHARLES TRAINOR JR.)

Recently opened is one of two condo towers, the 390-unit Reach. The second 390-unit tower, Rise, is expected to be completed this summer. Also completed is the 130,000-square-foot Class A office building. The 352-room upscale hotel, EAST, Miami is slated to open May 31. The first shops in the 500,000-square-foot multilevel retail area — including Saks Fifth Avenue — are slated to open in the fall. A timeline has not yet been set for an 80-story third tower expected to be the tallest building in the southeast.

All were designed by Miami’s Arquitectonica. Plans for the site’s northeast corner have not yet been disclosed.

Unifying the sprawling complex is its platform design, set above the city that allows pedestrians to stroll from one building to the next without crossing the street. And above it all is a first-in-the-world climate ribbon, a passive cooling system that offers shade, collects rainwater and doubles as an eye-catching attraction.


The development will create more than 6,000 local jobs, bringing a boost to Miami’s hospitality and retail sectors.

For Swire Group and its local subsidiary, Swire Properties, Brickell City Centre represents a long-term investment of more than $1 billion in a project whose value will continue to accrue for decades. In 2008, when hints of the megaproject first emerged, the U.S. economy looked bleak.

“The market was disastrous. Wall Street collapsing. The housing market nationwide collapsing. And we were the poster child for failed condos,” said Ezra Katz, CEO of Aztec Group, a real estate investment firm.

More than 30,000 condos throughout downtown Miami were empty. Developers across the area began to offer units in bulk at deeply discounted prices. Experts predicted it would take as many as 10 years for the market to bounce back. Development halted. Some projects went into foreclosure.

“It created a Depression-like atmosphere in Miami. I looked at every aspect of the market and it all looked dark to me,” Katz said.

Swire’s bold purchase of 5.65 acres represented a welcome vote of confidence in a struggling city.

“We were in the worst recession the country had seen, but we believed in Miami,” said Steve Owens, president of Swire Properties.

The deep-pocketed company was able to invest without bank loans or public subsidies. Elsewhere, the publicly traded company — whose holdings include Cathay Pacific Airlines and Swire Hotels — boasts a portfolio of mixed-use developments, including Pacific Place in Hong Kong and INDIGO in Beijing, and operates a massive trade division that dabbles in industries as varied as cars and footwear.

The timing of its investment, while risky, proved fortuitous. Swire acquired the land at a discount of about 64 percent over its original asking price of $115 million.

“By building during the down cycle and starting early, they had pricing power that allowed them to achieve this scale,” real estate analyst Anthony Graziano said.


Through a succession of strategic purchases over a period of two years, the developer amassed sufficient real estate to cross a nine-acre threshold needed to qualify for special area planning, a designation that essentially allows large projects to function as special zoning districts. In lieu of building individual components as independent projects, special area planning “lets you be more creative in how you use your open-space requirements and density limits,” said Alice Bravo, director of transportation and public works for the city of Miami. The result, Katz said, is masterful execution of a grand vision.


The first condo building, Reach, closed its first units in April. One-, two- and three-bedroom units — priced from $595,000 to $2.7 million— come with the services and facilities that have become standard for Miami condo residents: heated lap and social pools, concierge services, a Hammam spa with a nail salon and blow-out bar, children’s playroom, state-of-the-art gym, screening room, a library and a business center.

Because the project did not depend on outside financing, Swire did not begin sales until delivery of Reach was just about two years from completion. Without the 50 percent deposits required by financed developments, sales went directly to closing. Nearly 90 percent of the units at Reach were closed by late April, said Maile Aguila, Swire’s senior vice president of residential sales. Its twin, Rise, already more than 45 percent sold, is expected to be completed this summer, Aguila said. Most buyers hail from South America. About 70 percent of them are expected to be end-users. Part of the appeal for owners: a half- million square feet of entertainment just outside their door, due to open this fall.

“All you have to do is go downstairs to be a part of the action,” Aguila said.

