Melo Group Breaks Ground on Downtown Miami Community

Featuring a pair of 34-story towers, Square Station will bring 710 rental units to a rapidly growing market.

by Jeffrey Steele

Square Station, Miami, rendering
Square Station, Miami, rendering

Miami—Responding to soaring demand for urban living, Melo Group has broken ground on Square Station, a 710-residence apartment community in downtown Miami. Featuring a pair of 34-story towers, Square Station is designed to appeal to young, middle-class Miamians hungering for a live-work-play urban lifestyle in the heart of the Magic City. The site spans roughly 1.4 acres, and was purchased by Melo Group in 2014 for about $7.9 million.

The development is well timed, given the Miami Downtown Development Authority’s new 2016 Demographics Report, which reports an enormous influx of young, upwardly mobile professionals into downtown Miami. Once an area that rolled up its sidewalks at dusk, the downtown district is now profiting from sweeping commercial investment generated by the arrival of thousands of well-educated professionals with abundant disposable income.

The report notes that downtown Miami’s full-time population has skyrocketed 150 percent since 2000 and 32 percent in just the past six years. Approximately half of the 90,000 people now calling the urban core home are between the ages of 20 and 44. The next four years are expected to bring an additional 15,000 residents.

A $103 million construction loan from BB&T Bank has enabled the project to move forward.

“If the condo boom proved anything, it’s that an appetite for urban living exists, particularly among young professionals who want the connectivity, access and amenities that come with a downtown lifestyle,” Melo Group Principal Carlos Melo told Multi-Housing News. “As the founders of the social media movement, they’re never more than a few clicks away from friends or family. And offline, they prefer to live where work, entertainment, arts and culture are just a few steps from their front door.”

Downtown Miami is proving “if you build it, they will come,” Melo said. “These residents are bringing with them an influx of new ideas, new energy and new investment ..more than 60 percent of downtown residents have obtained at least some form of college education. That said, we want to make sure downtown Miami’s young urban pioneers don’t wind up priced out of the very city they helped build. We feel that by investing in market rate rentals we’re helping hold the promise of more affordable urban living.”

Featuring one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments fetching approximately $1,650 to $2,500 monthly, Square Station will offer residents a host of luxury amenities, features and finishes. A resort-style swimming pool and pool deck, Jacuzzi, fully-equipped fitness center, valet service, covered garage parking and resident social room highlight the amenity package.

Within residences, renters will appreciate granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, laminate wood floors, porcelain tile and in-unit, full-size washers and dryers. Generously sized balconies will offer panoramic views of the Miami skyline and Biscayne Bay.

Square Station will offer quick, convenient access to popular neighborhoods like the Design District, Wynwood, Midtown and Miami Beach via nearby public transit. Also in close proximity are the Miami Trolley and Metrorail system, providing frequent and direct service to and from Miami International Airport.

“Our vision has always been to buy land in well-located and affordable neighborhoods—like Edgewater, the Arts & Entertainment District and the Miami River—where we see growth potential, and then develop high-quality product the market is demanding,” Melo said. “Land values have definitely increased over the years. It’s hard to make the numbers work if you’re looking to buy land for multifamily projects now. Unlike condos, you’re not selling and will have to wait years until the building is finished and you’re ready to start leasing.”

Extensive new condominium development has created a sizable market void. That void hurts “people who work in and around downtown but can’t necessarily afford to put down the cash to purchase a new luxury condo in the area,” Melo explained.

“While most developers these days are catering to cash-rich foreigners buying luxury pre-construction Miami condos, our firm builds for what the market demands. And right now, that’s quality housing for the local community in Miami’s urban core.”

Melo Group particularly liked that the site is located next to the Miami-Dade Metromover School Board Station. The firm strongly believes in transit-oriented development. More than a dozen such projects are planned or being built across Miami-Dade County, and several of them involve public-sector investment.

“Why? Development near transit helps to maximize public investment in transit,” Melo said. “The city, county and developer have shared common goals of attracting residents who want to leverage public transportation, which substantially decreases congestion and parking. At the same time, the trend lines show renters are an increasing percentage of the population and prefer living in dense urban environments.”

Building rentals is not easy, Melo asserted, adding it is even more difficult to build rental product at a price that makes sense. “Acquiring prime land in Miami’s urban core at the optimal time has allowed us to offer competitive price points at our projects. With one-bedrooms starting around $1,650 a month, Square Station will provide attainable, high-quality housing in the heart of downtown Miami that locals can afford.”

Rendering courtesy of Melo Group