Melo picks up density for planned multi-tower downtown Miami development

Stiles transferred density for nearly 1K units, marking one of largest density transfers in the state

Stiles Transfers Density to Melo for Downtown Miami Project
Carlos and Martin Melo, Stiles’ Scott MacLaren (front) and 1700 Biscayne (Styles, rendering via Zyscovich Architects)

Melo Group picked up density to add nearly 1,000 more residential units in Greater Downtown Miami, The Real Deal has learned. 

Fort Lauderdale-based Stiles transferred density for about 950 units from its site at 1776 Biscayne Boulevard to Miami-based Melo, for its nearby property at 1700 Biscayne Boulevard, for $16.3 million. It marks one of the largest density transfers in Florida and along the East Coast, according to the brokers involved in the deal. The transfer adds another 400,000 square feet of possible development to Melo’s assemblage. 

Alex Suarez of Global Investments Realty represented Stiles, and Joel Rodriguez of Global Investments Realty represented Melo. Stiles leases out the Publix-anchored property at 1776 Biscayne Boulevard. 

Melo, led by brothers Carlos and Martin Melo, plans a four-tower complex of up to 60 stories, with apartments, condos, retail and commercial space on its land at 1700 Biscayne Boulevard. Melo’s Omni Bay Corp. paid $105 million for the full city block in Miami’s Arts & Entertainment District. It totals more than 3 acres between Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast Second Avenue as well as Northeast 17th Street and 17th Terrace. The sale closed two years ago. 

Greenberg Traurig attorneys Carlos Diaz and Iris Escarra were involved in the density transfer. The law firm declined to comment, and referred TRD to the Melo Group’s public relations firm, led by former Miami commissioner Sabina Covo.

Stiles declined to comment. 

Melo can now develop about 2,500 units on the land. The brokers said the density and intensity transfer is a win-win for the buyer and seller because it allows Melo to build more units, which means it could rent the apartments out at lower prices. 

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“In general, the purpose is to help developers get to a number that works,” Suarez said. 

A spokesperson for Melo said it will be a transit-oriented development. The firm declined to disclose a construction timeline. 

Development costs — including construction, financing and insurance — have soared in recent years, resulting in a number of paused or stalled developments. Boosting density is one way to improve a project’s financial viability, but it doesn’t always pencil out that way. 

Melo has built thousands of residential units in Greater Downtown Miami. The firm used the strategy of pricing apartments just below market rate to lease up quickly and stabilize properties. It also handles construction in-house, which typically lowers costs. 

It is also building the planned 62-story Aria Reserve Miami in the city’s Edgewater neighborhood. Melo launched sales of the first tower last year. The developer spent more than a decade assembling the 5-acre waterfront property, where roughly 800 units are planned.

An earlier version of this story misstated that Greenberg Traurig attorney Carlos Lago was involved in the deal. Carlos Diaz with the same firm worked on the transaction.

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