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Miami’s Bal Harbour Shops submits plans for a mixed-use expansion

Al Urbanski
A rendering of what Bal Harbour Shops will look like post-renovation.

Whitman Family Development intends to take advantage of a new state law passed in Florida to realize a decades-long dream to turn Miami’s Bal Harbour Shops into a mixed-use development.

The Whitman Family has submitted plans to add a 70-room hotel and 600 apartments to what has long been rated as one of the world’s most profitable retail centers with average sales per square foot nearing the $3,000 mark.

Passed last year by the state legislature, the Florida Live Local Act bans rent control and enables developers to increase building heights and density allowance so long as 40% of residential space is set aside as affordable housing for at least 30 years after completion.

The open-air Bal Harbour Shops--which houses brands such as Chanel, Gucci and Tiffany & Co.-- is currently undergoing a $550 million retail expansion that will add about 250,000 square feet of gross leaseable area, nearly doubling the center’s current retail space. The expansion will accommodate the addition of 35 new upscale stores and restaurants.

“My family has envisioned Bal Harbour Shops as a multi-use destination for 60 years,” said Whitman Family Development CEO Matthew Whitman Lazenby. “The Live Local Act enables us to realize that vision by delivering attainable housing that will serve our local workforce, a boutique hotel, and luxury residences alongside one of the world’s most exclusive retail destinations.”

Once the new building permits are issued, Whitman intends to begin development of the lower-rent housing tower on the southwest corner of the 18-acre property in the village of Bal Harbour on the northernmost tip of Miami Beach. The residential towers will rise to approximately 275 feet.

The workforce housing is described as “high-end” by Whitman and will include elevated swimming pool decks, resident lounges, fitness centers, and outdoor recreational areas. 

“The addition of a residential component at Bal Harbour Shops will enable a cross-section of residents to reside closer to their places of work,” Whitman Lazenby said. “The infill development will reduce commute times and gridlock, while improving quality of life for hundreds of people currently commuting into the village of Bal Harbour and nearby enclaves each day.”

Currently, half of Miami-Dade County’s 900,000-plus households spend more than 30% of their income on housing, according to an assessment made by the University of Florida and Miami Homes for All--a non-profit that reports annual 20% to 100% increases in rent and home prices in the area. 

The current average home price in Bal Harbour is $1.7 million. reports average apartment rents at around $7,000 a month.

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