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Massive retail and residential project would replace Miami River’s Mahi Shrine

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A little-known local developer has submitted big plans for the site of the Mahi Shrine building on the Miami River that call for replacing the bunker-like auditorium and its parking lot with a stacked big-box retail building, about 440 residential units in two towers and a lushly planted public river walk with waterfront restaurants.

The nearly nine-acre, $150 million River Landing project would be the third mega-development in central Miami after Brickell CityCenter and the Miami Design District redevelopment, both multi-block projects now under construction. These mega-projects are known as Special Area Plans under the city’s Miami 21 zoning code, which is designed to foster mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly urban development.

River Landing, in a still-gritty location next to Miami-Dade County’s criminal justice center and the Jackson Memorial Hospital health district, does not aim to compete with the high-end retail and chic environs of the Design District and CityCentre projects.

Attorney-turned-developer Andrew Hellinger says River Landing would fill an underserved market niche by providing housing, a supermarket and affordable chain retail to the tens of thousands of workers in the justice complex and the health district, while also drawing residents from surrounding working-class and gentrifying neighborhoods who now have few places to shop.

The Jackson complex alone sees 55,000 daily workers and visitors, but retail and restaurant offerings are largely limited to a busy nearby Winn-Dixie and some new restaurants on the ground floor of the University of Miami’s Life Science & Technology Park.

“There’s just nothing there right now,” said Hellinger, chief executive of Hellinger-Penabad Companies. “What makes our site the most viable for retail is its proximity to the I-95 and 836 corridor and the visibility from the expressway.’’

Because of its size and location, the Mahi Shrine site has long been seen as a key piece in the redevelopment of the portion of the Miami River running through downtown Miami and the Brickell and health districts. The city has sought to transform the waterway, once largely industrial and commercial, into a mixed-use corridor of residential, office and retail development linked by a continuous river walk or greenway.

River Landing would be the largest project to date for developer Hellinger-Penabad. As the former head of Leviev Boymelgreen’s Florida operations, Hellinger developed the Marquis Miami luxury condo on Biscyane Boulevard. River Landing, which is under review by city planners, is not the first massive project to be proposed for the underused site, which is wedged between the soaring State Road 836 river overpass and the approach to the 17th Avenue bridge. It’s owned by the Mahi Shriners fraternal organization, an affiliate of Shriners International, whose fez-wearing members are well known for their support of a network of childrens’ hospitals.

A Mahi Shrine representative said he could not comment under the terms of the agreement with Hellinger.

Seven years ago, the city approved a major condo project on the site, but it fell victim to economic recession and a ruling from the Federal Aviation Administration that its three towers intruded into protected air lanes for nearby Miami International Airport.

Hellinger said his project’s towers — 12 stories atop a 12-story parking and retail deck — would be well below the 310-foot maximum height for the site set by the FAA. The project consists of two separate structures, one a retail and parking-garage block that would rise on the east end of the site, roughly bounded by the 836 overpass. The retail portion would include a multi-level design similar to the one used at Dadeland Station or Fifth & Alton in Miami Beach. But this one would be even taller with six floors of retail.

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In Miami, Wondering About a Bubble


A DOZEN years ago, I lived through the hype machine of the energy trading industry in Houston.
Enron and other firms were transforming themselves into investment banks for traders of natural gas and electricity. They sometimes booked profits today on revenues not expected for another decade. Companies showed off their state-of-the-art trading floors. One hired Ray Charles to sing at a dinner for analysts. We all know how that story ended.

There have been other bubbles, of course — particularly in the technology sector — but these days, I’m having flashbacks to my Houston days when I visit Miami and learn more about its high-end real estate market.

Demand for expensive waterfront properties, much of it coming from South Americans and other foreigners looking to park their cash, has the industry punch-drunk with enthusiasm. Miami agents are putting off vacations (lest they miss a big sale), and some are regularly flying to South America on sales missions.

It’s a roller coaster that has a lot of people shaking their heads in disbelief. After all, as recently as two years ago, Miami was the poster child for distressed real estate. “Now it is redefining itself through luxury real estate,” said Jonathan J. Miller, president of Miller Samuel, an appraiser that produces a quarterly report on Miami for Douglas Elliman Florida.

“It is like it got rebranded,” he added.

But is it a bubble? Or, to frame the question more specifically, just how sustainable — and healthy — is this recent boomlet?

The truth is that Miami, more than any big city in the country, has two very different real estate realities somehow coexisting, at least for now.

On the one hand, there are the nondistressed properties along the water, where sales activity is climbing, prices are on the rise, and some record sales this year have captured the industry’s imagination.

A penthouse on South Beach sold to an Italian for $25 million. A single-family home in Indian Creek sold to a Russian for $47 million. And the telecom mogul Peter Loftin listed the former Gianni Versace mansion on Ocean Drive (where Mr. Versace was murdered) for $125 million.

Foreign purchases — which analysts estimate make up a third of all sales in Miami and very likely more than half of sales over $1 million — are driving much of the sales activity. New Yorkers have also played a big role, brokers say. And cash is king: nearly 73 percent of nondistressed condo sales, and 76 percent of distressed condo sales, were all-cash in the third quarter of this year, Miller Samuel said in its most recent Miami report, released in the last week. Continue reading

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Miami Condominium Prices Rise Consecutively Last 13 Months; Miami Single-Family Home Prices Mark Eight Months of Appreciation

Miami home prices rose again in July, marking eight consecutive months of appreciation, according to the a 25,000-member MIAMI Association of REALTORS and the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system. The median sales price of condominiums, which has increased each of the last 13 months, in Miami-Dade County increased 15.2 percent to $135,905 compared to a year earlier. The median sales price of single-family homes rose 2.8 percent to $185,000. Year-to-date the median sales prices of single-family homes and condominiums have increased 12.1 percent and 35.4 percent respectively.

Miami, FL (PRWEB) August 22, 2012
Miami home prices rose again in July, marking eight consecutive months of appreciation, according to the a 25,000-member MIAMI Association of REALTORS and the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system. The median sales price of condominiums, which has increased each of the last 13 months, in Miami-Dade County increased 15.2 percent to $135,905 compared to a year earlier. The median sales price of single-family homes rose 2.8 percent to $185,000. Year-to-date the median sales prices of single-family homes and condominiums have increased 12.1 percent and 35.4 percent respectively.
“The Miami real estate market continues to attract demand as inventory consistently decreases, yielding significant price appreciation,” said 2012 Chairman of the Board of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS Martha Pomares. “The condominium market in particular is performing quite well, as international buying activity continues to heat up in Miami. This trend is expected to continue long into the future, as Miami enjoys its status as a major global city.”
In July the average sales price for condominiums in Miami-Dade County increased 7.9 percent to $272,946. The average sales prices for single-family homes decreased 12.2 percent to $329,925. Continue reading

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