Transforming Miami-Dade’s “Edge City”
The Master Plan and Overlay Code for Downtown Kendall is the product of a June 1998 charrette dealing with a high density urban center in Miami-Dade County. The study area contains transportation corridors and intersections of four heavily traveled, regional roadways that crisscross a high intensity of retail, office, hotels, and nearby residential neighborhoods. The study area has experienced remarkably fast growth, but poor pedestrian accessibility and visual blight are prominent in Downtown Kendall, as in most such auto-oriented suburbs.
Downtown Kendall: 2034 Aerial View
Interconnected streets, mixed-use development, and mid-block parking transform the auto-oriented landscape.
Change Over Time
Thirty years ago Kendall Drive was a narrow country road and Dadeland Mall’s first buildings were sprouting at the rural edge of a young metropolis. Today this location is imbedded in the suburban growth that followed, closer to Downtown Miami and the coastal edge than to the western or southern reaches of metropolitan development. The region’s recent commitment of re-directing growth away from rural areas and back to the
transportation corridors of the earliest settlements, is slowly taking form with the first building projects heeding the visionary call of Eastward, Ho! The Downtown Kendall plan is a response to this vision. Mixed-use buildings will front upon a network of interconnected streets, parking garages will be placed mid-block to replace the vast expanses of surface parking, and transit is being re-integrated into the area.
The heart of the new Kendall community, overlooked by multi-story mixed-use and civic buildings.
Our objective was to establish order among the physical chaos, facilitating development in a sustainable pattern and creating a lasting identity for the area. Dover, Kohl & Partners and Duany, Plater-Zyberk & Company conducted a seven-day charrette in June 1998. We assembled and managed a large team of consultants that included traffic engineers, real estate consultants, and urban designers. The resulting plan allows any number of developers to realize projects within the patchwork of individual properties, with each property contributing to a unified whole.
The Downtown Kendall Master Plan, presented in booklet form, illustrates the vision and the concepts derived during the charrette. This document has been critical in building consensus and guiding the development of the code document.
Downtown Kendall Master Plan
Downtown Kendall Code
The Master Plan and Illustrative booklet was approved by the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners in 1998 following the charrette. The code was presented for approval and adopted in December of 1999. This new ordinance replaces the existing zoning districts to form a new zoning district in the Miami-Dade County Zoning Code. The Downtown Kendall project has been featured in Florida Trend, on NBC 6 and WPBT reports, and in a special issue of Business Week, “21 Ideas for the 21st Century.”
Dover, Kohl and Partners
Town Center and Dadeland Area
The Dadeland urban core is rapidly becoming one of the most desirable residential and commercial destinations in all of South Florida. It has developed over the past thirty-years into an important central core of Miami-Dade, with a location that is nothing short of amazing. One of the most compelling aspects of Dadeland is its appeal to the international market. Every year, thousands of people visit Dadeland Mall for its shopping. Many of those Dadeland area visitors now own homes in the exciting new residential developments that fill the Dadeland condo area.
Town Center at Dadeland will be a blend of commercial, retail and residential condominiums, all within an urban town center, accented by wide, pedestrian-friendly walkways and plazas. With access to mass transit, shopping and every conceivable amenity, Town Center at Dadeland, the urban triangle is bordered by U.S. 1, Kendall Drive and the Palmetto Expressway has become one of the country’s most desirable addresses.
About the Developer for Town Center at Dadeland
Dayco’s History And Philosophy Since it’s inception, Dayco has been known as a construction company and real estate development firm dedicated to large scale industrial and civil projects, as well as, a leader in urban real estate development, initially in Venezuela and later in other countries within the Americas. Our steady growth is the result of the rigorous implementation of our belief of what development should be: an integrated approach towards building and developing in harmony with human life.
We are proud of having worked throughout the Americas and for having left long lasting accomplishments. Inspiring ourselves with the final end use as our main concern and objective. Our results consist of complete solutions which incorporate the functional aesthetics, economics and social good. Working under a simple, but well organized methodology, part of Dayco’s success is derived from understanding that the company must be run as a team, where every player has a defined role to play and where growth must correlate to project demands in order to avoid large, inefficient and costly operations.
