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Micro-Mobility Infrastructure Plan Targets Downtown Miami, Including Coconut Grove, Brickell, Midtown, Morningside, Edgewater And Part of Wynwood

A micro-mobility infrastructure project half funded by electric scooter fees could be coming to downtown Miami, adding about three miles of protected bicycle and scooter lanes and laying the groundwork for more lanes in the future.

The green-patterned pavement lanes, which would come with concrete barriers separating them from traffic, would run from South First Street to Northeast 11th Terrace along North Miami Avenue and Northeast First Avenue, and from Northeast Second Avenue to I-95 on North Fifth and Sixth streets.

Key locales along the routes would include Government Center, Brightline Station, Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus and several Metromover stations.

The project would also add missing pedestrian ramps to adjacent sidewalks and upgrade all pedestrian crossings and signage to “high emphasis” for greater visibility.

Miami-Dade commissioners were to decide Wednesday whether to OK an agreement with the city to fund and undertake the project, which would cost $2,064,661.

Miami would contribute $1 million to the project with fees the city has charged electric scooter companies to operate through a pilot program in downtown, Coconut Grove, Brickell, Midtown, Morningside, Edgewater and part of Wynwood.

Miami-Dade would cover the remainder with revenue from road impact fees. Julian Guevara of the county’s Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) would monitor the project.

DTPW plans to test other types of protective barriers in the area. Depending on the results, the county could build similar bicycle, scooter and pedestrian provisions in other urban areas, a memo from Miami-Dade Chief Operations Officer Jimmy Morales said.

“It is the goal of the county to improve the safety of the most vulnerable modes of mobility, walking and cycling,” the memo said. “It is also the goal of the county to ensure that bicyclists have an intuitive and connected route through Miami-Dade.”

The project is in keeping with the county’s Complete Streets and Vision Zero programs, which aim to make streets safer for all users through smart, inclusive engineering and design and to ultimately eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries.

It also squares with the county Transportation Planning Organization’s protected bicycle lane demonstration plan and the city’s bicycle master plan, the memo said.

City commissioners argued last July over whether to use the funds set aside for the bike paths to plug budgetary holes they expected due to the pandemic. Joe Carollo and Alex Díaz de la Portilla, who advocated for keeping the $1 million for other city issues, clashed over the issue with Keon Hardemon, Manolo Reyes and Ken Russell, who represents the district from which the electric scooter pilot revenue is drawn.

Mr. Russell noted then that the city’s bicycle master plan was “10 years delinquent.” Over that time, he said, bicycle riders had been injured and died in Miami because they lacked proper accommodations.

But by November, when the Miami City Commission voted on the issue, the city’s budgetary shortfall was estimated to be $2.7 million – about a tenth of what was expected four months before.

City commissioners unanimously approved the program, the construction for which was expected to begin early this year.

 

Source:  Miami Today

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Sleepy No Longer, Downtown Miami Evolves Into Urban Hub

Once a place that emptied at 5 p.m., Downtown Miami is in the midst of a dramatic transformation. Overlooked no longer, the city’s central business district is getting denser, growing taller and attracting new attention.

The area has been poised for a breakout since the Great Recession, and its moment finally seemed to arrive during the pandemic. Out-of-state companies, most notably Blackstone Group, are opening offices downtown. And a widely noted study said Miami’s urban core has experienced the largest downtown population surge in the nation over the past two decades.

As Miami gains momentum, developers are making big bets on the city’s appeal to both employers and their employees.

“It’s like a snowball effect,” said Nitin Motwani, a developer of Miami Worldcenter. “Downtown Miami, over the past 10 years, has completely evolved into one of the great, 24-hour metropolises in the world.”

Motwani is part of a particularly ambitious project: Miami Worldcenter, a $4 billion mixed-use development, includes apartments, retail space, condos, hotels and offices spread across 10 blocks of downtown parcels.

