Friday, January 1, 2010
Details emerge about Banco Santander’s plans for office tower
South Florida Business Journal - by Oscar Pedro Musibay
The architects behind Miami’s iconic Espirito Santo building are working to design an 84-story glass tower for Spain-based Banco Santander’s site on Brickell Avenue.
New York City-based Khon Pederson Fox Associates (KPF) won a contest to design the building, the company confirmed. But Banco Santander officials have wanted to keep the details of the Miami project under wraps.
Interviews with Miami Commission Chairman Marc Sarnoff and his staffers, who met recently with a bank official, have provided some preliminary details of the project. An interview with Ignacio Permuy, president of Coral Gables-based Terra Architecture, the local architect working on the project, also fleshed out details.
If the building were built at 1401 Brickell Ave., as envisioned today, it would rise to about 840 feet. The 84-story tower would include a 123-foot tall parking podium at the base. Above the parking podium would be the office space, which would be designed at 14.6 feet per floor, slightly higher than what is allowed under Miami 21, the city’s new zoning code. Miami 21 doesn’t go into effect until May.
Permuy, who designed the unbuilt One Bayfront Plaza for Tibor Hollo, said Banco Santander is working with the city to determine whether the current code or Miami 21 will suit the project better. If the bank gets its approval prior to May, the site’s development rights will be vested under the old code.
Banco Santander currently occupies a 1970s-era, 237,000-square-foot, 14-story building at 1401 Brickell Ave., which is directly north of the Espirito Santo building.
The current office building, which the bank bought for $114 million in 2008, would be knocked down to make way for the new skyscraper.
Antonio Julio Covas, of the Miami office of bank affiliate Santander Global Property, and KPF architects met with Sarnoff on Dec. 16 to discuss the proposed office and retail tower. KPF principal Lloyd Sigal, city Planning Director Ana Gelabert-Sanchez and Greenberg Traurig’s Adrienne Pardo, a zoning specialist, were in the meeting, as was Permuy, according to a sign-in sheet for the meeting.
All except Permuy were unavailable for comment. A planning department spokesman acknowledged the city has had preliminary discussions with the bank about the project.
Despite having 2 million square feet of new office under construction between Miami’s downtown core and Brickell Avenue plus continued downward pressure on office rents, bank officials were eager to start construction, Sarnoff and staffers said.
Financing would not be a problem even as debt markets remain frozen, Covas explained during the meeting.
Said Sarnoff staffer Bert H. Gonzalez about the bank official’s comments: “They said, `We are the second most profitable bank in the world so financing should not be a problem.’”
^ tallest in the rendering between the Espirito Santos & the Four Seasons.