Letters to the Editor

Downtown Miami emerging as retail destination

Bal Harbour has become synonymous with high-end retail in Miami and Lincoln Road has emerged as an international high street retail hub in Miami Beach. But as South Florida’s retail market continues booming, Miami’s urban core is set to become the region’s next luxury shopping destination with several developments underway — Brickell City Centre, Miami Worldcenter, All Aboard Florida, the Design District, and Met Square.

The recent announcement of Saks Fifth Avenue’s decision to open a 107,000-square-foot store at the $1.05 billion mixed-use Brickell City Centre is the latest example of how downtown Miami is evolving into a world-class shopping destination. But it didn’t start with Saks. Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are set to anchor the new Mall at Miami Worldcenter as luxury retailers seek to capture both area shoppers and Latin American shoppers who are vacationing, doing business or purchasing condos in downtown Miami.

Downtown’s rise as an international destination for businesspeople, residents and tourists has been driving growth in both the hospitality and residential real estate sectors. The area is now home to more 4- and 5-star hotels per capital than any other market in Florida, and international hotel brands like Melia and Atton are entering the U.S. market through planned hotels in downtown Miami. On the residential side, three dozen luxury condo projects are now underway, which will lead to added residents in the area in the coming years.

Today downtown’s daytime population is an estimated 200,000 people who are working or living in the urban core. Of course, South Florida locals come to the area on nights and on weekends for cultural events, nightlife and fine dining. All of this has created an undeniable demand for retail.

In past years, suburban sprawl has occurred across South Florida. But with the surge of residential growth in the urban core, Greater Downtown Miami is the fastest-growing population center in Florida.

A decade ago, few could have foreseen we would have two huge malls in downtown Miami. Now, one is underway and another is breaking ground later this year. To be sure, retail has been the noticeable missing component in downtown Miami’s renaissance. Now, developers and retailers look to tap into the built-in demand from the hundreds of thousands of people who live, work in and visit the area daily.

None of this happened overnight. The public sector has poured billions into new transportation links, museums, parks and infrastructure improvements over the past decade. These upgrades have helped usher in a flood of new tourists and residents, with downtown’s population nearly doubling in that span.

The progress underway downtown is a real-world example of how public investments aimed at improving infrastructure and enhancing quality of life can help lure private sector investment.

Alyce Robertson, executive director, Miami Downtown Development Authority