Behind Miami’s Largest Upcoming Office Project

Brian Gale, vice chair with Cushman & Wakefield, discusses the health, technology and novel design elements planned for OKO Group's 830 Brickell.

The office landscape is currently going through one of the biggest transformations in recent history, as property managers and developers alike are making significant adjustments for offering tenants a safe and healthy environment. Recent development data showed improved construction activity in the summer, but with the economy expecting a slower fourth quarter, office development expects delays as well.

830 Brickell. Rendering courtesy of OKO Group

At OKO Group’s newest office project in Miami, 830 Brickell, things have been going according to schedule, with the 640,000-square-foot project expected to be delivered in 2022. The construction team, which also includes Cain International, architecture firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture and interior design studio Iosa Ghini Associati, is providing tenants with the flexibility to design the spaces according to their needs, which makes 830 Brickell “the only office tower in Miami that can offer this degree of versatility,” according to Brian Gale, vice chair with Cushman & Wakefield. Gale offers insight into the latest health and tech upgrades that the building will include, as well as the novel design elements.

According to Yardi Matrix data, the building, located at 830 Brickell Ave., is currently the largest office project under construction in Miami. Upon completion, the 57-story development will become the second-largest office tower in the city. 

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Tell us about the advancements that have been made at 830 Brickell so far and what is expected to be added by the end of this year. 

Brian Gale, Vice Chair, Cushman & Wakefield. Image courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield

Gale: 830 Brickell is a 57-story office tower that will become the city’s second-tallest office building when it is completed in 2022. Comprising 640,000 square feet of space in the heart of Miami’s Brickell Financial District, 830 Brickell marks the first standalone Class A-plus office tower to be built in Miami in more than a decade. Co-developers OKO Group and Cain International broke ground in the summer of 2019 and vertical construction has progressed since then. Our construction team is now building the mezzanine floor and we are on track to deliver in 2022.  

In the meantime, our team will be focused on leasing up the tower through 2020 and 2021. We expect several new leases to be signed over the next six to twelve months ahead of the building’s debut. We are in advanced discussions with companies from around the world. They are looking beyond the short-term and planning to be in offices for the next 10 to 15 years, particularly offices that can be adapted to cope with similar situations in the future and will enable productivity, business continuity and a healthy workforce. 

What can you tell us about the design of the tower? 

Gale: 830 Brickell’s design team, led by architecture firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture and interior design studio Iosa Ghini Associati, has customized the tower around the future of business and the growing relationship between people’s personal and professional lives. The building’s offices will offer panoramic views of Biscayne Bay, common areas will be outfitted with premium finishes, and tenants will have access to amenities like a five-star fitness center, restaurants and lounges, as well as a rooftop deck. 

OKO Group and Cain International have also invested in a series of technical improvements that will promote health and safety. These include a state-of-the-art heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system that limits internal air circulation in favor of using air from outside, touchless technologies and contactless entry and exit, a water purification system, and an ultraviolet light system that sanitizes common areas. These systems are complex, and it would be next to impossible as well as cost-prohibitive to retrofit an existing building with such offerings. This level of investment is going to give 830 Brickell a built-in advantage when it comes to attracting tenants from around the world. 

Cubicles at 830 Brickell. Rendering courtesy of OKO Group

Flexibility is a key feature of newer buildings that older ones don’t have. Can you explain why flexibility is so important during and after the pandemic? 

Gale: The flexibility offered by first-generation office space is invaluable in the eyes of tenants planning for the long term. Based on what we are hearing from tenants, companies are looking beyond near-term factors and envisioning their personnel and space needs 10 to 15 years in the future. Companies want the ability to design their office from scratch, giving them the chance to incorporate the latest technologies and health features. Because 830 Brickell is still under construction, tenants view the tower as a blank canvas and have total flexibility to customize their office to meet their every need. It’s the only office tower in Miami that can offer this degree of versatility.  

