Old Miami neighborhood is the latest hot destination for developers
By James Teeple
UPDATED March 3, 9:50 p.m.: The alligators are long gone from Allapattah, but you can still see some of the statuesque Royal Palm trees that former Cuban President Gerardo Machado planted on his small plantation after he was exiled to Miami.
Like much of Allapattah — which means alligator in the Seminole language – Machado’s home is now for sale and it’s listed at over $1 million, a sign of the times in one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods that’s in the middle of a real estate boom. With investors who are priced out of Wynwood, and increasingly Little River, feverishly snapping up warehouses, old bodega storefronts and single family homes, Allapattah is becoming Miami’s hottest new neighborhood.
Many of those brokers and investors got a close-up look at Allapattah on Friday on an Urban Land Institute-sponsored bus tour of the neighborhood which stretches north from the Miami River to Northwest 41st Street and West from I-95 to Northwest 27th Avenue. Leading the tour were Miami Historian Paul George, District 1 Miami Commissioner Willy Gort and Carlos Fausto Mirando of Fausto Commercial Realty, which has brokered millions of dollars of deals in the neighborhood recently.
The ULI tour traveled up 17th Avenue, from the offices of McKenzie Construction to 36th Street, through Pequeño Santo Domingo, the home of many of Allapattah’s Dominican residents, east to “West of Wynwood,” or W.o.W., as it’s being called, to Northwest 29th Street and 7th Avenue, where “Wynwood style” eateries and retail outlets like the Allapattah Market have opened recently.
Next was the neighborhood’s so-called “industrial core” around Northwest 12th Avenue and 22nd Street, where the future Rubell Museum will be located, and where Miami Beach investor Robert Wennett paid $16 million for the old Allapattah produce market, which takes up almost 10 acres. Tour participants also traveled west along Northwest 20th Street, home to hundreds of small retail outlets.
The area along 20th Street was recently rezoned by the city of Miami T6-8, which allows for mixed-use buildings to be built up to eight stories with 150 units per acre. Miranda told The Real Deal that with buildings selling on 20th Street on a land base evaluation of about $110 per square foot to 110 per square foot, and retail rents at about $14 per square foot to $20 per square foot, the area is a relative bargain compared with blocks further east where he says commercial property can sell for $300 per square foot.
Carlos Fausto Miranda
He said most warehouse space in the area ranges from 5,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet and sales and lease prices can vary from block to block. Miranda, whose firm did $48 million of business last year in Allapattah, which he said represented 60 percent of all deals there, also told TRD relative bargains can be found along 36th Street to the north. The area is also zoned T6-8 and he says it’s not hard to find large multi-acre lots at reasonable prices.
Gort, who has represented Allapattah for years, said many old businesses are leaving the area, and he hopes the new zoning will bring in more residents and help spur workforce housing in the largely low-income area. “We’re trying to create affordable and workforces housing along with the private sector,” he told TRD.
George told TRD that with a new museum opening soon and good Metrorail connections more residents will be moving to Allapattah. “It’s a pretty densely populated area, and as you get closer to the Miami River you’ve got apartment houses and condos. It’s just a great market for anybody trying sell something. There are so many people in a finite area,” George said. “The neighborhood was our best kept secret until recently.” But he said now that investors and developers have discovered Allapattah, he’s not sure what the future will be for the neighborhood’s largely Dominican residents.
McKenzie Construction, whose 25,000-square-foot state-of-the art facility opened in 2015 on Northwest 17th Avenue, is doing much of the renovation and reconstruction work in Allapattah. Chief Operating Officer Benji Power said it’s an ideal location, “better than Wynwood or Little River,” near Metrorail and all of Miami’s major highways.
He told TRD moving to Allapattah helped his business and the neighborhood. “We were a little part of the uptick,” he said. “I could say we had a vision, but to say that is to give ourselves too much credit. All the right pieces were just here.”