While Miami-Dade County’s emerging neighborhoods are experiencing substantial development and investment, one of its most established communities — Coral Gables — is also being transformed with large-scale projects from both the public and private sectors.
In lockstep with this growth and activity, the “City Beautiful” is on the cusp of a retail revolution. The retail landscape of Coral Gables is poised to dramatically change in the coming months and years as major developments boost the residential and professional population to create more demand for new shopping and dining options.
Downtown Coral Gables is known for its restaurants and upscale shops and the Shops at Merrick Park is a regional draw, but a more diverse mix of eateries and retailers is on the way. The Merrick Park area will have many new residents from the 227-residence Merrick Manor project, the city’s first luxury residential project in nearly a decade, and other nearby developments.
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Ponce Circle is expected to eventually become a prominent destination with the largest development ever approved in the city, The Plaza Coral Gables, which includes apartments, a hotel, offices and 137,000 square feet of prime retail space.
In total, more than 50 developments are in the pipeline to bring more than 2,700 new residential units, 1.4 million square feet of commercial space and 750 hotel rooms to Coral Gables. That will add to an existing population of 50,815 residents (as of the 2016 Census), 94,430 workers and more than 542,000 visitors. The city is home to more than 150 multinational corporations.
With the population influx and early 2018 completion of the Miracle Mile and Giralda Avenue streetscape improvement project in mind, the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, City of Coral Gables and Business Improvement District hired retail consulting firm Downtown Works to provide a strategic long-term game plan to enhance the retail offerings throughout the city. The firm’s November 2016 study noted that more retail variety is paramount, emphasizing the need for additional shopping options along Miracle Mile’s bridal store cluster and more visible and accessible storefronts in the main shopping corridors.
Shortly after the strategic plan was finalized, the city hired Business Development Specialist Francesca Valdes to join its Economic Development Department. Her mission: recruit new and dynamic retailers and restaurants to the city.
Valdes has concentrated on — and received substantial interest from — potential tenants in the following categories:
▪ Chef-driven restaurant concepts (focusing on proven local/regional concepts with existing locations in areas like Brickell, Miami Beach, Wynwood and as far south as Key West)
▪ Women and men’s fashion
▪ Athleisure — lifestyle wear, yoga and workout attire
▪ Accessories (for men and women)
▪ Home design
At Merrick Manor, which includes 19,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, the interest that Astor Real Estate Group is receiving for the restaurant portion of the retail offering mirrors what Valdes and the city are seeing. Astor is in talks with established regional restaurant chains that have several locations in the area. For the storefront spaces, the company is having discussions with local coffee shops and traditional barber and shave shops.
Coral Gables is also likely to become one of the next Miami-Dade cities to embrace the rising popularity of food halls in the county. There is shared interest between the city, landlords and food hall operators in bringing over a concept similar to Eataly, the renowned Italian Marketplace, to Coral Gables.
The public and private sectors are certainly aligned in the vision to enhance the city’s long-standing appeal with an exciting mix of new retailers and restaurants.
Neybis Sanchez is a broker with ONE Sotheby’s International Realty and sales director at Merrick Manor.
▪ This column, written for the Broker’s View space in Business Monday in the Miami Herald, is an opinion piece representing the view of the writer. It does not necessarily represent the newspaper’s view.
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