The Real Deal Miami

Retail building and garage eyed for former Art by God site

Property is adjacent to site where Dacra plans to build a mid-rise condo tower

November 16, 2015 12:45PM
By Francisco Alvarado

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Former Art by God building

The Miami City Commission will consider a rezoning request on Thursday by an affiliate of MacArthur Properties that would allow the New York-based real estate investment firm to build a two-story, 40,000-square-foot retail building and garage on Biscayne Boulevard between Northeast 37th and 38th streets.

The 0.8 acre site is located near an I-95 on-ramp and off-ramp, adjacent to land where Craig Robins’ Dacra plans to build a mid-rise condo tower as part of the redevelopment of the Miami Design District into a luxury retail and arts destination.

Melissa Tapanes Llahues, a shareholder with Bercow Radell & Fernandez representing MacArthur, told The Real Deal that a provision in the Miami 21 zoning code limits commercial uses to less than 25 percent for two-story buildings built on the property. MacArthur wants to obtain a different zoning designation that would allow commercial uses for the entire building, she said.

Tapanes Llahues said MacArthur has lined up Fernature Art + Design Concept LLC, doing business as Morada, for the main building. “Right now we just have a conceptual plan for a new two-story retail with structured parking,” she said.

The plan involves renovating the existing 61-year-old, one-story, 9,123-square-foot building that used to house the former animal and nature collection store Art by God. It will be connected to a new structure of about 30,877 square feet, according to documents Tapanes Llahues filed with the city’s planning and zoning department. MacArthur would also demolish a small multifamily building on the northeast corner of the property.

A 40,000-square-foot retail building bordering the Design District could lure some luxury retailers or high-end restaurants priced out of the now exclusive neighborhood, said Steven Henenfeld, a senior vice president and director of retail leasing for CREC.

“They are charging over 100 bucks a square foot in the Design District,” Henenfield said. “You could undercut the Design District a little bit if you could offer deals at $70 [a square foot] to $80 a square foot. It makes retailers feel like they are getting a bargain.”

However, Henenfield cautioned that it’s too early to predict whether retailers can justify paying high rents along the Biscayne Boulevard corridor near the Design District.

“You have all these New York firms paying a lot of money,” he said. “Obviously the more they pay, the higher rents they have to get. Can retailers do the sales that justifies paying those higher rents? That’s the unanswered question.”

MacArthur, which is owned by Anthony Contomichalos, Samuel Andrews Benner, Allia Rae Benner, Paul C. Contomichalos, and Nathalie Contomichalos, bought the site for a combined $7.25 million in two separate transactions in 2014. The company’s New York City assets include 305 East 72nd Street where a CVS Pharmacy is located and 131 East 31st Street, which houses the restaurant Bobby Van’s Steakhouse.