Miami-Dade County

David Beckham wants to build one of the largest retail centers in Miami

The proposed “Miami Freedom Park” that would house a Major League Soccer stadium and a large new office and retail complex. David Beckham and partners, who include Jorge and Jose Mas, want to develop the project on Miami’s Melreese golf course.
The proposed “Miami Freedom Park” that would house a Major League Soccer stadium and a large new office and retail complex. David Beckham and partners, who include Jorge and Jose Mas, want to develop the project on Miami’s Melreese golf course. Miami Freedom LLC

The David Beckham plan for a municipal golf course in Miami includes building one of the city's largest shopping and entertainment centers there, with almost as much space as what's found in Midtown Miami.

While Beckham's bid to build a 25,000-seat soccer stadium gets much of the attention, the partnership now led by Miami executive Jorge Mas wants to create a retail and entertainment center that would be larger than some of the city's most popular shopping destinations.

An outline of the planned project released Sunday showed the 73-acre "Miami Freedom Park" complex that the Beckham group wants to build on the Melreese golf course would have 600,000 square feet of space for shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. Within city limits, the only comparable shopping center with more space is Midtown Miami's 640,000 square feet, according to a summary by the JLL commercial brokerage.

Zach Winkler, who runs JLL's retail division in South Florida, said it's too early to say where the Freedom complex would fit in the Miami retail landscape. He predicted the Beckham group would pursue more entertainment options, like movie theaters and bowling alleys, to fill out the leased space instead of a shopping mix heavy on clothing and home goods found at a traditional mall.

"For food and beverage, it's a no-brainer," Winkler said. "And I think the entertainment part will be big."

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David Beckham, center, and partners Marcelo Claure, left, and Jorge Mas, right, join Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber at a downtown Miami ceremony on Jan. 29 celebrating MLS awarding a franchise to the Miami partnership. Carl Juste cjuste@miamiherald.com

Miami commissioners are set to vote Thursday on whether to hold a November referendum on the soccer plan, with city voters authorizing final negotiations on a development deal. Financial projections the partnership submitted to the city this week predicted $425 million a year in sales and lease revenue at the complex, with the soccer stadium accounting for about 11 percent of that business.

Under a deal framework included in the legislation authorizing the referendum, the Beckham group would pay at least $3.6 million a year rent for the Melreese property.

The Beckham group has touted the non-soccer elements as key to boosting the economy with a new soccer complex, and creating the kind of entertainment destination fans want on game days. The partners are dumping a planned nine-acre stadium site in Miami's Overtown neighborhood that the group already controls but now sees as too small.

Currently run by a for-profit company, the 130-acre Melreese property would transform from an 18-hole golf course to a stadium and commercial complex that would be ringed by new soccer fields and a traditional park that the Beckham group would pay to create. There also would be a 750-room hotel, an office park with 400,000 square feet of leasable space and paid parking for 3,750 vehicles. It also would have a significantly smaller golf facility.

If built out fully today, the Miami Freedom shopping complex would have more retail space than can be found at Brickell City Centre (520,000 square feet), CocoWalk (467,000, before a major reconfiguration that's under way now), and Bayside Marketplace and Mary Brickell Village (both smaller than 250,000 square feet). The Beckham group described it as "retail/entertainment" in a breakdown provided to Miami, with space for about two dozen restaurants and 70 stores and entertainment venues.

The Beckham complex still would look modest compared to the Aventura Mall and its 2.7 million square feet, and to the two largest suburban malls west and south of Miami: Dadeland and Dolphin, with about 1.4 million square feet each.

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