Dayco represents contemporary technology, modern management and advanced equipment. Dayco’s goal is to search for efficiency and quality in every project. Simply, Dayco represents a Global Vision: skill to make compatible the big with the small, complex with simple, from the grandest in scope to the smallest detail. But, more important, this vision seeks for projects having significant and long lasting impact.
General Manager Ozzie Dominguez leading dynamic Dadeland Mall through period of community growth
As more and more residential and commercial developments fill the skyline in the Kendall area of southwest Miami-Dade, a 43-year-old shopping center is becoming the focal point of the new downtown there. It is Dadeland Mall, one of the 245 retail properties around the world owned or managed by Simon Property Group of Indianapolis.
Heading the newly renovated mall’s operations as general manager since June 2003 has been Cuba native Osvaldo “Ozzie” Dominguez, the first Hispanic to hold that position.
Mr. Dominguez detailed the mall’s role in serving the growing local community and visitors from overseas, totaling more than 15 million shoppers a year, in an interview with Miami Today international editor Michael Hayes.
Miami-Dade luxury new condominium home community in Kendall Florida by Lennar-LDI/Garco Investment.
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Mission Bell Park on Kendall. Mission Bell Park is the newest project by the Codina Group. Mission Bell, located just West of Baptist Hospital, its one of the most exclusive communities within the Dadeland area.
The nationally recognized Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund (CJUF) will be joining Gulfside Development’s Stefan Johansson and Jackson Ward in funding “Downtown Dadeland.” Canyon-Johnson joins Downtown Dadeland’s chief construction lender, General Motors Commercial Mortgage Corporation (GMAC). “We are very proud to be a part of the team that is developing this landmark project in South Florida,” said Marc Yavinsky with GMAC. “It is exciting for us to have two nationally recognized, and highly respected organizations involved with this project,” adds Mr. Ward. “We all share a vision for how urban re-development is transforming many metropolitan areas throughout the U.S.” “Downtown Dadeland will set a new standard for ‘smart growth’ in Miami-Dade, given its unique design and urban qualities,” notes Mr. Johansson. “We have looked at numerous opportunities in Florida over the years” says Bobby Turner, co-managing partner of the Canyon-Johnson Fund. “We are pleased to be involved with what we see as a jewel of a project in South Florida”.
Salient Points For Downtown Dadeland Demand of project and area The 7.5 acre site is situated in what we call “the golden triangle” because it is bordered by North Kendall Drive on the north, the Palmetto Expressway to the west and U.S. 1 on the southeast forming the hypotenuse. In addition, Dadeland Blvd. acts as a conduit for much of the local office and Publix shopping traffic. This allows for easy access to downtown Miami (10 miles), Miami International Airport (20 minutes), and the affluent municipalities of Coral Gables, South Miami and Pinecrest. It is also adjacent to the southernmost hub of the increasingly popular Metro Rail transportation system. It is within easy walking distance from major hotels, supermarkets, specialized shopping and a host of new high rise office buildings housing upwards of 16,000 daytime workers.
Downtown Kendall Condos -by Chamber South
The plan for Downtown Kendall was instigated by the local chamber of commerce, property owners, and neighbors. In a public in summer 1998, Dadeland Mall area business leaders and citizens gathered together to chart a course for evolving the thriving suburban mall and surrounding sprawl into a metropolitan center that better leverages its unique place in the regional transportation system. The Master Plan and Overlay Code for “Downtown Kendall” resulted from a June 1998 study dealing with an emerging “edge city” urban center in Miami-Dade County. The study area lies at the convergence of several regional transit corridors (including two Metrorail stations) and the intersections of four heavily-traveled arterial roadways that crisscross an intense mixture of retailing, offices, hotels, and residential neighborhoods. The study area also includes the famous Dadeland Mall. While the area has experienced remarkably fast growth, the development is extremely fragmented; poor pedestrian accessibility and visual blight dominate this auto-oriented situation. Dover-Kohl and DPZ collaborated to produce the plan and a graphic Code, under the direction of a steering committee created by Chamber South, Miami-Dade County government, and citizen organizations.
