For Global City Development principal Diego Procel, his new development in Miami’s Upper East Side neighborhood is personal.
Procel’s son is a 21-year-old Marine. So it was almost a perfect fit when the American Legion redevelopment opportunity fell into the company’s lap.
Global City, a Miami-based firm with projects around the country, in partnership with Midtown Group are redeveloping the veterans’ outpost at 6445 Northeast Seventh Avenue into a mixed-use waterfront project with 237 apartments.
Built in 1966, just 10,000 square feet of the nearly 30,000-square-foot building had been used – at most, Robert Bellamy, a commander with American Legion, told The Real Deal.
Jonathan Black, a judge advocate, told TRD that the 50-year-old building was “in total disrepair” and that it was out of code. “Our solution was to seek a developer to basically rebuild the property,” he said.
The prime piece of real estate borders the Legion Memorial Park and is east of the MiMo District where values have increased significantly over the past few years. In May, the building at 6405 Biscayne Boulevard sold for $6.7 million, up from $1.2 million for the land in 2012.
“We didn’t want to sell the property. We wanted to hold the property and enter into some kind of lease arrangement,” Black said. “As fate would have it, Jonathan Samuel from Midtown was out in the neighborhood researching to see what properties were available for redevelopment. ”
The new, 15,000-square-foot facility will be built with a younger demographic in mind. The majority of the local post’s 450 members are from Vietnam and prior wars. “If this is successful, we can take it statewide and nationally … There’s an American Legion in every neighborhood,” he said.
That includes a gym, areas for physical therapy, a wellness center and a large swimming pool. Services offered will include group therapy, acupuncture, post-traumatic stress disorder treatment and more.
Global City entered into a 75-year lease with American Legion for its 3.6-acre bayfront plot of land. Phase 1, which includes a 237-unit apartment building and the new American Legion facility, will be built there. The developer is also investing about $6 million into the new American Legion building, an amount that breaks down to $2 million for development and $4 million to operate under the new business model.
Global City will knock the existing building down by the first week of August and begin “serious work” in September.
In the meantime, American Legion is operating an office at 50th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. The organization closed its outpost in September when the lease was arranged. The developers aim to complete the project’s first phase by the end of 2017.
Procel said the next phase, built on surrounding land the developer owns, will be determined by the market.
“We have a huge opportunity to create a little village, something very special that serves the Legion, that serves the community,” Procel told TRD. “It’s going to be a game changer for the whole area, so we want to be very careful of how we design this.”