Shahab Karmely and Alex von Furstenberg buy Miami River parcel, plan new restaurant

131 Northwest South River Drive
131 Northwest South River Drive

Shahab Karmely and Alex von Furstenberg just paid $5.4 million for a property on the Miami River once owned by Mary Brickell, with plans to launch a new restaurant with entertainment and event space, The Real Deal has learned.

The partners closed on the 18,000 square foot River Arts Building property at 131 Northwest South River Drive on Wednesday, Karmely, founder and principal of New York-based KAR Properties, told TRD. The site has 200 feet of river frontage and 10 boat slips, and currently houses three vacant properties: a single-story, 2,441 square foot warehouse;  a two-story, 2,225 square foot townhouse; and a 1,382-square-foot office building. 

Thomas Conway of Conway Commercial Real Estate brokered the deal.

The property, on the south side of the river and across from Lummus Park, is less than a mile away from Karmely’s planned One River Point, a 60-story luxury condominium designed by architect Rafael Viñoly that will be built along the Miami River.

“I love Miami, I love the river,” Karmely told TRD. “I’ve been saying for two years that the river becomes activated when you put in restaurants and points of interest to visit, instead of boat yards, and this is what has happened.”

Indeed, the Miami River is spilling over with an influx of new projects, including new restaurants, retail, offices and residential developments. In addition to One River Point, Chetrit Group and Ari Pearl are planning to build a mixed-used project that includes four towers, a hotel, shops, restaurants, and a public river walk with boat slips.

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Karmely has been zeroing in on South Florida during the past few years, buying more than $100 million of real estate in Hallandale and Wynwood as well as along the Miami River. He began amassing properties along the river in 2013, first paying $27.5 million for a 1.8-acre property at 24 Southwest Fourth Street that was the site of two failed condo projects. He then added two more adjacent river parcels totaling 3 acres for a combined purchase price of $33.1 million.

Von Furstenberg is also fond of Miami, Karmely said. His wife is from Miami and he wants to do more projects here, Karmely said. Von Furstenberg, the son of fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, already has another tie to Miami. His trust is the part owner of the Setai Miami Beach trademark.

“I am excited about Miami’s future and this is hopefully the first of many projects partnering with Shahab and his team,” von Furstenberg said in a statement.

Karmely said he and von Furstenberg will renovate the existing buildings to convert them into restaurant, entertainment and event spaces. They plan to bring in as-yet-unnamed “well-known” restaurateur to operate the dockside eatery, which will have an Italian and Mediterranean concept, and will be fashioned along the lines of the River Yacht Club.

The as-yet unnamed restaurant will likely open by the end of the year. “We’d love to do some events around Art Basel,” Karmely said.

“It’s synergistic with our project….” he added. “I love the river and I really believe the future of Miami is the river. I’m putting my money where my mouth is.”