The Real Deal Miami

Renters fill Midtown units

By Jennifer LeClaire | July 21, 2009 11:17AM

The luxury Midtown Miami development hit a record-high condominium occupancy in its three residential buildings, but the $2.3 billion mixed-use complex isn’t seeing those rates because of new owners.

Midtown 2 and Midtown 4 both have occupancy rates over 90 percent. The two towers are occupied by a combination of owners and renters, with 352 condominiums closed and 335 units under lease. The low-rise residential tower Midblock, with two-story live/work lofts and townhomes, is 76 percent occupied, with 131 of the units leased. 

Jack Cayre, principal of Manhattan-based Midtown Equities, developer of Midtown Miami, said the leasing program plays into the lifestyle Midtown Miami promotes. Restaurants and retail shops are opening this year, including Sugarcane Lounge, OXXO Dry Cleaners and Shuichi Take Fitness Club. 

“The brokers are continuing to work daily with individuals inquiring about the leasing options and we are eager to show units to keep this momentum going,” Cayre said. Midtown Equities launched the leasing program in February 2009.

Plans for Midtown to have interweaving sidewalks through 56 acres of the Magic City also include a “Restaurant Row” and a “Gallery Row” to showcase artists from the newly designated Midtown Miami Arts District. 

Midtown Miami seems to be faring better than some of its neighbors. Only about two-thirds of the 8,300 units in the Downtown and Midtown Miami area are sold, according to a recent report from Goodkin Consulting/Focus Real Estate Advisors. 

Analysts wonder if Midtown Miami owners and area retailers are satisfied with the demographics of the emerging mixed-use neighborhood.

“If you are a retailer, you probably signed a lease based on the demographic of the buyer,” said Peter Zalewski, principal of Condo Vultures Realty in Miami Beach. “Suddenly, that demographic has changed because you are dealing with renters instead of owners who could afford to purchase the condos.”

Jack McCabe, principal of McCabe Research & Consulting in Deerfield Beach, agrees. Still, McCabe and Zalewski said it’s better to fill the buildings with renters than leave them empty.

“With high occupancy at the Midtown projects, we shouldn’t see the problems with maintenance and upkeep [in] these properties like we are seeing in many other condos across South Florida,” McCabe said. “That’s good news for owners at Midtown Miami.”