June 24th, 2024 – The Real Deal

After paying $67M, Geneva, Switzerland-based shipping firm is moving its North American cruise operations to Miami mixed-use project 

MSC Group is anchoring its new North America cruise headquarters at Michael Swerdlow’s Block 55 at Sawyer’s Walk after paying $67 million for a commercial unit at the Overtown mixed-use project. 

An affiliate of MSC Group, an international shipping company based in Geneva, Switzerland, purchased a 131,129-square-foot office space on the 7th floor of Block 55 at 249 Northwest Sixth Street in Miami, records show. The deal breaks down to $510 a square foot.

Alan Kleber, and Tyler Reynolds led a Cushman & Wakefield team that represented MSC Group, a press release states. 

The seller is a joint venture between Swerdlow’s eponymous firm based in Coconut Grove, Reston, Virginia-based SJM Partners and Miami-based affordable housing developer Alben Duffie. In 2021, the partnership broke ground on the 1.4-million-square-foot Block 55, a year after paying $10 million for the 3.4-acre development site.

The mixed-use project, which will also include 578 senior affordable housing apartments, 175,000 square feet of retail and a 1,000-space parking garage, is slated for completion later this year. The retail component is anchored by Target and Aldi, and other tenants include Ross Dress for Less, Five Below, Burlington and Tropical Smoothie Café.

MSC Group, led by chairman Gianluigi Aponte, announced the firm was moving its North American cruise division and its 250 employees to Block 55, published reports state. 

Block 55’s construction was financed with a $185 million Miami-Dade Housing Finance Authority-backed loan, a $25 million mortgage from an entity managed by Ezra Katz, CEO of Miami-based Aztec Group, as well as $9.5 million in local government grants, including $2 million from Miami-Dade County approved in February, county records show. 

The recent grant was used to cover $16 million in cost overruns related to Covid-19, according to a letter Swerdlow sent Miami-Dade officials in December. 

Also in February, Swerdlow’s firm submitted a proposal to Miami-Dade to develop an estimated $2.6 billion mixed-use public housing project on 65 acres along Miami’s Little River and Little Haiti neighborhoods. 

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