Beckham’s soccer stadium; Swire, Ross’ Brickell City Centre tower rezonings get preliminary commission OK

Miami Freedom Park is one vote away from final approval

From left: Jorge Mas, Swire’s Kieran Bowers, David Beckham, and Stephen Ross
From left: Jorge Mas, Swire’s Kieran Bowers, David Beckham, and Stephen Ross (Getty, Swire Properties, Arquitectonica)

Two major Miami projects – David Beckham’s soccer stadium, as well as Swire Properties and Stephen Ross’ One Brickell City Centre office tower – are a step closer to fruition.

The Miami City Commission on Thursday gave preliminary approval to the Major League Soccer project’s designation as a Special Area Plan, as well as to items related to the Brickell office project.

The commission also approved on first reading five sites where 26 acres of greenspace will be created to compensate for the roughly 23 acres of park land that will be lost by the development of the soccer stadium complex.

The second and final votes on the items are expected in September.

Miami Freedom Park

Miami businessmen and brothers Jorge and Jose Mas are leading the partnership that will develop Miami Freedom Park on the closed Melreese Country Club at 1802 Northwest 37th Avenue, just east of Miami International Airport. Beckham and Los Angeles-based Ares Management also are partners.

The plan is for a 25,000-seat stadium on the western side of Melreese; a 750-key hotel; 400,000 square feet of offices on the northwest corner; 600,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space largely within a “soccer village” south of the stadium; and 5,100 parking spaces. The garage will include public use sports fields on its roof.

The Arquitectonica-designed development will span 73 acres of 131-acre Melreese. In April, Miami Freedom Park’s developers scored final approval for a 99-year lease for the site. The remaining 58 acres at Melreese will be converted into a public park under the city’s purview.

As part of the deal, the developers have to recreate almost 23 acres of park land that will be lost at Melreese. The plan is to actually create almost 26 acres of greenspace interspersed throughout Miami at the following sites: 2735 Northwest 10th Avenue and 2615 Northwest 8th Avenue; 150 Northeast 19th Street; 1950 Northwest 12th Avenue; 1641-1680 Northwest 5th Street and 1610 Northwest 6th Street; and 3851 Rickenbacker Causeway, according to the commission agenda.

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The approvals didn’t come without some contention. Commission chairwoman Christine King questioned whether community benefits she asked for, such as a commitment to hire minority-owned businesses at the development, had been included in Miami Freedom Park’s legal documents.

City Attorney Victoria Méndez said staff and the developers still are tweaking the lease, adding that a lot of the words in the document now are “aspirational.”

“Stop the games. The chairwoman was not aspirational. She was direct,” Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla responded. “You know what she wants. Put it in the language between now and second reading.”

Iris Escarra, attorney for Miami Freedom Park, agreed the items will be included in the documents.

One Brickell City Centre

Swire and Ross’ Related Companies want to build One Brickell City Centre at 700 Brickell Avenue and 799 Brickell Plaza in Miami. At the planned height of 1,000 feet, it would be the tallest commercial building in Florida.

Because it’s part of the larger mixed-use Brickell City Centre development, the commission approved tweaks to the entire project’s development agreement and Special Area Plan to allow for the tower’s construction. Part of the approval was to also allow for larger floor plates.

The tower is planned to have some of the largest floor plates for a Class A office building in Miami.

Brickell has emerged as a prime office hub, attracting much of the influx of financial firms to South Florida over the past year and a half.

Ken Griffin announced in June his hedge fund Citadel and financial services firm Citadel Securities will move their headquarters along Brickell Bay from Chicago.