Moishe Mana, the modern-day Henry Flagler, has acquired the 91-year-old Biscayne Building at 19 W. Flagler Street in the heart of downtown Miami.
Mana paid $24.5 million for the 153,864-square-foot office building. The 14-story tower, one of downtown Miami’s historic jewels, is representative of the construction boom of the 1920s. The seller was Biscayne Building Inc., led by Dante Fiorini.
The deal closed Friday, Aug. 19.
Rich in history, the mid-rise was originally home to the Bank of Bay Biscayne. Following the Great Depression in 1929, the top three floors were leased to the FBI – then, a newly created agency. The penthouse was the office of FBI’s first director J. Edgar Hoover.
“The true value of Miami’s urban core is in its collection of historic buildings that evoke memories of a once vibrant downtown,” said Colliers International South Florida Broker Mika Mattingly, who represented Mr. Mana in the acquisition. “Moishe has acquired a critical mass of buildings in downtown to be able to reposition them and return that past vibrancy to the urban core.”
Mana, who made his fortune in New York, has acquired 39 office and retail properties along Flagler Street and surrounding streets in the last two years, said Mattingly, who brokered all of the deals except for one. He has invested more than $300 million in the area north of Miami’s Brickell Financial District.
Overall, downtown has received in the last two years more than $1.5 billion in investment from domestic and international investors seeking a piece of one of the last neighborhoods in Miami with space for urban infill development, said Mattingly. She has been involved in over 67 percent of all deals closed in downtown Miami since 2014.The area targeted by investors spans from the Miami River to Northeast Sixth Street and east of I-95 to Biscayne Bay.
Leading the pack of investors re-discovering downtown are New Yorkers, who are used to repositioning historic properties and turning once-neglected neighborhoods into hip districts. This trend is reminiscent of the “Miami Vice” revival of 1980s South Beach, also led by New York transplants like Tony Goldman, Craig Robins, Mel Schlesser and Bob Christoff. These visionaries acquired crumbling Art Deco buildings, restored the historical architecture and converted them into hotels, restaurants, street cafes and apartments.
This time, Mana is leading a new generation of visionaries purchasing and revitalizing rundown properties in downtown Miami. He recently retained internationally recognized architect Bernard Zyscovich, a thought leader in holistic master planning and Real Urbanism, to develop a master plan that promotes and embraces urban living.
“Downtown Miami is at its infancy,” said Mana. “The area’s potential is unlimited. It has the proper zoning to allow innovation and the strategic location to be the epicenter of Miami’s business life and entertainment.”
The restoration of the Historic Walgreens Building at 200 E. Flagler Street exemplifies the value of repositioning historic properties and converting them into a catalyst of change. The five-story Historic Walgreens Building, now on the market, will further impact the revival of the area with the potential Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs) totaling close to 250,000 square feet.
“Downtown Miami has come a long way in a short time,” said Fiorini. “I am grateful to have played a role in preserving this historic building and being a custodian of a Miami legacy. It was a challenge worth facing. The transformation of downtown Miami into a vibrant 24-hour city is the pay off.”
Under Fiorini’s ownership, the building was awarded the ‘Energy Star’ designation by the US Environmental Protection Agency, making it the first and only historic landmark in Miami to earn that rating.
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