An open-air luxury shopping center at Brickell City Centre that developers say will transform downtown’s financial district is set to open Thursday morning — but don’t expect all, or even most, of its more than 100 shops to be ready.
About a dozen stores, including headliner Saks Fifth Avenue, will welcome customers for the opening. During a media preview of the 500,000-square-foot site, hard-hatted construction workers caulked store fronts and carted wheelbarrows of building supplies. Hurricane Matthew delayed progress of several tenants by a week. Other retailers, including several making their debut in the Miami market, have moved more slowly than expected.
“It’s more of an unveiling,” said Debora Overholt, vice president of retail for Hong Kong-based developer Swire Properties.
The shopping center, cooled by an innovative climate ribbon that shades shoppers from the sun and fans them with sea breezes, stretches across three city blocks linked by elevated pedestrian bridges. It offers 1,700 underground parking spaces and also connects to Miami’s Metromover. Public transit will be crucial to the project’s success as navigating the area by car can be tricky, due to Brickell congestion and several active construction sites in the area. It is located at 701 S. Miami Ave.
Developers have embarked on a massive wave of retail construction and renovation across South Florida, saying the region is under-served. But Brickell City Centre, which includes two condo towers, office space and a hotel for a total of 4.9 million square feet, is the first to open its doors south of the Miami River. Target markets include foreign tourists, Brickell condo dwellers and suburbanites from Coral Gables and Pinecrest.
$1.05 billionTotal build-out cost of Brickell City Centre
“Our grand opening is a continuation all the way though the holidays,” Stephen Owens, Swire’s president, said over the din of hammers, saws and reversing trucks.
Owens expects 50 shops to open by the middle of November and more in December. The retail space is 91 percent leased. Over four years, the project employed about 16,000 people, he added.
Other tenants include Victoria’s Secret, Valentino, dine-in movie theater CMX and Porsche Design.
An Apple store is also set to open up, sources say, but neither Swire nor the tech giant has confirmed the deal. A black-fronted store on the second floor with no signage but plenty of busy workers seems a likely location.
BOXING IT IN WOULD HAVE BEEN A TRAGEDY.Hugh Dutton, designer
Whitman Family Development, which own Bal Harbour Shops, and global mall operator Simon are co-developers with Swire, which made a big bet on Miami by buying the land in 2008 as the local real estate market collapsed. Arquitectonica designed the shopping center.
One welcome sign: The temperature inside was noticeably cooler than on Brickell’s sun-baked streets. That’s thanks to the thousand-foot $30 million glass-and-steel climate ribbon.
“Boxing it in would have been a tragedy,” said Hugh Dutton, the Paris-based designer of the climate ribbon. “You can still see Miami’s beautiful blue sky.”