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April 1, 2016
Miami’s Game-Changing Projects Fuel Global City Aspirations
While Miami has always been a global destination, a flurry of major infrastructure, residential and mixed-use projects is reshaping the city into one of the world’s great places to live.To achieve global city status, a viable transit system was needed to support an urban growth trend and millennial residents desiring a walkable city core closer to work, upscale shopping and nightlife. Enter All Aboard Florida–a unit of FEC Railways–now building a rail service connecting Downtown Miami to Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando.
Designed as an urban infrastructure to easily connect one city center to another, All Aboard Florida’s “Brightline” service from Miami to West Palm Beach is set to launch in 2017. Construction of its Miami Central Station–set on 9 downtown acres–began in 2015.When completed, the $2 billion Miami Central Station will be one of the most transformative projects in Miami. The hub will include mixed-use development and a retail concourse. Its passenger rail system in Miami will be elevated 50 feet with retail spaces located beneath the tracks.
Thanks to forward-thinking developers, direct links to the high-speed rail and existing Miami-Dade Metromover system from mammoth mixed-use projects under construction near Brickell and Downtown is expected to spur mass transit use in a city hamstrung by traffic bottlenecks and long commutes.
More progressive designs
An October report in Ocean Drive magazine noted that while new megaprojects are similar in scope to those built a decade ago, there is a striking difference: The new construction is more urbane, vertical and progressive and include five projects costing more than $1 billion with others near that price tag. Among those is Swire Properties’ Brickell City Centre. The four-block project will include a massive shopping area anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue, two 40-story residential towers with 390 units each, and a mixed-use tower soaring more than 1,000 feet. Its 500,000 square foot open-air mall set to open this fall will link the streets together via sky bridges, shaded by a high-tech climate-controlled structure.
Under construction just a few blocks north is the 27-acre Miami Worldcenter, developed by Art Falcone and Nitin Motwani. The project, recently downsized and redesigned into a “High-Street” retail concept comes on the heels of construction site work on the PARAMOUNT condominium, the project’s 700-foot-high signature residential tower.
With retail space vacancies at all-time lows, new and expanded shopping centers are planned, under construction or under renovation all over Miami, according to a recent Miami Herald report.One of those, if approved by city officials, would become the nation’s largest shopping mall, according to the report. Challenges remain, however. Despite plans by new ownership to renovate with a sleeker, more functional design, CocoWalk in Coconut Grove still struggles with a 20 percent retail vacancy rate, as foot traffic remains stagnant.
Retail brands for the High-Street concept projects like Brickell City Centre are decidedly high-end: Think Apple’s largest Florida store, and you get the picture. And big name retailers remain a strong attractor for locals and international tourists alike.
Case in point: Still under expansion, Miami’s Design District–developer Craig Robbin’s Midtown ultra-luxury shopping mecca–continues to draw tenants from places like Bal Harbour and South Beach. Brands such as Sub-Zero, Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. are already doing business. Another 60 stores and restaurants are slated to join the 70 shops already open or planning to open soon.