Florida East Coast Industries wants to develop all of the nine acres it owns in downtown Miami as part of its plan to create a Grand Central Station for passenger service from Miami to Orlando.
Husein Cumber, who is leading the All Aboard Florida passenger line effort for FECI, told the Miami Commission Thursday morning that FECI wants to turn the site into a “destination” that could include everything from offices to residences.
“Everything is on the table,” he told commissioners.
A project of that size would rival Brickell CitiCentre in terms of acreage, but would be smaller than the more than 30 acres Genting Group has accumulated for a casino and related development at the current site of the Miami Herald and Omni Center.
He likened the commercial possibilities to Paddington Station in London, which has hotels and other amenities.
Cumber told the Business Journal the project might need to be phased in response to demand, but the intent is to develop the entire parcel, which is currently surface parking lots on the west side of downtown.
Also mentioned is construction starting next year, a decision on the cars within the next 60 days, and an incredibly vague price point between $60 and $400.
I'm not terribly surprised of course. Vertical integration such as this is vital for passenger rail: not only are you making money on both ends, but you also drive ridership through the simplest of all solutions to the Last Mile problem: eliminating it entirely. This particular location is also conveniently connected to the hub of Miami public transit for rail, people mover, and bus, which makes any hotel or office accommodations more attractive and with greater rents.
The one year of construction prior to operation makes it fairly certain in my opinion that initial construction will consist of platforms and an Amshack at their proposed stops (including Cocoa Beach rather than Orlando due to lack of present connection) along with some track work for any slow zones. This will initially hurt them, of course, but demonstrated ridership should boost their ability to raise capital for the remainder of construction, both of the rail line and the property development. A few pennies lost now in operating costs will save dollars down the line in interest payments.