Work under way on office-retail complex near UM
By Eric Kalis
Construction at Santona Corner, an office and retail project across US 1 from the University of Miami, is moving briskly, with the smaller of two buildings to be completed by November, according to the developer.
Workers are close to finishing the first floor of the smaller building, said Danny Taha of Taha Properties. A Terrace Inn at 1430 S. Dixie Highway, the site for the main building, has been demolished to make way for the project's main building, he said.
Santona Corner, designed by Mateu Architecture, is to house about 55,000 square feet of office-condo space and 45,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor. Mr. Taha said the project should be completed by fall 2007.
"We are finally starting to look forward to finishing the main building," Mr. Taha said. "Now we are flying."
About 75% of the office space is sold, said Bert Checa, a Holly Real Estate broker. The project generated so much interest, Mr. Checa said, that Holly is delaying the sale of four remaining spaces until it can find a buyer to pay $425 to $450 a square foot, about $75 more than the pre-construction price.
"There has been steady traffic for the final four office spaces," Mr. Checa said. "We have no urgency, however. We are strong believers in the market."
The sales success of the project, Mr. Checa said, represents the appeal of an office building across the street from the University of Miami. About 40% of the ground-floor retail space has been leased.
"Many of the companies that have expressed interest love the location," Mr. Checa said. "It is a classy building with amazing access to the University of Miami and the Shops at Sunset Place. There is also ample parking for owners."
Project developers are pleased, Mr. Taha said, that a majority of buyers have been smaller local businesses.
"Most of our office and condo buyers are local users," Mr. Taha said. "These are neighbors of our community, not speculators or investors. Holly Real Estate helped us find the right tenants."
Some of the project workers were so impressed by pre-construction costs, Mr. Checa said, that they decided to purchase space.
"Our engineer ended up buying a unit," he said. "The contractor bought a unit. It is a testament to how much they believe in this location, and they were locked in for a great pre-construction price. It is a smart investment."