Downtown/Biscayne Corridor


New Brickell project wants a low profile for cars


How to build a three-block mall, office and condo complex without a garage next door? Put it underground.

As Swire Properties sets out to build one of the boldest developments ever seen in downtown Miami, it hopes to keep one crucial element as low-profile as possible: automobiles.

The Hong Kong developer’s planned Brickell CitiCentre will spend millions of dollars freezing the soil beneath the three-block complex to hold back ground water while it installs a rare underground parking garage in Miami’s downtown. Swire took the unusual step of putting the restaurants for its mall on a top floor in part because that’s the same level as the adjoining station for Miami’s county-run Metromover.

Swire’s top U.S. executive told a business group Wednesday that the $1 billion CitiCentre was designed to thrive in a future where Miami residents are far less enamored with driving to work and play than they are now.

“We don’t think petrol will be $5 a gallon forever,” Stephen Owens, president of Swire Properties Inc., told a breakfast reception held by the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade’s economic-development group. “We’re living in a world of subsidized energy, and we don’t think it can last forever.”

The push to make CitiCentre more pedestrian friendly also meshes with Miami’s ambitions to become more of a 24-hour metropolis, where thriving shopping areas serve both offices and residences. The city’s Miami 21 zoning code now bans developers from building garages at sidewalk level, instead requiring restaurants and shops there to make streets seem more lively for pedestrians. And advocates for Miami’s downtown are pushing for more trees and sidewalk improvements to make the city’s retail offerings more inviting for riders of the city’s under-used MetroMover.

“Everything we do is aimed at making more walkable streets,’’ said Alyce Robertson, executive director of Miami’s Downtown Development Association. For some MetroMover stations, “you get out of the train but you can’t go anywhere.”

As a dense, towering complex on the outskirts of Miami’s current urban core, CitiCentre will depend on an easy flow of customers and residents after its planned opening at the end of 2015. Comprising two residential towers, an office tower anda hotel, and a 520,000-square-foot mall, CitiCentre hopes to become the primary target for downtown Miami’s retail and entertainment dollars. Traffic could be the top challenge for the three-block site off Miami Avenue, roughly one block from the Miami River.

Owens, who lives on Brickell Key, Swire’s last major Miami development, said that eight of the nine regulatory agencies that needed to approve CitiCentre have given the go-ahead to the project. The one hold-out: Florida’s Department of Transportation, which still hasn’t fully agreed to the details of access roads to the property. Owens said he does not expect final approval to be an issue, but traffic is sure to be a primary concern once construction begins in the coming weeks.

Swire’s contractors may ask regulators for permission to fully close South Miami Avenue during parts of the three-year construction phase, Owens said. Closing the street would shorten the disruptions on Miami Avenue, which runs through the CitiCentre site and will require lane closures throughout the building process. Already, one lane is closed to allow access to the new construction site.

Owens said it might be easier on motorists to “bite the bullet and shut it down” in order to get the Miami Avenue work completed sooner.

Read more Biscayne Corridor stories from the Miami Herald

Dutch DJ R3hab, a.k.a. Fadil El Ghould, rocks the Main Stage on Friday, March 22, 2013 for the second weekend of Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Florida. For the first time, the world renown electronic music festival is being held over two consecutive weekends in Bayfront Park, located in the heart of downtown Miami.

    Music Festival

    Ultra Music Festival bans minors

    Organizers said limiting the event to 18 and over was ‘made to reinforce and promote the safety of all Ultra Music Festival fans.’

Artist Joseriberto Perez's postal worker parents inspired this work, which is a bundle of envelopes stained in coffee.

    Visual arts

    Artist’s work is influenced by Miami, Cuban heritage

    Joseriberto Perez, an emerging artist based in Miami, seems to avoid assigning his works meaning; he prefers the works to be ambiguous to the viewer and to lead to their own conclusions. But if you look closely, the artist has managed to create a body of work that examines his Cuban heritage and Miami upbringing in interesting ways.

Artist rendering of SkyRise Miami.

    Miami ballot questions

    Voters give SkyRise Miami liftoff

    Two charter amendments proposing to change procedures for leasing submerged lands and require a second referendum for foot-dragging developers also passed.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK