Apartments could replace the Coral Gables church building

Sergio Pino of Century Homebuilders Group and the Church (Century Homebuilders, Facebook via St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church – MIAMI FL)

In the rush to build apartments to capitalize on the boiling market, developers are vying for increasingly scarce building sites. No land is sacred – not even a church.

Sergio Pino’s Century Homebuilders Group wants to redevelop the St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church building in Coral Gables with multi-family units and space for behavior therapy school Crystal Academy, which now leases the building, Pino said. St. James no longer uses the property but also leases it to other religious groups.

Pino, through an affiliate, purchased the 1.5-acre property at 110 Phoenetia Avenue in St. James for $9.8 million, records show.

The preliminary plan is for a 10-story apartment building with about 200 units and a one-story building for Crystal Academy, Pino said. If approved, construction could begin in 2023 and be completed by mid-2024.

No project application has yet been filed with the city.

According to its website, Crystal Academy offers occupational therapy, language, physical, music, and art therapy, as well as academic support for children diagnosed with impaired cognitive functions.

Pino worked with the school principal on the plan for the new Crystal Academy building.

“We actually got close and committed to not only building the multi-family component, but making sure we kept the school on site with the park and parking lot for all their needs,” he said. .

Coral Gables-based Century Homebuilders is part of a wave of developers taking advantage of the robust rental market fueled by strong demand and rising rents.

“We are actively looking to put more multifamily in our basket. It’s generating revenue and is booming right now,” Pino said. “So many people are moving to Miami. There is a shortage of rentals, of condos. We sell houses left and right.

Miami ranked seventh in the United States for rents in November, with the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment reaching $2,170. That’s up 4.4%, month-over-month, and up 24.7%, year-over-year, according to a Zumper report.

Pino’s business isn’t the only one growing on a church site. Related companies of Stephen Ross are building their 25-story One Flagler office tower in downtown West Palm Beach next to the First Church of Christ Scientist after buying the site for $20.1 million in July . The church will be kept.

Century Homebuilders recently completed its 850 Le Jeune project with 230 apartments near Miami International Airport.

It is about to begin construction on a 107-unit apartment project at 390 Bird Road in Coral Gables, and is also in the process of authorizing 675-unit development in Doral, Pino said.

Coral Gables is seeing part of the apartment development rush. Ubiica and Maven Real Estate are planning a multi-family project on an assembly at 130, 152 and 160 Almeria Avenue. An office building at 152 Almeria will be demolished once the leases run out.

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