Retail vacancies have grown in South Florida since April, and more are anticipated as commercial bankruptcies rise. One landlord is trying a temporary solution — filling a space with ballet dancers.
The Miami City Ballet moved into the former Lincoln Road home of retailer BCBG last week. Michael Comras, the CEO and president of the Miami Beach-based commercial brokerage and development firm Comras, is letting the dance company use the two-story, 19,197-square-foot retail space at 744 Lincoln Road rent-free through early September.
The company’s Liberty Avenue location has been temporarily closed since March due to health and safety concerns for staff during the pandemic, said Amber Dorsky, Miami City Ballet’s public relations and communications manager, via email.
As a result, most dancers have been limited to rehearsing at home, she said. The Lincoln Road space allows them to work together while maintaining social distancing.
Pedestrians strolling along Lincoln Road will be able to watch as groups of six dancers at a time rehearse weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“With more vacancies, this is what we need to bring to retail,” Comras said. “People want arts, culture and to be entertained
The Lincoln Road Business Improvement District and City of Miami Beach together provided $12,000 to convert the second floor retail space into a ballet studio with specialty flooring ballet barres.
The pandemic is accelerating the “cleansing process” of old-to-new tenants, Comras said. He expects other retail spaces to be filled with tenants focused on arts, culture and entertainment.
BCBG leased the space for 12 years. It had another three years on its lease but it left in June after the company filed for Chapter 11 in May, Comras said.
The space will be filled with another undisclosed tenant in late September, Comras said. “I’m working on signing one tenant and then another after that one. All I’ll say is what is old is new.”
For the ballet, the temporary move is something of a homecoming. Miami City Ballet first opened at 901 Lincoln Road, now home to Victoria’s Secret, 35 years ago.
Said Miami City Ballet Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez, “We’re watching and making decisions based on what’s happening with the crisis. We do hope to make some exciting announcements in the near future.”
Rebecca San Juan, Miami Herald
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