That action includes an eclectic mix of retailers including Cole Haan, Valentino, Sephora, Chopard and Illesteva. Some were signed in cooperation with Whitman Family Development, owners of Bal Harbour Shops. Familiar culinary names include Pubbelly Sushi and Dr. Smood. At the center’s north end, a 38,000-square-foot Italian food hall will entice visitors with fresh produce and imported artisanal cheeses and meats. Live cooking demonstrations, classes by Italian chefs and wine tastings with food pairings will be scheduled regularly. Luxury movie theater Cinemex will open its first U.S. location here in the fall.

Integrated into the center’s third level is Metromover’s Eighth Street Station. Under a first-of-its kind arrangement with local government, Swire renovated the station and its surroundings — formerly a dumping ground. Under the 99-year agreement, Swire will manage and maintain the area, now transformed by gardens and home to a Saturday farmers market.

Over at EAST, Miami, Brickell City Centre’s 352-suite hotel, fine dining and drinking options abound, between the Argentinian rustic-meets-contemporary Quinto La Huella on the fifth level and Sugar, a rooftop bar set to offer an array of mixology libations and Asian-inspired tapas. The hotel is slated to open May 31, with a contemporary style laced with Asian influences carefully arranged by a feng shui master. Unlike most hotels, where top floors are reserved for high-priced suites, EAST, Miami features meeting spaces and restaurants on high floors, including a top-floor bathroom with killer city views.

“It’s going to be a total selfie moment,” Owens said. And while some play, others will work.

The lobby at Three Brickell City Centre at Brickell City centre, a 9.1-acre mixed-use project in downtown Miami, on April 26. The tower’s anchor tenant is Akerman, a leading national law firm. (PHOTO CREDIT: CHARLES TRAINOR JR.)

The lobby at Three Brickell City Centre at Brickell City centre, a 9.1-acre mixed-use project in downtown Miami. The tower’s anchor tenant is Akerman, a leading national law firm. (PHOTO CREDIT: CHARLES TRAINOR JR.)

A conference room at the law firm Akerman, the anchor tenant of Three Brickell City Centre at Brickell City Centre, a 9.1-acre mixed-use project in downtown Miami (PHOTO CREDIT: CHARLES TRAINOR JR.)

A conference room at the law firm Akerman, the anchor tenant of Three Brickell City Centre at Brickell City Centre, a 9.1-acre mixed-use project in downtown Miami (PHOTO CREDIT: CHARLES TRAINOR JR.)

Law firm Akerman — which counts Swire as a client — is the anchor tenant of Three Brickell City Centre, one of the complex’s two Class-A office buildings.

“The decision to come here was because this afforded us a unique opportunity to work with a clean slate and in a complex that’s going to be the most exciting complex in downtown in decades,” said Neisen Kasdin, Akerman managing partner. “You feel like you’re in a major city like Hong Kong or Taipei, with the buildings connecting overground and underground, so there’s something exciting about that.”

Building High And Low

Engineering, and then building, the 9.1-acre city-within-a-city was no easy task. To ensure continuity across Brickell City Centre, Swire built underground parking garages topped by platforms that unite the project’s distinct structures. Underground parking is a rare, challenging and costly undertaking in downtown Miami, where elevation is low and soil conditions are tricky. Plus, the scale at which Swire is building — across five city blocks to accommodate 1,600 cars — was unprecedented.

“It was big, and it wasn’t proven,” said Chris Gandolfo, Swire Properties’ vice president of development.

A traditional garage in the complex interior would have been far cheaper — about $25,000 for standard indoor parking versus about $75,000 for the underground solution. But by sending cars beneath street level, Swire freed up lucrative retail space and reduced congestion with smoother, quicker traffic flows through the garages’ seven entrances and exits.

“It was a huge investment on their part and shows their commitment to the community by impacting traffic less,” said Bravo, the transportation director.

Engineers tested various construction methods to find the one that would be most cost effective, environmentally sustainable and safe in cases of emergency. Ultimately, Swire engineers modeled Brickell City Centre’s below-grade parking after PortMiami, where the underground tunnel was built using “deep soil mixing,” a method that involves drilling more than 30 feet into the ground and mixing soil into a concrete texture.

