Coral Way retail center to get a new life again
By Marilyn Bowden
The former Miracle Center on Coral Way - a commercial building with several lives - has new owners who intend to remodel it for retail use.
The project, a joint venture of Michael Mouriz, principal of Keystone Homes, and James Schlesinger of Talisman Cos., will be renamed Miracle Marketplace. The partners bought the center, 3301 Coral Way, for $15 million.
Mr. Mouriz said he is working toward leases with a number of big-box retailers including Bed, Bath & Beyond, PetsMart and Designer Shoes Warehouse. Bally Total Fitness, the sole remaining tenant from the center's former life, will expand to about 45,000 square feet, he said.
"When they heard we would rebuild," Mr. Mouriz said, "they were ecstatic."
Extensive renovations will get under way by early next year, he said, with reopening about 18 months later.
"It will get worse before it gets better," Mr. Mouriz said, "because we will basically rehab the entire place. For example, we'll bring the first floor to sidewalk level instead of underground, as it is now.
"My partner, Jim Schlesinger, is the owner of the former Cutler Ridge Mall, now Southland Mall. He also revamped and sold Midway Mall. He buys distressed shopping centers all over the country and reworks them."
The redesign will open the building to the street, he said, with glass exteriors that will draw its focus inside.
With investors in pursuit of South Florida real estate outnumbering available properties, the decaying center has attracted its share of suitors, said Michael T. Fay, president of Abood Wood-Fay Real Estate Group, who represented both buyer and seller.
"It's generated a lot of interest," he said. "It was just a question of identifying the right prospect."
Designed by Architectonica International in Art Deco style, Miracle Center boasted tenants such as TGI Fridays and Fuddruckers restaurants, General Cinema, Scandinavian Health Spa, Spec's Records & Tapes and Sunglass Hut when it opened in 1989.
Second-phase plans, which never materialized, were to add a nine-story apartment tower to the structure.
After eight years, the mall was reinvented as Paseos Mall, a Spanish Colonial shopping center with pushcarts, kiosks and stores. It, too, failed.
In 2001, Swerdlow Group bought the property to convert it to high-tech office space, but those plans were ended by the dot.com crash.
The new owners see the third time around as a charm and see its next rebirth in retail.
"Many factors are in place right now that didn't exist in the past," Mr. Mouriz said. "Coral Way itself is a very different world than it was as little as four years ago. Big-box retail has taken over, and with all the residential construction, there are a lot more people."
Keystone, a residential developer, is building Villas of Coral Way across the street at 35th and Coral Way, Mr. Mouriz said, and plans a second condo tower next to it pending zoning changes. The company recently bought Latin America Cafeteria at 26th Avenue and US 1, he said, with plans to replace it with a 15-story condominium.
"We're heavily invested in the city," he said.