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Miami Billionaire Launching Downtown Innovation Hub

Miami billionaire Moishe Mana has broken ground on a downtown building that he intends to make the center of a burgeoning tech and startup community.

The 13-story Nikola Tesla Innovation Center will have 136K SF of space, mostly for offices with 2% reserved for retail. It is expected to be completed at the end of this year, with occupancy to begin in Q1 of 2022, according to a Tuesday webinar presentation by Mana's staff. 

Moishe Mana, founder of Moishe's Moving Systems, is pursuing his downtown Miami development vision.

"This is going to be the economic engine of Miami," Mana said of the downtown area where he has been investing heavily. 

Michelle Abbs, managing director of Mana Tech, said the downtown assemblage is composed of about 60 adjacent properties in an area that includes public transit and low-cost housing.

In January, Mana announced a partnership with California-based Plug N Play, a "global innovation platform" that aims to connect technology startups with the world’s largest corporations. 

Plug N Play founder Saeed Amidi joined Mana on the webinar, as did Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniel Levine Cava.

Mana and Plug N Play are currently scheduling meetings with corporate partners who want to be a part of their vision in hopes of securing more commitments. A Plug N Play office is expected to open in November 2021, according to the webinar.  

Mana came to the US in the 1980s, making his fortune by founding a moving company in New York. In the 1990s, he helped revitalized Manhattan's Meatpacking District, partly by housing Milk Studios, an art and fashion hub. Ten years ago, he came to Miami and began been buying up properties — an estimated $375M worth, totaling over 1.3 million SF of buildings, according to The Real Deal.

Though little development has so far taken place on his holdings, his vision for downtown has coalesced around the idea of "Mana Common," a complete ecosystem that could support tech, but also arts and culture.

"I totally understood we needed to do something exceptional," Mana said. "The problem is, every time there is a neighborhood built, then come the real estate funds and basically destroy the whole ecosystem. So I said, 'We're going to buy a big critical mass of real estate and we're going to build a sustainable community where we do not need to trade with the real estate.' This is a home for the brain. This is a home for creation. This is a home for changing a city." 

Miami is currently experiencing an influx of well-heeled residents and tech companies from New York and Silicon Valley. Mana said that Miami is also ripe for entrepreneurs from Latin American — where difficult logistics sometimes hold back businesses — to come together.