The Real Deal Miami

Melo pays $10M for downtown Miami church lot, with possible plans for rentals

Zoning allows a 1.09M sf building with 80 stories, or 1,131 feet, to be built on the surface lot

The parking lot and from left, Carlos Melo, Martin Melo and Jose Melo

UPDATED July 13, 3:05 p.m.: The Melo Group just paid $10 million for a downtown Miami church’s surface parking lot, where it may develop a high-rise rental project, The Real Deal has learned.

The Miami-based, family-run real estate development company is buying the 45,433-square-foot surface parking lot at Northeast Fifth Street and Miami Avenue from Christ Fellowship Baptist Church. The Baptist organization owns and holds services at the Central Baptist Church at 500 Northeast First Avenue.

Real estate broker Joel Rodriguez, president of Global Investments Realty, told TRD he represented both sides of the deal. It closed on Wednesday.

In March, Christ Fellowship sold another nearby parking lot of 37,500 square feet to the Instanbul-based Okan Group for $18.1 million. The Okan Group plans to build a mixed-use project on its portion of the lot.

The Central Baptist Church building itself, which was built in 1926 and is historically designated, is not being sold and will continue to hold services on site, said Tracy Lautenschlager, a Fort Lauderdale-based Greenberg Traurig attorney who represents Christ Fellowship. In fact, as part of the deal, the Melo Group must also build a 300-space parking garage that will be deeded back to the church.

“This [sale] provides great resources for the church to continue operating downtown and ensure that they have parking for their own services and ministries going forward,” Lautenschlager said. “And it provides resources to keep up the historic property.”

Lautenschlager said the Melo Group is contemplating developing a rental project on the site.

Under current zoning of T6-80, a 1.09 million-square-foot building 80 stories — or 1,131 feet tall — can built on the surface lot the Melo Group intends to purchase, Rodriguez said. The zoning also allows for up to 1,043 residential units.

Melo confirmed the transaction and said the firm is still considering various uses for the property.