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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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Rebuilding Flagler Was A Mess. Officials Think This Policy Will Help Future Projects.

Almost a year after a painfully disruptive and often delayed makeover of Flagler Street concluded, politicians and Florida’s transportation agency are sending a message to wary merchants, neighbors and commuters: It won’t happen that way again.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has changed its philosophy on how to mount street reconstruction projects in dense urban settings without causing the kind of grief that came with the 2 1/2-year Flagler redo. Some merchants went out of business when customers had trouble getting to their doors after parking spaces were replaced by piles of dirt and debris. Torn-up roads created hazards for pedestrians, especially seniors.

Florida Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, D-Miami, met with officials from the state agency and Miami-Dade Commissioner Eileen Higgins this week to discuss the new policy and how to best approach any improvements to state-owned roads, including potential upgrades to Southwest Eighth Street, the thoroughfare better known as Calle Ocho.

Kevin J. Thibault, Florida’s secretary of transportation, told the South Florida politicians that his department plans to limit construction zones to minimize their impact on small businesses and the parking spaces they depend on. Under the new policy, the state will require contractors to finish one limited phase of a project before starting the next one.

“We would only take out of service one block at a time,” Thibault said during the meeting.

On the heels of the Flagler project that scarred Little Havana proprietors, Rodríguez sent FDOT a letter in March asking for a new policy. Thibault, who was appointed secretary in January by Gov. Ron DeSantis, made the new statewide policy effective June 2. The guidelines are intended to help small businesses survive construction outside their front doors and people who walk around the neighborhood.

Contractors will also have to ensure pedestrians can safely navigate construction zones during the work, a requirement that will be factored into the project’s design. Engineers would also need to do a better job identifying what utility lines may be underground during the design phase so when the road is ripped apart, there are fewer surprises that delay the work.

“We cannot forget the Flagler construction nightmare nor afford to repeat it, and a new policy FDOT developed at my request aims to prevent that,” said Rodríguez, after the meeting. “Pedestrians, small businesses, neighbors and vulnerable road users need to be a priority during road construction.”

A makeover of Miami’s famous Calle Ocho could be on the horizon, but Rodríguez and Higgins said Little Havana property owners are worried in the wake of the problems that plagued Flagler. Higgins was a vocal FDOT critic during the Flagler project, which was completed by Russell Engineering and overseen by consultant Pinnacle Consulting.

Higgins, who took to regularly inspecting the Flagler construction site herself to pressure contractors, remained skeptical after the meeting. She was encouraged by the new policy, but she, along with Rodríguez, said FDOT needs to do better outreach to property owners to identify what they want out of road improvements well before final designs are cemented, from door-to-door visits and one-on-one meetings to community-wide gatherings.

“You have to know what people need for their street,” she said.

Even still, Higgins said FDOT has a lot of work to do to win the trust of Calle Ocho property owners, merchants and neighbors after the Flagler nightmare.

“I don’t think there is an appetite for another construction project right now,” she said.


Source:  Miami Herald

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After 72 Years On Flagler Street, Kirk Jewelers Is Moving Out

After 72 years of selling diamonds, watches and rings from its historic jewelry district location, Kirk Jewelers is saying goodbye to Flagler Street and moving to Brickell.

The luxury jewelry retailer is closing its location at 142 E. Flagler St. due to a decline in foot traffic over the past 10 years. It will reopen at Brickell City Centre at 701 S. Miami Ave. by late December.

The store will occupy a smaller space, and pay ‘significantly more’ in rent, according to co-president of Kirk Jewelers Allison Newbauer Strongin.

But, Newbauer Strongin said, she expects to see more customers than on Flagler Street.

“There’s a lot of energy right now happening across the river,” she said.

The store currently spans 4,000 square feet, with a showroom of 1,500 square feet. Kirk Jewelers’ new home will cover a total of 3,000 square feet, with a 2,000-square-foot showroom.

Newbauer Strongin did not disclose rent information. But, according to the Miami-Dade County Retail Third Quarter 2019 Colliers International Report, the average direct asking rate for Downtown Miami is $46.01 per square foot and $63.44 per square foot in Brickell.

“You need to ink out the showroom to make up for the rents,” she said.

The move will draw Kirk Jewelers closer to the store’s customer base, with the majority already coming from Brickell. It will also allow the team to sell to more tourists, Newbauer Strongin said, a customer base that she’s seen decline on Flagler Street.

“Brickell City Centre has seen an increase with South Americans and Europeans,” she said. “Brickell City Centre will allow us to tap into both the locals and tourists, especially the Brazilian market.”

The hours at the mall also encouraged the move. The store on Flagler is currently open six days a week during regular business hours. It closes by 5:30 p.m., because Newbauer Strongin said “it doesn’t make sense to be open more than that on Flagler.”

But at Brickell City Centre, Kirk Jewelers will run daily from morning until 7 p.m. or 9:30 p.m., depending on the day.

“We calculated that with longer store hours we’d be open to an equivalent of three to four months more,” Newbauer Strongin said.

Kirk Jewelers was established in 1947 by Newbauer Strongin’s grandfather Julian Sr., a wholesale businessman from New York City. Four generations later, Newbauer Strongin runs the business alongside her brother Jeff Newbauer.

The Downtown Development Authority is prioritizing filling vacancies, especially in the historic jewelry district, with services catering to a growing residential population, said the Downtown Development Authority Deputy Director Christina Crespi.

Greater Downtown — which includes Brickell, the Central Business District, and Arts & Entertainment — has 92,000 residents today, Crespi said. By 2021, the DDA expects 110,000 residents to live in the area.

“Our priority is quality of life, that’s part of an evolving economy,” Crespi said. “For Flagler, our recruitment focus has been tech companies, cafes, bars and restaurants.”

The streetscape improvement plans starting in Flagler in 2020 are part of the quality-of-life enhancements. The plans, in the works since 2011, will include widened sidewalks, extra lighting and greenery.

“The city has over the last few years had a renewed interest in our historic districts,” Carlos R. Lago, a member of the Land Development practice in Greenberg Traurig’s Miami office. “In general, there’s a bit of growing pains with street improvements but everyone is happy at the end.”

The addition of pedestrian-friendly streets is likely to attract more foot traffic and more retail businesses back to Flagler in the future.


Source:  Miami Herald

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