A 6.8-acre site near downtown Coral Gables that has languished for years could be home to high-end condominiums, office space and a five-star hotel.
Developer Agave Ponce LLC has presented its vision to the City Commission for the land just east of Fred B. Hartnett/Ponce Circle Park, which is on Ponce de Leon Boulevard just south of Miracle Mile.
Agave Ponce hopes to succeed where previous developers have struggled in bringing an “urban village” development out of the ground. Agave Ponce’s CEO, Hector Fernandez, also is an executive with Mexico City-based Grupo JB, which owns the Jose Cuervo tequila brand.
Previous owners Ponce Circle Developers had received approval in 2006 to build the Old Spanish Village, which was supposed to be a complex of residential, retail and office buildings. That project stalled and fell victim to the recession. An unoccupied bank building and some initial structures leftover from the previous developer remain on the site behind a construction fence.
According to a presentation made to the commission in January, the project includes 254 owner-occupied luxury condominiums, a spa, five-star hotel, high-end retail shops and restaurants, a Class A+ office building and above-ground and underground parking on site.
In addition, Agave is considering making streetscape improvements to the residential streets east of the project, like widening green areas, planting oak trees and resurfacing roads.
City Manager Pat Salerno said this planned project, which has no official name yet, differs in many ways from the old Old Spanish Village idea.
“This is going to be a much higher-quality endeavor, from building materials, public spaces, landscaping,” he said. “It’s going to be of the highest level seen anywhere in South Florida.”
When saying Agave has a good track record in Coral Gables, Salerno pointed to the office building at 396 Alhambra Circle, another Agave development. The Alhambra project has a Gold certification from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, which recognizes sustainable buildings, and has attracted tenants like CitiBank, HBO Latin-America and telecommunications company Millicom International.
Salerno said Agave spared no expense with that $140 million project.
Agave is now finalizing an application to submit to city staff, which could be done within three to four weeks. A comprehensive review process that typically lasts seven to eight months would follow.
Mayor Jim Cason said the project looks interesting, and he’ll want to look at the traffic impact, but he liked the presentation.
“Basically, it looks like it’s got a good mix of housing, hotel and high-end business,” he said. “I think it’ll be positive for the area.”