This property was underutilized, underdeveloped, and underwhelming, especially when considering that it was sitting in a vibrant part of one of the nation’s hottest spots for eclectic nightlife. With much of the property being a vacant multi-level storage facility, there was no buzz about this space. Boarded-up windows cemented the message—this property was dead . . . until Black Lion came along and implemented their design-centric vision. One of the first questions Black Lion’s commercial real estate experts asked was, “Why is a waterfront space with such stunning views not being used?” The answer began a multi-year process of reimagined discovery to create one of the hottest properties in this highly important and growing part of Miami. Black Lion first purchased the upstairs unit on the property and developed a beautiful restaurant with appetizing waterfront outlooks. However, there was just one problem: getting guests from the street to the restaurant meant meandering through a dated 1960s lobby. No potential tenant wanted the headache or hassle of modifying this eyesore of a communal space. Based on structural limitations, however, that was the only main walkway to get diners in and out. A very critical challenge became, “How could Black Lion direct foot traffic from the street to the second floor without going through the lobby?” However, the location and reputation of its former glory held a glimmer of promise. The savvy executive team at Black Lion had the market knowledge and commercial real estate acumen to see it as a hidden diamond in the rough. In its heyday, this was a beautiful property that boasted a refined appeal, in a great location, which is what led the team to believe that they could not only restore it but elevate the property to new heights. At the time of Black Lion’s purchase, the property’s age and condition were major discouragements to any would-be tenants. Not only were capital improvements a major necessity, they had to make a statement of class and quality that would restore the center’s reputation. The property was located off of a coastal highway, but its immediately surrounding areas being underdeveloped and the tenant mix at the center not being optimal presented challenges for the investment team. Due to these factors, finding similar market comps and determining the investment plan served as an interesting test. Conceptually speaking, the vision for capital improvements was focused on providing a sleek, modern, lux design along the lines of other pristine properties in the Black Lion portfolio. However, the large-scale renovations were met with the expected commensurate level of involvement by the local governmental bodies, which meant that Black Lion’s expert team needed to engineer several novel and compelling solutions to achieve its desired results.
The team began work on making renovations and pursuing major capital improvements with that challenge in mind. Initially, the team believed that moving an existing elevator from the second floor to the first floor would be all that was needed. Then, they decided to cut an entranceway from the middle of the building, and in this cutout, they built a 2,000 square foot walkway to the street. This was no small feat, to maintain the architectural integrity of the building. To ensure that everything went smoothly, the contractors had to drop the first floor even lower to allow safe passage on the elevator and maintain the structure. Upon completion, however, the result did not live up to the Black Lion standard of excellence, so instead of settling for a private valet and private entrance, the team went back to the drawing board. This time they decided to drop the rest of the space as well, by knocking down the entire first floor to the ground. This allowed Black Lion to open up an entirely new restaurant with the crown jewel attraction of a waterfront nightclub. From concept to completion, this project took several twists and turns over a span of a few years. But, the talented and capable team at Black Lion was able to pull off an even more impressive finish than was originally expected. The result offers a truly unique experience not found elsewhere in Miami: docking one’s private watercraft and in a few seconds being inside a high-end restaurant space with unique views of the waters and inspiring features of Brickell Bay.
Black Lion sold 6,900 square feet of the space for $8.5 Million. That works out to a $1,232 per-square-foot sale price. To put this stellar sale price into perspective, the average market price per square foot for vacant shell spaces is approximately $600 per square foot, making the recent sale a fantastic ROI and a great indicator of the company’s strong future in the Miami commercial real estate market.
Every property Black Lion secures comes with a unique set of unforeseen challenges that must be transformed into unexpected opportunities. Due to the fact that this property is on the water, there were extensive FEMA regulations and specific local protocols that had to be followed. As an example, hurricane-resistant glass had to be installed for a large portion of the property. Luckily, the due diligence team at Black Lion was able to quickly identify potential problems from their very first day on site. The team’s industry-leading approach favors proactive solutions that identify and prevent problems before they arise. In the case of Brickell Bay Boardwalk, exceeding expectations took longer than desired, but the winning result was well worth the wait.