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Well, this just in: Miami Worldcenter has totally changed its gears. The $1.7 billion dollar mega project had originally had set out to build a 765,000-square-foot, enclosed mall anchored by both a Macy's and a Bloomingdale's, but a statement released this morning reveals that they've exchanged that concept for an open-air, high street retail space more akin to Soho in New York.
"We've invested a significant amount of time on the project," said Robert S. Taubman, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Taubman Centers, who partnered with Forbes Co. to run the project's retail component. "Unfortunately, we were unable to structure an enclosed mall program that meets our investment criteria. We're pleased, however, to work with The Forbes Company and Miami Worldcenter Associates on the potential development of a high street plan that we all believe will provide an outstanding retail experience."
The shift from indoor mall to open air retail space is a good move in making Downtown less polarized and more pedestrian friendly. As South Florida Business Journal puts it, "Miami Worldcenter didn't want to devote 40 percent of its retail space to a model that appears on the decline."
This new plan calls for the buildout of one- and two-story stores from NE 7th St. to NE 10th St. between NE 1st and NE 2nd Avenues. It will now take up a smaller chunk of Miami Worldcenter's 27-acre project (about 450,000-square-feet) and focus on high street stores (i.e. Topshop and Reiss, brand that are utterly trend driven and affordable enough). According to The Real Deal, Nitin Motwani, principal of master developer Miami Worldcenter Associates, says that the retail at Miami WorldCenter will complement nearby developments in the Design District, Brickell CityCentre, and Wynwood.
This new plan comes at a cost, however. The size of the project may reduce, depending on how much square footage each retailer needs, and Macy's and Bloomingdale's, who signed on as big box tenants initially, may drop out as stores of that scale don't exactly fit in this new open-roof plan. There's a chance they could stay on board, still as anchors, but only if they choose to open smaller box stores. (Let us not forget that Downtown Miami already has a Macy's).
"We would love to find a home for them here," said Motwani. "When we started developing, the perception was that you needed strong retail as anchors, even in an urban setting like Miami. But for a lot of different economic reasons that model is changing."
In a statement made to the Miami Herald, Jim Sluzewski, a spokesman for Macy's, said that the company has "been in touch with the developers and will weigh our options" about participating in the project.
This new "high street" plan has yet to be approved by city of Miami officials, however Motwani is confident that it will pass and developers are certain that the project will be completed in 2018.