Miami Beach developer Robert S. Wennett wants to transform a group of produce warehouses in Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood into a mixed-use project of up to 1.36 million square feet.
Wennett has already made big waves on South Beach. He developed the 1111 Lincoln parking garage and mixed-use building on Lincoln Road before selling the property in 2017 for $283 million. Now, he’s set his sights on Allapattah, an older industrial neighborhood west of Interstate 95 – across from booming Wynwood – and north of the Health District. Wennett hired Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, who has designed luxury buildings such as the Grove at Grand Bay.
The Miami Produce Center site covers 8.25 acres at 2140 N.W. 12th Ave., near the Santa Clara Metrorail Station, many other industrial properties and an affordable housing tower. Wennett’s Miami Produce Center LLC acquired the property for $16 million in 2016. It currently has 121,587 square feet of warehouses built in 1938. On July 31, Miami Produce Center LLC filed an application with the city for a special area plan (SAP) and rezoning of the property from industrial to urban center, T6-24 O. Normally, an SAP, the same zoning process used to create Brickell City Centre, must have at least 9 acres, but Wennett’s company has requested an exemption to allow for its smaller size.
Miami attorney Javier F. Avino, who represents Miami Produce Center LLC in the application, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The SAP outlines the maximum density and potential building types on the property, as well as the architectural design themes and streetscape plans. The plans for specific buildings would be filed with the city at a later date.
The bold design by Ingels shows eight buildings, with four rising 19 stories and the other four at 10 stories. Several of the 19-story buildings would be missing their bottom halves and be elevated on tall columns while appearing to balance on top of two neighboring 10-story buildings. The missing building sections would allow pedestrians to walk underneath to access the park and gardens at the center of the property. About 38 percent of the site would be green space in the interior.
The Miami Produce Center SAP would allow up 1,200 residential units in 859,782 square feet, 239,886 square feet of offices, 227 hotel rooms in 113,652 square feet, 74,800 square feet of retail, and 76,347 square feet for schools. Some of the retailers would sell goods manufactured on site, the application stated. There might also be co-living units that are rented by the bed.
There would be 1,149 parking spaces, with most in underground garages. The developer requested a major reduction in the number of required parking spaces because of the project’s proximity to the Metrorail.
There’s been an increasing amount of real estate activity in Allapattah. According to research from Colliers International South Florida and CoStar, the sales price per square foot of commercial space in the neighborhood has increased from $58.37 in 2014 to $275 so far in 2018. The number of foreign buyers in Allapattah has also increased.
“Every time I see a new price in Allapattah, I say, ‘Wow, that’s crazy,’” said Mika Mattignly, of Colliers International’s Urban Core Division. “People can sense what’s coming there.”
Major development is moving closer to Allapattah. In the Health District to the south, the $380 million River Landing Shops and Residences is under construction along the Miami River by UrbanX Group, led by Andrew Hellingerand Coralee Penabad, and Canada-based H&R REIT. Hellinger said its 412,000 square feet of retail is about two-thirds leased, mostly to national retailers, as it approaches completion in the first quarter of 2020.
“Wennett’s investment into the Miami Produce Market for redevelopment shows that our decision to help with the growth of the Health District submarket was a good decision,” Hellinger said. “He’s taking it to the next point with the opportunity to reshape how people live and work in the city.”
Many of the traditional cold storage warehouse operators have left Allapattah in favor of newer warehouses to the north and west, Hellinger said. That could allow for more residential in the neighborhood, but Wennett will need to offer the right amenities and rent structures to make it an attractive environment to live in, he said. The quality of schools will also be important, Hellinger said.
Hellinger said River Land has an excess number of parking spaces because its retail tenants recognized Miami as a car-centric market. Whether Wennett’s project can build a reduced number of parking spaces will likely depend on whether his prospective tenants are comfortable with that idea, Hellinger said.
Mattingly said the Metrorail station is key to the Miami Produce Market plan’s success because it would allow them to reach people in other neighborhoods with jobs and shopping. While Allapattah doesn’t have many of the amenities as most residential neighborhoods, Wennett’s project could work if it offers residents everything they need contained within that site, she said.
Wennett could also seek to lure artists out of the more expensive Wynwood to Allapattah, Mattingly said. The Rubell Family Collection already announced plans to move its museum from Wynwood to Allapattah.
“Wennett is pretty smart,” Mattingly said. “He’s like a real estate artist.”
original content The Real Deal