Downtown Miami banking on balance to attract businesses, investment

Downtown Miami banking on balance to attract businesses, investment

By: Brendan Meagher

2 Min read December 2020 For those who call Miami-Dade home, the image of construction cranes lining the sky and the sound of Caterpillar equipment hard at work have become a part of everyday life. Even through the COVID-19 pandemic, construction on large-scale developments in Miami did not seem to miss a beat, with major Downtown projects adding office space and residential buildings to YardiMatrix’s third-busiest market for U.S. construction

As the city looks to continue attracting businesses and investors, the challenge with all this development is balancing the trend toward mixed-use luxury apartments while keeping housing affordable for much of the workforce in Miami. The interest in the city from international developers is one of the factors leading to higher prices, as Mayor Francis Suarez told Invest:. “It’s always difficult for a city like ours that is getting so much international attention. It seems like the capital coming in is always greater and faster than the one limited resource that we have, which is land. As you have more capital chasing that finite resource, prices always go up.” 

One firm looking to capitalize on the need for affordable housing is Greybrook Realty Partners, which recently invested almost $15.5 million into a multifamily residential project located on the Northeast corner of NW 24th Street and NW 2nd Avenue in Wynwood. The company plans on unlocking additional value in the building through extensive social amenities and a tech-enabled lifestyle.  

On the juxtaposing end of the residential offerings in Miami is the Paramount Miami Worldcenter, which recently won the prestigious USA & Americas Property Award in the 2020-21 International Property Awards competition. The 60-story building is somewhat of a reflection of the city itself, where residents from 57 countries intermix in one of the most luxurious spaces Downtown Miami has to offer.

 But living extends beyond the walls of an apartment or house. A city’s outdoor amenities and infrastructure also need to be on the high end to continue attracting investment. To address this need, Miami is pushing forward with a $100-million-dollar investment into a 10-mile linear park called the Underline, which will help the city adapt to the rapid growth of new residents and businesses. The plan is for the Underline to rival Atlanta’s BeltLine and New York’s High Line as the country’s premier transportation system. Similarly, the city will pour $200 million from the Miami Forever Bond “to boost our infrastructure with pumps, reservoirs, living shorelines as buffers – a variety of different techniques to be able to absorb water,” said Suarez.

 Ultimately, the major infrastructure projects will help Downtown Miami recover from the COVID-19 pandemic while the combination of tax structure and quality of life position the city as an alternative to New York City for many businesses. In an interview with Invest:, Sander Scher, principal of Claro Development, believes people in other major metropolises are starting to weigh the differences and choosing Miami. “In places like New York City, it’s so expensive and the quality of life has changed so dramatically in the last few years that I think more and more people are recognizing that. For what it costs to live in New York in taxes, they can come down and live in Miami and the tax savings alone pays for a home.”

Expediting permitting and other issues to make it easier to get things done is also a high priority as the Downtown area eyes business attraction, Christina Crespi, executive director of the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA), told Invest:. “We’ve had dozens of meetings with companies from New York and Chicago, including hedge funds and private equity firms,” she said. “There is an opportunity for Miami to welcome these companies now more so than ever, so the DDA team is working closely with the city on expediting permitting. We are trying to simplify the process so that if a company wants to move here, they can open their offices as quickly as possible and continue to function virtually, which is a huge opportunity.”

 As the country transitions into a post pandemic period, major commercial real estate developments in Downtown like the 505,031-square-foot 803 Brickell Plaza are hoping that their 2021 completion dates and the city’s efforts to improve infrastructure, transportation and affordable housing will make the difference for businesses when choosing their next location.