Baker Program Miami Trek Visit: Ocean Terrace, and Magic City

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Parth Patel

Parth Patel is a Master's candidate in real estate at Cornell University's SC Johnson College of Business. Beyond his role as a Journal Editor on the Cornell Real Estate Review, he is involved in UT-Austin's Case Competition and is a member of the Associate Real Estate Council. Most recently, Parth completed an acquisitions internship at The Habitat Company in Chicago, Illinois. Parth is a graduate of Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where he studied Economics and Mathematics.
Redevelopment Site of Ocean Terrace Holdings
Redevelopment Site of Ocean Terrace Holdings in North Beach, Miami

On the morning of the fourth day of their domestic trek to Miami, Florida, first year Baker students visited two developers with ambitions to transform the different Miami-area neighborhoods through large, pioneering projects that are each currently in the pre-development planning stage.

The first visit was to a site owned by Ocean Terrace Holdings, LLC (“Ocean Terrace”), and led by Sameer Godiwala (MBA/MPSRE ’17).  Ocean Terrace is a real estate development firm with a single, significant mixed-use project on an ocean front site in North Beach.  This project is planned on a 2.21 acre oceanfront assemblage and, upon completion, will include a hotel, condos, and retail.  It is estimated to cost $220 million, and Ocean Terrace has already spent approximately $100 million thus far to assemble the parcels and fund the lengthy pre-development battle.

The vision for the site is to develop a flagship project with a hotel that attracts the same clientele as Faena (roughly $700 ADR) and condominiums that will have an average sellout of approximately $2300 PSF.  The team behind Ocean Terrace is committed to creating a refined luxury experience that will transform the North Beach neighborhood into what South Beach was at its peak.  In fact, Godiwala specifically mentioned that what excited him to take on his role with Ocean Terrace was an opportunity for him to be pioneer in a neighborhood that has missed a few real estate cycles.  Godiwala believes that North Beach has the potential to become the next “hot” neighborhood in the Miami area —- a mantle currently held by Wynwood –  and that the Ocean Terrace project can act as a catalyst.

The site currently has an old hotel and a few structures that are not structurally sound.  To win the approval of the city and the local community, the team at Ocean Terrace agreed to preserve the existing operating hotel’s façade and completely rehab the structure.  In addition to that agreement, Ocean Terrace also agreed to acquire the street and its associated parking, which currently separates the project from the beach,  and invest approximately $15 million to convert this land into an oceanfront public park designed by Raymond Jungles.  While an easement will ensure that this park remains freely accessible by the public, by purchasing and improving this parcel Ocean Terrace was able to convert its holdings into oceanfront property as well as increase its allowable FAR and thus the size of its buildings.  Having secured the City of Miami Beach’s agreement with respect to the vacation of the street as well as the support of neighboring property owners, , Ocean Terrace will likely break ground on its project in 2020.

Baker Program students next visited a site known as Magic City located in the Little Haiti neighborhood.  Magic City is an innovation district with grand development plans to transform its respective neighborhood. The project  is being led by Tony Cho of Metro 1.  The innovation district is in its infancy stage and is being planned around four pillars that serve as its guiding principles: technology, health & wellness, sustainability, and art & culture.

As we look to the future, climate change and sustainability are big issues across the globe.  Given Miami’s geographical location on the ocean, the impact of climate change is already being felt heavily in the area given its history of violent storms, and there is a future fear of even greater impacts stemming from rising sea levels.  Tony Cho has a strong desire to attract tenants with a focus on research and innovation that fights climate change.  Beyond this desire for research and innovation, the masterplan is carefully considering opportunities to reduce automobile use and preserve the culture of Little Haiti.  While Cho wants to redevelop parts of the neighborhood, he does not want to do so at the cost of it losing its identity.

All of these considerations roll-up into a forward-thinking master development plan that is sure to transform Little Haiti.  Cho is committed to building on his track record and the success he had as one of the earliest investors in the Wynwood neighborhood and the Design District, two rapidly-developing and popular neighborhoods in Miami.

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