The groundbreaking at 400 Biscayne Blvd. in Downtown Miami announced for June 25 signals start of construction of a new development, a 49-story high rise building with 646 apartments, retail and a new First United Methodist Church.
The land at 400 Biscayne originally was sold to Property Markets Group (PMG) by First United Methodist Church of Miami (FUMC), who are building their church back into the new development.
Sometimes a congregation decides to sell all or part of its property due to financial pressures. Sometimes the decision to sell is part of a vision for what the neighborhood needs. Whether from pragmatism or a sense of purpose, the connection between a church and its land can lead to soul searching about what the congregation is called to be — and to reimagine the space for the future.
In the cityscape of Miami it was time for a change at 400 Biscayne Blvd., where the FUMC has become known as the church that has learned to listen to the people, neighbors and changing landscape.
This church is reimagining its space in an effort to gracefully grow with the community that surrounds it. In January 2018 the congregation made its decision to sell its church to Property Markets Group (PMG) for $55 million. As part of the sale, there was a partnership, where the church would rebuild its space into the new development, that is comprised of apartments, retail and a new United Methodist Church.
The purchase and transformation of this new space is budgeted at a total of $20 million and is set to open in 2021.
Investing in this new church and building its interior spaces to be relevant today, and relevant in 50 years, is no easy task.
Dr. Reverend Audrey Warren who leads the project for FUMC Miami said, “At each juncture, we asked the hard questions and we listened. We knew the old model was not sustainable in this space and always imagined it to be the beginning of the story, and not the end,” Rev. Warren said.
“We listened to our community and its continuing conversations, and decided on a new beginning for this church that could reach all people or all ages, families and for decades to come. We are still listening and are very excited about this new chapter in our church,” she added.
“We knew that a ‘grand idea’ for the church would not materialize quickly and it would take a lot of listening, research and speaking to the folks in our community,” said Jason Randolph, chair of redevelopment and trustees. “We are known as the downtown church with the big heart in Miami and our congregants are a tight-knit group.
“We knew the heart of the church would lead the way through the physical transformation. Imagine a church that the public can see worship happening in the chapel at street level, inviting all who are compelled or curious to step confidently through the open doors. I hope that’s where we landed. I’m privileged to be chairing this redevelopment and to be working alongside such incredible people.”
The interior renovations will total a spectacular $10 million and will include; a theater, a glass climbing wall, and a basketball court — all of which will share the same space as the three-story high sanctuary. The plans include a coffee shop and large function room with views of the bay, as well as the chapel for worship and yoga chapel, and a room for broadcasting and podcasting.
Almost every space is flexible and can be used for various events, as the church attempts to be a space where the sacred and secular meet. The old churches stained glass has been preserved and will hang in the sanctuary as a new chandelier, while the glass walls overlooking the bay will be become the climbing wall.