Item Coversheet

New Business and Commission Requests - R9  L


TO:Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Commission 
FROM:Jimmy L. Morales, City Manager 
DATE:June  24, 2020



The Collins Park neighborhood is home to cultural institutions including the Bass Museum of Art, Miami City Ballet, and the Regional Library. The Collins Park Garage spans an entire block of 23rd Street, from Park Avenue to Liberty Avenue. It is immediately adjacent to Miami City Ballet and the location of the City’s proposed workforce housing development. The parking structure includes +500 parking spaces and 15,000 sf retail space below. Outside the ground level commercial liner is an exterior terrace that provides connectivity to the pedestrian plaza, itself unifying the property with the Ballet, library, and future housing complex.  The open terrace is ideal for outdoor seating and both larger, corner retail units have been configured to accommodate restaurant uses.


Given the property’s potential to impact neighborhood character, the Administration sought guidance on future tenant programming from the Finance and Economic Resiliency Committee. On February 28, representatives of Miami New Drama advocated for rehearsal space at the new garage and suggested an outward-facing, convertible studio could be used to engage the community. The Finance committee asked the Administration whether RDA money was available to invest in the retail space in order to attract tenants.


On May 22, the Administration informed the committee that the sole RDA funds potentially available were approximately $6.9 million of non-TIF revenue currently earmarked for the Lincoln Road Renovation project, or alternatively, approximately $1.0 to $1.5 million in annual Quality of Life funds that could become available October 1st as part of the FY 2021 Capital Budget process. The committee recommended that the City Commission discuss preferences for tenant programming and funding to fulfill its vision.  



The type of buildout necessary for the commercial space will depend largely upon needs of the future tenant. Before discussing improvement costs, it is necessary to determine the desired programming for the site. Through careful curation of the retail space, the City has an important opportunity for placemaking and streetscape activation, which could serve as economic catalyst for this neighborhood.


The FERC committee favored programming that brings value to the cultural arts campus, engages the community, and contributes to the public realm both day and night, such as a café, art gallery, or cultural group. In fact, the City Commission established the Collins Park Arts District Overlay, pursuant to Ordinance 2016-4061, in response to the Collins Park Neighborhood Association’s expressed desire for more art and entertainment-related uses. If the desire is to support a cultural nonprofit, the City could subsidize costs involved with making the space habitable to their preferences, in exchange for a leasing agreement stipulating tangible public benefits for the residents and community. This would allow the nonprofit to focus its budget on cultural programming that benefits Miami Beach.


For discussion purposes, staff prepared an “arts and cultural space concept plan” that combines artist studios, gallery, performance space, and administrative offices—all in one (Attachment A). The collocation of rehearsal, performance, and administrative spaces altogether would be of practical value to a local cultural partner who could adapt the space for various purposes. The concept plan includes renderings of the striped pedestrian plaza (formerly Liberty Avenue), which will benefit tenants with foot traffic and communal space to leverage.  


In determining which public purpose(s) the retail space should serve, the Commission should explore what amount of the 15,000 sf is devoted to a cultural partner, as opposed to leasing at market rate to commercial tenants. The City’s real estate broker, CBRE, Inc., will market any retail space that the Commission does not otherwise committ to a specific tenant. CBRE believes the retail units benefit from good visibility and ample parking, and suggested marketing to commercial tenants such as boutique fitness studios, fast-casual dining, or chef-branded restaurants, among others.



Upon completion of the garage, the retail space will remain raw, with dirt floors. Additional improvements are required prior to tenants occupying the space, the cost of which is determined by the specific tenant and their space requirements. The Administration believes that finishing the buildout of the interior space is in the City’s best interest, especially if the market becomes saturated with vacant storefronts. The added cost of building out the space may deter prospective tenants who lack financial backing, and the space will remain a conspicuous empty storefront until it is leased.


At the very least, a “vanilla box” product should be offered for retail tenants to customize (cement floor, ready-to-paint walls, working electrical outlets, lighting, plumbing, finished ceiling, and air conditioning).


However,, for a cultural arts tenant relying on City funding for the buildout, a customized “turnkey” product that is fully finished and functional will likely result in double the cost of improvements.


Estimated Cost of Retail Space Improvements


Cost per square foot

Entire 15,000 sf

vanilla box finish

$100 / sf

$1.5 million

turnkey ready

$200 / sf

$3 million


Last month, the City postponed plans for the largescale Lincoln Road Renovation. Depending on the timing and reduced scope of that project, RDA funds originally intended for Lincoln Road could be realigned. It was the committee’s recommendation that the City Commission discuss potential use of these earmarked funds, in concert with any expense related to programming the garage retail space.   


The Administration recommends the minimal buildout for retail spaces to encourage the attraction and success of new businesses. The administration also recommends engaging our retail brokerage team, CBRE, for the attraction of tenants for the commercial spaces. Given the economic climate and the opportunity presented by this project, the Administration recommends that any potential use of funds, for a turnkey buildout for the activation of a cultural, artistic, and/or commercial retail tenant, be in tandem with careful selection of a tenant that offers undeniable and long-lasting value to the neighborhood. Should the City Commission desire to re-allocate funds to support a turn-key buildout the administration will work with CBRE for the attraction and engagement of the most suitable candidate.

Applicable Area

South Beach
Is this a "Residents Right to Know" item, pursuant to City Code Section 2-14? Does this item utilize G.O. Bond Funds?
No No 

Strategic Connection

Prosperity - Revitalize targeted areas and increase investment.
Legislative Tracking
Economic Development

Attachment A - Concept Plan