A rendering of the entertainment and retail center at Brickell City Centre, a 9.1-acre mixed-use project in downtown Miami (PHOTO CREDIT: SWIRE PROPERTIES)

A rendering of the entertainment and retail center at Brickell City Centre, a 9.1-acre mixed-use project in downtown Miami (PHOTO CREDIT: SWIRE PROPERTIES)

A rendering of the retail-shop area at Brickell City Centre (PHOTO CREDIT: SWIRE PROPERTIES)

A rendering of the retail-shop area at Brickell City Centre (PHOTO CREDIT: SWIRE PROPERTIES)

Above ground, Swire built platforms over the street level that link shops, restaurants, hotel and the other buildings. Within the shopping center, bridges sustain connectivity throughout the half-a-million-square-foot space. Creating hurricane-proof above-grade pedestrian crossings that also could withstand the weight of the 150,000-square-foot-long climate ribbon also required an engineering feat. Swire’s team merged structural steel into a concrete design that weighs about 1,200 tons.

“We had numerous city blocks but the only way Brickell City Centre would work is with connectivity, so with the bridges, you have a continuous experience,” Owens said.

Additionally, loading docks were integrated into the mega development’s various towers, a decision Bravo lauds unabashedly.

“That is a huge, huge convenience because that’s a big, big problem we have in downtown in Miami and other parts of the county, where loading trucks are causing all kinds of traffic disruptions.”

Inland Properties With Waterfront Values

As Brickell City Centre continues to flourish, adjacent developments are reaping fringe benefits. Vanessa Grout, president of CMC Group’s real estate marketing and sales division, said the promise of world-class dining and shopping afforded by Brickell City Centre has lured countless buyers to CMC’s newest luxury condo tower, Brickell Flatiron. Brochures of the development include a guide to the Brickell area that prominently features City Centre as a neighborhood amenity, Grout said.

“There’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm because everyone knows that as soon as Brickell City Centre opens, it will provide a lot of entertainment and a great retail experience,” Grout said. “You can really say that Brickell City Centre has created a more vibrant community, while carrying value of property further west and away from the water.”

On the tax basis alone, City Centre “will be a huge infusion of value to the urban core,” the DDA’s Robertson said.

Real estate analyst Graziano said large-scale, high-quality developments tend to increase property values, particularly when acting as an infill development that elevates the pedestrian experience. “ Properties surrounding it are definitely riding its coattails,” Graziano said.

As for the culinary scene, “Despite Miami’s immense cultural growth and its rich culinary scene, we have yet to see a food concept quite as extensive as the food hall being introduced at Brickell City Centre,” said Debora Overholt, vice president at Swire Properties. “Miami is a thriving international city and is ready for this magnitude of culinary experience.”

City Centre has also filled a gap in the retail landscape, according to experts. Anchored by a Saks Fifth Avenue, the shops will “fill in a retail-sized hole in the doughnut of downtown Miami,” Robertson said.

Current downtown shopping options are limited, often more oriented to tourists than residents. North of the Miami River sits Bayside Marketplace, “but a lot of locals don’t think of going to Bayside,” where the biggest brand names are Skechers and Victoria’s Secret, said Cynthia Cohen, president of Miami-based retail and real estate consulting firm Strategic Mindshare.

Mary Brickell Village is hardly on shoppers’ radar either, according to Cohen, because of its weak tenant mix — an all-important factor that determines a retail center’s success. Residents of downtown Miami are left to trek to Merrick Park, Aventura Mall or Dadeland Mall for retail therapy.

“The issue really is, shopping on a map doesn’t look that far away in terms of mileage, but in terms of time and the heavy, heavy traffic in the Brickell corridor and U.S. 1, the time required to get to the other shopping destinations is prohibitive,” and decreases the frequency with which people shop — and eat, “a big part of shopping,” Cohen said.

Closer are Midtown Miami, whose sole department store is Target, and the ultra-luxury shops of the Design District. Plans for Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s department stores at Miami Worldcenter have been sidelined. Developers of the 27-acre complex announced in January that they would opt for an open-air design, instead of a traditional mall layout, which may potentially be incapable of accommodating larger “big box” locations. The food and entertainment offerings may even keep neighborhood residents from heading elsewhere — thus cutting down on traffic.

“High-rise development in high-density areas … can be the best thing for the community if they look at the big picture,” said Allen W. Morris, a developer not involved with the project. Development in the urban core “is actually the green alternative.”