READ ALSO: Flexible Office Sector Successfully Bends Under COVID-19 Rules

Name your favorite features/amenities that make the tower stand out. 

Gale: Living in Miami, wellness is ingrained in the DNA of its residents, and 830 Brickell’s unrivaled features support a healthy work-life balance. Well beyond what has previously been attainable in our market, these amenities have traditionally been associated with a luxury hotel in a financial center versus an office tower. For example, 830 Brickell will have a 2,500-square-foot health and wellness center, offering tenants the ultimate luxury of time-saving convenience.

For social gatherings, a rooftop restaurant and bar on the 56th and 57th floors deliver expansive views of downtown Miami and Biscayne Bay without leaving the building. A technologically-advanced conference facility, an outdoor terrace for taking in breezes, alfresco cafés,  and street-level shopping pursuits provide endless on-site options. Miami’s lifestyle has always been an attractive city for the world’s most successful individuals and families to call home, and it will now extend to a world-class office setting.  

How did the financing process evolve? 

Gale: OKO Group and Cain International secured a $300 million construction loan from MSD Partners in July of 2019. Because the building is fully capitalized for office use, we have been able to proceed as planned and undeterred.  

How have developers adapted the building to the newest health and tech standards? 

Gale: OKO Group and Cain International understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle and see that this is one of the main motivations for companies and individuals moving to Miami. The health and wellness amenities have always been a priority for this office tower and we have enhanced this further, committing to a series of additional improvements to ensure that today’s ever-changing health and technology standards are met, including the HVAC system and other features mentioned earlier.  

Our designers have also envisioned what the future of office space might look like, so they have created sample renderings that include protective transparent panels between workstations, air-purifying ventilation systems above every desk and natural plants that improve air quality.  

The gym at 830 Brickell. Rendering courtesy of OKO Group

What advice do you have for other developers who need to change their projects midway to adapt to the new wellness standards? 

Gale: Timing is a big part of the equation. It’s far easier to adjust plans and add features when a project is underway and in its formative stages, versus when it’s nearing completion. The best advice is to listen to what tenants want so you can adapt to where the world may be several years down the road. Fortunately, the development team behind 830 Brickell has delivered more than 70 commercial office developments around the world, so they know how to time cycles and anticipate market trends. 

READ ALSO: Office Development Amid Coronavirus: Case Study

What’s your strategy to attract tenants, especially those who may be reluctant to commit to a long-term lease in the current economic circumstances? 

Gale: One of the many advantages of 830 Brickell is that it is currently under construction, giving tenants the exclusive opportunity to design and build their space from scratch. With so many uncertainties in today’s changing business climate, this flexibility afforded by first-generation office space is invaluable, making 830 Brickell the ideal building for companies looking to relocate.    

We are negotiating terms and entertaining interest from tenants representing 400,000 square feet of office space two years ahead of the building’s completion. In addition to searching for design flexibility and specific building features, these office users see the value in having a presence in Miami and are contemplating their needs long term. They value the Brickell brand and want to situate their office or headquarters in one of the most important business and financial districts in the Americas. The tower’s location and proximity to Downtown Miami also allows tenants to be just steps away from fine dining, world-class arts, premium hotels, condos, shopping and more.  

How do you feel about the future of the office market in Miami? 

Gale: The uptick in tenant inquiries that we have received over the past three months tells us that office users are planning for the long-term future. In addition to companies already located in South Florida that are looking to upgrade their office space, we have seen interest from both international and domestic companies looking to relocate or expand their footprint here in Miami. 

For transplants, the decision to relocate here has historically been based on lower real estate costs, tax savings and quality of life offerings. Miami’s healthy lifestyle has always been attractive to individuals, families and businesses; we are seeing executives look beyond near-term concerns in favor of the long-term benefits of being in South Florida. When 830 Brickell is completed in 2022, there will be significant pent-up demand for first-generation Class A-plus office space among corporate users looking to have a presence in Miami’s central business district.