Brickell Key and South Fifth Blog

Owners of Bal Harbour Shops become partner in Brickell CityCentre

Thursday, February 07, 2013

The Whitman family, who own Bal Harbour Shops, finalized a deal Tuesday to become a partner with Swire Properties in the development of downtown Miami’s Brickell CityCentre. After years of fighting the expansion of luxury retail in Miami-Dade, The Whitman family has decided to switch into reverse gear and help fuel the growth. The Whitmans will make a “significant” equity investment in the retail portion of Brickell CityCentre.

Bal Harbour also has an international reputation as the top producing mall in the world based on sales per square foot, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.

With Miami’s ascent as a fashion market, retailers have insisted that one store is not enough. To accommodate the growth in demand for luxury goods, retailers wanted to be able to open a second store in Miami-Dade. Now with the arrival of brands like Louis Vuitton and Prada in Miami's Design District, a new SoHo is being formed in South Florida.

The 520,000-square-feet $1.05 billion urban shopping and mixed-use development is scheduled to open in 2015. By 2014 some 75 luxury brands will spread throughout the Design District, creating a new urban destination for fashionistas.

“What better way to complement our team than bringing in the No. One shopping center developer,” Steve Owens, president of Swire Properties said, excited by the fact the Miami Heat has signed LeBron James.

“Smart move” said Cynthia Cohen concerning the deal, president of Strategic Mindshare, a retail consulting firm with offices in Miami. “This is going to make Miami very interesting,” Cohen said. “There’s going to be some nice competition.”

“Miami has grown into one of the most diversified cities in the world. The retailers do really well here. There are plenty of brands that will always keep Bal Harbour as a pearl. The growth of these other projects will take time.” said Arthur Weiner, principal of AWE Talisman in Coral Gables, who specializes in luxury retail leasing.

Brickell CityCentre’s primary competition is the Design District, which already has an investment from a Louis Vuitton affiliate. Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Dior Homme, Prada and Celine all opened last year in the burgeoning area; Hermes will open next month. Developer Craig Robins has commitments from more than 40 luxury brands, including Fendi, Bulgari, Pucci, De Beers, Zegna, Tom Ford, Burberry and Marc by Marc Jacobs.

“I don’t think Bal Harbour’s expansion downtown or on Miami Beach will impact us negatively at all,” Robins said. “I am a big admirer of the Whitmans’ historical success and look forward to seeing how they intend to replicate their past accomplishments. Clearly they now acknowledge that Miami is a big market and the brands need more coverage than to just be in one isolated location.”

“Luxury should evolve over time,” said Matthew Whitman Lazenby, operating partner and the third generation to run the business his grandfather Stanley Whitman founded.

Reference: Owners of Bal Harbour Shops become partner in Brickell CityCentre