One of the county’s first malls, Dadeland features more than 175 specialty shops, anchored by four large department stores: Burdines, JCPenney, Lord & Taylor, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Sixteen restaurants serve from the adjacent Treats Food Court. New retail stores are constantly springing up around this centerpiece of South Miami suburbia. If you’re not in the area, however, the mall is not worth the trek. Additionally, many non-Spanish-speaking people are put off by Dadeland because of the predominance of Spanish-speaking store employees.
Downtown Kendall: The Renaissance Is Here
The Miami Herald November 24, 2002:
“The area around Dadeland Mall has become a magnet for condo dwellers…These new high rises, close to shopping and transit, will forever change the character of suburbia.”
“That’s right: a downtown Kendall. The phrase itself turns heads. The suburban community of Kendall in south Miami-Dade Country has many of the ingredients of the modern metropolis, but lacks a proud, recognizable center. That is about to change. The area around Dadeland Mall and Datran Center is ready to mature into a proper town center. It is slated for a new generation of growth and change…it will emerge as a cosmopolitan, urbane district and a lasting economic powerhouse. The challenge is to grow in an orderly pattern that benefits everyone. The area has long been poised for high intensity development. Since it opened in the 1960’s, Dadeland has gradually become a regional destination and an international sensation…Expressways have provided even greater access to the area. Miami-Dade Transit Authority focused the Metrorail system at Dadeland because of the area’s growing regional importance. The Datran Center with its mix of office and hotel functions is a result of public policies channeling growth to specific activity centers.
The heart of Kendall.
A town center is the physical place where many basic needs of citizens are intensely and tightly focused: shopping, trading, working, governance, the arts and entertainment, and dwelling are all found there. But it is also a symbol of the community, a reflection of its values and aspirations. It can capture the city’s imagination and project an image of its bright future. If well designed it is a place where fond memories form and the bonds of civil society are forged.
Back to the future.
In our generation the traditional town center form has been rediscovered as smart for business. Unlike the sprawling ” nonplace” developments that were the norm a couple of decades ago, today’s best town centers display a great emphasis on the quality of the physical environment. In response a rush to retool suburban ” edge cities” into friendlier places is underway all over the nation. Competition is the driving force: the real estate industry is responding to lucrative “lifestyle” market positions, leveraging the physical environments, to hold the best tenants and customers. Local governments, too, are under constant pressure from citizens to improve both efficiency and quality of life.
That’s why the physical features of engaging downtown neighborhoods, common in historic towns, are being re-introduced today. These include Main Streets with wide sidewalks, elegant squares, a rich mix of urban architecture, and tree-lined streets. Building these features today takes a concerted effort by local government and developers.
Given its crossroads location and its vacant parcels, Downtown Kendall is well suited to lead Miami-Dade County in the forming of a new urban center vital to the region’s continuing growth and prosperity.”
“The vision of the Downtown Kendall project is to create a thriving center of activity in Kendall with a consistent and appealing urban identity. This community will include a strong shopping presence as well as residential projects, hotel and convention facilities, community activity features and green space in a pedestrian-friendly environment. There should be a comprehensive community-based plan for this which calls for an intense use of space that serves as a model of urban infill development.”
– Mission Statement adapted by the Kendall Council of Chamber SOUTH
For more news about Dadeland Condos please click on the articles below:
First ‘Downtown Kendall’ buildings rising skyward
GlobeSt.com UPDATE: Twin Metropolis Towers Sold Out
By Marita Thomas
Last updated: December 20, 2004 08:14am
DADELAND, FL-Metropolis at Dadeland, a 25-story, twin-tower residential condo complex under development by Miami-based Terra ADI International Developments, is sold out, according to Lorraine Navarro, sales manager. Tower I is ready for occupancy and ground is currently being broken on its twin.
A deck on the eighth floor will connect the buildings, which together contain 568 units. They include 675-sf studios, lofts with 13-foot ceilings, one- and two-bedroom apartments with dens and 1,445-sf penthouses. Condo prices range from the $150,000s to the $400,000s, and Navarro says sales volume totaled $25 million. Tower II is scheduled for completion next spring.
The Metropolis towers, the tallest buildings Downtown, are located on approximately two acres at 9101 South Dadeland Blvd. within steps of Dadeland Mall, a Publix supermarket and Metrorail. On completion, Metropolis will contain such amenities as an outdoor pool, fitness center, and a private clubhouse with a bar, kitchen and lounge. Services include 24-hour valet, security and concierge.