Just south of downtown, OKO Group and Cain International are building 830 Brickell, a 640,000-square-foot tower that will test office tenants’ appetite for Manhattan-style rental rates. And the 13-story Nikola Tesla Innovation Hub, with 136,000 square feet of office space, is set to begin welcoming tenants next year.

“It feels like we’re on the precipice of something big,” said developer Ryan Shear, managing partner of Property Markets Group (PMG). “Downtown has so much potential, an untapped amount of it.”

PMG is developing the Waldorf Astoria condo and hotel project, which will be the highest tower south of New York, Shear said. PMG also expects to break ground this year on E11EVEN Hotel & Residences, a 400-unit condo project. The units are priced at $250,000 to $12 million.

The E11EVEN project quickly sold more than 70 percent of its units, reflecting what Shear sees as Downtown Miami’s move into the top tier of urban cores.

“Miami, for a long time, has been an undervalued city,” he said. “Miami has a lot of catching up to do.”

The flurry of investment offers a sharp contrast to downtown’s former vibe. For years, downtown boosters touted a vision of a thriving, round-the-clock urban core. And, for years, the city’s central business district remained a place that filled up at 9 a.m. but couldn’t sustain a nightlife.

Downtown workers who liked an urban vibe commuted from Miami Beach or Coral Gables. The rest of the labor force put up with gridlocked commutes from Kendall or Weston.

“Until 10 or 15 years ago, Miami was a city that existed in spite of its downtown,” said Andrew Trench, a managing director at Cushman & Wakefield. “Downtown had office space, and the Miami Heat played downtown, and that was kind of it.”

However, during a building boom before the Great Recession, developers inundated downtown and the Brickell district with high-rise residences. As new residents filled those units after the crash, Miami’s downtown population ballooned. This was the first signal that downtown couldn’t remain a mere business district forever.

According to research by Brookings, Miami had the fastest-growing population of any major downtown over the past two decades. Miami’s urban core posted population growth of 202.5 percent from 2000 to 2018.

The soaring head counts enticed new grocery stores, restaurants and bars downtown, fulfilling the vision of the district as something more than a place to leave at the end of the workday.

Whole Foods opened a store in Downtown Miami in 2015, and the crowds quickly became legendary. “You can barely move in the store,” a Whole Foods executive reported in a 2016 earnings call.

Trey Davis, an associate director at Cushman & Wakefield, lives on Brickell — downtown and Brickell are distinct neighborhoods, but both are part of the central business district — and walks to work and shopping areas.

“I barely use my car,” he said. “There will be times when I go three to four weeks without using it.”

While new residents have been plentiful, office users have proven more elusive. That’s changing, too.

In one noteworthy recruiting win, Blackstone Group last year signed a deal to open a 215-person office in downtown. The private equity giant leased a 40,000-square-foot office at 2 MiamiCentral, the office building adjacent to the Brightline train station.

Blackstone expects to pay its Miami workers an average salary of $200,000. Microsoft and hedge fund Citadel also are said to be shopping for office space in downtown.

Big-name companies, it seems, finally are taking note of Miami’s oft-repeated selling points: low taxes, a business-friendly climate, and comparatively affordable real estate costs.

Despite that pitch, the tenants from New York and California arrived in a trickle rather than a torrent. Then came the COVID-19 outbreak, and companies took a fresh look at their locations.

“The pandemic was the accelerator. We have a great migration happening right now,” said Alan Kleber, a managing director at JLL. “You have people thinking, ‘If we were ever going to move our headquarters, or move a component of our operation, now is the time to do it.’”

The new interest in Miami follows years of efforts by the city to pitch itself to financial firms in the Northeast and to tech players on the West Coast.

“We felt it was only a matter of time before this happened,” said Cushman & Wakefield’s Trench. “I never thought a pandemic would be the catalyst.”

The emergence of Miami as a corporate location spurred 830 Brickell’s decision to quote rental rates of $75 to $85 per square foot.

“These are the highest rates Miami has ever seen,” said Trench, who’s marketing the space.

