UPDATED Dec. 15, 11 a.m.: Commercial real estate developer and broker Michael Comras hopes to transform development on Fifth Street, the gateway to Miami Beach.
Comras is planning a new retail complex on Fifth Street, which city officials describe as “one of the most heavily traveled commercial corridors on the Beach,” but which has little pedestrian foot traffic compared with nearby Alton Road or Washington Avenue.
Just over a year ago, Comras closed on a $370 million sale of an entire block of Lincoln Road to Spanish billionaire Amancio Ortega, whose fashion empire contains Zara. Comras and his joint-venture partner Jonathan Fryd had assembled the block between 1001-1035 Lincoln Road 18 years earlier for about $12 million, and over the years brought in mega-tenants like Apple, Nike, Intermix and Athleta.
Now, Comras is proposing to build 82,251 square feet of retail space he has dubbed The BLVD at Lenox. The project received a certificate of appropriateness and two height and setback variances on Tuesday from the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board, allowing Comras to move forward with his project.
The four-story retail complex would sit on six lots that make up two commercial parcels at 1045 Fifth Street, 1031 Fifth Street, 527 Lenox Avenue and 543 Lenox Avenue. The two combined parcels contain two buildings, a one-story car rental agency and a two-story nightclub that Comras intends to tear down. He acquired the nightclub parcel two years ago and has an option to acquire the other property, he told The Real Deal.
The project will have three floors of retail, with parking for the building on the third, fourth and rooftop levels. Zyscovich Architects’ Suria Yaffar is the project architect, and when completed it will be one of the biggest LEED-certified buildings on Miami Beach.
Historic preservation board members called the proposal “very pedestrian friendly.” Outgoing board chairman Dominique Bailleul said it would be “a welcome addition to the neighborhood.” Other board members said they liked the focus on providing pedestrian access from Lenox Avenue and also the extensive landscaping, wide sidewalks and bike parking that will be available.
Board members also said they welcomed a proposal by Comras to re-name Fifth Street Miami Beach Boulevard, saying they would recommend to the Miami Beach Commission that the street be co-named. Comras said he had been thinking about a name change for the street for 20 years and he had the support of local historians.
Miami Beach should have a “grand entrance like Royal Palm Way in Palm Beach,” Comras told TRD, adding that, “It’s an amazing commercial corridor and what we will be able to do with some amazing architecture will hopefully be a sign of things to come.”