China / Across America

Swire Properties' Miami project has first tenant

By Zheng Xin in Beijing (China Daily USA) Updated: 2016-03-15 11:02

Hong Kong-headquartered Swire Properties' US subsidiary has welcomed its first lead tenant, Akerman LLP, one of America's leading law firms, to Three Brickell City Centre.

It marks the opening of the first component of Swire's HK$8 billion ($1.05 billion) Brickell City Centre development.

"As the most anticipated project in Brickell for years, the opening of our first office tower within our Brickell City Centre complex marks the beginning of an exciting new transformation for the city," said Stephen Owens, president of Swire Properties Inc.

"We believe our two office towers will set new standards for Miami's office space and further Brickell's growth as a leading business hub."

Brickell City Centre is a landmark 5.4 million square-foot, mixed-use development in downtown Miami.

The project's first phase includes a premium shopping center, two residential towers, a hotel with residences, and two mid-rise office towers.

It is another example of China's companies and large institutions looking to overseas real estate, investing their accumulated capital as China's economy slows.

According to a report by London-based real estate consultancy Knight Frank, real estate deals overseas by China's investors, mainly developers, last year doubled over the previous year, with total mainland outbound investment in 2015 hitting almost $30 billion.

Some 52.3 percent of mainland real-estate investment in the US last year was in Manhattan, it said, including the Bank of China's purchase of 7 Bryant Park, a 28-story building.

Chinese insurer Anbang Insurance purchased the high-end Heron Tower in London for $1.17 billion, after buying the Waldorf Astoria New York hotel for $1.95 billion, while another company, Taiping Life Insurance, bought into the 111 Murray Street project.

Outside the US, China Investment Corp bought the Meguro Gajoen commercial property complex in Tokyo, while China's Greenland Group bought the Tebrau Bay of Waterfront City in Malaysia as well.

Analysts said that of all the popular destinations, Chinese money prefers America, as some of China's property giants are seeking either residential or commercial investments in overseas markets like New York.

"The cases illustrate a bigger trend that Chinese builders and insurance firms are eager to invest large reserves of cash in the key gateway cities, diversifying their property portfolios while acquiring overseas properties to beef up investment returns," said Derek Dong, group account director of research agency Millward Brown, a global market-research firm based in New York.

According to Knight Frank, the trend is also driven by a sluggish domestic housing market, a shrunken yuan and continued turbulence on the stock markets.

"The sluggish property market in second- and third-tier mainland cities has pushed domestic developers into tapping overseas markets," said David Ji Yanxun, Knight Frank's director and head of research and consultancy.

Property purchases abroad by mainland investors are expected to rise 10 to 20 percent in 2016, the advisory firm said.

Akerman LLP, the largest law group in Florida and one of top 100 US law firms, is the biggest lead office tenant committed to the project, taking up 110,500 square feet, or 80 percent, of the tower's Grade-A office space.

"There is real value in having our law firm surrounded by the Climate Ribbon, one of the most stunning and innovative pieces of environmental architecture in North America, which is the signature element of Brickell City Centre," said Andrew Smulian, Akerman chairman and CEO.

"It reminds us what is possible when you dare to design new solutions to old problems."

Designed by architectural firm Arquitectonica, the 12-story glass tower is the only office building in the Brickell area with a Metromover attached.

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