As redevelopment becomes all the rage in downtown Miami, nightclubs are turning into collateral damage

E11even is one of three clubs on Northeast 11th Street that have faced multiple noise complaints from neighbors.
E11even is one of three clubs on Northeast 11th Street that have faced multiple noise complaints from neighbors.

For more than 15 years, in the wee hours before sunrise on Sundays, the thumping bass emanating from the speakers inside the cavernous Club Space lured hundreds of electronic dance music aficionados onto Northeast 11th Street in downtown Miami. It’s a scene that real estate developers, brokers and other city boosters have used to promote Miami as a vibrant, 24-hour city to help sell condo units in the urban core.

But in the past year, the scene outside Club Space and its nightclub neighbors, E11even and the recently shuttered Heart, has become quite the nuisance for residents of nearby buildings such as 900 Biscayne and the Marquis, where residents’ complaints sparked a noise crackdown by Miami’s code enforcement arm against the three nightlife venues. The targets of the crackdown claim developers are behind the aggressive stance as they hope to make room for the kinds of massive mixed-use sites with condos, offices and retail that have become all the rage in the area.

Linette Guerra, a broker associate with La Playa Properties Group who has seven active listings at 900 Biscayne, said that in the last six months, renters who lease units from investors she represents have complained about the music. “They try to use that as a means to negotiate down the price of the rental,” Guerra said. “But they are not really successful. This is a byproduct of being in the middle of all the action.”

Sara Pareja, a broker associate with One Sotheby’s International Realty who also markets units at 900 Biscayne, said tenants and clients have not voiced any complaints to her. However, Pareja has heard how loud the thumping techno music can get because she lives at 10 Museum Park, a luxury tower about one block east of the nightclubs. “At 6 o’clock in the morning on Sundays, you can definitely hear it,” Pareja said. “It can get annoying. The neighbors have been aggressively fighting it.”

However, the nightclub nuisance has not been a factor in selling or leasing units, Pareja said, explaining that the clubs don’t typically throw parties during the workweek hours when agents are typically showing units. “And there is no noise disclosure in contracts,” she said. “We don’t have to disclose that issue.”

Broken Heart

For the owners of Heart, which moved next to Club Space in 2015, the complaints were part of larger plot to eradicate the nightclub district on 11th Street between Northeast First Avenue and North Miami Avenue. In November of last year, Heart’s owners and their landlord, 50 NE 11th Street LLC, sued the city over what they claimed was a bogus and illegal noise-complaint scheme to force the nightclub and its competitors Club Space and E11even out of business.

“Despite its popularity, Heart Nightclub (as well as other nightclubs located on 11th Street) has been facing growing pushback from the defendant and certain downtown Miamians, who have set their sights on ridding the Park West District of nightclubs, lounges, and bars in favor of new development, including the Miami Worldcenter, schools, and luxury condominiums,” the lawsuit stated.

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Heart operated inside a three-story repurposed warehouse measuring nearly 12,000 square feet, which was sandwiched between Club Space to the east and two other former nightclubs inside warehouses totaling 17,675 square feet. The block also includes a surface parking lot owned by developer Michael Simkins, who also owns the property where E11even is located. Simkins added two levels to the E11even property and increased the building’s square footage to 20,000 square feet in 2013.

In April, Heart waved the white flag. In an email blast to local media outlets, Heart’s chief financial officer, Michael Slyder, said Heart decided to close rather than continue fighting with the city and residents over noise complaints. “During this past year, the clubs in our 24-hour entertainment district have been constantly attacked by new condo developers, residents and the city of Miami,” Slyder wrote in the statement. “We have fought a good fight and spent a great deal of money on lawyers but now it’s time for us to throw in the towel.”

Slyder and the representatives of Club Space and E11even did not respond to requests for comment, but real estate experts said Heart’s accusations are not that far-fetched given that the 11th Street nightclubs are located on the northern border of the massive $2 billion, 25-acre Miami Worldcenter project.

The area north of Miami Worlcenter around the 11th Street area is ideal for another large-scale mixed-use development, Jose Rodriguez, an attorney at Rennert Vogel Mandler & Rodriguez, said. The law firm, on behalf of Miami Worldcenter’s developers, had enforced the commercial evictions of tenants who occupied properties that were ultimately torn down to make way for that project.  “These are extremely high-density parcels,” Rodriguez said, referring to Northeast 11th Street.

But the nightclubs are likely to stick around until the next cycle, said Gerard Yetming, an executive vice president with Colliers International. With so much condo inventory on the market, there’s no need for land to build more at the moment. “There is a lot of product that still needs to get absorbed,” he said. “But when it’s time, that 11th Street block could act as the link between Miami Worldcenter and Edgewater.”

And while Heart may have closed, Club Space and E11even remain hugely successful entertainment venues, Yetming said. “As long as the nightclub operators that are there continue to make money, they will find a way to continue doing business there,” he said. “Their landlords will continue to monitor the market until we get into another expansion cycle and the demand for infill sites goes back up.”

According to Miami-Dade property records, the four warehouses on Northeast 11th Street with clubs as current or former tenants are owned by four different limited liability companies whose owners are not identified in Florida corporate records. Registered agents for the four companies did not respond to requests for comment.

Regardless of what becomes of the 11th Street nightclubs, Yetming said, downtown Miami cannot afford to lose its reputation as a nightlife haven. “Certainly that use needs to have a place within the urban fabric,” he said. “Miami by nature is a city driven by entertainment. It has one of the few 24-hour districts that allows nightclubs to thrive. There has to be some way for that use to continue existing.”