Miami Worldcenter scraps mall in favor of High Street retail

Anchors Macy's and Bloomingdale's may no longer have locations in reduced retail project

Jan.January 11, 2016 02:15 PM

On the cusp of groundbreaking, Miami Worldcenter has canceled plans for a major mall anchored by Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, citing changes in the retail industry and the Miami market.

The project now will have a far reduced amount of square footage for shopping, with pedestrian-oriented “High Street” retail along the lines of Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road, said Nitin Motwani, managing principal of Miami Worldcenter Associates“Reality is, High Street retail is where people want to be, rather than a regional mall in a downtown,” Motwani told The Real Deal.

With the change, original plans for Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s to anchor the enclosed Miami Worldcenter Mall are now scrapped, and it is unknown whether they will continue to play a role in the new concept.

“We’re working with them to see how they fit in, but they may not,” Motwani said. The anchors were to take up about 300,000 square feet of the roughly 760,000-square-foot, three-story mall. Now plans include a total of about 300,000 square feet of retail shops on the street, he said. No “inline’ retailers have yet signed up.

Without a doubt, competition for retail is heating up in Miami-Dade, with Aventura Mall and Bal Harbour Shops expanding and a new $4 billion mega-mall, American Dream Mall, planned for the Miami Lakes area. New luxury designer boutiques are opening in Miami’s Design District, Wynwood is adding hip new shops, and Brickell City Centre — anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue — is scheduled to open later this year.

Motwani deflected the idea that scrapping the mall concept was prompted by surging competition. He said the project’s High Street retail component will be “complementary” to the Design District, Brickell City Centre and Wynwood.

“The retailers love Miami,” he told TRD. “There are plenty of retailers to fill up the project. It’s really about the design. We had to make the decision: are we moving forward with High Street retail or are we moving forward with a mall.”

Worldcenter’s 27 acre-development will run north and south from Northeast 10th Street to Northeast Seventh Street, and between First and Second Avenues, with retail surrounded by residential towers, a hotel and exposition center, dining and entertainment options.

Motwani said the original plans for Miami Worldcenter three years ago were to have a “true urban grid that blended with the community that you walk right into.” The retail industry responded that the project needed acreage, and the project’s partners Forbes and Taubman, brought in to head the retail effort, secured Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s two years ago.

But since then, Miami has become more of an urban center and world gateway, with a flurry of new condo development and expanded arts and cultural offerings. At the same time, retail industry has veered more toward High Street retail, and away from malls.

“What we experienced in 2015 is that more and more retailers were asking about our Seventh Street promenade,” Motwani said. The partners realized that “we could create a High Street retail,” he said. “We could build and own the next Lincoln Road.”

Motwani said the project was expecting to break ground this quarter. Now, the developers are working with the city of Miami to modify the plans, with plans to break ground sometime this year.  Completion is expected in fall 2018.

Construction has already begun on the 700-foot tall Paramount Miami Worldcenter condominium, and the city of Miami has approved the construction of two apartment towers and street-level retail lining Northeast Seventh street. Also nearby, ZOM’s 429-unit luxury apartment building, Luma, will rise along Northeast Second Avenue. And Miami-based MDM Group plans to develop a new Marriott Marquis hotel, set to feature 1,800 hotel rooms and 600,000 square-feet of meeting and event space near the intersection of Northeast Seventh Street and North Miami Avenue.


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