The architect of the Art Moderne structures is Coral Gables-based Nichols Brosch & Sandoval Associates. Pedro Martin founded Terra in 2001, and Nautica, a six-story, 33-unit building with a private marina on the Intercoastal Waterway of Miami’s South Beach, is the company’s first project. Two more, Quantum on the Bay and 900 Biscayne, are currently under way.
THE DADELAND Condos SCENE
The Dadeland area is easily accessible by the Metrorail, just 20 minutes from both downtown Miami and the Miami International Airport. The Dadeland area is home to hundreds of specialty shops, well over a hundred restaurants, at least a half-dozen large grocery chains (including a Publix supermarket next door to Toscano) and countless other assorted businesses supporting the continuing influx of local residents. Dadeland Mall alone is home to more than 185 specialty shops and restaurants, a veritable “who’s who” of the hottest brands on the retail scene today.With the number of new residential homes in the Dadeland area increasing monthly, it is now one of the fastest growing urban residential locations in South Florida. Dadeland is located at the intersection of US 1 and Kendall Drive and just minutes from the Palmetto Expressway.
Meet Your New Neighbors:
Barnes and Nobles Bed Bath & Beyond Best Buy
Cargokids Cheesecake Factory Chili’s
Container Store Gameworks
LA Fitness Limited/Express Linens ‘N Things Macy’s
Pier 1 Imports
Romano’s Macaroni Grill Saks Fifth Avenue Sports Authority Target
Large Texas developer plans to hold onto Dadeland condos project
By Marilyn Bowden
One of the nation’s largest residential developers is building a condo community in the bustling Dadeland Mall area.
Fairfield Development, headquartered in Texas, has 35 years of development experience nationwide, but
Vice President Omar Del Rio said the company’s focus in the Miami area has been to sell projects under construction or rehabilitation, often to condo converters.
Toscano, the company’s Dadeland project, represents a departure from that strategy. Mr. Del Rio said it’s the first South Florida development Fairfield will retain through completion.
“Fairfield loves markets with high barriers to entry such as Southern California, the District of Columbia and Boston,” Mr. Del Rio said. “These are markets where it’s tougher and more expensive to build and where it takes more time to get a project entitled. This is where we have our expertise.”
Although Fairfield has been a major apartment developer, he said, “due to years of low interest rates, the rental market throughout the country lost a good deal of clientele, especially on the high end. Everyone is buying, and with construction costs going through the roof, it’s tough to make a rental work.”
Fairfield announced that sales have begun for Toscano, a 25-story, 396-unit community with ground-level retail that is under construction at 7360 N. Kendall Dr., across the street from Dadeland Mall in one direction and Publix in another.
The first phase will be completed early next summer, said Mr. Del Rio.
Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger Wooten Maxwell Realtors, which is marketing the condos, said 66 were sold in the first weekend on the market. He said he anticipates a 50% sellout by the end of this month.
“We are dealing with a lot more users than most projects through the contacts our salespeople have,” he said. “Since the first phase of the project is visibly under way and will be ready in a year, it’s not like buying during presales.”
He said units range from 687 to 2,499 square feet and are priced from the low $200,000s. Buyers tend to be younger people or empty-nesters, he said, who want to be near rapid transit and be able to walk to conveniences. The sales center is in Dadeland Mall next to Saks Fifth Avenue.
Mr. Shuffield said the Multiple Listing Service shows an inventory of only 60 existing condos for resale in the 11 square miles between Kendall Drive, US 1, 136th Street and Florida’s Turnpike. “We’re selling about 25 a month,” he said, “so that’s less than a three-month level of inventory. It shows there’s a real shortage of condo units in this area.”
The county’s zoning department lists more than 3,000 condos planned for the Dadeland area, but Mr. Shuffield said fewer than 1,000 are under construction. “The buildout will be staggered,” he said.
Toscano, designed by Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolf & Associates, will consist of two main buildings with differing unit styles, Mr. Del Rio said. The first phase, a five-story building fronting Kendall Drive, will feature ground-floor retail topped by four levels of residential units built around a courtyard. The second residential tower will be 25 stories high.
