Florida East Coast Industries sells land to river developer
By Marilyn Bowden
Florida East Coast Industries has sold 7 acres of land between the Miami River and Southwest Third Street for $18 million.
The parcel, which is to be developed as part of Brickell River Village, was once proposed as a site for a baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins.
Florida East Coast spokesman Husein A. Cumber said the price is $1.7 million higher than a contract price first announced.
In a simultaneous transaction, developer Tony Cabrera, who assembled and planned the 13-acre Brickell River Village site, assigned the parcel to Key International, a development company owned by the Inigo Ardid family.
St. Augustine-based Florida East Coast Industries operates under two subsidiaries, Florida East Coast Railway and Flagler Development Co.
Mr. Cumber said the Miami River parcel, once used in Florida East Coast Railway's freight and barge operations, was acquired in the 1890s but has not been used for several decades.
"The highest and best use for it was residential or multi-use," Mr. Cumber said, "while our development focus has been more on the industrial and commercial side."
This transaction and a $34.5 million sale in December of the railway's Buena Vista rail yard just west of Biscayne Boulevard are, he said, "part of an overall disposition program of non-core properties."
The company will continue to develop Flagler Station, a 30-building industrial complex in West Dade, Mr. Cumber said.
"We also own 9 acres downtown near the new federal courthouse," he said, "that used to be an old passenger terminal and would be more suitable for commercial development."
Mr. Cumber said the company has no development plans for the site.
Key International, the Brickell-based company that purchased 7 acres on the Miami River from Florida East Coast Industries, will begin building three residential towers as soon as permits are in place, said principal Inigo Ardid.
The company's developments in the area include 848 Brickell; South Beach Marriott; Bay View Terraces, a condo tower in North Bay Village; Sunset Plaza on US 1; and Venetian-Belle Isle Apartments.
"We are planning 1,300 residential units in three buildings, of which 400 will be rental and 900 condo," Mr. Ardid said. "We will have dry-dock storage for residents and 50,000 square feet of retail catering to residents - such as dry cleaners, coffee shops and restaurants."
Priced from the low $200,000s to $500,000, he said, the units will target professionals working downtown.
Key International will apply to the city for a major-use special permit soon, Mr. Ardid said, with hopes to begin construction within two years.
"What we're doing here is not just developing our 7 acres," he said, "but joining Tony Cabrera in building one 13-acre gated community that will be Brickell River Village. We are joint-venturing the green areas and roadways with him."
Mr. Cabrera, who had the land under contract, assigned it to Key International at the time of sale, said Edie Laquer of Laquer Corporate Realty, who worked with Lee Katsikos of Doran Jason Group of Florida. The master-planned village runs from South Miami Avenue west to the Metrorail line and from the Miami River north to Southwest Third Street. Key International's acquisition comprises the village's west side and includes 345 feet of river frontage.
Mr. Ardid said the project will adhere to Mr. Cabrera's master plan for the village, which has been praised by local officials for its compliance with the Miami River Corridor Urban Infill Plan. The plan, created under a joint agreement between city and county through 40 public hearings, calls for mixed-use projects with a high residential density for the lower-river area from Biscayne Bay to the Fifth Street Bridge.
Mr. Ardid said Key International also plans a 15,000-square-foot office building on a half-acre on Southwest Third Street across from the residential site.