Lions Group NYC buys downtown Miami dev site to build apartment tower

Property is already approved for M Tower, a 53-story, 440-unit apartment building with roughly 26K sf of office space

Renderings of the approved tower
Renderings of the approved tower

A Long Island-based real estate investment firm is making its first dive into the downtown Miami multifamily market, The Real Deal has learned.

Albert Shirian’s Lions Group NYC closed Thursday on a development site at 56 Southwest First Street and 65 Southwest 2nd Street that includes air rights above a parking garage owned by the Miami Parking Authority. The company’s affiliate, Downtown 1st Street LLC, paid $10 million, according to commercial brokers who worked on the deal.

Lions Group NYC plans to build the multifamily project M Tower on the property, according to EP Realty’s Estrella Perez, who represented the buyer. The site already has approved plans for a 53-story, 440-unit apartment building with roughly 27,000 square feet of office and 1,089 square feet of retail.

Colliers International’s Mika Mattingly and Cecelia Estevez represented the seller, Downtown 56 LLC, which is an affiliate of Aventura-based S2 Development led by J. Claudio Stivelman and Marc Schmulian.

Lions Group NYC has been looking to buy a development site in Miami since before the pandemic began, Perez said. “This was the perfect match,” she said. “What made this site attractive is the location. It is right next to everything and in the center of the action.”

Lions Group primarily owns multifamily projects in Brooklyn, Long Island and Queens, according to its website.

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M Tower will be near the downtown Miami federal administrative building, several I-95 on-ramps and the Miami Avenue Metromover station. Nearby, developer Enrique Manhard recently purchased the 2.2 acre former Burdines site for $46 million.

“The timing is perfect,” Perez said. “There is not much new construction activity in downtown Miami.”

Mattingly said the site was on the market for about seven months and was listed while there was still uncertainty about the real estate market because of the pandemic. “There was limited interest when it was first listed,” Mattingly said. “Towards the end, New Yorkers were swarming Miami, and a number of offers were submitted.”

She said she could not disclose the amount that Lions Group’s offer beat other bids, but she noted, “the buyer was very qualified to take on this development, which gave the sellers certainty in closing.”

In 2014, S2 Development bought the two parcels for $1.3 million, according to Miami-Dade property records. The 16,718-square-foot site includes air rights, waivers and the ability to build residential units above the neighboring parking garage. As a result, M Tower will consist of 622,783 square feet of gross building area.

The apartment component will be marketed to students and young professionals, currently the largest market of downtown Miami residents, according to a press release.

“The downtown Miami market has never been more active than it is right now,” Mattingly said. “This market is poised to see the largest influx of investors ever from other states, and this transaction highlights that trend.”