I believe in evolution.
As a developer, you can say that I’m also a creationist. This is a clever attempt to say that I have personally evolved through the years in the way in which I approach new commercial and industrial projects designed and created at The Allen Morris Company. In the past few years, I’ve also seen a new species arise in the form of a new branch of my company dedicated to mixed-used multi-family projects. Luckily for us at The Allen Morris Company, there’s no missing link…at least not that we’re aware!
In the beginning, 57 years ago, my father, L. Allen Morris, founded The Allen Morris Company. He built the simple and efficient commercial structures prevalent for the age. Against the backdrop of today’s glass skyscrapers those earlier structures that still exist in downtown Miami may appear primitive, but in the late 1950’s through the 60’s and even 70’s, simple and efficient were considered good.
I took over the company in 1980 and built upon my father’s foundation, but over time I became bored with building boxes for people to work in. I thought, if this is all there is to commercial development, then I’d rather not build anything ever again.
I needed to do something outrageous and ‘outside the box’ to inspire me as well as others. The result was our corporate headquarters in downtown Coral Gables called Alhambra Towers. It was a big expensive “roll of the dice”, but it ignited my passion and gave me a new sense of direction. (It also won nine awards and earns the highest rents in Miami.)
A couple of years ago, we re-wrote the company Mission Statement, which is also my personal mission:
- To Inspire people with the beauty of our projects.
- To Impress them with the excellence of our services.
- To Improve the lives of all we touch.
That may not look like a bottom line approach to business, but it has connected me and our team to our passion to create beautiful spaces for people to work and to live, in order for us to have meaning beyond simply executing projects and building a business. It’s also good business.
Here’s how it works:
- If it doesn’t inspire us, it won’t inspire others, so we re-design or we won’t build it.
- If we are not excited and impressed with the location and the amenities, the potential businesses and residents won’t be either, so we won’t build it.
- If we can’t see how it will improve the community and the lives of others, then we change it or we don’t built it.
Each project has a story or theme that ties the architecture and art to the history and culture of the local community. Cities and towns evolve too, so our style will need to keep evolving to fit the needs of each generation as space requirements and ways of living and working change. For instance, millennials, and increasingly their “empty nester” counterparts, prefer less living space and instead value cool common areas, gathering spaces and neighborhoods with a sense of place. Cars are not as important as walkability and more efficient transportation, like rail, bicycles, Zip Car, and Uber.
Instead of owning a big home, they would rather invest in their lifestyle, travel, personal growth, learning and life experiences.
Similarly, office spaces don’t have to be traditional and formal, but can be shared workspaces with open space, high ceilings and glass walls.
Adapt or die, it’s survival of the fittest in real estate, don’t you know!
Here are our latest mixed-used, commercial, multi-family projects we have under development: