Plans for downtown Miami projects get even bigger
By Susan Stabley
Developers of two major downtown Miami projects are broadening their already massive plans.
MDM Development Group, builder of the $600 million Metropolitan Miami, is adding an office component to its retail-residential project and plans for Columbus Center may grow to include condos.
A 500,000-square-foot office building will now be part of MDM Development Group's multiphase mix of 1,500 condos, retail and a movie theater across 6 acres along Biscayne Boulevard Way just east of the Brickell bridge, said Tim Weller, the company's vice president of development.
And creators of the $181 million Columbus Center, planned for 50 N Biscayne Blvd., are in talks with a "well-known local developer" to add residences that could raise the structure's height from the 38 stories that are now permitted to 65, said Steve Caster, senior vice president of America's Capital Partners, The company is redeveloping the Columbus Bazaar site - proposed as an office-retail tower - with Cousins Properties.
The market is demanding that new projects boast a mix of uses, Mr. Weller said, and the changes to MDM's project reflects that desire for "urbanism."
That's why the two most important retail parts of the Metropolitan Miami project are its movie theater and a 45,000-square-foot market, he said. An announcement of a national gourmet shop in MDM's first phase, he said, should come in a few weeks.
The first phase of 447 units, called Met1, is planned to break ground in August. Work on Met Square, an eight-story, double-level entertainment structure, is planned to begin in first quarter 2005, with both to be completed in 2006.
Construction of offices would follow a year later, he said, planned for completion in 2007.
Retail space is very attractive to tenants, Mr. Weller said, because of the potential explosion of residents in a very small area. He estimates as many as 3,500 units among the MDM project, The Related Group's One Miami twin 45-story towers and Ugo Colombo's planned redevelopment of the Dupont Plaza - all in the same area of the city.
"Little did we know at the time that so much activity was going to be going through this corridor," he said Tuesday during a discussion about downtown Miami presented by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce at the Miami City Club.
As many as 12,000 to 15,000 new residences are expected in downtown Miami in the next five to seven years, said Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Dana Nottingham. About 100,000 already work in the urban core, he said, as well as 18,000 now living in the heart of Miami.
Adding offices makes Metropolitan Miami more of "total community," said Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell, realtors for the development. It also offers the potential to turn around the trend of offices leaving downtown for Doral and the Airport West area.
"Offices won't need to move close to the home," he said. "The home is coming close to the offices."