“Gotta go up”: Mapping the supertalls on tap in Miami
Developers toyed with reaching 1,000 feet for roughly a decade, but plans invariably fizzled. Will this time be different?
Developer Jeff Berkowitz launched his plan for a 1,000-foot tower in Miami in 2013 in typical fashion: with a lot of fanfare over the city’s first supertall.
His plan for SkyRise Miami downtown ended seven years later, also in a typical way: scrapped.
Developers in Miami for years have proposed supertalls, only to have their vision fizzle out for various reasons. In the SkyRise case, the project survived legal challenges but unraveled when it failed to secure financing during the pandemic. Another pair of 110-story towers that were approved more than a decade ago never came to fruition because the developers were sentenced to prison over fraud and tax evasion.
Maybe this time will be different. As Miami’s real estate market became supercharged during the past two years thanks to an influx of population and companies, developers proposed five supertalls across the city. It’s a bet on the market’s continued boom and a need to go high when faced with a dwindling supply of buildable land that also comes at exorbitant costs.
“My guess is most of them will get built and get developed,” said Phil Keb of Gencom, a co-developer of one of the planned supertalls. “There’s tremendous demand for real estate and the only way to do more is you gotta go up.”
A supertall is roughly 984 feet, to which Miami developers have steadily inched closer. The Hollo family’s Florida East Coast Realty developed the nearly 900-foot tall Panorama in Brickell, currently the city’s tallest building.
The five projects on tap are reaching higher, aiming to surpass not just Panorama but the 984-foot supertall threshold. One is planned for roughly 1,000 feet and the rest for 1,049 feet, the highest allowed in Miami by aviation authorities because downtown Miami is in a flight path.
So which developers are reaching for the sky? And what are the planned architectural and engineering feats of these supertalls? Check out our list:
First out of the ground
The biggest sign that Miami is about to reach supertall status is the start of construction in October of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel & Residences.
PMG and its partners are building the 1,049-foot tall tower with 205 hotel keys and 360 condominiums at 300 Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami.
PMG’s partners are Greybrook, Mohari Hospitality, S2 Development and Hilton. John Moriarty & Associates is the general contractor.
PMG, which originally unveiled the project in 2018, is armed with the confidence that it will surmount any unforeseen cost increases. Why? The partners have secured financing, and roughly 87 percent of the units are pre-sold.
The tower, designed by Sieger Suarez Architects and Carlos Ott, is known among real estate circles for its design as a stack of misaligned large cubes. Units in the top two cubes start at $10 million.
The project is expected to be a pioneer in realms other than its height. It will be the first Waldorf Astoria-branded hotel in Miami. It also will be the first tower in the city with a tuned mass damper, or a heavy mass mounted on springs at the top of the building that works as a pendulum to reduce swaying. Although tuned mass dampers are more common in earthquake-prone regions, the Waldorf Astoria’s will help reduce swaying in the wind.
Completion is expected in 2027.
Offices in the sky
Swire Properties and Stephen Ross’ Related Companies are betting on Brickell’s office boom.
They plan the nearly 1,000-foot tall One Brickell City Centre at 700 Brickell Avenue and 799 Brickell Plaza in Miami. The office tower will be an addition to the Brickell City Centre mixed-use complex that Swire completed in 2016.
This supertall also will be a design pioneer. In September, city commissioners approved floor plates spanning 40,000 square feet on upper floors and 60,000 square feet on lower levels, likely one of the largest ever approved in Miami.
That is precisely why the building doesn’t need a tuned mass damper, said Bernardo Fort-Brescia, co-founder of Arquitectonica, the project’s architect.
“The floorplate is large,” he said, making it “easy to resist swaying.”
Construction is expected to start next year.
Views on the river
The light beige James L. Knight Center that harkens back to 1980s Miami architecture and the next-door Hyatt will be replaced with a three-tower complex that includes a supertall.
Miami Riverbridge will include a 1,049-foot tall, Arquitectonica-designed building with roughly 860 apartments. Hyatt and Gencom are partnering on the project on a 4-acre site at 400 Southeast Second Avenue overlooking the Miami River.
The complex is poised to bring 1,500 apartments; a new 615-key Hyatt hotel with 264 service-branded apartments; a 190,000-square-foot convention space; 12,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space and plenty of outdoor space. In a November referendum, city voters approved a 99-year lease extension for the publicly owned site.
The project site has a street on just one side, posing some construction challenges. To get around this, the developers have to build Miami Riverbridge at once and not in phases, said Keb, EVP of development at Gencom.
This means the podium and the three towers atop it will come out of the ground at the same time, though the two shorter 61-story towers will be completed in 2028, and the supertall will follow in 2029, Keb said.
As is common with supertalls, the higher the building goes, the deeper the underground pilings. At Miami Riverbridge’s supertall, pilings are expected to go roughly 175 feet deep, said Allen Matis, a consultant on the project.
To drill this deep, crews use auger cast piles that drill more like a wine corkscrew, Matis said. The method also eliminates the noise and vibration that could come with the pile-driving method.
One Bayfront Plaza
It’s been a long-time coming, but the Hollo family’s One Bayfront Plaza project is inching closer.
Florida East Coast Realty, founded by Tibor Hollo, moved its headquarters out of 100 South Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami, setting the stage for the building’s demolition next year to make way for One Bayfront Plaza.
FECR had planned for a 1,049-foot project on the site since at least 2016. At the time, the vision called for apartments, a hotel, offices and retail.
FECR, now based at 1101 Brickell, owns both that building and the downtown building it plans to redevelop as One Bayfront Plaza.
One Bayfront Plaza actually is the firm’s second planned supertall. FECR also had long planned a pair of Foster + Partners-designed supertalls on a 2.5-acre bayfront site in Brickell. In April, FECR sold the property at 1201 Brickell Bay Drive for a record $363 million to billionaire hedge funder Ken Griffin.
Griffin, who is moving his Citadel and Citadel Securities’ headquarters from Chicago, has retained Sterling Bay to build the new companies’ base at 1201 Brickell. But whether it will be a supertall remains to be seen.
Michael Stern’s JDS Development Group plans to build a Brickell supertall.
Originally, JDS planned to partner with Major Food Group on the 1,049-foot building at 888 Brickell Avenue, but Major Food Group exited the partnership this summer.
JDS is pursuing the Studio Sofield-designed project, rechristened 888 from its previous moniker Major. It will have 259 condo-hotel units. Sales are expected to launch in the second quarter of next year and construction will follow later on in 2023.
The Federal Aviation Administration approved the project and issued permits in December.