WEEK OF THURSDAY, APRIL 13, 2017
A Singular Voice in an Evolving City.
COMMERCIAL & OFFICE SPACE
Long slog of Miracle Mile revamp alters business scene
By Catherine Lackner
The renovation of Miracle Mile and Gerald Avenue has been a long slog and, with completion set for January, it’s far from over. Stakeholders on the streets have experienced the construction differently.
“We’ve been very fortunate, but we are sensitive to the fact that others have had serious difficulties,” said Barbara Stein, executive producing director of the Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile.
“We’ve become somewhat of a destination, and people seem to be able to get to the theater on time,” she said. “People have a choice to see or not see the show, and we’ve had some good series.”
Parking is a challenge, she said, “but parking is always a challenge, and not just in Coral Gables, but everywhere. We’re hoping the return of valet service will help.”
On balance, Ms. Stein called the renovation “a little bit of pain for some gain.
“These are going to be amazing improvements, and we hope that the people we bring in will help generate opportunities for everyone,” she said. “We’re all working together for the prosperity of the community.”
An unintended consequence of the renovation forced Flowers & Services, formerly of 366 Miracle Mile, to leave the city.
“Due to the construction, the owner of our former location raised the rent from $4,000 to $11,000,” said Maria Budow, co-owner of the business. “We moved. Once the renovation is done, a restaurant can come in there and put tables on the sidewalks, which we couldn’t do.”
Flowers & Services moved to 6600 Coral Way. “It’s really nice and there’s plenty of parking,” Ms. Budow said. “We’re happy.”
Rent increases may be part of a trend, said Rafael Romero, Vice President of CREC, via email.
“While some retailers may not survive these challenging times, the long-term gains will deliver enhanced tenants and increased market vitality. With less than a 3% retail vacancy rate in Miami today, any vacancies will be absorbed quickly in this area.
“We expect landlords of existing retail buildings to upgrade infrastructure to meet the vision of the new streetscape, playing a significant role in the new retail aesthetic,” said Mr. Romero, whose office at 2121 Ponce de Leon Blvd. is two blocks from Giralda Avenue and four blocks from Miracle Mile. “Coral Gables will also need to work closely with the surrounding landlords to deliver a destination with a synergetic tenant mix.”
“This is a defining moment for downtown Coral Gables,” said Christopher Brown, co-developer of Giralda Place, a nine-story, 33-unit condominium project at 2222 Ponce de Leon Blvd., which will have 13,390 square feet of ground-floor retail and about 100,000 square feet of office space.
“We’re already seeing growing interest in Giralda Place due to the streetscape project taking shape across the street. While tenants have seen a dry sales period, there is real buzz surrounding the streetscape’s completion and resulting increase in foot traffic,” he said via email.
“The improvements will greatly benefit current retail tenants by helping to boost lost revenue from the heavy construction and providing them with a competitive advantage, as there are no other thoroughfares in the vicinity that share the same attributes.”
“We invite people to come experience the progress of the Miracle Mile streetscape as you stroll the south side of the 100 and 200 blocks of Miracle Mile [which house] the Miracle Theatre, Barnes & Noble and dozens of quality shops and eateries,” said Javier Betancourt, Coral Gables economic development director, via email.
“Hand-cut stone pavers – inspired by our beautiful South Florida skies – are being meticulously installed on ultra-wide sidewalks to create a captivating pedestrian experience for locals and visitors alike,” he said. “The first phase of this multimillion-dollar renaissance has successfully addressed long-standing drainage issues while installing high speed fiber, new shade trees, and specialty lighting. The drainage work is done and the magic is now taking shape.”
The first phase of the Giralda Plaza streetscape is taking shape, as well, he said. “To celebrate,
‘Parking is always a challenge, and not just in Coral Gables, but everywhere. We’re hoping the return of the valet service will help.’
‘While some retailers may not survive these challenging time, the long-term gains will deliver enhanced tenants and increased market vitality.’
many of the restaurants along ‘restaurant row,’ (the 100 block of Giralda Avenue) will operate impromptu outdoor cafes in the plaza each Saturday from breakfast to midnight.
“Entitled Giralda Alfresco, these Saturday experiences will allow us to get a taste of what’s to come, because it’s just too pretty now to wait until summer, when it’s officially complete,” Mr. Betancourt said.
The project – which was discussed for years before the first inch of pavement was broken – will create streets that are more walkable, vibrant and attractive, he said. Giralda Plaza is scheduled for completion by early summer, and seven of Miracle Mile’s eight blocks are scheduled for completion by November of this year (in time for the holiday season), with the last block slated for completion by January 2018.
“The city is sensitive to the hardships faced by merchants during this period of construction,” he said. Coral Gables has taken steps to support the merchants, including:
‘While tenants have seen a dry sales period, there is a real buzz surrounding the streetscape’s completion and resulting increase in foot traffic.’
‘The first phase of this multimillion-dollar renaissance has successfully addressed long-standing drainage issues while installing high speed fiber.’
- Working with the contractor to accelerate and expedite the work.
- Attracting people to downtown through a variety of free events, such as Wellness Wednesdays, Jazz in the Gables, Movies on the Mile and Giralda Al Fresco.
- Providing discounted or complementary parking for customers, including free parking vouchers and free valet vouchers for Giralda Avenue merchants.
- Conducting a robust marketing and advertising campaign in publications and social media.
- Installing more than 180 business continuity parking and wayfinding signs.
- Waiving city permit fees and expediting permitting for facade improvements.
- Providing flexibility with respect to certain code enforcement regulations.
- Enhancing privately owned paseos at the city’s expense.
- Providing rent abatement for retail tenants in city-owned properties.