Two visions along MacArthur Causeway

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By Brian Bandell
June 12, 2015

Miami Innovation District- Aerial Image

Innovation District

NORTH SIDE: Arts & Entertainment District the latest vision of developers

The area just north of the MacArthur Causeway in Miami is traditionally part of the Park West area, but developers Nir Shoshani and Ron Gottesman are leading the effort to brand it as the Arts & Entertainment District. It’s the latest transformative vision for the men who met in the Israeli army and went on to invest in real estate around the world.

After getting their start in 2000 with affordable housing and then office deals in Florida, Shoshani and Gottesman started investing in properties overseas, most notably in the Lima, Peru suburb of Surco. Gottesman said they built 1 million square feet of mostly office there and attracted tenants by installing art galleries in the buildings. Now Miami Gardens-based NR Investments has 125 employees.

In 2013, they purchased Filling Station Lofts as an uncompleted loft-style condo building in what’s traditionally been a rough part of Miami. They completed it, had local artists decorate the inside of the building, and now it’s
90 percent leased. NR Investments owns two other properties in the Arts & Entertainment District and are close to buying a fourth. The site at 1630 N.E. 1st Ave. is planned for the 513-unit Canvas condominium.

“When we got three or four lots into the area we decided we are not about developing buildings only but we need to come up with an urban village concept so we defined a boundary and came up with the Arts & Entertainment District concept,” Shoshani said.

The district extends from Northeast 14th Street to Northeast 17th Street and includes the Performing Arts Center. NR Investments sponsors monthly concerts and movies on open land they own. They hired a marketing team to promote the events on social media.

“It’s about how to take a district that was the homeless district in the Omni CRA and create value, something people want to be part of,” Gottesman said.Canvas is 44 percent sold with average prices of $480 per square foot, which is less expensive than most buildings in nearby Edgewater, he said. About half of the buyers are domestic, he added. The Melo Group also has two projects in the district.

NR Investments hopes to attract venues for local musicians and artists. Shoshani said he’s asked Miami-Dade Schools to consider using part of its 10 acres in the district for an outdoor event space. He’s asked the Chapman Partnership homeless agency to let his company buy or lease its lot for a food market.

“The huge achievement is to have 3,000 or 5,000 people around us in five years,” Shoshani said. “It will come but you need the right establishments.”

SOUTH SIDE: Simkins’ Innovation District aims for 7.4M square feet

Michael Simkins’ plans for a 633-foot tower wrapped with electronic billboards has drawn some heat from design critics, but he says it’s necessary to launch the Miami Innovation District – a high tech hub just south of the MacArthur Causeway.

The Miami Beach native accumulated 10.4 acres between Northeast 1st Avenue and Northwest 1st Avenue along Northwest 10th Street to Northwest 12th Street through 18 deals. It’s on the north side of where Miami Worldcenter is going.

Simkins said he’s preparing a development application for 7.4 million square feet, including 4 million square feet of office, 2 million square feet of residential, and 250,000 square feet of retail. Downtown Miami has about 17.7 million square feet of office now.

Simkins wants to lure tech companies, such as Google and Facebook, here with floor plates of up to 200,000 square feet.

“The Innovation District was master planned as a space conducive to how people are starting to and will be working in the future,” Simkins said.

In addition to asking the city to approve larger office floor plates, Simkins would request smaller apartments to make them more affordable. He envisions renting 300-square-foot units for $1,000 per month while offering large amenity spaces.

Simkins has never built a project of this scale. His family owns paper factories and he’s developed and renovated buildings. Simkins plans to bring in a partner.

As for the Miami Innovation Tower’s LED billboards, Simkins said they wouldn’t stand out as much as people think because they would be surrounded by other high rises. He said it wouldn’t be brighter than displays on other buildings downtown. He expects its restaurant and observation deck to draw tourists.

Under a pending agreement with the Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency, the Miami Innovation Tower would pay it $5 million up front, 3 percent of its gross revenue up to $1 million per year, and give $200,000 for training of area residents. He hopes organizations can teach Overtown residents coding so they can find tech jobs in the district.

“If I said this five years ago, it would have been crazy,” Simkins said. “But
today with everything that is happening, with the Knight Foundation leading the way, the seeds are planted and when these buildings will be ready in say three years it should be a good time for one of these companies to be ready to take a big space and have programmers and developers here.”