Miami Beach Goes All Out To Woo Class A Office Space

With companies ranging from Goldman Sachs to one- and two-person shops heading south in droves to tax-friendly states like Florida, Class A office space is a commodity – and one Miami Beach is hoping to build more of.

Multiple ordinances and resolutions are working their way through the Beach’s commission and committees regarding zoning changes and incentives aimed at increasing class A space in strategic areas including parts of Terminal Island, Alton Road, Sunset Harbor and Lincoln Road.

This month commissioners unanimously passed on first reading an ordinance to allow a height increase from 40 feet to 75 for office space on Terminal Island, which would effectively allow developer Related Group to move forward with a five-story, two-building office project on the island if passed on final reading.

More controversial was the second half of the proposed ordinance, which would allow developers to build offices up to 75 feet on the east side of Alton Road between 15th and 17th streets. After hearing public comment and discussing the item, commissioners split the ordinance, sending the Alton Road portion back to the Land Use and Sustainability Committee, where it is to be discussed in January.

A handful of residents spoke against the proposed increases on Alton, which would take the maximum building height from 50 or 60 feet to 75, saying they would be out of character with the neighborhood. Both the Terminal Island and Alton Road portions were recommended unanimously by the city’s planning board, and a memo from former city manager Jimmy Morales said the height increases are essential to the construction of Class A space as they would allow for high ceilings, a defining characteristic of high-end offices.

The planning board is also to review next month a proposal to upzone a single block within Sunset Harbor as part of a pilot program that would allow a maximum height of 65 feet for the area bound by Dade Boulevard on the south, Purdy Avenue on the west, 18th Street on the north, and Bay Road on the east.

If the draft ordinance eventually passes, it will allow for a five-story office and mixed-use building on 1759 Purdy Ave. to be developed by Deco Capital Group. Tracy Slavens, a partner in law firm Holland & Knight’s Miami office who is representing the developer, told commissioners she worked with city staff this summer on the draft, which would allow for the 65-foot height increases and include a sunset clause requiring building permits to be obtained by December 2022.

Commissioners said they hoped this pilot plan would fit into an overall Neighborhood Vision Plan for Sunset Harbor, which addresses issues such as height and setbacks for the entire neighborhood and is in its early stages of working through the legislative process.

Members of the public expressed overwhelming support for the Deco Group project itself, which would take the place of an empty lot, but a few expressed concerns about the single-block zoning including the possibility of structures on top of the higher roofs like bulkheads adding even more height.

Commissioners noted that in a final ordinance regulations on rooftop structures could be examined, and Commissioner Michael Gongora requested that language be added to ensure the height increase would only be allowed on lots large enough to support it.

The city in October also requested letters of interest in development of three municipal parking lots adjacent to Lincoln Road, Miami Today reported, with plans to close the process next month and consider requesting proposals to build class A offices on Surface Parking Lots 25, 26 and 27. Lyle Stern, a member of the Lincoln Road Business Improvement District, said the group planned to work with the city and its own public relations representatives at Schwartz Media Management to craft a marketing plan targeting developers around the world.


Source:  Miami Today

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To Fill Vacant Stores, Lincoln Road Seeks Pop-Up Businesses

Cultural institutions and new retail shops may find temporary homes on Lincoln Road this winter, as the Lincoln Road Business Improvement District is hoping to bring in a series of pop-ups to boost business and fill vacancies. 

The improvement district’s executive committee has unanimously voted to support and promote pop-ups during the upcoming season.

“We’re looking to work with local cultural organizations that may want a space on Lincoln Road during the holidays,” Timothy Schmand, the committee’s executive director, told Miami Today last week. Additionally, he said, the committee would like to work with retailers, including clicks-to-bricks stores that operate primarily online and want to try out a physical space.

According to Mr. Schmand, site occupancy on Lincoln Road is currently around 74%.

“We have empty storefronts,” improvement district Vice President Lyle Stern told the committee Aug. 20, “(and) I think we have to use the opportunity right now to fill every single vacancy we can on Lincoln Road this year.”

“We as a group,” he continued, “should encourage all of our owners to make (vacancies) available for appropriate – and we’ll have to define appropriate – vendors to come to Lincoln Road and occupy this space subject to some conditions.”

