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12/12/02- Miami Today News
Miami's 56-acre Buena Vista rail yard to yield 3,000 homes; retail
stores to follow
By Paola Iuspa
When Michael Samuel develops the 56 acres he and his partner purchased last week
between Miami's Wynwood and Little Haiti, thousands of moderately priced homes will
hit the market.
A combination of loft condominiums and traditional rental apartments is planned
for portions of the 18 city blocks in the Buena Vista Yard, a massive chunk of land
north of downtown used to store hundreds of cargo containers from ocean shipping
Mr. Samuel, with a Boca Raton address, and New York partner Dan Pfeffer, president
of Midtown Equities, hope to start marketing some of the 3,000 planned units in
four months, Mr. Samuel said Tuesday. Loft condos would sell from $150,000 to $275,000
and would spread out in 17 buildings, he said. Planned for land south of Northwest
36th Street, north of Northeast 29th Street, west of Northeast Second Avenue and
the Florida East Coast Railway and east of North Miami Avenue, the mixed-use development
is projected to cost about $600 million, Mr. Samuel said.
"The majority of the units for sale are going to be lofts," he said. "Residents
will be able to work, live and play there. It will be a quality product." Considered
an eyesore and formerly a property of the FEC line, the $34.5 million yard would
be transformed into a city of its own, with a commercial center possible featuring
retailers such as Publix, Barnes ~Noble, Best Buy, Home Depot and others, Mr. Pfeffer
said. Retail would occupy about 21 acres and in many cases retailers would be able
to buy land from the partners to build their own stores, said Mr. Samuel, who is
seeking boutiques as well as national chains.
Before construction begins in late 2003, there is a lot of planning to be accomplished.
Developers want to divide the parcels into chessboard-like pieces and reconnect
the fenced-off, free-standing tract to the city through new roads, a water and sewer
system and other basic infrastructure, said Bernard Zyscovich, the architect designing
the project. He said conversion of the whole yard would take years.
"It is the development of a part of the city, not of a building," he said.
"We are building 18 blocks." The partnership between Mr. Samuel and Mr.
Pfeffer has already transformed other blighted areas in major cities. For example,
they purchased and rehabilitated 140 acres occupied by a 1.5-million-square-foot
manufacturing plant in New Jersey, divided the land into parcels and built housing,
a living-assisted facility for the elder and a town center with box retailers, Mr.
Pfeffer said. They want to repeat that experience in Miami. "We love the area,"
he said. "We see so much potential here. We want to start building as soon
as possible. We don't want to sit on the property." While the partners try
to get the necessary zoning changes, come up with architectural plans and plan the
neighborhood, they agreed to lease 15 acres for a year to the shipping companies
to store the port containers until they can find a new place.