Architecture students at the University of Miami are participating in a class that focuses on emerging technologies in the shaping and planning of Miami neighborhoods, and their sites are currently set on Miami’s Design District. In collaboration with Design District developer Craig Robins, the students developed and pitched ideas on how to make the neighborhood more technologically and environmentally friendly. According to a recent article from The Real Deal, each of six teams presented on six topics, including energy consumption, urban agriculture, urban re-industrialization, social interaction, the environment, and mobility. While Robins commended the teams on their proposals, which included rooftop gardens and structures that serve as indoor farms, using renewable energies to produce electricity, and a fabrication factory that would produce products made of recycled materials, he cited obstacles that would make them impractical for the current district. While implementation of such plans may be a ways off, it’s exciting to envision the future of Miami’s many neighborhoods.
The transformation of the shabby-turned-chic Miami neighborhood known as the Design District, is starting to really take shape. Construction is an ongoing sign of expansion, as developer Craig Robins’ dream of doubling the size of the pedestrian-friendly retail area comes to fruition, but several high-end fashion boutiques are already open for business. Heavy hitters like Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co,, Emilio Pucci and Harry Winston are currently doing business and approximately 60 new stores and restaurants are expected to join them by mid-2017. At this time, there are about 70 shops that are already open, or are planning to before this year’s annual Art Basel fair in December, including Christian Louboutin, Prada and Celine, according to a recent story from the Miami Herald. “The idea of the Design District is to offer a rich experience at the intersection of culture and commerce,” claims Robins, who is the CEO of Dacra Development.
Construction on the $500 million expansion is underway as an area of small buildings and empty space is being transformed to suit new luxury tenants, like Bottega, Gucci, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent. Plans for the block on the western side of Northeast First Avenue between 39th and 40th streets include a slew of more contemporary stores, like Rag & Bone, Marc Jacobs, and Diane von Furstenberg. A 10-story hotel and 14-story condo project are also in the works, as more and more residents and tourists want to live, work, and play in the Miami area. With that in mind, the addition of restaurants and entertainment will address a current lack of nightlife options. Cynthia Cohen, president of retail and real estate consulting firm Strategic Mindshare, believes the expansion is bringing the Design District forward. “One thing the area needs is more nightlife,” Cohen stated. “Both ABC and L’Atelier have strong name recognition for New Yorkers and international travelers. Fine dining is a very effective way to get more foot traffic into the area.”
There are other high-end shopping areas in Miami, including the existing Bal Harbour Shops and the new developments, Brickell City Centre, which is scheduled to open by the end of the year, and Miami Worldcenter, which will open in 2017. But industry experts aren’t concerned about the competition being threatening to any one location. Nitin Motwani, a principal at the Worldcenter, claims that she thinks “it speaks to the depth of the luxury market in Miami and the strong demand from tenants to locate here.” And other developers are taking notice of the progress being made and the buzz that is stirring. “We are actively trying to build around the Design District,” stated Carlos Rosso, president of the condo division for the Related Group. Currently, the major local developer has three condo projects in the area: Baltus House, Paraiso Bay, and Hyde Midtown. When speaking of Robins and his development, Rosso describes it as being “complementary.” “Craig is building top-end luxury retail for our residential buyers, and we are providing customers to walk through his stores and restaurants.” Exciting times are ahead for Miami’s Design District as developers work together to create luxurious and extremely desirable experiences for both residents and tourists.