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Garage developers to be selected

Paola Iuspa-Abbott

With about 6,000 residential units already under way in Miami's central business district, new projects keep popping up.

The group that controls and operates Miami's public parking spots wants to demolish an obsolete garage in downtown Miami and build a new one with retail, residential and hotel units on top.

In early May, the Miami Parking Authority will consider selecting a development team to help maximize the use of its 1.65 acres on Northeast Third Street between Northwest First and North Miami avenues.

The team being recommended for the job by the authority's selection committee consists of Teja Associates of Miami, headed by Alben Duffie; Red Rock Global of Atlanta, headed by Michael Tabb; and The Gale Group of New Jersey, headed by Thomas Walsh.

The proposed $22.7 million garage will accommodate about 1,200 cars, doubling current capacity, said Arthur Noriega, the authority's executive director. The decision to modernize the structure comes as the 557,000-square-foot U.S. Courthouse nears completion next year across the street on Third Avenue.

If things go as planned, construction on the garage could start by late this year and be ready a year later, Noriega said.

A recent study showed the courthouse needs additional parking for its 1,600 employees and 1,500 daily visitors, according to the authority.

The developer selected for the project could buy or lease development rights for additional commercial and residential uses above the garage.

The team now be recommending to do the deal is proposing a 131-room Marriott Residence Inn from the eighth to the 18th floors and 209 apartments from the 17th to the 35th floors. Under the proposal, the new tower would open in late 2006.

More than half of the 6,000 units now planned in the Miami's central business district could be ready for occupancy within three years, said Rafael Kapustin, a well-known Miami property owner who has cut deals to sell two parcels to The Related Group of Florida for mid-price condominium projects.

Kapustin and Related went to the parking authority and convinced it to lease Related spots in a nearby public parking garage to reduce project costs and keep units prices affordable, Kapustin said

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This is very exciting. I value these types of developments a lot more than the 50-60 story residential towers being built in Brickell or near the Arts District. This mixed-use baby will be filling up an under utilized space in the heart of the city and will, no doubt, add to the urban street level scene, as well as, continue in the movement to densify downtown.

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