A rendering depicts developer Michael Shvo’s planned revamp of the clock tower office building on Lincoln Road at Washington Avenue in Miami Beach, with Soundscape Park to the right. Britain’s Foster + Partners with Miami’s Kobi Karp Architecture, will rebuild the interior, replace the tower’s dark skin with balconies and clear glass and install a new digital clock at the top to replace broken timepiece. Foster + Partners
Some people think the office is dead. New York developer Michael Shvo is betting big the office is still very much alive — so long as it’s plush as a Mandarin Oriental hotel, cozy as a hedge-funder’s Hamptons spread, and designed by a starchitect who won’t work for just anyone. Shvo, the rising real-estate powerhouse who ducked into Miami Beach to rescue the legendary Raleigh Hotel, is staying for something else: to turn the resort city into a place of productivity, and not just play, for the working uber-rich. And that, he said, means offices unlike anything Miami Beach — or even Miami, for that matter — has ever seen.
Shvo, who’s undertaken a high-profile, $500 million restoration and expansion of the Raleigh, the 1940 beachfront Art Deco gem that’s been closed since 2017, is simultaneously working to develop three luxe office buildings on either end of Lincoln Road Mall. The office projects alone are expected to require another $690 million. He puts his total investment in Miami Beach at close to $2 billion. He’s hired the architectural firm of British superstar Norman Foster for two office projects, and luxury-retail architect Peter Marino for a third. Miami’s Kobi Karp is collaborating on all three. Karp and Marino are also working together on the Raleigh renovation and the new Rosewood Residences tower next to it. It’s no coincidence all three office projects are within walking distance of the historic Raleigh. Shvo said he found only “bad product” when he looked for working space for himself no more than a short stroll from the hotel property, where he plans to live part-time at the Rosewood Residences.
Tatiana Soboleva, a tourist from Paris, France, walks through Soundscape Park in Miami Beach on Wednesday, June 21, 2023. Two of developer Michael Shvo’s office building projects will face Soundscape Park, the popular venue for films and concerts by the New World Symphony. MATIAS J. OCNER
“I am a big believer that the office environment shouldn’t be less attractive than your home environment,” Shvo said. “The same reason I’m using Peter Marino to design the Raleigh and to design office buildings for me is because I want my office building to feel like the Raleigh. I want my office building to feel like I’m in a hotel. I want the service level to be the same. I want the design aesthetics to be the same. There is no reason that when one goes to work their experience should be inferior to what they have in their private residence.”
Shvo has become a national figure following a multibillion-dollar spree of acquisitions of landmark and historic office buildings in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, including the California city’s iconic Transamerica Pyramid, at a time when the office market in those cities is cratering. But Shvo thinks prime office buildings will hold their value if carefully refurbished and repositioned. The Pritzker Prize-winning Foster + Partners designed the Transamerica tower rehabilitation for Shvo.
Developer Michael Shvo stands on the terrazzo floor in the lobby of the gutted South Beach landmark Raleigh Hotel, which he bought for $103 million in 2019. Shvo is spending $500 million more to restore the 1940 Art Deco hotel and two smaller, abutting historic hotels, while adding a luxury condo tower in the rear. JOSE A. IGLESIAS
In Miami Beach, Shvo has secured development, design and historic-preservation approvals for two new buildings and one gut-renovation — of the familiar, if foreboding, clock tower building at Lincoln Road and Washington Avenue. He said he is also looking at a fourth, undisclosed site. “We’re designing a product for a very specific customer,” Shvo said. “The customer lives in Miami Beach and wants to be in Miami Beach, and doesn’t want to drive 45 minutes each way to Brickell. The idea is that the missing component in Miami Beach is great, Class-A trophy office, because everything else is here. You have great restaurants, you have great beach, you have great weather, you have great houses. What you don’t have is great office.”
Here are thumbnails of the three projects:
Developer Michael Shvo plans to refurbish the clock tower building with a new design, shown in this rendering, by Britain’s Foster + Partners and Miami’s Kobi Karp Architecture. The remade 1957 bank building will have its dark cladding replaced with open terraces and clear windows. Foster + Partners
407 Lincoln Road, the so-called clock tower. Shvo is under contract to buy the 13-story 1957 office condo building, erected originally for the Miami Beach Federal Savings and Loan. It’s the tallest on the outdoor mall, and a familiar landmark because of the digital clock on top that gave the building its nickname — though the timepiece hasn’t worked since the COVID-19 pandemic.
The planned total cost for acquisition and reconstruction is $300 million. Construction is expected to start in early 2024. The city historic preservation unanimously approved the plan. Although the pedestrian mall is a protected historic district, the board concluded the building exterior does not possess any historic or architectural distinction. The design plan by Foster + Partners calls for gutting the tower’s interior to its skeleton and stripping off its dark glass, aluminum and brick skin. The refurbished tower, which would pack in 130,300 square feet of office space, aims to meet high-performance energy-use and sustainability standards, a Foster hallmark, and boast a new white, terraced exterior with big clear windows and a rooftop amenity deck. It would also get new digital clock.
Located across the street from Lincoln Road Mall, The Alton will rise six stories. The building, shown in a rendering, will have offices ranging between 50,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet. Foster + Partners
The Alton, encompassing most of a city block between 1656 Alton Road and 1677 West Ave. The property includes the site of the famed Epicure Market, which was open from 1945 until it closed because of damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017. A porcelain plaque with the market’s name still adorns one of the shop’s old entrances on Alton Road.
Shvo’s $300 million project, consisting of all new construction, will have six stories and 203,722 square feet of offices across Alton Road from the west end of Lincoln Road Mall. Shvo closed on the property in June 2022. The site is not designated as historic by the city. Construction is expected to start in early 2024.
An aerial photo shows the Alton Road site once partially occupied by Miami Beach’s famed Epicure Market, which was open from 1945 until it closed because of damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017. The building will be replaced by a six-story luxury office building. In this photo, people walk across Alton Road near the future sight of new office building on June 21, 2023. MATIAS J. OCNER
The green building by Foster + Partners, in collaboration with Karp, envisions an open, set-back and low-slung design with landscaped outdoor terrace rooms and panoramic views from the offices. The project will also include a pedestrian passageway through the middle connecting Alton and West Avenue.
One Soundscape Park, a $90 million project, will replace a parking lot and a slender, nondescript 1999 office building at 1665 and 1667 Washington Ave. with six floors of boutique offices designed by Marino and Karp. The site sits across the avenue from the city park that serves as a venue for projected films and concerts by the New World Symphony. Shvo’s clock tower also backs up to the park.
Construction on One Soundscape is expected to start late this year. Though the properties are in a historic district, the city determined the existing building is too new to merit consideration as a historic or architectural landmark. “That will benefit Lincoln Road and it will support local businesses and restaurants,” Shvo said of his office projects.