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Coconut Grove's growing commercial sector

Re-Emerging

Coconut Grove’s commercial sector picks up.

Coconut Grove, which borders Biscayne Bay south of downtown, is one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods. Its eastern areas have remained desirable, if pricey, places to live for the past two decades, but its commercial fortunes have risen and fallen. Recently, however, the area has been re-emerging as a retail, office and tourist destination.

Since the 1990s, CocoWalk has been the Grove’s commercial center. A magnet for tourists and big chains during the 1990s, the outdoor mall saw visitor numbers drop precipitously in recent years. In fact, retail throughout the Grove suffered as Miami neighborhoods such as Midtown, Wynwood and Brickell became the hip places to visit. Maryland-based Federal Realty and local companies Grass River Property and the Comras Company of Florida purchased CocoWalk in 2015, demolished large parts of it and are well into redeveloping it into an open and connected mixed-use retail and office city center. The retail components started opening this year. Co-working company Spaces will anchor the office building. Nearby, national retailers such as Bonobos and Warby Parker have already opened showrooms.

Hotel developers have taken notice, and the neighborhood’s first new hotel in years opened this year: A 98-room Mr. C, raised from ground level on stilts, is the brand’s third location. The mainstay Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove has new owners, who are spending about $10 million on redecoration and some renovation.

On the office front, the Grove had the county’s lowest vacancy rate in the first quarter — 5.8%, according to Avison Young. Four projects, with more than 207,000 square feet of space, are under construction, which will increase total office square footage by 17%. As a measure of demand for the location, 58% of that space is already pre-leased.

AQUACULTURE

  • Chinese importers purchased Florida spiny lobsters in near-record numbers despite 25% tariffs on lobster imports to that country. Keys fishermen received an average of about $2 per pound less for lobsters this season than they did last season.

BANKING/FINANCE

  • Digital banking software company Technisys closed a $50-million round of funding that will help it expand into Europe.

ENTERTAINMENT

  • Univision Communications sold the Onion and Gizmodo Media Group English-language websites to Boston-based Great Hill Partners private equity firm.

HEALTH CARE

  • Researchers at Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and Japan’s Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences discovered a new broad-spectrum antibiotic that contains arsenic but is safe for human cells; they will need to test the antibiotic in animals and humans.

HOSPITALITY

  • The families who owned properties in Cuba that the communist government seized nearly 60 years ago sued Carnival Cruise Lines for using docks and buildings on their properties at the Port of Havana. The lawsuit is the first filed under the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, which the Trump administration began fully enforcing in May.
  • Geneva-based MSC Cruises will build two cruise ship berths and terminals at PortMiami.
  • After being closed for nine years for a $71-million renovation, the historically designated Peter Miller Hotel in South Beach reopened as the Lennox Hotel Miami Beach.
  • James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz expanded his Genuine Hospitality Group to the 60-seat Traymore by Michael Schwartz restaurant in South Beach’s Como Metropolitan Miami Beach hotel.

MANUFACTURING

  • Canada-based custom fabrication manufacturer Gamma USA closed its Hialeah facility, laying off 170 employees.

REAL ESTATE

  • Monument Capital Management, which invests in apartments and counts former New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez as a founding investor, closed its first fund, selling 10 properties with a 30% return.
  • In Hialeah, Miami-based Coral Rock Development Group and Arena Capital Holdings broke ground on a 9-acre, mixed-use project, Pura Vida Hialeah, with three eight-story apartment buildings along with retail and restaurant space.
  • The first residential building, Shoreline apartments, opened in the $4-billion SoLé Mia mixed-use project in the city of North Miami; SoLé Mia broke ground in 2015 after numerous attempts to develop the former superfund site.
  • Coral Gables-based Astor Cos. completed the city’s largest residential project: The 227-condo Merrick Manor, which also has nearly 20,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.
  • Developer Moishe Mana purchased a three-story building in downtown Miami’s Flagler neighborhood, adding to the more than 40 properties he owns in three Miami urban-core neighborhoods.
  • Commercial brokerage Cushman & Wakefield named Gian Rodriguez managing principal for its Miami and Fort Lauderdale offices.
  • Selfstorage developer MCSS hired Ben Carr as president; he had been chief investment officer of Life Storage.

TECHNOLOGY

  • CareCloud, which makes physician practice-management and electronic medical records software, has raised $33 million in a new round of funding. It has raised a total of more than $150 million.

TRADE

  • Aeroterm will add 140,000 square feet to the FedEx cargo warehouse it owns at Miami International Airport.

TRANSPORTATION

  • Virgin Trains USA will issue $950 million in bonds to finance the northern leg of its $2.3-billion Miami-to-Orlando route.

CONSERVATION

  • The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will preserve and co-manage what was the southernmost private island in the U.S. as part of the Key West National Wildlife Refuge. The island’s owner, developer David Wolkowsky (known as “Mr. Key West”), agreed to donate the 14-acre Ballast Key island shortly before his death last September.
  • Tampa’s Florida Aquarium led a team that released nearly 3,000 staghorn coral offspring into the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

 

Read more in the July issue.

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