Because the county has mandated concealed parking facilities for construction near Dadeland, Mr. Del Rio said, residential units will wrap around the garage. A tri-level bridge connecting the two buildings to facilitate access to parking will house a gymnasium, he said.
Amenities include a 25,000-square-foot recreational deck with heated swimming pool and whirlpool spa, a fitness center with cardio and free-weight equipment, an exercise studio, sauna rooms and a meditation garden.
Among residential projects planned or under way in Dadeland are the335-unit Towers of Dadeland at Dadeland North Metrorail station; Downtown Dadeland Condos, 416 units at Southwest 88th Street and Dadeland Boulevard; the Colonnade, 555 units at Southwest 82nd Street and Southwest 72nd Avenue; and Renaissance at Dadeland, 245 units at 8100 SW 72nd Ave.
Developer plans condo towers at Dadeland Marriott site
By Sherri C. Ranta
Miami’s Terra International Development has plans to buy 2 acres across from the Dadeland Marriott Hotel for a 400,000-square-foot condominium.
Terra is to buy the site from MDM Hotel Group, owners of the Marriott, 9090 S Dadeland Blvd., within a few months, said Pedro A. Martin, project principal and an attorney with Greenberg Traurig law firm. MDM plans to begin building by early 2003 after meeting a 50% target of pre-sales.
The MDM group also plans a Courtyard Marriott next to the site Terra wants to buy, Mr. Martin said.
Preliminary plans for Terra call for two towers of about 400 units at 180,000-200,000 square feet each and ground-floor retail. Condo units could cost from $350,000 to $400,000, officials said.
East Kendall is ripe for development. In November, Gulfside Development announced plans for Downtown Dadeland, a 7-building project with more than 300 condos and 150,000 square feet of retail and offices. Green Construction Co. plans to build 218 apartments next to the Dadeland North Metrorail Station.
Even though rentals in Kendall do very well, Mr. Martin said, he is banking on turning them into unit owners. “Because of the way the economy is and the lower interest rates, we believe people want to own their own place.”
Developers say West Kendall residents are looking to move east and the project is also near US Highway 1, Metrorail stations, the Palmetto Expressway and Kendall Drive.
“The county did a good job on the Kendall downtown master plan. Once it is built-out, it will attract a lot of people,” Mr. Martin said.
Terra International, a group of Miami and South American investors, is also developer of the Nautilus luxury condominium under construction on Miami Beach.
January 14, 2004
Fund plans ‘Magic’ in Downtown Dadeland
An urban-oriented real estate fund run in part by former NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson said it will take an equity position in Downtown Dadeland, the mixed-use project under construction across from Dadeland Mall in Miami.
The fund, the Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund, is a joint venture between California-based Canyon Capital Realty Advisors and Johnson’s Johnson Development Corp. The group’s local partner is Miami-based Gulfside Development. Neither company gave financial information as to their agreement. Unlike the fund’s usual, urban-repositioning projects, Downtown Dadeland Condos is on the site of a former Cadillac dealership and is being built to become a downtown, not a remodeled one. The project is to include 416 condominium residences and 125,000 square feet of retail space in seven clustered, low-rise buildings. Backers said the project is more than 80 percent sold, with condos ranging in price from the mid-$100,000’s to the low $500,000’s, including studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units. “We at Gulfside Development are extremely proud of our agreement with Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund,” said Jackson Ward and Stefan Johansson, Gulfside co-principals. “We share in their vision of furthering the development of urban markets and look forward to working with them in urban redevelopment projects throughout other markets with which Gulfside Development is involved.” Bobby Turner, co-managing partner of the Canyon-Johnson Fund, said Downtown Dadeland meets Canyon-Johnson’s goal to provide equity capital for urban redevelopment.”We looked at numerous opportunities throughout the state and are extremely confident that Gulfside Development is the appropriate partner, and Downtown Dadeland the appropriate project through which we will enter the Florida market,” Turner said.
