Midtown Miami landowner wants to unload 18 acres

Site’s zoning allows for 3,250 residential units

May.May 06, 2014 12:00 PM

Peter Zalewski

As developers proceed with plans to build nearly 55 new condo towers in Greater Downtown Miami, an ownership group with one of the largest concentrations of developable land in the market is attempting to unload nearly 18 acres zoned for about 3,250 residential units to a single buyer.

A series of corporations tied to Midtown Opportunities formally listed for sale their “remaining development sites” in the 57-acre Midtown Miami complex located between Northeast 36th Street south to Northeast 29th Street, and Northeast Second Avenue west to North Miami Avenue, according to marketing literature. Suzanne Dewitt and Elias Esber of Kendall are the managers of the ownership entities.

An asking price – or minimum reserve amount – has not been announced as part of the offering, which is seeking bids from qualified buyers.

Midtown Opportunities acquired about 22 acres of land from the original developer of Midtown Miami in a series of transactions totaling about $60 million in December 2011, according to Miami-Dade County records.

Since then, the Greater Downtown Miami real estate market changed dramatically as a result of the improving local economy and increased foreign investment in South Florida. A clear sign of the economic turnaround is the fact that developers are now proposing to build more than 15,500 new condo units in Greater Downtown Miami, which stretches from the Julia Tuttle Causeway south to the Rickenbacker Causeway, and I-95 east to Biscayne Bay, according to the preconstruction condo projects website CraneSpotters.com. (For disclosure purposes, my firm operates the website.)

Of Greater Downtown Miami’s proposed units, the Biscayne Boulevard Corridor – which stretches from the Julia Tuttle Causeway south to the MacArthur Causeway and includes the Midtown Miami area – is home to 20 proposed condo towers with nearly 6,100 units. A majority of the new towers proposed for the Biscayne Boulevard Corridor are slated to go up in the Edgewater area, which is just east of the Midtown Miami complex. In Edgewater alone, developers are proposing a dozen new towers with more than 3,350 units.

Competition for developable sites in the Edgewater neighborhood is so intense that Russian mining oligarch Oleg Baybakov paid a premium of at least $37 million – more than double the current market value – to acquire an entire city block through a series of transactions that closed over the last 90 days, according to The Real Deal.

It is against this backdrop that Midtown Opportunities is attempting to unload its developable land that was acquired about 30 months ago.

Prospective buyers who do pursue the Midtown Opportunities land portfolio will quickly realize that three major projects – two residential towers and a big-box retail project – are already proposed for neighboring sites in the Midtown Miami complex.

The Related Group proposed the 31-story Hyde Midtown tower with 400 condo units and 80 hotel rooms on the Midtown Three site at 3401 NE First Avenue. The property was acquired for $12.1 million from Midtown Opportunities in November 2013.

A block south, a 24-story rental tower with 400 units is slated to be developed on the Midtown Five site at 3201 NE First Avenue, according to the Midtown Miami website.

Down the block to the south, Wal-Mart Stores is proceeding with plans to build a three-story facility with 203,000 square feet and 577 parking spaces at 3055 North Miami Avenue.

Given the widespread activity in the area, the unanswered question going forward is whether the decision by Midtown Opportunities to sell off its land in a single transaction – instead of potentially maximizing its return through individual deals – is an example of cashing in on the boom or a sign of waning confidence about future land appreciation in the Biscayne Boulevard Corridor.

Peter Zalewski is real estate columnist for The Real Deal who founded Condo Vultures LLC, a consultancy and publishing company, as well as Condo Vultures Realty LLC and CVR Realty brokerages and the Condo Ratings Agency, an analytics firm. The Condo Ratings Agency operates CraneSpotters.com, a preconstruction condo projects website, in conjunction with the Miami Association of Realtors.

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