One Flagler, the 15-story building at 14 NE First Ave. that is one of the most iconic buildings in Miami, is being renovated into office condominiums. Built in 1952 and designed by internationally renowned architect Morris Lapidus, the 15-story epitome of the Miami Modern, or “MiMo” style, has already seen $10 million in upgrades to the building’s interior. Exterior renovations will be kept to a minimum and largely limited to restoring the building to its original 1952 condition.
Due to a defaulted note, the building’s future was uncertain until Midgard management took over the note and negotiated a turnover for One Flagler in 2010. James Goldstein, CEO of Midgard, says that “The upgrades we have been making are very systemic, but we have been paying attention to details and leaving the most historic features.” Midgard has joined with Miami developer Harvey Hernandez, of Newgard Development, to convert the building into office condos.
The Flagler Building, formerly named the Ainsley Building and later known as the Foremost Building, has had an amazing variety of tenants over the years. The Cuban Consulate had formerly been housed there, as well as the Miami Athletic Club, a branch of the Israel Discount Bank, and several federal offices. A branch of Continental Bank, along with several law firms and investment companies, currently occupies the building.
The decision to convert the building into office condos was not difficult to make. Hernandez explains that “The building needed to be renovated, and we said: ‘How can we renovate this building but at the same time make some business sense?’” In Hernandez’ opinion, investors will be keen to buy commercial office space located downtown in an iconic building designed by a renowned architect. It is also likely that many investors will be owner-occupants, but the investors who purchase space that is already occupied by a tenant might expect returns “in excess of 4.5 percent.”
Midgard is excited at the prospect of preserving the building “for future generations,” Goldstein says, adding, “We love the building.”