Miami River tower to include immigration courthouse
By Paola Iuspa
A new multi-tenant office building is planned in downtown Miami that will include the future home of the immigration courthouse, developers said.
Panther Real Estate Partners will develop and own One Riverview Square, a 225,000-square-foot building scheduled to open by fall 2002, said Jeff Krinsky, co-partner with Daniel Sirlin of Panther Real Estate.
Construction, he said, is planned to begin this summer.
The eight-story building will sit at the corner of South Miami Avenue and Southeast Fourth Street adjacent to the Metromover Riverwalk Station, less than 50 feet from the Miami River's edge.
About 40% of the 150,000 square feet assigned for office space will be used by judges and attorneys for INS hearings, said Ines Marrero-Priegues with Akerman Senterfitt & Eidson, the law firm representing the developer.
The immigration courthouse is now a tenant at 155 S Miami Ave, said Rick Kenney, a spokesman with the Executive Office for Immigration Review in the Department of Justice. But he said many judges and attorneys are being forced to have offices somewhere else because the building is running out of space.
"We have judges in different locations now," Mr. Kenney said, "but we think it would be better for people coming to court or to see judges or attorneys to have them all" under one roof to lessen confusion.
Ms. Marrero-Priegues said the justice department would sign a 10-year rent agreement with Panther.
Miami City Commissioner Tom s Regalado said although a 10-year agreement was too short to justify building an office building with modifications, it was a good deal.
"It is better to have the federal government renting space in a privately owned building," he said, rather than taking up public land to build its own offices.
The development will have a three-story parking garage, Ms. Marrero-Priegues said, and 9,000 square feet of retail that will include an indoor and outdoor restaurant along a riverwalk.
City commissioners said they welcomed the idea of having a restaurant by the river. They agreed to waive a Waterfront Charter provision that calls for a 50-foot setback between the water and the property line when the building depth is more than 200 feet. If it is less than 200 feet, then the setback should be equal to 25% of the building's depth, experts said.
"By meeting the 50-foot setback," Commissioner Johnny Winton said, "they can deny public access" to the river.
However, he said, "they are willing to exchange public access for the 40-foot setback they need."
Because of security measures incorporated in the building design, the building ended up leaving only 40 feet between the water and the property line, Ms. Marrero-Priegues told the city commission.
Mr. Krinsky said his partnership was in discussion with several groups to lease the retail space.
Panther specializes in the development, redevelopment and management of opportunistic commercial real estate and presently owns and manages more than a million square feet of office space in South Florida, company officials said.