Downtown Miami tower to mix church, offices, residences, retail
Written by John Charles Robbins on April 23rd, 2019
In what is described as a truly mixed-use project for the heart of downtown Miami, a developer is planning a residential and office tower on top of a new church and parking garage accented with retail uses.
PMG X Biscayne is designed on 49 stories at 400 Biscayne Blvd., the former location of the First United Methodist Church in Miami.
“The Church has been our partner and will return,” said Javier F. Aviñó, attorney for developer PMG-Greybrook 400 Biscayne Trustee LLC. The high-profile location on Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast Fifth Street is west of the Bayside Marketplace.
The city’s Urban Development Review Board recommended approval of the mixed-use tower designed by Sieger Suarez Architects on April 17, which includes 646 apartments, 47,902 square feet of office space, 3,006 square feet of retail space and a religious establishment.
The tower made of dark glass and steel is supposed to rise from a medium-high podium, which is accentuated with bright colors and large works of art in the facade. On the pedestal there are parking spaces for approx. 527 cars, a retail shop on the ground floor, a small chapel and a multi-purpose conference room as well as a church with 329 seats on levels 8, 9 and 10 with some mezzanine seats facing the sanctuary below are open.
In a letter to the city, Mr. Aviñó wrote: “A great entrance area along Biscayne Boulevard offers an architectural expression of the ecclesiastical use within the building. A forecourt and drop off area is located north of the project to improve the pedestrian experience and avoid traffic disruptions along Biscayne Boulevard. “
More than half of the apartments – around 340 – will be studios.
The tower will share the block with Building 3 of Miami Dade College. The development team noticed a desire to offer affordable smaller apartments for students.
The project will include recognition of previous religious uses, with stained glass from the church and, to the north, a sculpture of Jesus sitting on a bench from the former church building.
Board member Neil Hall called the project “a great addition to Biscayne Boulevard” and liked the “nice tip of the hat” of the original church.
A pedestrian paseo should run through the platform. A convenience deck will have an L-shaped swimming pool and relaxation area.
Board member Ligia Labrada praised the “very elegant articulation”. Board member Dean Lewis said the development team did a remarkable job bringing all of these applications to a tight podium.
But Mr. Lewis called the tower too dark and inconsistent with the lighter base and described a representation as black glass and stucco. A developer representative said the glass wasn’t actually black, but gray, and the rendering made it look darker.
Chairman Gerald Marston praised the developer for the mixed-use idea, saying that the board is typically presented with a mixed-use project, which is basically an apartment building with a few retail stores. “This is clearly a mixed use of very different things,” he said.
Mr. Hall moved to approve the project. Mr Lewis wanted to amend the proposal to suggest that the architect reconsider the dark colors, but Mr Hall would not agree. The vote was 4 to 1 with Mr Lewis voting no.