Green Engineering

The underside of the climate ribbon, a climate control sculpture at Brickell City Centre, a 9.1-acre mixed-use project in downtown Miami (PHOTO CREDIT: CHARLES TRAINOR JR.)

The underside of the climate ribbon, a climate control sculpture at Brickell City Centre, a 9.1-acre mixed-use project in downtown Miami (PHOTO CREDIT: CHARLES TRAINOR JR.)

Brickell City Centre’s developers say that throughout the design process, sustainability was front of mind. The $30 million “climate ribbon” over the shopping center’s open concourses, for instance, is more than a shade against sun and rain.

“We always knew we needed to have some kind of cover for pedestrian shoppers, but we realized soon in the development of the climate ribbon [that] it could be a lot more,” said Gandolfo, vice president of development for Swire.

The 150,000-square-foot canopy of insulating glass and steel also store rainwater that is reused to irrigate City Centre’s green rooftops. The first-of-its-kind climate ribbon was created through a collaboration between a Paris design firm and the universities of Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh and Cardiff in the United Kingdom.

“It’s a solution to climate management that turned out to be wonderfully artistic,” Owens said. Without the undulating structure, the open-air space would instead feel like just another mall, “and that could be in Denver or Dallas. But we wanted it to feel like Miami.”

Swire also relocated 50 200-year-old oak, gumbo limbo and strangler fig trees from the property.

It was no simple task. The trees, which weigh between 35,000 and 128,000 pounds each, were transported over four city blocks and up the Miami River to Museum Park, where Buddhist monks from Tibet blessed them in a ceremony that took place April 22, Earth Day. Some of the more delicate trees were repurposed and gifted to local artists; others were sent to Jungle Island to be incorporated into cat and bird habitats. A horticulturalist estimated that about 10 of the 50 trees wouldn’t make it, Owens said. All survived.

In It For The Long Haul

Swire’s Eastern roots are apparent in more than the Buddhist ceremony and the hotel’s feng shui. Unlike U.S. companies focused on quarterly returns, Swire takes a long view.

“Asian companies do not look at short-term returns. I would almost call them generational investors,” said real estate analyst Jack McCabe, “in that before they invest, they do years of research, much longer than we do in the U.S. But once they make the determination that they’re going to invest in something, they’re looking at years and years of investment.”

While most U.S. developers divest of management contracts once construction is complete, Swire retains management of its condos as well as ownership and management of commercial space.

Case in point: In the 1980s, Swire purchased Claughton Island as raw land. More than two decades after developing it as Brickell Key, Swire still manages its condo associations and office buildings. Mandarin Oriental, a member of the Hong Kong-based Matheson Jardine group, runs the hotel.

With Brickell City Centre, Swire demonstrated not just commitment, but foresight, analysts say.

“Anything done in ’08, ’09 and ’10 was a risk. Nobody could tell me they saw through the clouds,” said the Aztec Group’s Katz. “It takes a real visionary to think about a project of that magnitude and act upon it, and they really are long-term thinkers.”

City Centre Timeline

  • November 2008: Swire purchases 5.65 acres for $41 million.
  • July 2012: Swire purchases 3.24 acres for $27 million.
  • June 2011: City of Miami approves plans for 9.1-acre Brickell City Centre.
  • June 2012: Brickell City Centre breaks ground.
  • February 2016: Brickell City Centre opens first building, office tower Three Brickell City Centre.
  • May 2016: EAST, Miami hotel will debut.
  • June 2016: Second office tower, Two Brickell City Centre, will be completed.
  • Summer 2016: Condo tower Rise expected to open.
  • Fall 2016: Retail and entertainment center slated to open.

City Centre Snapshot

Cost: $1.05 billion.
Size: 5.4 million square feet/9.1 acres.
Local jobs created: 2,500 during construction phase; 3,700 direct jobs and 2,500 indirect jobs created after completion.


  • Two mid-rise office buildings.
  • Two residential towers, Reach and Rise, 390 units each.
  • EAST, Miami hotel, with 352 rooms, including 89 fully serviced residences.
  • Retail and entertainment center, anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue and comprising 125 tenants, spanning 500,000 square feet.

