The cranes are coming back to Miami.
The battered construction industry is going higher in the new year after showing strong signs of life in 2012. Will Miami feel more like Manhattan in a few years? It just might.
So far, there has been more talk than action, fewer shovels in the ground than grand announcements. Even so, construction is underway on a dozen new condominiums in Miami-Dade County — something that seemed beyond the realm of possibility not so long ago.
Commercial building is picking up, too, particularly in Miami’s hot new urban core.
The construction sector, which posted 62 consecutive months of job losses in Miami-Dade as of November 2012, is expected to finally begin adding jobs in 2013.
By far the centerpiece project to date is Brickell CityCentre, a $1.05 billion shopping and mixed-use project that broke ground in June 2012 and will span three blocks just west of Brickell Avenue to the south of the Miami River.
The 5-million-square-foot mega-project by developer Swire Properties will include a department store, luxury shops, restaurants, a hotel, office towers and condominiums. It is expected to be connected with bridges and covered walkways and to cement downtown Miami’s emerging image as a trendy place to work, live and play.
In Brickell alone, three new condominium projects already are under construction: Jorge Perez’s Related Group is building Millecento, a 42-story tower with 382 units, and MyBrickell, a smaller project with 28 stories and 192 units shoehorned onto a 0.4-acre site. Newgard Development Group is building BrickellHouse, a 46-story, 374-unit project.
More building, much more, is coming.
“We’re going to see a lot of cranes popping up in the first and second quarter, and a year from now, we’re going to see cranes all over the skyline,” said Tom Murphy Jr., chairman and CEO of Coastal Construction, a large Miami builder that is involved in various projects, from hotels to condominiums. “I believe we as a community — South Florida, especially Miami — will build more in the next 10 years than we did in the last 15.”
Among a long roster of projects, Coastal was tapped by developer DACRA for a major renovation project in the Design District, which in 2012 marked the arrival of luxury fashion retailers such as Cartier, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Celine, Christian Dior and Prada, adding a new dimension to an area already known for home furnishings and restaurants.
DACRA president and CEO Craig Robins has a broader plan to bring in 40 to 50 luxury brands to the Design District by 2014. The area will have a pedestrian promenade, rooftop gardens and public plazas, in keeping with Miami’s emerging urban scene.
The focus on commercial development in Miami’s urban core, is all about providing more services to cater to the new residents who want everything within walking distance.
Spanish developer Espacio USA will break ground in 2013 on the first phase of a $412 million mixed-use project at 1400 Biscayne Boulevard. Starting with one 103,000-square foot office tower, the project will eventually include retail shops and residential units.
“It’s becoming much more of a New York lifestyle, and we’ll continue to see that,” said Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors in Coral Gables.