Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s sign Worldcenter leases

Nov.November 20, 2013 10:30 AM

The Miami Worldcenter team has landed flagship retail tenants for its massive downtown Miami project, The Real Deal has learned.

Macy’s and upscale sister department store chain Bloomingdale’s have signed leases to open stores once the 750,000-square-foot retail component of Worldcenter is completed, industry sources said. The Worldcenter principals and retailers plan to announce the transaction within the next few weeks.

Securing leases with Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s is a major coup for Worldcenter. The project site is located between the transformative Brickell CityCentre development under construction in Miami’s financial district and Midtown Miami.

CityCentre developer Swire Properties has formed a partnership with the Whitman family, which built and owns the Bal Harbour Shops, for the retail component of that $1.1 billion project. No retail tenants have been announced by the partnership.

The Worldcenter lease represents Bloomingdale’s first foray into downtown Miami.

Macy’s had faced an uncertain future in downtown Miami before the Worldcenter lease.

In recent years, company executives bemoaned the state of the neighborhood surrounding its East Flagler Street store and threatened to leave the area if improvements weren’t made. That eventually died down, but the December 2012 sale of the downtown property to New York-based Aetna Realty Group again raised questions about Macy’s future.

Macy’s regional spokesperson Melissa Goff declined comment, citing a company policy not to discuss potential store openings. Messages left with a Bloomingdale’s spokesperson were not returned.

Nitin Motwani, Worldcenter’s managing partner, could not be reached for comment.

Worldcenter plans almost fell apart during the real estate downturn, but a 2011 investment by Los Angeles-based private equity firm CIM Group reinvigorated the nine-block project west of Bicentennial Park and northeast of the former Miami Arena site. CIM, Falcone Group and California-based Centurion Partners co-own the Worldcenter site.

A company tied to Worldcenter paid $12 million for two properties within the project site last month. That continued this year’s acquisition spree by the Worldcenter team, which paid $13.5 million for six properties in June and $5.3 million for another two parcels in May.

Another Worldcenter company paid $35 million for the four-acre site of the former Miami Arena in October 2012. But a different developer, MDM Group, announced in May that it had a contract to buy the site from the Worldcenter company and plans to build a hotel and convention center there. That transaction has not closed.

The Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s leases reinforce that large mixed-use developments in the downtown area are attracting major national tenants, Commercial Industrial Association of South Florida board member Tony Arellano said.

“The once forgotten urban core of Miami is now extremely viable,” Arellano said. “Miami’s destiny is density, and I believe we are only getting started.”

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