Swire Group

Publicly traded and wholly owned conglomerate with operations in trade, property and aviation. Miami’s Swire Properties is a wholly owned subsidiary.

  • Founded: 1816 in Liverpool, UK, as John Swire & Sons.
  • Based: In London and Hong Kong (Swire Pacific Ltd.).
  • Employees: 129,793.
  • Swire Properties Inc.: U.S. real estate subsidiary, headquartered in Miami since 1979.
  • Swire Properties Miami leadership: Stephen Owens, president; Christopher Gandolfo, senior vice president of development; Maile Aguila, senior vice president, director of sales.
  • Major mixed-use developments: Taikoo Place & City Plaza, Hong Kong (9 million square feet); Pacific Place, Hong Kong (5.19 million square feet); INDIGO, Beijing (1.89 million square feet).
  • Total real estate developments worldwide:48.
  • Other corporate holdings: Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong’s largest airline); Coca-Cola bottling (Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan); Haeco (aircraft engineering, based in Hong Kong) .

Brickell Key

Swire began to develop the 44-acre Brickell Key island in the 1980s, beginning with Brickell Key One, which was completed in 1982.

    • Brickell Key development cost: $1 billion.
    • Residential projects: Asia (123 units); Carbonell (284 units); Jade Residences (338); One, Two and Three Tequesta Point (288 units; 268 units; 236 units); Courts Brickell Key (319 units); Courvoisier Courts (272 units); Brickell Key One (301 units).
    • Commercial projects: Mandarin Oriental hotel (328 rooms and suites); Courvoisier Centre twin-tower office complex (315,000 square feet); Brickell Key Marketplace.


Source: Miami Herald

Biltmore Parc luxury condominium residences are coming to Coral Gables.

Pictured as Biltmore Parc Luxury Residences break ground are (l-r) Marshall Bellin, Maximo Italiano, Glenn Pratt, David Torres, Luis Arevalo, Alirio Torrealba, Mayor Jim Cason, Jose Luis Bueno, Antonio Zeiter, Alejandro Abascal, Jimmy Forrest, Jenny Ducret, Aquiles Torrealba, and Fernando Pinto

Pictured as Biltmore Parc Luxury Residences break ground are (l-r) Marshall Bellin, Maximo Italiano, Glenn Pratt, David Torres, Luis Arevalo, Alirio Torrealba, Mayor Jim Cason, Jose Luis Bueno, Antonio Zeiter, Alejandro Abascal, Jimmy Forrest, Jenny Ducret, Aquiles Torrealba, and Fernando Pinto

Elected officials, members of the development team, and well-wishers were on hand recently to witness the groundbreaking ceremony for the project.

Proximate to the Biltmore Hotel, Biltmore Parc is the first project in six years to be located within walking distance of Miracle Mile. As traffic woes increase in Miami-Dade County, residential properties located near the workplace and amenities such as restaurants, shops and public transit become more attractive. In Coral Gables an estimated 540,000 vehicles travel through the city’s 189 entrances.

“This is hitting a market, capturing a niche for Millennials, families with young children who want to be in the heart of the city and empty nesters who are looking to move from a large home to a luxury condo,” Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason said of the development.

Venezuelan entrepreneur Alirio Torrealba, interior designer Vincenzo Avanzato, the architectural firm of Bellin & Pratt, together with developers MG Developer Miami LLC and United Real Estate Group have created a project synonymous with the elegance that is the hallmark of The City Beautiful.

biltmore-parc-coral-gables 3The five-story building, located at 718 Valencia Ave. will have 32 units ranging in price from $950,000 to $1.65 million. Two and three-bedroom units are available, at 1,700 to 2,500 square feet in size.

biltmore-parc-coral-gables 2Each residence has a den with an expansive private terrace with NanaWalls (glass walls that fold inward). Private elevator access to the foyer is available to every unit. Two elegantly appointed multipurpose lounge areas capable for use as business center, meeting venue, game room or reading lounge also are available. Interiors include European-style kitchens, oversized spa-inspired bathrooms with separate showers and bathtubs, spacious walk-in closets, and walk-in laundry rooms.

