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Edgewater Unity church plans to sell two-acre waterfront lot

Unity on the Bay said it has received unsolicited bids of more than $40 million. With land prices soaring in Miami, a nondenominational church plans to sell a two-acre bayfront plot in Edgewater that has been its home since 1961.

“We were faced with making costly improvements and renovations in order to remain here,” said the Rev. Christopher Jackson, who has led the congregation at Unity on the Bay for nine years. “Property values in Edgewater have gone up considerably and we’ve been approached by several developers over the years.”

Jackson said the church had received offers of more than $40 million before deciding to place its land on the market.

The property at 412 NE 22nd St. sits directly north of the luxury condo tower Paramount Bay and west of an older, mid-rise residential building. It has an unobstructed view of Biscayne Bay looking to the southeast.

“This is definitely an ideal site for a high-rise condo,” said broker Adam Greenberg of Newmark Grubb Frank Knight, which is handling the sale. “It’s that southernmost district where Edgewater meets the Omni. It’s a pedestrian-friendly area that’s very close to the urban core.”

Unity hasn’t set an asking price, but Greenberg said he expects the land to trade for at least $40 million.

Other waterfront sites have sold for massive prices in the last year, including a 1.25-acre parcel at the mouth of the Miami River that went for $125 million.

The church’s property is home to three buildings: a mansion and guest house built in 1916 that serve as offices and classroom space, and a sanctuary built when Unity took over the land more than 50 years ago.

Jackson hopes the proceeds of the sale will allow the church to relocate and build a school, performing arts space and alternative healing center for practices such as yoga, as well a new place of worship.

The current location is in need of serious repair, Jackson said. “Whenever we have any rainfall at all, we refer to our parking lot as Lake Unity,” he said.

Unity has a reputation as an inclusive congregation. In January, the church hosted a wedding for about 20 same-sex couples. It draws between 500 and 700 people to its Sunday morning services and first opened in Miami in 1927.

The church is looking at new locations in the Wynwood area and along the Biscayne corridor, said Eddie Dominguez, president of Unity’s board of trustees.

Peter Mekras, a broker at Continental Real Estate who is not affiliated with the deal, said the church should have no problem selling its land.

“Large-scale waterfront sites that have unobstructed view corridors like this don’t really exist anymore,” Mekras said.

Even in a market that’s cooling down, Unity will have plenty of offers, he added.

“If any developer is going to roll the dice — even if they feel like the market is changing — it’s going to be on a property like this,” he said.

Source: Edgewater church plans to sell two-acre waterfront lot | Miami Herald Miami Herald

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Real Estate

Owners of Bal Harbour Shops become partner in Brickell CitiCentre

Bal harbor and citicentre
Credit Miami Hearald

Bal harbor and citicentre

Owners of Bal Harbour Shops become partner in Brickell CitiCentre

When Brickell CitiCentre opens in 2015, South Florida’s luxury seekers will be dealing with a familiar retail company. The owners of the Bal Harbour Shops are joining forces with Swire Properties on the project.

Bal Harbour Shops has decided the best defense may be a good offense.

After years of fighting the expansion of luxury retail in Miami-Dade, the owners of Bal Harbour Shops have done an about-face and decided to help fuel the growth.

The Whitman family, which owns Bal Harbour Shops, finalized a deal Tuesday to become a partner with Swire Properties in the development of downtown Miami’s Brickell CitiCentre. Plus, the Whitmans are part of one of the groups bidding for rights to redevelop the Miami Beach Convention Center.

The moves are a dramatic sign of the shifts in Miami’s luxury retail market, a segment the Bal Harbour Shops have controlled since 1965. With Miami’s ascent as a fashion market, retailers have insisted that one store is not enough. The change was underscored last year with the arrival of brands like Louis Vuitton and Prada in the Miami Design District, which is poised to become Miami’s version of SoHo.

“Resistance becomes futile at some point,” said Matthew Whitman Lazenby, operating partner and the third generation to run the business his grandfather Stanley Whitman founded. “Our brands convinced us that they believe there is room for more than one store in the market

“If you recognize that you have competition, than why not become the competition rather than playing defense all the time?” Previously, tenants had to abide by strict clauses forbidding them to open within 20 miles or give up part of their revenues from additional outlets to Bal Harbour.

The Whitmans will make a “significant” equity investment in the retail portion of Brickell CitiCentre and serve as co-developer with Swire Properties, which will remain the majority owner of the $1.05 billion urban shopping and mixed-use development scheduled to open in 2015. Both developers will equally share responsibility for all phases of the 520,000-square-feet of retail, from leasing to marketing. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Swire will still handle the office, hotel and condo components of the project.

“It’s very hard for us to make any claims we know the local market in terms of retail,” said Martin Cubbon, chief executive of the Hong Kong-based Swire Properties, which has developed retail in Asia but only condos, hotels and office buildings in Miami. “They know what works in this retail mix and they have the confidence of the major brands. There is no question it gives us more confidence in the project’s success.”

Steve Owens, president of Swire Properties, likened the joint venture to the Miami Heat’s signing of LeBron James. Bal Harbour also has an international reputation as the top producing mall in the world based on sales per square foot, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.

“What better way to complement our team than bringing in the No. One shopping center developer,” Owens said.

For the owners of Bal Harbour, the change of course came after several major tenants closed up their Bal Harbour shops and moved to the Miami Design District and some added additional stores at Aventura Mall. Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Dior and Celine are those that have recently left. Next on the list is Hermes, which will close next month.

The exodus came because retailers wanted to be able to open a second store in Miami-Dade to accommodate the growth in demand for luxury goods. Lazenby acknowledges that Bal Harbour’s radius clause has loosened to allow shops like Prada to remain at Bal Harbour and open elsewhere.

Source Miami Herald
By Elaine Walker
ewalker@miamiherald.com