Miami River project mixes self-storage with rooftop restaurant

East Coast Building rendering (inset: Alex Mantecon)
East Coast Building rendering (inset: Alex Mantecon)

A new rooftop restaurant along the Miami River will feature an express elevator to separate it from the seven floors of self-storage below, Alex Mantecon, one of the project’s developers, told The Real Deal.

The one-stop elevator would enable restaurant patrons and employees to avoid box-toting renters of the 850 storage units planned for the East Coast Building, a nine-story structure at 123 Southwest North River Drive that broke ground last week. The developers are creating separate entrances on the north and south sides of the building for self-storage users and restaurant customers.

While it’s not every day that self-storage and fine dining come together in the same project, Mantecon said he and his development partner, Guillermo Vadell, are confident the unorthodox concept can capitalize on the burgeoning downtown Miami rental apartment and condo markets.

The mixed-use business model allows East Coast to rent its almost 100,000 square feet of storage for between $1.50 to $2.50 per square foot, “at or below market rates for the area,” according to Mantecon, a managing member of MV Real Estate Holdings.

“Doing a storage facility is smart,” CBRE vice chairman Robert Given told TRD. “Storage facilities are getting about the same amount of rent as you get for an apartment, and they don’t have to put in designer kitchens and bathrooms.”

Mantecon said he considered building condos on the site, but with zoning that allows a maximum of only 12 floors at the location, he realized the I-95 freeway would have blocked the majority of views. He also ruled out an office, building because of high vacancy rates for office space in the area.

Miami’s office vacancy rate was 15.5 percent at the end of the second quarter, according to CBRE. That was a 1.8 percent year-over-year-decline, but the market has a long way to go to reach the pre-recession low of about 7 percent.

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So Mantecon’s team settled on the hybrid concept. The ninth-floor restaurant will feature river and downtown views, with 5,000 square feet of air-conditioned space and another 7,000 square feet of outdoor terraces. It will be comparable to Juvia on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, he said. Mantecon is on the hunt for a well-known chef or restaurateur to manage the eatery.

To give the exterior more pizzazz, a 30-by-70-foot mural will adorn the façade of East Coast. Students at the Honors College of Florida International University are producing the artwork.

Mantecon expects construction to be completed by June.

East Coast will be just a few blocks from Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market, a Miami institution. And it will be across the street from Melo Group’s Flagler on the River, a 32-story apartment building that is starting to rent its units.

“It will be very valuable” to the neighborhood, Melo Group principal Martin Melo said of East Coast.

Flagler on the River will also feature two restaurants within its two retail floors, where people can arrive in “their yachts and Ferraris,” Melo said. The restaurants are scheduled to open within the next six-to-eight months.