Downtown Miami Grows Despite Recession

More good news coming out of downtown Miami:  MDM Development Group has finalized an agreement with Silverspot, one of the nation’s most innovative premium movie theater companies, to open a state-of-the-art 12-screen boutique movie theater at Downtown Miami’s Metropolitan Miami development.

This news follows on the heels of the announcement of a new Whole Foods that will also join The Met development…the same downtown destination that is home to the world’s first JW Marriott Marquis, which opened last month to much fanfare, and the Hotel Beaux Arts, which is set to open next week.  It’s now crystal clear that Downtown Miami has emerged as a live-work-play urban destination. The Miami Herald broke the news about the new theater on Wednesday, and the lead to the article says it all:

In a move that signals confidence in Miami’s economic recovery — and potential for growth in the city’s urban core — the developer of the downtown Metropolitan Miami complex announced plans to add a high-end movie theater.

That night, WPLG Channel 10 expanded on that same sentiment, declaring “Downtown Miami Grows Despite Recession. More people, businesses move downtown.” (You can watch the video here.) While we might be a bit biased (being that we represent the Miami Downtown Development Authority), the segment captures the excitement of downtown’s transformation. As Alyce Robertson, the executive director of Miami’s Downtown Development Authority, says: “If you haven’t been to downtown Miami in the last five years, you don’t know downtown Miami. We are the next great 24/7 city.” Both pieces are worth a read, so we’ve included them both below. Enjoy!


Downtown Miami Grows Despite Recession More People, Businesses Move Downtown

Downtown Miami is becoming the new hot place to live and play, with the population increasing and new businesses and entertainment spots popping up all over. “If you haven’t been to downtown Miami in the last five years, you don’t know downtown Miami,” said Alyce Robertson, the executive director of Miami’s Downtown Development Authority. “We are the next great 24/7 city.”

Miami’s building boom brought 23,000 living units to downtown, but many feared no one could afford to live there.

“In fact, the real estate bust, while it wasn’t good for the developers, was very good for downtown because what you ended up having is people renting instead of buying,” Robertson said.

Miami’s urban growth is as impressive as its penthouse views. Ten years ago, less than 40,000 people lived in the downtown area, but now, more than 70,000 people call downtown Miami home.

“Today it is probably more than 50 percent are renting, and that’s a good thing because it becomes a youth movement, and the youth movement forces you to have a more vibrant downtown,” said Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff.

To cater to the younger, more health-conscious crowd, a Whole Foods Market is being built in  the middle of downtown. It is expected to be done by 2013. A 12-screen luxury movie theater will be built at Biscayne Boulevard and Southeast Third Avenue, and new restaurants and retail stores also are popping up.

“During the recession in 2009, we saw an increase of retail businesses, of 46 new retail businesses, in downtown, and that really says something that while everything else was retracting, we were expanding,” Robertson said. “That was because of the new resident base.”

A bounty of new luxury hotels also have opened, including the new five-star J.W. Marriott Marquis, giving South Beach a run for its money. “The best hotels exist in Miami. They don’t exist on Miami Beach,” Sarnoff said.

Miami is quickly becoming an urban environment that can live up to its nickname, “The Magic City.

High-end movie theater in the works for downtown Miami

 The latest attraction coming to downtown Miami: a 12-screen movie theater.

 By Hannah Sampson

 In a move that signals confidence in Miami’s economic recovery — and potential for growth in the city’s urban core — the developer of the downtown Metropolitan Miami complex announced plans to add a high-end movie theater. Plans call for the new theater at the Metropolitan Miami complex to open by late 2012 or early 2013. It will join a Whole Foods, set for completion in 2013, and the already-open Met 1 residential tower, Wells Fargo Center office tower and JW Marriott Marquis and Hotel Beaux Arts.

Adding a multiplex is the latest step in making the area a place where people want to live, work and play. That’s a dramatic change of scenery from 10 years ago, when fewer than 40,000 people lived downtown and there was a dearth of options compared to other cities with cosmopolitan credentials. But the building boom added towering high-rise buildings with 23,000 units — and the bust made those units more affordable for young professionals who wanted to live near their jobs.

Now, 70,000 people live downtown, and the Miami Downtown Development Authority expects another 10,000 to move in by 2014. The theater, said DDA executive director Alyce Robertson, was a missing piece for those new residents.

“This is an amenity that adds to the ambience of a 24-7 residential, commercial and entertainment district,” Robertson said.

MDM Development Group said Tuesday that it had finalized an agreement with luxury theater company Silverspot to open a 55,000-square-foot, 12-screen theater as the anchor for the planned Met Square entertainment complex. It will also include retail and restaurant space.

“This is a total game-changer for the market,” said Lyle Stern, principal with Koniver Stern Group, the retail leasing representative of Metropolitan Miami. “It’s real urban living.”

The downtown Miami corridor has added thousands of residents and dozens of restaurants, shops and hotels over the past decade. But the broader downtown area hasn’t had a movie theater since the AMC at Omni International Mall closed in 1999 — and even that was more than a mile north of the proposed site near Biscayne Boulevard and Southeast Third Avenue. For a night out at the movies, downtown residents have to drive to South Beach, Coconut Grove or South Miami. Those are attorney Eric Bluestein’s options — though he finds himself watching movies at home more often than venturing out to a theater these days.

“I like movies a lot,” said Bluestein, 28, who lives in the Met 1 building. “Once they put a theater next to me, I’ll definitely be going quite a bit.”

Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who chairs the DDA, said downtown offers sports with the AmericanAirlines Arena and arts with the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, but lacks what he called the “simple pleasures” of going to the movies. “It makes it a whole community,” he said. “There’s no reason you have to leave.”

The closest movie option, Paragon Grove 13, reopened in June after going dark for renovations for eight months at Coconut Grove’s CocoWalk. Like the planned theater, that cinema sells wine and beer and allows patrons to reserve specific seats. Silverspot, which has one other location, in Naples, boasts luxuries like large leather seats, hardwood floors and marble and glass finishes. Though pricing for Miami isn’t yet available, general admission for adults at the Naples location is $15. MDM did not disclose projected development costs for the theater at the $1 billion Metropolitan Miami complex.

James Marsh, a media and entertainment analyst for Piper Jaffray, said chains worldwide have been experimenting with offering high-end moviegoing experiences. He said the concept hasn’t yet been proven, but it could be a smarter move than trying to compete with nearby megaplexes. Movies in general have fared “remarkably well” during the economic recession, Marsh said, despite the abundance of entertainment options on home television screens and mobile devices.

For Bluestein, who also works downtown, the promise of having a grocery store and movie theater in his back yard is “like a dream come true.” “It’ll definitely make life a lot easier,” he said. “Anytime you can avoid traffic down here, it lessens your stress.” His prediction: “I’m going to become a downtown hermit.”