Praying for a profit? Developers plan multifamily project on North Miami church site, adjacent property

Preliminary vision is for one or two 12-story buildings with 220 units

the Church of God Evangelical at 12830 Northeast Sixth Avenue in North Miami with Daniel Jaramillo and Tomas Sinisterra of Strategic Properties based in Miami (Google Maps, LinkedIn)
the Church of God Evangelical at 12830 Northeast Sixth Avenue in North Miami with Daniel Jaramillo and Tomas Sinisterra of Strategic Properties based in Miami (Google Maps, LinkedIn)

An apartment project with at least 220 units is poised to replace the Church of God Evangelical in North Miami, marking the latest redevelopment of a house of worship in a hot market where no site is sacred.

Strategic Properties and project partners Francis Jacob and Jacob Nae, want to build a multifamily development on the property at 12830 Northeast Sixth Avenue and the next-door house at 575 Northeast 127th Street, Daniel Jaramillo of Strategic told The Real Deal. The trio scooped up the 2.2-acre site in two deals totaling $5.6 million.

Nae is with North Miami-based Accountant & Management, and Jacob is with Rentals Paradise Realty, according to their respective LinkedIn accounts. Miami-based Strategic, led by Jaramillo and Tomas Sinisterra, is a multifamily developer with projects in Florida, Texas and Georgia, and a projected pipeline of roughly 3,000 units to be completed by 2027, according to its website. It also has asset and property management divisions.

Eglise de Dieu Evangelique Church of God, led by Pastor Raphael Simon, sold the one-story, white church with a partly brick facade, constructed in 1956, for $5.1 million, records show. Simon also sold the one-story, two-bedroom house, built in 1948, for $500,000, according to Jaramillo.

The congregation has a one-year lease for the church and is looking for a new home once its tenancy expires, said Christopher Kelley, the attorney who represented the church in the deal.

Attorney Carol Frances Keys represented the buyers.

Details of the $67 million project remain to be hammered out, as the developers are yet to file an application to the city, Jaramillo said.

Under existing zoning, the development could rise up to 200 feet, which is 12 stories maximum, and have up to 220 units, although “there is a good chance” the apartment count would be higher, he said. The buyers will seek a change in the development regulations for the house lot and would consider adding affordable or workforce housing, both of which would allow for more density. Most likely, the project would consist of two buildings but it could have one.

A majority of the units would be two-bedroom apartments, with roughly 30 percent one-bedroom apartments.

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Construction is expected to start next year and be completed in either 2024 or 2025.

The site is near North Miami’s downtown, a stretch of shops, bars and restaurants along Northeast 125th Street, all anchored by the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The area is experiencing some investment activity. The former Johnson & Wales University campus is selling in pieces and is now in line for redevelopment. Jorge Pérez’s Related Group has the campus site at 1650 Northeast 124th Street under contract, proposing to build an eight-story, 382-unit Manor Biscayne building.

In January, Tate Capital bought the three-story former Johnson & Wales recreation center at 1600 Northeast 126th Street for $10.7 million, leasing the property to the city.

Johnson & Wales, a nonprofit tourism and hospitality school, closed its North Miami campus after completing the 2022-21 academic year.

In the prospering South Florida commercial real estate market, homing in on churches has become somewhat of a gospel for builders on the lookout for developable sites.

In Fort Lauderdale, Wellmeaning Properties plans to reinvent the closed Fourth Avenue Church of God property at 1237 Northeast Fourth Avenue into the Canopî project with bars, restaurants, retail and offices. It bought the property for $2.4 million in 2020.

Last year, Elm Springs paid $5.5 million for the boarded up Rader Memorial United Methodist church and school at 205 Northeast 87th Street in El Portal, with plans to redevelop it into an office-retail complex with eateries.

A more contentious proposal is by Arnaud Karsenti’s 13th Floor Investments and the Ardid family’s Key International, which want to buy and redevelop the oceanfront parking lot and school portion of the First Miami Presbyterian Church at 609 Brickell Avenue in Miami’s Brickell. As of February, a congregation member’s opposition to the deal put the plans on hold.