Spain’s Real Estate Powerhouse Set To Build $435M Mixed-Use Project In Miami
“we’re placing our credentials, our experience on the table with this project”
Alberto Muñoz, CEO, Espacio USA
Rebeca C. Trujillo
Like Christopher Columbus and the great explorers of centuries past, representatives from Spanish companies, reeling from an crisis at home, are heading across the Atlantic on a quest to discover new business horizons in America. Only this time, as they disembark in Miami, they experience no culture shock and face no language barrier; instead, Spanish executives and entrepreneurs encounter a hospitable, culturally-harmonious environment that’s in the midst of an economic recovery, brimming with investment and commercial opportunities.
Such is the case of Inmobiliaria Espacio, Spain’s real estate powerhouse and part of the commanding Grupo Villar Mir industrial conglomerate.
Encouraged by the successful incursion of GVM’s construction division, OHL, into the South Florida market, Inmobiliaria Espacio established Espacio USA in 2007. Headed by CEO Alberto Muñoz, the firm set out to develop two mixed-use real estate ventures, one in Clearwater and the second, an ambitious project in Miami’s Biscayne corridor, north of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.
“When we arrived in Miami and saw all the skyscrapers being built in the Downtown area, we said ‘Wow!’,” says Muñoz. “The economic crisis had not flared up yet, but we knew this was ‘the place’ we needed to invest in.”
Muñoz explains that Espacio USA’s approach was conservative, even tentative, at first: “We had an absolute knowledge of the Spanish market, but felt that we had to approach the US market with humility, because everything here works differently —banks, construction process— and the learning curve takes time. This is why we began with the Clearwater project; it is smaller, more manageable and we have a local partner.”
“It soon became clear that Miami was where the action was,” Muñoz admits. “Things work faster here. The cycles may be more pronounced, but it’s a more interesting and dynamic market.”
Espacio USA began assembling the Miami property by purchasing the building at 1444 Biscayne Boulevard in 2010.
“We felt the location was excellent, plus we saw that Downtown Miami was inching northward into this area,” he says. “The fact that the Genting project will also be developed here just adds to its appeal.”
The complex, called 1400 Biscayne Center, has been structured into two phases :
• a 12-story, 102,815 square feet (gba) office building to rise on the southern quadrant of the block; the 1444 Biscayne property remains fully operational during construction. Cost: $35 million.
• a 55-story, 650-foot high skyscraper with a total of 710,191 square feet, featuring 428 apartments and retail area on the ground floor. Cost: $400 million.
The complex includes a new 890-space parking garage, replacing the existing structure that fronts NW First Avenue.
Maribel Goldar, Espacio USA’s Director of Marketing, explains that 1400 Biscayne has been designed by renowned NYC architects Pei Cobb Freed, with whom Inmobiliaria Espacio has a close working relationship, to be LEED Gold, Class A+ boutique.
“We believe in putting our best foot for-ward with all our projects,” she says.
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