Miami Market Boom Draws Hospitality and Retail Merchants
05.04.2017 | Women's Wear Daily

Miami Market Boom Draws Hospitality and Retail Merchants

The city is thriving due to its diversifying landscape attracting more than the traditional vacationists.

Miami is no longer a destination reserved for retirees’ winters or bachelorette parties. In fact, the city has proven to be a thriving metropolis bolstered by a low unemployment rate, new cultural initiatives and plenty of retail development for vacationing tourists — betrothed and otherwise.

Business is booming in the sunny city, according to the latest data. Retail and other small businesses — predominately those in the hospitality sector — are gravitating to the area. “During the fiscal year between 2015-16, the Miami-Dade Internal Services Department certified and recertified 1,561 firms [393 new and 1,168 recertified firms] in the county’s Small Business Enterprise,” said the Miami-Dade “State of the County 2017” report. Companies are scrambling to the market to bank in on its flourishing economy.

The expansion is growing beyond South Beach and its historic Ocean Drive shopping arena. Miami is broadening its reach and diversifying its allure for a variety of business types, resulting in an onslaught of new jobs that’s keeping the unemployment rate low.

The Miami Area Economic Summary released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the city’s 2017 unemployment rate is 4.8 percent, which is slightly lower than the country’s average. Education and health services is up 4 percent year-over-year the report said, meaning that new infrastructures are being implemented to sustain growth. The report noted that leisure and hospitality employment grew 2.1 percent year-on-year. Construction increased by 5.2 percent, suggesting that new developments are sparking job creation.

Seritage Growth Properties is capitalizing on the thriving market with the redevelopment of the Esplanade at Aventura center between North Miami Beach and Hallandale Beach into an experiential, multifunctional space. When the construction is finished, the space will offer 155,080 square feet available for leasing. “Ideally situated at the heart of one of South Florida’s most vibrant shopping trade areas, we expect to start construction shortly on an open air village, featuring three levels of retail along a tree-lined esplanade, walkable thoroughfares and amenities,” said Ben Schall, chief executive offer of Seritage Growth Properties.

Meghan Kruger, senior vice president of leasing at Seritage Growth Properties, echoed Schall: “Total overnight visitor expenditures in 2016 for the Greater Miami and the Beaches market was $25.5 billion with shopping, dining and entertainment accounting for two-thirds of these expenditures. This illustrates South Florida’s strong market fundamentals, and support the continued need for creative retail redevelopment like the Esplanade at Aventura.”

A move away from traditional brick-and-mortar — especially in the face of rising consumer preferences for e-commerce — has catapulted the demand for retail spaces that serve more than traditional purposes to draw in shoppers. For example, another new development, Brickell City Centre in Miami, houses 500,000 square feet of retail space that’s occupied by Saks Fifth Avenue, a Cinemex movie theater, Intermix and Lululemon in addition to dining locations, said the authors of JLL’s “2016 Florida Retail Report.”

According to research analysts of CRBE’s “Florida’s Dynamic Retail Landscape” February 2017 report, “In Q4 2016, Miami introduced a unique taste of experiential retail. Swire’s Brickell City Centre and East End Capital’s Wynwood Arcade are two must-see projects. The expansive three-level, open-air Brickell City Centre unveiled 500,000 square feet of high fashion, dining and entertainment. The Wynwood Arcade consists of 25,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space that tailors to the booming urban community of artists, designers and sophisticated professionals.”

Seritage will extend consumers similar experiences in its Esplanade at Aventura location. “The Esplanade at Aventura has been designed to offer outdoor shopping and dining destinations. Once completed, the Esplanade will feature a contemporary open-air collection of 250,000 square feet of shops and restaurants in a vibrant shopping and entertainment village in one of the most successful retail trades areas in the country,” Kruger said.

Despite hefty lease prices — the highest in the U.S. last year according to the JLL authors — developers are drawing both contemporary and luxury merchants to the market. “New retail brands continue to enter the Miami market, either by opening their first U.S. store or as part of their larger growth strategy,” Kruger said.

Take Naeem Khan, for example, who recently announced a $30 million plan to develop a campus containing a design studio, manufacturing center and school in the city. Khan told WWD that he intends to furnish the foundation for fashion education through the initiative. “I thought, ‘So how cool will it be to practically teach high school students and have them see everything we do from how we create the prints, do the embroideries, put on a fashion show,” he said.

Shifting approximately 80 percent of production to the center, Kahn will craft his bridal and high-end styles in the U.S. creating about 100 jobs. “Really for me what’s most important is bringing jobs back to this country and that’s where I really want to concentrate,” he said.

Despite some retailers’ struggle to keep the lights on, Miami’s Design District is prospering — contemporary brands such as Alice + Olivia, Isabel Marant, Tod’s and Cos have opened up shops within the past year in the area.

Seritage aims to install a venue similar to Dacra’s Miami Design District development within the Esplanade at Aventura location. “At the Esplanade at Aventura, we are able to work with retailers to create customized store formats that are designed around the distinct experiences they offer. Blending in-demand brands with a highly inviting and engaging atmosphere that provides an emotional benefit to shoppers that can forge stronger brand-customer relationships, resulting in consistently high levels of foot traffic,” Kruger said.

As many traditional brick-and-mortars struggle, Miami offers retailers and apparel brands a promise of a consistent revenue channel due to the influx of tourists and new residents. “Service-based venues, which provide consumers with hands-on, authentic experiences, are thriving in today’s omnichannel retail world,” Kruger noted. According to authors of the CRBE report, “Retailers are engaging in ‘rogue retailing,’ a trend that describes how retailers are thinking outside of the box to find ways to attract customers.”

Brands stand to benefit hugely, according to authors of the JLL retail report that said over $7.4 billion was spent on shopping in 2015 in the Miami-Dade area. The authors noted that 15.5 million tourists — a 6.4 percent year-on-year increase — visited Miami in 2015 ramping up the profits. While many stores are shuttering locations, brands might be suited to consider the city and its surrounding areas as potential opportunities. “Florida’s retail markets are expected to continue to thrive on the basis of a strong economy, tourism, and healthy consumer spending,” the CBRE authors said.

The Esplanade at Aventura is among many new developments in the Miami-Dade arena that’s hoping to capture brands — and shoppers — looking for physical store locations to satisfy consumers still hoping to engage with brands in-person. The Chetrit Group, IMC Equity Group and Goldman Properties are all gearing up to start endeavors that include luxury condominiums, shopping centers and multiuse projects.