As downtown Miami condos fill, local diners feed Bayside Marketplace double-digit growth
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
With a growing condo community in Miami's urban core, tourist-popular Bayside Marketplace is getting more foot traffic from locals that has led to a double-digit growth in sales.
The open-air entertainment and shopping center at 401 Biscayne Blvd. is also scoring on the star-filled basketball team Miami Heat, as the home games are drawing to the center big crowds who want to be close to the action.
In the fourth quarter, the 228,000-square-foot center welcomed three new businesses that set its occupancy rate at 93%, said Pamela Weller, Bayside's property manager.
A longtime Bayside business owner, Tony Napoliello, anchored his full-service seafood restaurant Largo Seafood & Grill in November.
A new tourist-targeted retailer, Del Sol, opened in December. The store sells apparel and accessories that change color in the sun.
"I saw the concept when I was on a cruise in Key West and reached out to the owner," Ms. Weller said.
Popular sandwich chain Subway also moved in last month.
All these businesses opened right on time for the shopping center's high season that began in December and runs through April.
The addition of new retailers during the holidays and the start of the Miami Heat season in October contributed to the double-digit sales increase the center experienced from October through December, Ms. Weller said.
Coming soon to Bayside is Five Guys Burgers and Fries, which has already begun build-out. The burger joint is taking over a space previously occupied by the Fat Tuesday bar, which relocated next to Hooters.
Splash Perfumes, a local operator, is also moving within the center and should open its new store in April.
Bayside houses national retailers such as lingerie store Victoria's Secret and Victoria's Secret Beauty, apparel retailer Guess and sister store Guess Accessories, and specialty retailer Brookstone.
Among its most popular eateries are Chili's Grill & Bar, Hooters, Hard Rock Cafe and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
Positioned at the Port of Miami's entrance, the shopping complex continues to benefit from the business that cruise passengers and crews and other visitors bring, but more locals living downtown are also shopping and dining at Bayside.
Local foot traffic at the mall has increased about 20%, Ms. Weller said, particularly for the restaurants and bars.
The decision of star basketball players LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join Dwyane Wade in the Miami Heat has proved to be an economic boost for the city at a much-needed time.
Bayside, like other local businesses, is benefiting from the team's sizzling popularity.
With the center located next door to AmericanAirlines Arena, she noted, game days are busier for its restaurants and bars.
Bayside's management is doing its part to draw more foot traffic, she said, by airing home games on the main stage in a big screen, hiring a DJ to play music and giving away tickets for the next game.
The residential population has steadily been rising in downtown Miami and Brickell as more newly-built condos fill up with owners and renters.
"On the weekends and evenings we get a lot more people," Ms. Weller said. "It's exciting to watch this evolution of downtown with more people."
Condo sales in the greater downtown soared 62% from January to September of 2010 compared to that same period in 2009, rising from 1,714 to 2,754 condo closings, Craig Werley, president of Focus Real Estate Advisors, has told Miami Today. Mr. Werley contributes to the studies the Downtown Development Authority does periodically tracking closings and occupancy.
The authority released its last study in March 2010, counting a total of 22,079 condos in the urban core. Since then, a combined 876 units are being marketed at the high-rise condos Mint at Riverfront in the Central Business District and Paramount Bay in the Biscayne corridor.
A larger residential base that resides downtown, coupled with Miamians' growing support for the arts, led the shopping center to start an art stroll on weekends.
Since mid-December, Ms. Weller said, every Saturday and Sunday artists are invited to showcase their works at the property.
Bayside's parent company, General Growth Properties, has faced some financial hurdles in recent years.
In November, it announced completion of a financial restructuring after emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
General Growth put the Bayside complex up for sale in 2009 as it struggled financially and eventually filed for Chapter 11, following a failed attempt to renegotiate with creditors and bondholders. But a slow real estate market, coupled with a weak economy, drove operators to pull the listing.
The 2004 acquisition of Rouse Co., which owned most of General Growth's current
South Florida properties, including Bayside and Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables, required significant debt to finance.
As part of the reorganization, the company has split into two separate publicly-traded corporations. The new General Growth emerges as the second-largest shopping mall owner and operator in the US, with more than 183 regional malls in 43 states, according to a company statement.
The spin-off company, The Howard Hughes Corp., encompasses General Growth's portfolio of master planned communities and other real estate developments, the statement said. This company is to trade in the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol HHC.
The restructuring "really hasn't affected how a property like Bayside operates," Ms. Weller said.
"Our company loves Bayside," she said. "It's a special place because of where we are in a downtown environment… a vivacious area of the community. We are in the top of the portfolio."
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