Located along the Metrorail at the corner of South Dixie Highway and Southwest 27th Ave in Miami is a parking lot and small rail station. Due to a lack of updating this property has left the Grove Central area of Miami looking underdeveloped. Miami has been rising up around this area and it is time that that change.
In 2016, a company known as Grass River property closed a deal on what is called the Coconut Grove Metrorail development site. The idea behind the project is to modernize the area, bring in new life and add more apartments to an ever growing city.
The Metrorail property is over 5 acres in size. It has been lagging behind severely in modernization. All that is there currently is a small Metrorail station and parking spots. Much more can be done with the space. That is why a bid was put up for the space and Grass River one.
The first plans called for 180,000 square feet of office space backed by 40,000 more square feet of retail shops. Above the offices and retail shops there were to be 206 hotel rooms and 250 apartments. This plan would bring a lot of business to the area, both from new residents and tourists.
Coconut Grove Train Station’s accompanying building would be the biggest in the area. Standing at over 450 feet in height, it would throw its shadow over other buildings in the area. Including recent additions, even miles away. You would have to travel six miles to the tower on the Brickwell Avenue area.
In order to achieve the 40 story height of the building, Grass River had to agree to meet LEED Gold Standard. LEED sets forth green standards for buildings.
Community opinions of the building have been quite mixed. While some people like the building and its height, others don’t. One of the local neighborhood associations, the Riviera Neighborhood Association, is opposed to the plans. Going as far as to call the size of the tower absurd. It should also be noted that the Riviera Neighborhood Association has protested smaller designs in the area.
Because of where the tower would sit, the public never had a chance to comment on the design before approval. Instead of being under the community or city’s responsibility, it instead falls under the Miami-Dade County commissioners. Local officials didn’t have a chance to comment on it either.
December of 2015 saw approval for the project come from county commissioners. The commissioners approved the project with the stipulation that the Grass River company would have pay the county $500,000 up front and yearly payments of $450,000. While that sounds like a lot of money at the time, that is only 3% of the expected revenues.
The tax on the property will go to fund SMART. Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit. Miami is looking to improve its transit and the extra funding from the tax on the building. Other buildings and companies in the area will also be paying taxes specifically to help improvement of the station.
To help encourage the growth of the Metro line, the county also included the stipulation that Grass River must spend 5 million dollars upgrading the Metrorail station. It isn’t a bad deal as the Metrorail station will bring them business too.
The city has been trying to push for more population and businesses around the Metrorail stations and other transit hubs. This is a national move to centralize businesses and residential spaces around transit to cut down on traffic.
200 of the parking spaces assigned created by the project (approximately 850 spaces in total) would be reserved for transit customers only. A portion of them will also be reserved for the public.
Early renderings of the building show a wonderfully modern design that will have open space and plenty of windows to help bring in natural light. That natural light will reduce the need for lighting that would use unneeded power.
Coconut Grove Train Station won’t be the only project in the area to be undertaken. ALFA, an equity and development company is also opening up a commercial/residential mixed-use property in the area. Further, it was determined that the Metrorail station, and with it the apartment buildings, would be part of a 10-mile park and trail system that will be going in under the Metrorail line.
Over the last few years there has been a major push to increase the commercial viability of Coconut Grove. New development projects are hoping to bring in big-name businesses to increase the profitability of the area. Not to mention the popularity.
Since the project was first announced there has been changes. Any big project brings with it changes. Instead of the 206 hotel rooms, that portion of the property will be used to add more apartments. Apartments that can house those who work in and around the building.
The average rental price for apartments in the building would be $1705 a month. That price will vary depending on the specific layout you get. Apartments will feature either a one bedroom or two bedroom layout.
A Green Thumb
Also a part of the plan is to have the station be solar powered. The solar power would run the lights for the station, power outlets, and take care of the other electrical needs. During the day the solar panels will store collected energy in a very large battery that can be used to power the station at night.
Part of the idea behind this would be that the station could act as an emergency power station after a power outage or disaster. Residents could come get air condition or use the outlets to charge their devices.
Another reason for the solar power would be to follow in the steps of the building’s energy efficiency and environmental stance. Cooling for the building will be run using the groundwater and rainwater. This method, while it may sound groundbreaking is actually quite old and known as geothermal cooling.
Speaking about energy efficiency, another stellar green aspect of the building is being discussed. There is potential for a waste-to-energy plant to be built into the basement or first floor of the building. This plant would take sewage waste and convert it into power. Also produced would be compost and water. The water can be cleaned and sent into the water supply for the city or the building.
The waste-to-energy plant is being negotiated with the city and still requires work before being added to the plans.
The name behind the project, David Martin, has been a big advocate for climate change. Especially climate change in the Miami area. He believes that his forward thinking design in the Coconut Grove Train Station will have a big impact on climate change.
Changing the Neighborhood
About 15% of the resident portion of the building will be for those that work at the building, according to Grass River.
Developers working on the Metrorail station conversion are hoping that their project will change the neighborhood. Improve it. As such they are looking to get the Builder Better Communities bond program. This would help to pay a portion of the project with a 4.5 million dollar bond.
A 4.5 million dollar bond would only cover a very small portion of the overall project cost. According to paperwork from the company, the expected cost of the project is just over 162 million dollars. With the multi-use nature of the property, the income from the final product would help to pay off the construction quickly.
A Much Needed Upgrade
It is hoped that the project will break ground sometime between late 2018 and early 2019. During the construction, the project team will do their best to keep the station running at normal conditions. Other transportation methods are available in the area, such as the free trolley that makes regular stops in the area. Including at the project site.
While Coconut Grove Train Station won’t be a first of its kind, it will be a major project that brings a much-needed upgrade to a neighborhood with such a rich history. It will be several years before the project is done but it likely won’t be long after the project is done before the building is completely full. Buildings in the area have been filling up, showing the interest in the area.