Even so, 830 Brickell’s rates are lower than the typical rents for Class A space in San Francisco or Midtown Manhattan. The building is scheduled for completion in 2022.

Features will include a building-wide app that lets users order coffee or reserve a treadmill in the gym, Trench said. While work-from-home trends during the pandemic have reduced demand for office space, Trench expects a return to the office.

“As much as we’ve seen we can all work from home, it’s tough to be at home 24 hours a day,” he said.

Miami boosters are banking on a return to offices after the pandemic. In a bid to raise the city’s national profile, the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) last year launched its Follow the Sun initiative, which pays incentives to businesses that move to the central business district.

To qualify, an employer must create at least 10 new jobs that pay at least $68,000 a year. In return, employers get $500 per employee, up to a maximum of $50,000 a year, and up to $150,000 over three years.

In February, the DDA said eight companies won grants that will bring 684 jobs downtown. In all, the companies will receive $560,000 from the initiative.

One of the recipients is Blackstone. Other grant winners include an unnamed California wellness company and a Connecticut hedge fund, along with a number of employers moving from elsewhere in South Florida.

Downtown developer Motwani is a member of the board of the DDA. He said the incentives aim to make employers feel welcome, especially those from markets, such as New York and California, where business owners often complain about red tape and bureaucratic mazes.

“It’s more of a gesture,” Motwani said. “What can we do?”

The idea for Follow the Sun started in 2013. Miami had embarked on a marketing campaign aimed at hedge funds and other financial firms in Manhattan and Greenwich, Conn. The DDA pitched itself as a sunny and carefree destination, a place with lower taxes and a more welcoming business climate.

The Follow the Sun initiative is funded from property taxes collected by the DDA. Motwani said the outlay will be more than repaid as hundreds of high-earning workers take jobs downtown.

Some also will live in the district. Even those who commute from other areas will still spend money at downtown restaurants and support cultural institutions. What’s more, some of the incentive money will be pumped into building improvements as the new tenants set up shop downtown.

“They’re giving back more than they’re taking,” Motwani said. “We want the jobs. We want the diversity to our job base.”

 

 

Source:  Commercial Observer

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Moishe Mana Unveils First Phase Of Downtown Miami Development

Moishe Mana could use the 50 buildings he owns to develop a mass of towers in the core of downtown Miami, but he’s moving forward with a different vision.

Mana will renovate buildings to attract tenants and limit the construction to about four stories, said Bernard Zyscovich, CEO Zyscovich Architects, which crafted the plan with Mana.

Mana spent hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years snapping up property downtown, especially along Flagler Street. The area has some of the oldest buildings in the city. Many of those Mana-owned buildings have vacant space on the ground floors as he works on development plans.

Now, Zyscovich says Mana has a multi-phase plan for his downtown properties, and he’s ready to start construction this summer.

While many of Mana’s properties are zoned for 50 to 80 stories, that’s not his vision, according to Zyscovich.

“We are looking at spreading development throughout downtown instead of coming up with tall buildings out of the box,” Zyscovich said. “We don’t think downtown is ready for high-rise max buildings. We need to develop it as a neighborhood.”

Mana will begin by renovating the 13-story building at 155 S. Miami Ave. Built in 1980 and totaling about 166,000 square feet, the building formerly house federal immigration offices and it looks the part of a staid government office. Zyscovich said its facade will be stripped away and replaced with an artistic facade, which will resemble an optical illusion. The ground floor of the building is currently not accessible from the street and will be opened up so there can be a coffee shop and social space.

Mana wants the building to house office and technology tenants.

“It’s a good first project because there’s enough square feet to occupy the building with many new uses,” Zyscovich said. “We have financing in place and hopefully before the summer is out we will start construction, which is really deconstruction.”

Mana will follow with another project on the same block, at South Miami Avenue and S.W. 2nd Street. That includes a modest-sized new building along with renovations to the parking garage and some historic structures that could house restaurants.

