Empira buys development site in Miami’s Brickell area

Empira expands Miami portfolio with development site acquisition

Switzerland-based institutional real estate investment firm Empira Group has acquired the 901 SW 3rd Avenue development site, formerly known as Empire Brickell, in Miami’s Brickell area.

This is the firm’s second development site acquisition in greater downtown Miami within a period of eight months. The transaction closed on 18 April 2023.

“This investment underlines Empira‘s commitment to investing in Miami’s residential real estate market, which is poised for tremendous growth over the next few decades,” said Lahcen Knapp, Empira’s Chairman. “Miami has emerged as one of the top U.S. business hubs and the city´s trajectory and global significance keeps trending upwards.”

“This is just the beginning of our investment strategy in key U.S. markets,” added Rafael Aregger, Empira´s Head of Investments US in Miami. “Among developed countries, the U.S. has one of the most significant housing shortages, which presents a tremendous growth opportunity for us. We are focused on cities experiencing rapid population and job growth such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Dallas, Austin, and Phoenix among others. Our experience and financial strength will help us bring new housing to markets that need it most.”

Empira plans to commence construction of a 26-storey tower comprising 310 market-rate apartments, with approximately 2,500 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, in the first quarter of 2024, with completion scheduled for 2026.

The multifamily high-rise, designed by Coral Gables-based Corwil Architects, will offer a range of studio, one, two, and three bedroom apartments with 380 parking spaces. Amenities, including a pool, fitness center, lounge area, and business centre, will be located on the seventh floor. The building will meet specific environmental and sustainability standards, such as energy efficiency, water conservation, use of sustainable materials, and indoor air quality, to achieve at least a LEED Silver certification.

The development site is located at 901 SW Third Avenue and 244 SW Ninth Street, a few blocks from Brickell Avenue, known as the “Wall Street of the South.” Brickell’s Financial District is the second-largest international banking center in the country, with over 20 million square feet of office space.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Miami has attracted several major technology, private equity, finance firms and big law firms from high-paying employment hubs such as New York, Chicago and San Francisco. National players such as Blackstone, Google, Citadel Securities, Microsoft, WeWork, Thoma Bravo, CI Financial and Goldman Sachs have entered or expanded their presence in the city. The Brickell area is one of Miami’s most sought-after neighbourhoods, with world-class dining, shopping, and entertainment options.

The development site sits just 1.5 miles north of Empira’s development site at 3025 and 3051 SW Third Ave. That project, located in a neighbourhood known as “The Roads,” will feature a highly-amenitised 85-unit boutique multifamily property. This strategic location offers Empira economies of scale in terms of management and leasing, enabling the company to leverage its operational expertise to deliver strong returns to its investors. 

Additional partners in this transaction were Grand Peaks Properties, JLL Capital Markets and global law firm, Greenberg Traurig LLP, which served as legal counsel.

“Greenberg Traurig is proud to support Empira on another exciting project that will bring much in-demand multifamily housing to one of Miami’s fastest-growing neighbourhoods,” said Danielle Gonzalez, a Real Estate Practice shareholder in the Miami office of Greenberg Traurig, who is advising Empira in connection with its U.S. expansion. “This is more validation that South Florida’s thriving economy and business-friendly climate are attracting key investment from across the globe. Greenberg Traurig looks forward to continuing to work with Empira as it builds out its presence in South Florida and in other target markets around the U.S.”

“We are incredibly excited to be a part of Empira Group’s continued expansion into the United States,” said Simon Banke of JLL Capital Markets. “With the rapid growth of Miami’s already robust economy, Empira’s development of 901 SW 3rd Avenue will add much needed residential supply to Brickell and do so in the form of a high-quality residential offering. In addition to an expansive amenity base, the project’s immediate access to both major highways and public transit will make it uniquely attractive to future residents.”

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