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Cymbal Bets on Miami's Design District
South Florida Business Journal   Oscar Pedro Musibay  January 2010

Miami developer Asi Cymbal is buying property in Miami’s Design District with immediate plans for more restaurants and retail.

Cymbal is managing partner of the Michelle Bernstein restaurant Sra. Martinez and head of his own construction company.

At a steep discount, Cymbal scooped up the former site of a planned town home project – a little more than one acre (49,500 square feet) at the corner of Northeast First Avenue and 41st Street.

Cymbal paid $2 million for the $10.5 million mortgage with Compass Bank on the property on Dec. 30.

The prior owner was Jeremy Green of Nexus Development Group, who once had a slate of residential proposals for the area.

Cymbal, president of Miami-based Cymbal Development, said in an interview the project would involve retail and restaurants, but he declined to be more specific. He also said he might develop retail at some point in the future.

Cymbal owns the 25,000 square foot Midtown Center at North Miami Avenue and 34th Street. He did new construction at Midtown Center and rehabbed an existing warehouse, which is now home to Bardot bar and EQ3 furniture.

Cymbal also has plans to build a 100,000-square-foot structure at 112-130 NE 41st Street. About half of the building will serve as parking, with retail on the bottom and another use on the top of the building.

One of Cymbal’s partners on the future development projects is Amir Ben-Zion, who is a partner in Miss Yip Chinese Café and the Townhouse Hotel, both on Miami Beach.

Cymbal and Ben-Zion are familiar names in local real estate development circles. In March 2005, the pair were part of a partnership that paid $14 million for the flat-iron parcel one block west of Brickell Avenue.

The site was slated for a mixed-use office building, but the project never got off the ground. In July 2007, it was on the market for $32.5 million.

The pair sold their interest in the project and are no longer associated with it, Cymbal said.

In July of the same year, the pair were part of a partnership that paid $18 million for about an acre of land on Biscayne Boulevard near the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, where it considered building condominiums. The project never started and the pair also sold their interest in that project, Cymbal said.

At the time, the area around the arts center was inspiring real estate dreams, with Terra Group planning a massive mixed-use development next door.

Cymbal was a vice president and general counsel for the Manhattan projects of Leviev Boymelgreen. He had no connection to the Boymelgreen’s Miami projects, most of which stalled.

As for the Design District, Cymbal said there is great demand for mixed-use projects in the growing Design District, which has become a focal point of activity for the annual Art Basel art event.

“Our intent is to bring the Design District to the next level,” Cymbal said.