If you want to know about Pinecrest, talk to its people. And what better place to find Pinecrest residents and aficionados than with the new home consultants for Colonnade. The Lennar community of Colonnade epitomizes urban living and its sales staff personifies its demographic makeup. “The best way to sell a property, we find, is to believe in our product,” said Jack Paget, director of sales for Colonnade four- tower condominium where the first two towers are now 85 percent sold.” Our sales staff is comprised of people who have close ties to this neighborhood and who love what Colonnade represents. They offer buyers an inside glimpse at life as it would be for future residents.” For one, Carolyn Ede is a lifelong res ident of Pinecrest and, partly by virtue of her children, is quite active in the com munity. She is often networking, whether it’s with the local schools, sports associa tion or YMCA, earning her remarkable insight into the community’s happenings. In fact, she went back to working in real estate after being a stay-at-home mom precisely because she loves her communi ty so much. “Once buyers learn how rich and dynamic Pinecrest is, their purchase decision is an easy one,” she said. Hilda Mendez Jacobson was born in Cuba and is now an integral part of the real estate market in the Pinecrest area. A signif icant part of her family lives in Pinecrest, so she deems herself knowledgeable in terms of neighborhood hot spots. “I am certain downtown Kendall will become the next Coral Gables,” she said. “Actually, it will likely surpass what it offers.” As far as the community, she adds that Colonnade is a paradigm for Lennar’s family-friendly developments. “Colonnade will allow people to raise their families in a safe setting, while being surrounded by the best a thriving downtown has to offer,” she said. Lisa Silva believes so strongly in Colonnade that she sold a residence to her mother-in-law. “I felt that this community is centrally located in an area she is familiar with, an area where you can walk to the doctor, restaurants, cafes and salons.” said Silva, who grew up in a commercial real estate business, but has focused her career over the past decade on Miami’s residential real estate market. Perhaps the best person to tout the advantages of a neighborhood like Pinecrest is Jack Paget. He .leads Colonnade’s professional team of women working to attract new residents and relies on his 20-plus years of experi ence in the field to provide homebuyers with a comprehensive understanding of what they are buying when it comes to Lennar. He passes along his passion for downtown Kendall to those seeking an exciting city life; yet want the safety and comfort of suburbia. “The master plan for downtown Kendall is absolutely mind blowing,” said Paget. “Miami is emerging as a real inter national city and the location of Colonnade is in the heart of the action, as the area is already experiencing a boom in growth of restaurants, shops, cafes and professional offices.”
By Marissa Gart
Shaq takes on real estate market
Heat star Shaquille O’Neal has launched a real estate and development company called The O’Neal Group.
BY MATTHEW HAGGMAN
Shaquille O’Neal is taking his game to downtown Miami, but in the real estate market rather than the hard court. The Miami Heat star announced Tuesday the formation of The O’Neal Group, a real estate company, to organize his property holdings and invest in new projects. His first venture: investing in a billion-dollar development called Met Miami that encompasses three blocks in the heart of downtown. ”People sometimes ask me who is my favorite athlete. They expect me to say Chamberlain, Russell, Kareem,” said O’Neal, ticking off the names of former basketball greats. “But I say Dave Bing, because he did great things after basketball.”
Bing, a prolific scoring guard now enshrined in basketball’s Hall of Fame, runs a multimillion-dollar steel business in Detroit and is a civic leader there. O’Neal said he wants to make a similar mark in Miami and intends to keep a home here after his basketball career. However, O’Neal said his primary residence will remain in Orlando, which he has called home since launching his professional basketball career with the Orlando Magic.
Neither The O’Neal Group Vice President Christopher Handy nor Met Miami developer Luis Pulenta would provide specifics about financial arrangements. But each said they involved a significant financial investment by the Heat center. ”This is not a fee arrangement, I am partners with the gentleman to my right,” said O’Neal, referring to Pulenta, who is a principal at Miami-based MDM Development. The O’Neal Group said it would also assist in marketing the project. Plans for the Met Miami call for two condominium towers, an office and Marriott Marquis hotel, upscale shopping and a movie theater. Retailers include the grocery store Whole Foods, and O’Neal plans to bring in his 24-Hour Fitness/Shaq Ultra Sport workout facility. The project is going on land that once housed the historic Royal Palm Hotel built by industrialist Henry Flagler. The condo tower Met One at Biscayne Boulevard and Biscayne Way is under construction, and preliminary work is underway for the other buildings. O’Neal said he has invested in real estate for more than a decade, including strip malls and residential rental properties. The company is targeting mixed-use projects that focus on what Handy called ”integrated living” and is exploring several other deals.
