Miami's retail landscape has begun a seismic shift. Buoyed by Brazilians and other foreigners snapping up residential real estate faster than inventory becomes available, commercial property developers are eyeing every green space and vacant building and lot with a fervor not seen since the city’s prerecession boom. Lease expirations, mall expansions and new shopping centers and districts are resulting in unprecedented choices for stores and consumers alike.
“I feel very confident since Latin Americans, beyond Brazil’s new monied classes, are coming here in droves,” said Michael Comras, founder of the Comras Co., a real estate development and leasing firm in Miami Beach. “With Mexico so unsafe, and [Hugo] Chavez going in for another six years, they have to go somewhere, and Miami appears to be it.”
Rebranded with a new name, Web site and logo, the Miami Design District is attracting the most attention for its transition into a subtropical SoHo. The majority of its property is owned by Miami Design District Associates, a 50-50 partnership between Dacra, a Miami real estate development firm, and L Real Estate, a Luxembourg-based equity fund dedicated to real estate investments with luxury retail components, of which LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is a minority investor. MDDA plans to open 50 stores mixing LVMH and other luxury brands, 15 to 20 restaurants and a boutique hotel through 2014. Several stores such as Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Celine have already relocated from Bal Harbour Shops into temporary locations pending permanent spaces, while Prada, Dior Homme, Berluti, Pucci, Hermès and Agnona are slated to relocate or make their local debut by early next year. According to Dacra president and chief executive officer Craig Robins, LVMH brands will be scattered rather than housed under one roof. Some tenants such as Chrome Hearts bought property.
Though many home showrooms that pioneered gentrification will be outpriced, high-end companies such as Design Within Reach and Christian Liaigre are coming in. Since its original address is being gutted, Jonathan Adler moved to a 5,000-square-foot, two-story showroom, its largest worldwide, in the historic Moore Building. Robins reports the bulk of the Moore is intended for a department store, in addition to two new anchor spaces sized at 40,000 and 120,000 square feet.
Borrowing Bal Harbour’s lushness and intimacy, a charming pedestrian lane will link 38th and 42nd Streets, and shady mahogany and gumbo-limbo trees are part of new landscaping that includes rooftop gardens for private event venues.
“I compare the mix of categories and stores to a diverse ecosystem,” said Robins, who’s also building residences and offices to solidify his vision of a 21st-century micro city as a walkable, cultural hub. “Art will be interactive — for instance, visitors will come up through Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye dome to access the new South Plaza from a parking garage.”
Developer Robert Wennett, another proponent of “wow” design who commissioned Herzog & de Meuron for South Beach’s famous “parking garage” building, partnered with Comras to gentrify a portion of the area north of Lincoln Road to 17th Street nicknamed NoLi. Their proposal, under consideration by the City of Miami Beach, calls for pedestrian streets with Miami modern-style canopies, and parking garages with street retail in lieu of city-owned, surface parking lots.
“It provides a much-needed link between Lincoln Road and the Miami Beach Convention Center, which is also being redesigned,” said Comras.
Rem Koolhaas and John Portman are among names being tossed around for the MBCC. If accepted, Wennett and Comras’ proposal involves Snohetta, the Norwegian architecture firm behind Times Square’s pedestrian transformation and the 9/11 Museum pavilion, and landscape designer Raymond Jungles. Arquitectonica already designed an 18,000-square-foot building on 17th Street for Miami Beach developer Scott Robins, Craig’s brother.
“We felt so strongly about Lincoln Road’s thriving business that outpriced retailers will want to push north,” said Scott Robins of the single- or multiple-tenant property.
Comras reports an usually high turnover on Lincoln Road since a slew of five- and 10-year leases ended. H&M, Forever 21, Superdry, Lacoste, Custo Barcelona, Armani Jeans, John Vavartos, Fossil, Lush, Havaianas, Dylan’s Candy Bar and Alchemist boutique’s lifestyle expansion have or are opening, while Gap, Swatch and Swarovski are among those renovating, relocating and expanding for splashier statements. Reportedly, Zara and Urban Outfitters have selected spaces as well. He said rent per square foot starts at $175, compared with $85 to $140 on Collins Avenue.
High rents have squeezed out independent businesses, which are settling in Sunset Harbour, an industrial district in South Beach’s northwest corner. Aside from rents averaging $50 per square foot, retailers will get a boost from a pending bridge that connects the enclave formerly cut off by a canal to Lincoln Road’s action. It’s become a top locals’ destination for South Beach’s two main grocery stores, and hip restaurants and salons. Sunset Harbour Shoppes & Garage, another collaboration between Scott Robins and Arquitectonica with 60,000 square feet of retail space, specializes in homegrown tenants like Eberjey’s second freestanding lingerie and swimwear boutique, Sunset Clothing Co.’s premium denim and Panther Coffee, a popular hangout across the bay.
“My goal was to bring back beach residents who were driving to the mainland to eat and shop,” said Scott.
Swire Properties thinks Brickell residents desire better options in their own backyard, too. Its $1.05 billion, mixed-use Brickell CitiCentre gobbled up some of the last undeveloped land in the dense tower canyon. Of its 5.4 million square feet throughout nine acres, retail and entertainment encompasses 520,000 square feet. Approximately a fifth of that space is marked for an urban-sized department store. Everything except an office tower is scheduled for completion in 2015.
“That this area has three grocery stores clearly indicates need,” said Jolyon Culbertson, vice president of retail leasing.
Miami Downtown Development Authority reports the population has increased 80 percent since 2000 and projects 85,000 residents by 2015; condos are 95 percent occupied with eight additional high rises in a few years.
Swire plans 100 shops within Arquitectonica’s organic, open-air design featuring a high-tech, protective awning dubbed a Climate Ribbon that collects rain water for irrigation on top of its usual functions. Other local-minded amenities are a wellness center and public art and performance venues. A boutique hotel expands Swire’s regional hospitality portfolio that includes Mandarin Oriental Miami on Brickell Key.
“It makes sense that a city’s best shopping and services are in the center, which Miami lacked,” said Culbertson.
Still, some Wynwood Arts District residents and Midtown Miami hipsters aren’t too happy with a Wal-Mart Supercenter opening on North Miami Avenue and Northeast 30th Street in 2014. The retail giant is in the process of filing a Class II Special Permit Application for its first location in the urban core. Design departures from the usual format include street-level storefronts for other retailers and a multilevel parking garage.
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion