Miami's downtown authority creates research program for developers
By Samantha Joseph
The Downtown Development Authority, a promotional and development group for the City of Miami, is working to establish a research program that will serve as a resource for developers and planners in the "new downtown."
With several residential communities planned for downtown, said Dana Nottingham, the authority's executive director, the projects would create subdistricts city administrators, developers and other interested groups should join to plan and promote.
"There are a lot of moving parts associated with addressing things that exist today," said Mr. Nottingham. "Our goal is not just to update the master plan, but to focus on implementation strategies within the subdistricts to accommodate and integrate new development."
Nine new residential projects are among 5,500 condominiums expected in downtown Miami during the next several years. Along Brickell Avenue, Brickell Key, Miami River, the Entertainment District and the Central Business District, 6,075 condos and apartments are under construction.
"Downtown is evolving right in front of our eyes, and everyone is watching it evolve," Mr. Nottingham said. "That's exciting, and a lot of people think it's exciting. When they commit to buying property downtown, they're committing to what's there right now and the potential. It's going to create even more synergy."
One non-profit promotional group, the Downtown Miami Partnership, estimates that in the Central Business District alone, the number of residents is expected to grow to about 7,000 in 2009 from the current 500 to 1,000.
"Subdistricts are the building blocks of the new downtown," Mr. Nottingham said. He put Metro Square, Dupont Plaza and One Miami into one subgroup and two loft projects and Everglades on the Bay into another.
Residential development is part of a broader plan to revitalize downtown Miami by adding recreational and cultural opportunities such as the $370 million Performing Arts Center of Greater Miami.
Demand surged for one property, Ten Museum Park, which sold 90% of its $300,000 to $4 million condominiums before its sales office opened. The $85 million complex featuring 200 units is on Biscayne Boulevard near Bicentennial Park, where developers plan to add museums.
"The goal here is to guide the market to create the plan and community and to do it in a way that strengthens and builds the community that exists and will exist downtown," said Mr. Nottingham.
The authority plans to outsource the research work and create databases that include business inventory, retail opportunity assessments, housing and office market information and assets. The group has no set date for the official launch of the program.
"Our focus now is on doing a better job of being a clearinghouse for relevant information," Mr. Nottingham said, "and clarifying the vision and roadmap that would guide the partnership-building that needs to happen in order to implement a plan based on real outcomes."
He said the group has met with city, business and civic leaders to compare plans and cooperate on a common agenda that would benefit all stakeholders. This year, they will focus on economic development, market research, land use, transportation, environment, public safety, entertainment, marketing and community outreach.