Finger Cos. to start residential and retail Omni project in January
By Paola Iuspa
A 437-unit residential rental and retail project in the Omni area, blocks from the planned performing arts center, has the go-ahead and will get under way in January.
Three structures are planned for Biscayne Village on 4.6 acres between Biscayne Boulevard and the bay from Northeast 19th Street to 20th Terrace. The project includes a five-story building on Biscayne Boulevard, a six-story building overlooking 20th Terrace and a 15-story tower facing the bay, said Jason Robertson, a partner with The Finger Cos. of Houston.
Plans by the developer call for more than 180 loft units with 12-foot high interiors featuring exposed ductwork to complement traditional one-, two- and three-bedroom units, Mr. Robertson said. Rent will range from $750 to $2,500, he said.
Mr. Robertson, who lives in Miami, said the developer plans to include 701 parking spaces in a four-story concealed garage and 19,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor. He said construction is expected to take 12 months.
"Its proximity to the performing arts center and downtown makes it a special location with unique demographics able to support an urban project," Mr. Robertson said.
Phillip Yaffa, vice chairman of the Omni Advisory Board, which supervises the city's use of taxes earmarked for redevelopment in the neighborhood, said The Finger Cos. has developed "great projects" in Texas and Georgia.
"The area is now beginning to reach its potential with the performing arts center, the improvements on Margaret Pace Park and The Finger Cos.' project," said Mr. Yaffa, senior vice president of Florida East Coast Reality Inc.
He said there is demand for rental properties in the area, now home to three condos. Mr. Yaffa said his company recently built the nearby 471-unit Bay Park Plaza I and the city has approved plans for Bay Park Plaza II, a similar rental tower to go next door.
Mr. Yaffa said plans for another rental building by developer Michael Baumann are on the drawing board.
Rosendo Caveiro, senior vice president of Grubb & Ellis Commercial Real Estate and a specialist in multifamily sales, said property values in the Omni area have doubled in recent years. After values plummeted during the 1980s, developers began to focus on the area again after plans to build the performing arts center nearby gained steam in the late '90s, he said.
The arts center is planned for two buildings on each side of Biscayne Boulevard at Northwest 13th Street.
Biscayne Village, approved last week by Miami city commissioners, is expected to cost $97 million and generate $1.7 million annually in local tax revenues, according to city documents. Mr. Caveiro said he represented The Finger Cos. in the $8.75 million land purchase.
The project will lie within the boundaries of the Miami Community Redevelopment Agency, which gets a portion of property taxes and helps finance construction of the arts center, which began last month, and the redevelopment of Margaret Pace Park, scheduled for completion this summer.
The agency has received about $1.6 million in tax increments in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, said Annette Lewis, acting executive director. Of that, she said, $1.4 million goes for the arts center and the balance for the park.
"This project will generate new tax dollars," Ms. Lewis said, "that will return to the community."