Daily Archives: October 21, 2006

Do You Know Your New Urban Neighborhood?

These days, buying a condo can be confusing. One can easily get lost in all the talk about a building’s features and amenities, luxury, and exclusivity. Go to a sales center, anyone of them, and the sales representatives will go on and on about the developer, luxurious urban lifestyle, and supposed unobstructed views. Its all quite humorous. Usually, it is a spectacle of sight and sound, but I see right through the babble and distractions. Not to say that they aren’t authoritative on the matter or dishonest, because in most cases they are. You simply must know how to ask the right questions, and they must know how to answer them. They are there to make money off of you, so your best interest is mixed in with their own. I would rather guide myself. Now, I’m not trying to say that a building’s features and amenities, design, and developer history aren’t important. They are. I’m simply saying that when buying a condo, don’t get distracted by all the talk about the building. You’re not just buying into the building, you’re buying into the building’s neighborhood. Before you enter a sales center with the intention of beginning the buying process, it would be wise to have a somewhat clear understanding of how the neighborhood is changing. I personally don’t care much about what they have to say about the neighborhood, although I will listen. I want to know the neighborhood. Another thing, the projects going up these days are all quite similar. They will usually have unique, well thought out floor plans. Most have concierges, valet parking, and a gym or media facility. Some have private elevator lobbies and more extravagant pools and public spaces. The real differences are in the details, deep terraces, glass terrace railings, ceiling heights, finger print building access, additional recreational facilities, or even state-of-the-art illuminated bathtubs, like the one at the Emerald sales center. Just put aside all the luxurious lifestyle mumbo-jumbo until you‘re sold on the neighborhood. So, the first key question is: what neighborhood is the building in? And, how does that affect the residents of the building? You may be saying to yourself that this is all common sense, however when it comes to Miami’s urban neighborhoods, its not that simple.

For example, in Park West, there are six world class high rise projects going up. But, right now, barely anyone lives in the area, except homeless people. In the Central Business District, for example, there are currently no residents. Almost the whole area closes after 6pm. Yet here again, there are numerous new residential high rise projects going up. The burgeoning Uptown area, composed of formerly derelict communities, in recent history drew little attention from developers, except Tibor Hollo, or affluent buyers. Now, there are celebrities buying multi-million dollar units in proposed sleek ultra-luxury high rises. What’s wrong with this picture? It’s all unprecedented! Here, historically, there is nothing to fall back on when it comes to determining what your building’s neighborhood will be like. This poses a problem, because since no one can accurately imagine what a certain neighborhood will be like, it may very well end up being quite different from what the buyer first thought. This poses a problem that is common everywhere, but more complicated in Miami‘s urban market.

If you buy in Park West, hopefully you’ve realized that there is growing media and entertainment district just to your west. This might sound all nice and dandy, but this translates into a neighborhood packed with nightclub, bars, lounges, traffic, and pedestrians. Yes, visibly drunk people will be part of fold. So will drug use. A strip club is near by. This area is going to be bumping and grinding all night long, rain or shine. As a Park West resident, you will not be able to avoid the traffic. Hopefully you will avoid the pedestrians. The neighborhood will be noisy and energetic. People are going to converge there from everywhere for a goodtime and some culture. The Museum Park development will balance the energy of the neighborhood with some world-class culture and likely make it one of the most unique urban communities in the country. Tourists will flock to the area, and generally that result is a good indicator of high neighborhood value. Fortunately, if you live in one of the new residential skyscrapers of Park West, then you can take shelter from the crowds, noise, and traffic, up in your private sky home. It is doubtful that you will hear the noise from the streets below. In the case that you do hear distant yells or honks, the luxury of your home will help you forget the madness below.

Buyers in the Central Business District aren’t living in downtown, they are downtown, so say‘s the new ad for the Metropolitan Miami project, located in financial district of the CBD. For now, at least, that ad is accurate. However, this translates into heavier traffic than anywhere else in the area. It is situated between Brickell and Uptown–two major areas of activity. Consequently, rivers of cars will be going in and out of the area constantly. After a while, driving there may seem like a punishment. Especially when you’ve been staring at your building from your car in traffic on your way home for 20 minutes. Presumably, buyers in the area have not just taken this into consideration but are happy with it. Maybe they don’t intend to drive all that much. Maybe being in the heart of a city like Miami is enjoyable enough to compensate for the traffic and noise. The area’s drama and fast pace will certainly compliment visually stunning appearance and will draw plenty of visitors. There will not be much of a night life there. It is a center of activity, of movement between places. Everyone and everything converges there. The Jewelry District of the CBD is going to benefit from the new influx of residents. The masses will come to realize that the area is home to the best jewelry shopping in the region. Currently, there isn’t a base of permanent residents, so the area shuts down after dark. Although this will likely remain the same, as residents move in to the area, the beefed up security will translate into more flexible hours of operation and a more appealing shopping experience. Overtown is still mostly undeveloped and under-utilized. This will not drastically change for at least 5 years or so. The homelessness that is so heavily concentrated there now will have been mitigated by all the surrounding new developments and the relocating of Camillus House. This will be welcomed by the CBD residents. Still, there may not be much to prevent them from walking or transporting themselves back into the area. Although reduced, homelessness will still remain a conspicuous problem.