Residents can take advantage of amenities such as the 24/7 personalized concierge assistance for things such as dining and event reservations to in-residence services. Other luxury touches such as 24-hour security, spa, fitness center, valet service, and WiFi in the common areas are part of the Biltmore Parc lifestyle. Also offered is a one-year membership to The Club at the Biltmore, which makes available fitness, social activities, special privileges at its legendary resort, discount on hotel amenities, and monthly special events.

“This is a great project for Mr. Merrick’s city now celebrating its 90th anniversary. The size, scale and location are ideal,” Mayor Cason added.

The project, which is scheduled for completion in February 2017, sold 15 units as of the groundbreaking. The sales gallery is located at the Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate office, 4000 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Suite 700, Coral Gables. The construction company is TA Builders.

“This is going to be a beautiful building,” Commissioner Jeannett Slesnick said. “Congratulations to everyone involved in Biltmore Parc.”


Source: Coral Gables Community News

Public art, pedestrian-friendly developments, and a booming commercial sector are all part of the future of Coral Gables, commercial real estate experts discussed at a panel last Wednesday.

Clockwise from left: Renderings of Paseo de la Riviera, a curbless Giralda Avenue and the Mediterranean Village at Ponce Circle

Clockwise from left: Renderings of Paseo de la Riviera, a curbless Giralda Avenue and the Mediterranean Village at Ponce Circle

Paseo de la Riviera is among the new projects. The planned, mixed-use development will replace an existing Holiday Inn with a open-air “paseo,” hotel and residential tower, said developer Brent Reynolds, president and managing partner of NP International. “We felt the U.S. 1 corridor was the right location,” said Reynolds, one of the panelists at a CREW-Miami luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel Miami on Brickell.

The 2.66-acre project, located at 1350 South Dixie Highway, will activate that corner of U.S. 1 and Caballero with transit-oriented development, which includes green space the 0.5-acre Paseo will provide. It will be across the street from the planned Underline linear park, which runs underneath the Metrorail, as well as the University of Miami.

The paseo, or walkway, will span 352 feet in length and 72 feet in width. A 10-story, 252-key hotel and an eight-story, 224-unit residential building with 838 parking spaces will replace the 155-room Holiday Inn. “There really is no amenity space like this in the south Gables,” Reynolds said during the event.

The developer plans to complete the approval process with the city in October and begin construction next year. Coral Gables architect Jorge L. Hernandez and international firm Gensler are designing the project.“There really is no amenity space like this in the south Gables,” Reynolds said during the event.

Also among new developments redefining the Gables is Mediterranean Village at Ponce Circle. The 6.7-acre, mixed-use complex, developed by Agave Ponce, will include a five-star, 184-key hotel; a 300,000-square-foot Class A office building; 300,000 square feet of retail; two condo towers; 15 townhomes; a rooftop restaurant; and parks. Panelist Eddie Avila, president of Key Realty Advisors Development, said the $500 million project will span three full blocks and keep all streets open.

It will also feature an underground loading zone, keeping most of the street parking. To maintain the pedestrian-friendly design, the developers have decided to move the hotel entrance to inside the complex. The developer will spend an additional $7.8 million for public spaces including art, Avila said during the panel.

Downtown Coral Gables by the numbers

Downtown Coral Gables by the numbers

The city is also investing in pedestrian-friendly and green spaces. Funding for the $20 million streetscape improvements was approved back in August 2014: 50 percent will come from the city of Coral Gables and the other half from the independent BID property owners. The Gables BID is fully funded by its members, Foglia said. Marina Foglia, a panelist and executive director of the Coral Gables Business Improvement District, has led the $20 million Miracle Mile and Giralda Avenue streetscape project. Foglia also advocates for the overlay district, which will “change the coding to activate downtown Coral Gables,” she said.

Cooper, Robertson & Partners designed plans for the project, which calls for more green spaces and improved pedestrian areas, such as wider sidewalks, outdoor dining areas and mid-block parks and plazas. Parking on the street will be entirely parallel, doing away with the 45-degree angled spots for more sidewalk space. Giralda Avenue will become curbless, with the option of closing the road off to vehicles for special events. Next, Coral Gables will hold a design workshop on Aug. 27. The streetscape project will break ground in January, Foglia said.

