DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT

Related Group plans major three-tower project at newly acquired 444 Brickell Avenue site

 

mbrannigan@MiamiHerald.com

In a major step in downtown Miami’s redevelopment, the Related Group unveiled plans for three tall towers at 444 Brickell Avenue, including residential, hotel, office, and retail space.

The mega-project, dubbed One Brickell, is expected to include three skyscrapers rising 80, 70, and 55 stories, and will encompass more than 4 million square feet, including 2 million sellable square feet, according to Related, Miami’s biggest and most prolific developer.

Related, which is partnering with a New York equity fund, expects to close Dec. 9 on the four-acre site, located where Brickell Avenue meets the Miami River. The acquisition includes the 1973-vintage Rivergate Plaza building, home of The Capital Grille, the old General Services Administration building next door, and a parking lot.

Related said long-term plans call for building more than 1,200 residential units, more than 200 rooms in a five-star hotel with meeting and convention space, 200,000 square feet of office space, and street-level retail.

Matthew Allen, Related’s chief operating officer, said it will take years to develop the project, which “will be well over $1 billion in investment.”

Carlos Rosso, head of Related’s condominium development, said One Brickell is envisioned to include a riverwalk connecting to the Brickell CityCentre project already under construction to the west.

“It’s a unique location right there on the river, on the boundary of a rather unique intersection between the CBD [central business district] and Brickell,” said Craig Werley, president of Focus Real Estate Advisors, a Coral Gables-based real estate consulting firm. “It’s pretty prime [real estate].”

Terms of the sale weren’t disclosed. The seller is 444 Brickell Avenue Holdings LLC, an affiliate of CW Capital Asset Management, based in Bethesda, Md. CW Capital, a real estate finance and investment management firm, took the property in a foreclosure action several years ago.

“This is the most important development in the urban core,” Related’s chairman and CEO, Jorge Pérez, said in a statement. He added: “One Brickell is the link that will unify the neighborhood by bringing pedestrian-friendly walkways from east Brickell all the way to Brickell CityCentre. Our vision will meet the robust demand for additional residential, hospitality, and entertainment facilities in the area.”

Related said it tapped two architectural firms — Miami-based Arquitectonica and Pelli Clarke Pelli, based in Connecticut — to design the towers, grounds, and common areas.

The significant announcement by Pérez comes as Miami’s downtown is in the midst of a major redevelopment by a host of developers, including the centerpiece Brickell CityCentre project by Swire Properties Inc.

In September, Swire Properties, the U.S. arm of a Hong Kong multinational firm, announced details of a dramatic addition to its Brickell CityCentre project with the unveiling of an 80-story, mixed-used tower at 700 Brickell Avenue, which Swire bought in July. Swire plans to include retail and Class A office space, condominiums, and a hotel, plus a restaurant and lounge at the 700 Brickell site, which currently is the Northern Trust Bank tower.

Phase One of the Brickell CityCentre, already well into construction, will include a luxury shopping center, two residential towers, serviced apartments, Class A offices, a wellness center, and a hotel called East, Miami by Swire Hotels.

A host of other projects, predominantly luxury condominiums, are also in the works in the Brickell downtown area.

Related’s 444 Brickell site is across from Related’s three-tower Icon Brickell project, which became an icon of overbuilding during the real estate crash but has since rebounded impressively along with the rest of the Brickell neighborhood.

Asked whether the spurt of new construction in Miami’s downtown puts the area at risk of overbuilding yet again, Related’s Allen said: “This is a much longer-term view. This is not something short-term. It’s going to be a major plan encompassing a number of years.”

Among other things, Related must obtain approvals for its building plans. In addition, the company will have to accommodate the current tenants. “We’ll work with the tenants,” Allen said.

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