Huge Coral Gables office project signs law firm as lead tenant
By Paula Distefano
A mixed-use development led by construction of a 252,000-square-foot office building will say inject life into an entire block of Coral Gables, experts say.
Announcement of a lease agreement for the lead tenant, law firm Adorno and Yoss, leads the executive director of the Business Improvement District to forecast that Ponce de Leon will grow into a prominent banking, financial and legal district.
Adorno & Yoss has agreed to move into 45,000 square feet of the new 2525 Ponce de Leon address plus additional space in an existing building at 2511 that is planned for remodeling.
The Miami division of the firm will vacate its current Coconut Grove site and is to move to the new location about July 4, 2004, said shareholder Neil S. Rollnick. He said he expects "continued growth in a dynamic environment," by moving to the new address.
He said his firm chose the Gables location after "surveying the geographic markets and various buildings available."
International real estate firm Hines has begun construction on the Mediterranean-inspired, 12-story, class-A office building at Ponce de Leon Boulevard and Andalusia Avenue, one block south of Miracle Mile.
The building, encompassing 238,000 square feet of offices and 14,000 square feet of retail, was designed by Atlanta-based Architecture firm Smallwood Reynolds Stewart & Stewart. It will include several technological amenities, such as flexible 22,000-square-foot floor plates and fiber/broadband infrastructure.
"Our lease is coming to an end," Mr. Rollnick said. "We know Hines, and know they construct first-class buildings."
"[Coral Gables] is a good location, with a business environment and strong community support, the things that a professional office and its employees need to be able to call upon at any given day.
"The city has a downtown environment, without being in the midst of what we consider downtown Miami," Mr. Rollnick said.
In addition to the new building and existing office space, 2525 Ponce will share the block and parking lot space with an adjacent eight-story, 103-unit luxury condominium, Andalusia. Construction of 2525 is planned for completion during the third quarter of 2004.
Construction of the condo should start this October and end in October 2004, said Lou Lamar, president of Dayco, Andalusia's developer. Condo prices are to range from $270,000 to $660,000.
"We want to bring permanent residents to Coral Gables; we are trying to create a community that will want to live in and enjoy the area," he said.
Additionally, a letter of intent has been signed with a high-end restaurant for 8,000 square feet on the first floor of the 2525 building, said Thomas R. Roth, Hines' new project director for South Florida who is overseeing 2525 Ponce, which should be completed during the third quarter of 2004. Mr. Roth will also be responsible for pursuing additional development and management opportunities for Hines.
"The leasing with Adorno and Yoss leads Coral Gables to continue a trend with the recruiting of other law firms to the area. Colson Hicks and Eidson already have their office in the area," said Silvia Mestre, the business district director.
Rent for the new office space should run $32 to $34 per square foot full-service, Mr. Roth said.
Hines bought the full block site - bounded by Ponce de Leon Boulevard, Galiano Street and Valencia Avenue - in 2000, he said. The location was former home to the headquarters of Coral Gables Federal Savings and Loan.
"Hines went through a rigorous permit process," said Cathy Swanson, city development director. "It is wonderful that they are investing in Coral Gables."
Located on a portion of the site is 2511 Ponce de Leon, a six-story, 95,000-square-foot office building that Hines will renovate and integrate into the new development. That building is 83% leased, Mr. Roth said.
Mr. Roth, a Chicagoan who joined Hines in 1998, has spent the past 31/2 years in Spain, leading development of the Diagonal Mar Centre, a 1 million-square-foot shopping center in Barcelona.
"The easy access to the airport and residential areas where executives live are key. However, I feel there is a significant lifestyle component as well," Mr. Roth said. The attractiveness of Coral Gables to businesses, he said, lies in part on its being a safe, pedestrian-friendly city with a vibrant downtown, and its resemblance to small European cities.
"This entire project will have tremendous impact on the city," Ms. Mestre said.
"The ground floor will be friendly to pedestrians, animated with restaurants, and the residential portion will fit in with the idea of a city alive day and night."