Panelist Jane Tompkins, development services director for the city of Coral Gables, named other new projects that are under construction, including the Aloft Hotel at 2524 LeJeune Road2020 Salzedo, a residential project; and the University of Miami Health Center. More have been approved, including 4311 Ponce de Leon and 1200 Ponce de Leon. “We have a lot going on,” Tompkins said. “We have several projects under way.”


Source: The Real Deal

Miami-Dade County’s new transit director has big plans.

Alice Bravo, Miami’s former deputy city manager, has several short-term projects in mind, but her grand vision is sure to raise eyebrows in South Florida: Eventually, she hopes that the plans that she and her team put in place in the next few years will make buying a car “optional” for Miami’s next batch of commuters.

“It’ll take time, but we have to take advantage of this enthusiasm to make Miami a car-optional city one day,” Bravo tells New Times. “It’s apparent that we have a younger generation that is not interested in having a car and wants to use public transportation. We have to make sure there is a system there for them to satisfy their needs.”

How the heck will she do that? Bravo admits it’s a long-term goal, but in the near future, she says, there are projects that will immediately relieve congestion. She points to the often-out-of-sync traffic signal system. She says by creating a system that can monitor intersection congestion and adapt on a moment’s notice depending upon traffic flow can optimize efficiency. Once a system is in place, she says, it can become centralized and connected to the bus system.

“We want to get all of our systems working together,” Bravo said.

For the longer term, Bravo is concentrating on “connectivity points” — places that are convenient for commuters in different suburbs. She wants to turn those connectivity points into stations and work to bring people to those stations as easily as possible (whether it be adding sidewalks or bus lanes). From these stations, she wants to work with local municipalities to create shuttles to quickly take people to other hubs around the city.

And to really tackle the east-west transportation debacle, Bravo plans to work with various agencies to put buses on existing highways.

The top-tier transportation shakeup comes after Miami-Dade’s much-criticized former transit director, Ysela Llort, resigned last month. She had overseen the county’s transportation since county Mayor Carlos Gimenez was elected in 2011. Even though Llort was credited with connecting the airport line to Metrorail, many observers have pointed to the lack of east-west and late-night public transportation options.

“The bus/train fares keep increasing, and the conditions get worse and worse. How is this working for [us], the tax-paying, hard-working residents?” one online petition to Llort declares. “Find the money, make public transit a priority, and fix our city.”

Gimenez, in a move to tackle public transportation “more aggressively,” hired Bravo to replace Llort. Bravo left her previous post as deputy city manager, where she oversaw six departments, including public transportation. Bravo is credited with shepherding in Metromover’s Brickell extension and the city’s free trolley system.

Born and raised in Westchester, Bravo remembers driving past Metrorail as it was being built in the mid-1980s. On the weekends, her family would sit in traffic on South Dixie Highway on their way to Key Biscayne. From the car window, she stared at the colossal concrete beams and steel rails. It fascinated Bravo, who was only a tween, and planted the seed for flashy transportation ideas to come.

Bravo went on to study civil engineering at the University of Miami before earning her MBA from Florida International University. She worked first as an engineering consultant on transportation projects for 13 years. Then she went to work for the Florida Department of Transportation, where she was in charge of implementing well-known projects such as 95 Express and the PortMiami tunnel. She was then hired by the City of Miami to work in capital improvements and transportation. In 2011, she was promoted to assistant to the deputy city manager. Two-and-half years later, she was promoted to deputy city manager.

Now, Bravo is trying to put that experience to use by transforming Miami-Dade’s transportation policies.

“The scope of transportation for the county is very large and affects millions of people,” Bravo says. “The mayor’s vision is to combine the public transits with the roadway through public works to make sure all of our transportation systems are coordinated to maximize efficiency.”

Bravo wants to make sure the current transportation systems are clean, safe, and reliable. To that end, she’s been studying the technology and transportation systems in other metropolitan areas in the States and Europe. “There are a lot of different groups with different ideas. Everyone needs to come together to formulate these plans that’ll span out 20 years. It’s not built overnight, but over many years,” she says. “But we need to turn a corner and start acting.”

In the meantime, Bravo is excited about taking Metrorail to work. “Our office is just north of Government Center,” she notes.


Source: Miami New Times