O’Neal is not the first NBA star to move into real estate. Earvin ”Magic” Johnson, the former guard who led the Los Angeles Lakers to five NBA championships, launched Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds after his playing career ended. That fund, with nearly $1 billion in capital, has focused on urban renewal projects across the country. Johnson’s South Florida investments include the Downtown Dadeland condo and retail project in Kendall. ”This lovely thing we do, we can’t do forever,” O’Neal said, who won his fourth NBA title this year after the Miami Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks in six games. “We’ve scoured the country to find an appropriate venue through which we could launch the O’Neal Group and ultimately decided that the best place to start was in our own backyard.”
A tale of two city centers growing up in the suburbs By ELAINE WALKER ewalker@MiamiHerald.com
When Dadeland Mall opened in 1962, the area was known as ”Deadland,” and Kendall Drive was the road to nowhere. In Plantation, cows grazed along University Drive when the Broward Mall debuted in 1978. Back then, Kendall and Plantation were typical bedroom communities filled with young families fleeing urban congestion. But today, these first-ring suburbs are becoming city centers of their own, full of multi-level retail, offices and residences. ”Mixed-use is what happens when an area starts to urbanize,” said Bob Breslau, president of Stiles Retail, which has such projects underway in Plantation, Davie and Sunrise. “It’s a mind-set change. Where everybody is used to seeing single-story buildings, now things are going vertical.” Dadeland is leading the way, with a condo canyon taking shape across from Dadeland Mall, driven by the arrival of Downtown Dadeland, Toscano, Metropolis and Colonnade. It’s the fruition of an effort that began with the adoption of a new Downtown Kendall zoning code by Miami-Dade County in 1999. But the seeds of the area’s urban retail movement were planted even earlier. Developer Jeff Berkowitz bucked tradition in 1996 when he opened Dadeland Station, a five-story shopping center that stacked traditional big-box tenants in a format this market had never seen. The project took seven acres, rather than the 35 acres needed if everything were on ground level. ”The Dadeland market was one of the strongest in the country; if it was going to work anywhere it was going to work there,” Berkowitz said. “We had some innovative retailers who were willing to experiment with us. It was pioneering then, but it has been proven now.” The excitement that exists in the Dadeland area today is why Allen and Stella Donelan are trading in their South Miami-Dade house across from MetroZoo, where they have lived since 1995, for a three-bedroom condominium in Downtown Dadeland. Allen is tired of having a pool that needs cleaning, trees that need trimming and a roof that needs fixing.
He also hates the hourlong commute to his U.S. Post Office job — he will cut that by two-thirds. With the Metrorail virtually next door, the Donelans plan to get rid of their second car. These active senior citizens like that the seven-building community features 130,000 square feet of restaurants and shops like Bombay Furniture, Chili’s, West Elm, Children’s Place and Men’s Wearhouse facing on pedestrian-friendly streets. Within walking distance, there’s Dadeland Mall, a Publix and numerous restaurants. ”The city within a city concept is a great idea,” said Allen Donelan, 70, who hopes to move in before the end of the year. “It’s going to be a nice change for us. It’s going to be a different lifestyle.”
While this project has taken more than nine years, in some ways it has allowed the market to catch up with the vision of an urban village created by developers Stefan Johansson and Jackson Ward. The original plan called for a retail entertainment center. ”We’ve been extremely selective because you need that mix to create the true urban experience,” said Johansson, who says he could have leased it faster with big-box retailers. “We’ve got neighborhood restaurants, a shoe store, liquor store and a pizzeria.” But even today there are urban retailing challenges. Take Rooms to Go, which is relocating its store possibly as soon as next week into the ground floor of Toscano, one of the new condos. The move allows the furniture chain to more than double the size of its existing Kendall store. The problem is the logistics. While the store has dedicated parking spaces under the building, store manager Rene Perez is worried his customers won’t find them. ”Maybe I’ll get a clown directing traffic for the first couple days,” Perez jokes, but he’s considering neon signs inside the storefront window. “We’re going to have to be creative. This is a city store, and we have a lot to learn.”