Law firm leases 29,000 square feet on two floors in new Espirito Santo Plaza
By Susan Stabley
An international law firm is leasing two floors of Brickell Avenue's new Espirito Santo Plaza and in February will move its Miami offices into the $180 million complex.
Planning for company growth, Weil Gotshal & Manges, which handles high-profile bankruptcy proceedings such as Enron and Worldcom, is taking a 10-year lease. It will leave its 22,000-square-foot home at 701 Brickell to fill 29,000 square feet on the new building's 11th and 12th floors.
Richard Morrison, a partner at the law firm's Miami office, said 701 Brickell would not be able to handle its projected space needs. The firm discovered after "looking around town, that the Espirito Santo afforded the best combination of location, space and amenities to enable us to serve the high-caliber clientele Weil Gotshal represents," he said.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Weil Gotshal has been in Miami since 1981 and since 1987 at 701 Brickell.
The Miami office will expand from 27 attorneys to 31 by the time of its relocation, said Mr. Morrison. The firm has 65 employees in its Miami office.
Headquartered in New York, Weil Gotshal has about 1,100 attorneys and more than 285 partners with offices around the world.
Bill Ross, president of Estoril Inc., developer of Espirito Santo Plaza, said the lease allows for further expansion if needed. Estoril is a Florida corporation owned by Group Espirito Santo of Portugal, a financial institution.
In December, Espirito Santo Bank will move into 70,000 square feet of the building.
The 36-story structure fills a city block at 1395 Brickell Ave. and will have a total of 1.2 million square feet. It will open in August. The building will include 116 condos and a 203-room hotel with about 260,000 square feet of Class A office space and about 20,000 square feet for a restaurant and retail.
A cafe/newsstand has signed a lease, as has another law firm, which plans to use about 3,000 square feet.
A Canadian pharmaceutical company is negotiating for 4,500 square feet and four condo units for its traveling workers.
"This company is perfect for the mixed-use concept," said Mr. Ross.
Another 50,000 square feet is under negotiation, said William Holly of Holly Real Estate, the leasing agent.
About 120,000 square feet of space is available for leasing, Mr. Ross said. He indicated that his company is close to making a deal for the hotel component.
Mr. Holly said Espirito Santo has been able to lease at market rate.
"We believe we have a unique product of a higher quality than any built in Miami," he said. "We focus primarily on tenants who pay for that quality."
Mr. Ross noted that only three office buildings have risen in the Brickell area since the 1980s - Espirito Santo Plaza, Millennium Partners' 70-story Four Seasons Hotel and the 30-story Mellon Financial Center, formerly known as Barclays Financial Center.
"There was a rather finite list of Class A buildings. Suddenly, there's three new players on the block."