24-hour energy forecast for Brickell CitiCentre
By Scott Blake
When Swire Properties' Brickell CitiCentre project is completed in the years ahead, it should be a big step toward making the Brickell neighborhood even more vibrant, say local real estate market observers.
The massive CitiCentre project will add to the already increasingly populated and youthful atmosphere in Brickell, which continues to draw trendy restaurants, upscale condominium tower projects, and a growing "24 hour-a-day" energy, observers say.
"The north Brickell area already is one of the hottest areas of town," said Helen Jeanne Nicastri, a veteran international marketing specialist for Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate in Coral Gables and founder of South Florida's Master Brokers Forum.
The plan for the massive CitiCentre calls for office towers, more than 400 residential units, a hotel, retail space, underground parking and more. Located between Southwest Seventh and Eighth streets a block west of Brickell Avenue, the site now is being prepared for construction.
"The way Brickell has been growing and evolving, it's almost like a 24-hour city with all of the activity and restaurants," said Adriana Jimenez, leasing director for the Flagler real estate firm in Coral Gables.
Ms. Nicastri noted that one South Beach restaurant already is relocating to Brickell and others are expected to follow. In addition, several large condominium projects in the neighborhood, such as Millecento and Brickell House, have been selling well prior to construction, she said.
CitiCentre should increase the momentum of Brickell real estate rather than over-saturate the market, she added.
The Brickell condominium market already is stabilizing in the aftermath of Florida's real estate market crashes and should be stronger by the time CitiCentre's units become available, Ms. Nicastri said.
Brickell's office market, meanwhile, still has excess inventory with double-digit vacancy rates. But by the time CitiCentre's office space hits the market in coming years, that excess inventory should be absorbed, said Ms. Jimenez.
She noted that some of CitiCentre's office space is to be dedicated to medical facilities largely for "medical tourists" — patients seeking treatments or surgeries, sometimes elective, who want to combine it with some vacation time. That would be a unique feature in area's office market, she added.
Ms. Nicastri noted that CitiCentre's street-accessible stores and retail outlets also will be something that Brickell could use more of due to the population influx of recent years.
CitiCentre already seems to be stimulating other property sales in the neighborhood. An investment group identified as Tobacco Road Property Holdings reportedly has purchased several properties near the CitiCentre site, including the well-known Tobacco Road bar on South Miami Avenue.
Ms. Nicastri speculated that the buyers could be positioning themselves for when the nearby CitiCentre complex is completed, and perhaps could be planning development that would complement CitiCentre.
During a recent interview with Miami Today, Swire Properties President Stephen Owens said CitiCentre will augment changes already underway in the neighborhood.
"It's about the pedestrian experience, not just an automobile experience," Mr. Owens said about the project. "The pedestrian on the sidewalk enters into the shopping center… the retail experience is all about the pedestrian.
"The other aspect to it is that it very much embraces public transportation and this may very well be the first project of any consequences actually taking the step," Mr. Owens added. "We are incorporating the Metromover into our development… We're also only one block from the Metrorail station."
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