Baptist buys Mission Bell condo site for $15 million

By Richard Yager….
Baptist Hospital has purchased the former Mission Bell Park condominium site on SW 90th Avenue from a corporation owned by Armando Codina for potential expansion of its existing 60-acre N. Kendall Drive campus.

The $15 million sale recorded Mar. 31, 2011, for two large undeveloped land parcels was described “for future use with no immediate purpose in mind” by Ana Lopez-Blaquez, chief strategic officer for Baptist Health South Florida.

The two parcels comprise 5.64 acres of a total 7.7 acres listed at 9001 SW 92 Ave. originally owned by Phillip Scuterri and Codina for a multi-family development that never materialized, she explained.

Several smaller parcels make up the balance of the major land purchase from CSMB Condo LL, identified by Lopez-Blaquez as a Codina-owned entity.

Before a general economic downturn, the partners had erected and opened a sales center fronting SW 90th Avenue that serves as a major entryway to the hospital campus at 8900 N. Kendall Dr.

“At this time, we have no specific use intended for the property, but we would go through the normal application for rezoning for some type of hospital or medical facility use, once that is determined,” Lopez-Blaquez said.

The undeveloped tract lies between SW 90th and SW 92nd avenues and immediately abuts the south boundary of Wisperwood Village, 9301 SW 92 Ave., and the north property line of Kendall Hotel and Suites, 9100 N. Kendall Dr.

The combined properties currently are zoned for medium high-density residential use, permitting between 25 and 60 dwellings per acre.

A 2007 East Kendall Charrette noted that the planned “Mission Bell Site” failed “due to difficulties in coordinating development with the adjacent hotel.”

The report recommended that future development of buildings nearest Baptist Hospital “should be mixed use with residential units on the upper floors and limited business and office uses on the ground floor.

“The block facing 92nd Avenue should have a layer of single-family residential units to mirror the houses on the other side of the street,” the recommendation concluded. Fifteen single-family home sites are located between N. Kendall Drive and SW 94th Street on the west side of SW 92th Avenue.

The charrette evolved from a 2005 area study of increasing traffic along Kendall Drive, which Baptist later financed through an independent consulting firm.

The most recent purchase prior to the current Baptist land sale in the immediate area occurred in August 2007 when the 100-unit Sherwood Apartment complex at 10791 N. Kendall Dr. was purchased for $17.5 million to help relieve distant commuting and escalating housing costs for hospital employees.

The N. Kendall Drive hospital built in 1959 now provides a 680-bed facility that includes an Emergency Care Center, Baptist Children’s Hospital, Baptist Cardiac and Vascular Institute, a regional cancer program and a diabetic care center.

Its 32,000 annual patient load was due to be relieved by the April 2011 opening of the new $200 million West Kendall Baptist Hospital. The two hospitals are part of the health and hospital services administered by its corporate parent, Baptist Health South Florida, headquartered in Coral Gables and employing more than 11,000 in South Florida.

Mission Bell Park was a project of the Codina Group, planned for 200 condominium apartments in two eight-story towers with pricing from $275,000 to $400,000.

Codina, a prominent South Florida developer and real estate executive, is chair Chair and CEO of Codina Partners, a premiere commercial real estate firm, and serves as chief executive of Codina Partners, a Coral Gables-based real estate company.

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