A Miami developer is working on five sustainable buildings on three parcels in Brickell— including one that could be the first certified green hotel in Miami. Developer Santiago Vanegas, manager of Habitat Development in Miami, is planning a 150-unit hotel, Habitat at Broadway, at Southwest 15th Road and Second Avenue. Mr. Vanegas said he began the process last week of obtaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. The company plans to register the project on the US Green Building Council’s Web site this week, he said.
The hotel, planned for a March 2011 opening, is one of three Habitat projects up for permitting and LEED certification. The company broke ground last year on a pair of nine-story residential towers at 1700 and 1701 SW Second Ave. that are not certified but are being built with sustainable elements, he said. “We hired a consultant, Aina Pujol from PGI Group, to help coordinate the LEED process,” Mr. Vanegas said. “I hope this will be the long-term standard for all projects. We are creating a neighborhood of green buildings.” According to the US Green Building Council Web site, once a project is registered, it must meet several performance benchmarks through design, construction and operation to receive formal LEED certification. There are four levels of certification, with Platinum being the highest.
A city zoning inspector is scheduled to conduct a standard review of the project site in the next few weeks, Mr. Vanegas said. Because the hotel will have fewer than 200 units, the developer can apply for a Class Two permit instead of a major use special permit, which would require the approval of city commissioners, he said.
The development team is considering two options for the hotel — hiring an operator to run it as a short-stay hotel or selling condo-hotel units, Mr. Vanegas said. The company is negotiating with an operator, he said. If it opts for a condo-hotel, prices would begin in the $250,000s at an average $500 per square foot, Mr. Vanegas said.
“A lot of brokers are saying it would be easy to sell the units at that price and location,” Mr. Vanegas said. “With the green-building elements, the project would bring something new to the area. We prefer that option.”
With hotels elsewhere in downtown Miami being replaced with residential projects, the Habitat could satisfy a growing demand for hotel rooms when it hits the market, said German Osorio, broker for Miami Elite International. “There is definitely a need, and the timing is very good,” Mr. Osorio said. “I think the location is better for a condo-hotel, but in either case, they would need an operator.”
The hotel’s proximity to several downtown residential projects in the pipeline is not a concern for the development team, Mr. Vanegas said. The moderate prices and small number of units should help the hotel and other Habitat projects avoid market fluctuations, he said.
“Our projects are not in South Beach,” Mr. Vanegas said. “We are not afraid of the setting. We have a different product and offer the best price compared to the $600-per-square-foot developments in the [Brickell] area.”