The second area Mana will develop is Flagler Station, at 48 E. Flagler St., Zyscovich said. That will include new storefronts.

“It will become a cool neighborhood with the idea of providing urban services to innovators and technology people,” he said.

As the projects are completed, Mana plans to introduce a membership group called Mana Commons. Members would receive living quarters, office space, and discounts on local food and beverages, Zyscovich said.

“Moishe likes to say he’s not a developer,” Zyscovich said. “He’s a venture capital guy who wants to create something more innovative with real estate than renter space. We rent space, of course, but space oriented toward particular uses that might exchange rent for a venture capital interest.”

 

Source:  SFBJ

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ULI Offers Some Climate Change Solutions For Miami’s Commercial Properties Along The Waterfront

To protect commercial properties along the waterfront in downtown Miami and by the Miami River, city officials and the real estate industry should implement natural lines of defenses, consider using less ground floor space for commercial uses, embrace transit-oriented, mixed-use projects and identify funding resources for large-scale flood mitigation projects similar to the Thames Barrier in London.

Those are some of the recommendations made by a 10-member panel of the Urban Land Institute, or ULI, brought on by the City of Miami and the Miami Downtown Development Authority to figure out ways to make the urban core more resilient to climate change.

The panel’s final report came out this month. It focuses on strengthening the Biscayne Bay waterfront as Downtown Miami’s first line of defense against rising seas, transforming the Miami River into a mixed-use district that bridges the gap between the water and surrounding neighborhoods such as Little Havana and Allapattah. The report also recommends creating incentives for responsible development along an inland ridge of high-lying ground.

“The Urban Land Institute’s preliminary findings provide us with a roadmap for enacting design, infrastructure, zoning and financing strategies that will ensure Miami sustains its growth as a world-class city – not for years, not for generations, but forever,” said Miami City Commission Chairman Ken Russel, who also chairs the Miami DDA. On Nov. 21, commissioners passed a symbolic resolution declaring Miami is an a state of climate emergency.

The ULI recommends city officials adopt living shorelines along the Miami Baywalk and Riverwalk, study the development of an iconic tidal gate for the Miami River, use the city’s transfer of development density program to give builders incentives for building in less flood-prone areas and update the downtown Miami master plan to incorporate building streets and sidewalks at a higher elevation.

According to the ULI report, commercial properties in Miami’s urban core, which includes retail storefronts, offices and large apartment buildings, comprise $21.1 billion in taxable value. Roughly $5 billion of that value exists with a quarter mile from Biscayne Bay and the Miami River.

Since 2009, a total of $13.1 billion was invested in commercial property in the Miami central business district, indicating an active market, the ULI report states. The ULI panel largely agreed that the city’s current waterfront guidelines lack overall flexibility, have some problematic design requirements, and do not allow for elements, such as terracing, that could address storm surge.

 

Source:  Forbes

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Ross Dress For Less Signs Lease At Historic Former Burdines Building In Downtown Miami

Ross Dress for Less signed a lease at the historic former Burdines building in downtown Miami.

The retailer plans to lease 34,192 square feet at 22 East Flagler Street. The vacant building was most recently occupied by Macy’s. Macy’s closed the store in early 2018 as part of a wave of closures as it looked to shed its assets and reduce costs.

Nearby, Ross has another location at One Bayfront Plaza at 100 South Biscayne Boulevard. Florida East Coast Realty plans to build a 92-story, 1,049-foot tall building on the site, which will also include over 1.4 million square feet of Class A office and hotel space.

In 1917, Miami businessman Richard Ashby originally leased the 48,000-square-foot building at 22 East Flagler Street to Burdines for about $30,000 a year. In 1956, Burdines merged with Federated Department Stores, which also owned Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and other stores. By 2005, Federated had brought all its Burdines outposts under the Macy’s brand.

Records show Aetna paid $15.6 million for the property in 2013.

 

Source:  The Real Deal

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