Sunday, October 29, 2006

MVB Flashlight on: The International Toy Center in Miami

Before MVB existed, we were always a "gadroach" (see here). We mailed and emailed anyone in the public or private sectors about ideas we had regarding south Florida. Aside from former City of Miami manager Joe Arriola who emailed us back about our idea of making the Miami Arena part of a "megaplex" that included a hotel and a baseball stadium that straddled the MetroRail tracks (here) and (here), we rarely heard from anyone. (Arriola in his fashion, told us in no uncertain terms we were nuts. How he knew we were seeing a shrink in group therapy was and still is creepy).

For nearly two years the toy industry has been looking for a permanent home. The International Toy Center (ITC) is basically a huge merchandise mart for toy companies. Headquartered in NYC for over a hundred years, everything was running smoothly until it lost its lease. It's been looking for a permanent home ever since and has entertained suggestions from civic leaders in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Dallas to mention just a few. Although there is a strong percentage of toy executives who don't want to leave New York, there is also a growing percentage that don't really care. They just want a permanent building to display their wares and have access to a large convention center once a year to stage their humungous toy show. Right now, that happens in the dead of winter every February at the Javits Center.

To us, moving the ITC to Miami is a no brainer because it has everything they need: rents within their budget and access to a large convention center, i.e, the Miami Beach Convention Center. Since manufacturing has basically moved overseas, it is no longer necessary to be located in the industrial northeast. At one point, the ITC was looking for nearly a million square feet of floor space. Omni Mall had that and more. Times have changed since then. Omni looks like it may be torn down to build multi-use towers. Now the ITC is looking for a minimum of 300,000 square feet. In desperation to find a building, they may settle for one built in 1903. Part of the leasing program for that building includes:

• Leases of five, seven and 10 years will be offered ranging from $39.20 to $44.20 per square foot, depending on the length, with increases of 2 percent to 3 percent, depending the term, after the first year.
• The landlord will provide basic showroom build outs at no additional cost. In the alternative, the tenants may design the space themselves and receive and $35 per square foot "cash contribution," along with the landlord's base building work.
• Included in those rental amounts, $1 per square feet will revert back to the NYTT.
• Tenants will split the cost of the building's electricity plus a 10 percent fee, and pay for their own cleaning services.
• Tenants will also pay a pro rata portion of future real estate tax increases and fuel increases above the 2007 calendar year level.
• Tenants will have one option to extend their leases.
Space allocations will be made largely on a first come, first served basis, along with other considerations, such as space demands.
The landlord will also provide a 2,000 square foot multi-purpose space to serve as a buyers' lounge, conference and media room.

One of the location's drawbacks-- besides being one freaking old building-- is that it isn't near public transportation. In fact, if the ITC takes that space, they plan to provide a shuttle service for its tenants to the closest subway entrance.

We believe the ITC can do much better in Miami. It has been months now since we last contacted Mayor Diaz's office. The last thing we heard was that his staff was working on it (sadly, as much as we respect County Mayor Carlos Alverez, we got no reply from his office). Hopefully they actually are "working on it." Hopefully they believe there is still a chance to lure the ITC to Miami. According to the latest dispatch from "Playthings Extra," an e-newsletter for the toy industry, everybody wants a decision made on a permanent location ASAP-- but not all of industry executives care if that location is in New York.

In June we contacted RTKL architects who are designing a stunning tower called 600 Brickell. It has more than enough space for the ITC and is conveinently located near MetroRail and the People Mover. We suggested RTKL get in touch with the ITC. Hopefully they have because if they leave it up to the City and the Beacon Council to attract new business, it probably won't happen.

One thing Miami doesn't have is a lot of headquartered globally known brand names. Bringing the headquarters for hundreds of toy manufacturers from all over the world to downtown Miami will be a good thing for all who live here because it will focus the attention of leaders of industry on Miami and it will bring people who can actually afford to buy some of the 40,000+ chi chi condos planned for downtown. With our climate, and access to the world through MIA and the Port of Miami, it only takes a little effort on the part of the City and County to send a delegation to New York to make the convincing pitch. Other cities already have and since it's not too late, we should too.


NicFitKid said...

You are a fucking genius. Of course, that fact alone rules out any possibility that the city will listen to you. Have you considered the use of junkets, cash, or no-bid contracts? Those tend to work better than logical reasoning and a desire to improve the economic base of Miami.

Verticus said...

Well, we don't know if we're a "fucking genius," but we have been told we are "shallow" (ex-Brazilian girlfriend) and "naive" (ourselves). Anyway, thanks for the comment.