The committee would have to discuss these conditions, Mr. Stern said, which could include requiring a security deposit or insurance policy.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Mindy McIlroy, committee treasurer and president of real estate firm Terranova. “Terranova has done a lot of work on this already – we have been actively soliciting for fashion boutiques for our vacancies to fill our spaces from October through January. Just to your point, we want to have a very active holiday shopping season.”

Retailers in the fashion industry, she added, may have a lot of inventory as few people shopped for spring and summer styles this year. 

Indeed, Terranova’s founder and Chairman Stephen Bittel told Miami Today that the corporation plans to target local and regional retailers and is already communicating with two possible short-term tenants: a plant store and a vintage boutique.

To boost business and bring people back to the street, he continued, Terranova is willing to be “uniquely flexible” when it comes to rent. At the height of business, Mr. Bittel said, rental rates were in the $300s per square foot per month. Now, he said, these rents are in the $200s, and for short-term rentals his company is talking to some tenants about making rent “the cost of occupancy plus a percentage of sales.”

“All the owners are very focused on pushing occupancy and filling up our storefronts to provide the best opportunities for our guests,” he said, “and that strategy means we need to get those windows full. We are (willing) to sacrifice some near-term revenue to enhance the overall experience so that we can return to the strength that the street previously had.”

Mel Schlesser, a member of the committee, said the improvement district would need to be mindful of the City of Miami Beach’s policies. “If we don’t have significant support from the city to allow these pop-ups to move forward expeditiously,” he said, “we’re going to be wasting our time.”

However, Ms. McIlroy noted that policies already address this concern. “There is a pop-up program in place already that the city has initiated,” she said, “75% of what you just spoke about is already completed.”

The pop-up process, Mr. Schmand said at the committee meeting, “is a far more expedited process than the traditional process.” “I used it successfully a couple of times,” he said.

Steve Gombinski, the committee’s president, said that while Lincoln Road’s vacancies during Covid are not a unique problem, the improvement district could hopefully offer a unique solution. 

“We want to help the community,” he said. “We want to welcome everybody. We want art galleries, we want retail (and) other pop-ups. (We could) find out if there are restaurant spaces available where innovative chefs could come in for a short period of time.” 

The committee, Mr. Gombinski continued, should ask landlords what type of tenants they’re looking for and put together an inventory that would allow them to easily match interested tenants with open spaces.

The district wants to know the “wants, needs and desires,” of possible tenants, Mr. Schmand told Miami Today, so that it can come to an agreement that is beneficial for everybody.

Lincoln Road is not alone in seeking opportunities to increase business and promote cultural institutions as the year continues. Last week, Miami Today reported that Coral Gables city commissioners unanimously approved the installation of four new murals on Miracle Mile with the goal of stimulating the economy.


Source:  Miami Today

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Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road Finds 3 New Uses For Vacant Space Due To Pandemic

Refusing to sit idle, the Lincoln Road Business Improvement District (BID) and the brokerage community in Miami Beach have created alternate uses for vacant retail space, empty parking garages, and the open-air pedestrian promenade – through arts, culture, and fitness activations – to safely attract consumers and drive traffic to stores and restaurants in the open-air dining and shopping district.


  • From Boutique to Ballet: the Lincoln Road BID and The Comras Company, one of South Florida’s leading retail leasing/development companies, have transformed a 5,344 square foot former BCBG boutique into a popup residence for the Miami City Ballet to practice their pirouettes and plies before the public. Mannequins have since been replaced by the ballet’s principal dancers, attracting a new type of “window-shopper” interested in safely enjoying the ballet amid the pandemic, while cultural institutions remain closed.


  • From Garage to Gym: With many parking lots sitting empty, the Lincoln Road BID has converted the iconic Herzog & de Meuron-designed garage at the 1111 building into an expansive 25,000 square foot fitness studio. Although the iconic building can accommodate 550 people in its open-air space, the complimentary bootcamp and yoga classes are limited to 70 participants to ensure social distancing practices are maintained – the floors are also pre-marked with squares spaced 10 feet apart.


  • From Street to Symphony: Home to the world-renowned New World Symphony, which remains closed due to COVID-19, the Lincoln Road District has tapped into its talented tenant, employing musicians from the symphony to entertain pedestrians, diners, and shoppers from golf carts, driven up and down the Road. The roving musicians are in constant motion to ensure crowds don’t gather, and provide consumers with the arts and cultural experiences they’ve come to love from Lincoln Road at a time when the symphony can’t perform for large audiences and social distancing remains critical.


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