Brickell is the most established urban neighborhood in Miami. There aren’t too many surprises there. Over 50 new projects are approved for development in the area. Therefore, what you see now is not necessarily what you will get in two or three years. Brickell has been accustomed to a lower kind of high density. Let me explain this further. One building has always a lot more space than it needs. The buildings there are high density, but for years have stood on spacious plots of land with ample drive ways entering the buildings. Guard houses are common there. They will not exist in most buildings in Uptown, for example, where the density will be higher. Currently, the area is becoming much more densely populated. New projects are seeing two and three phases. Driveway entrances are no longer as ample as they used to be. This is all to be expected. But, what Brickell lacks is a community niche. There are banks and residential buildings. There are a few night spots and certainly many nice restaurants. But what is the over all character of the area? Well, as of right now, it doesn’t seem to have a community identity. You know the CBD is where all the big business is at. Park West has the nigh clubs, media facilities, and museums. Uptown caters to the Arts Community with the Performing Arts Center, Anderson Opera House, galleries, and Design District. But what does Brickell offer. The answer is: a little bit of everything. Sure it won’t have museums, or numerous nightclubs, but it does have the potential for becoming downtown’s shopping district. Mark Brickell Village is an indicator that such a shopping experience could work in Brickell. The whole area is very pedestrian friendly, and traffic isn’t as bad as other areas of downtown. Over all, Brickell will define a more quiet version of urban living, where you will find street joggers, bike riders, dog walkers, flirting couples, pedestrians in suits, and café drinkers.

The Uptown Area, north of the 836, east of I-95 and South of Little Haiti, is too large to consider all at once. There are at least 77 new high density residential projects approved for development in the area. On the southern part, near the Performing Arts Center, it’ll be safe to assume that you will find an area catering to the performing arts. Already there are plans for the Anderson opera house, which will be home to the Florida Grand Opera. Interestingly, to the west of the PAC, there is an area of under utilized commercial structures. They are old, ugly, and unfit to remain standing. Yet, there are no real plans to do anything with the area. Will it remain a magnet for homelessness and drug dealings? It is doubtful. What would make sense, is if the city were to do a study that took into consideration the viability of turning the area into a theatre district. Being in the performing arts district would be convenient enough I suppose. We currently have no such district. Of course what I mention now would be similar to the theatre district running along Broadway in Manhattan, except that it’s simply an idea, and even if it were to become a reality, then it would take years for it to fully develop. Nevertheless, the presence of the PAC alone will add class and culture to the area and draw visitors by the thousands. Traffic, as will be the case for most of the area in and around downtown, will be especially bad around Biscayne Blvd.

Moving north and west up into the Uptown area you currently find plenty of vacant lots, under utilized buildings, and a lower income neighborhood called Wynwood. Recently, the neighborhood has been labeled the Wynwood Arts District. This is because the area has become the home to several small art galleries and artist studios. This trend has continued and will continue into the future. The area seems to be developing a bohemian character, but the new ultra luxury high rises being built along the Edgewater side of Uptown will offset the bohemian character for a more exclusive one with its affluent demographic. Importantly, as you move west away from the bay, you will find that a majority of the new developments are mid-rises, which means that this neighborhood will develop an urbanity that is different from the neighborhoods to the south. However, the combination of art, culture, and money will certainly serve Uptown well, but there still is the problem of homelessness and drugs, which will hopefully be mitigated by gentrification and a growing police presence accompanying the infill of new projects and residents coming to the area.

The Midtown Miami project will anchor all the new high density development in the northern side of the Uptown area and push new developments west as well as south and north of it. Brickell, in its hey day, did not see westward development at all. Only recently has Brickell seen high density development west of Brickell Avenue. Uptown will be different. High density development will occur more rapidly here than it has in Brickell in the past. Keep in mind, Uptown is anchored by the PAC district in the south, Midtown Miami in the center, and the Design District in the north. This means that the area will have a lot of help with its progress and a general sandwich effect will fill-in the numerous vacant lots. It is interesting to note that the highest concentration of vacant urban lots and small commercial structures is in the Uptown area, which means that the area is more ready to absorb new development activity with much less demolition. Still, it is too soon to feel out what the neighborhood’s identity is shaping out to be.

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Iconic Value in Buildings

What separates one high-rise from another? Well, many things. The design. The building features. The height. However, one factor is all too often overlooked: the building’s iconic value. Now this begs the question of what iconic value is. Iconic value is a way of measuring how easily recognized a building is. Recognized by who you ask? Well, everyone; residents of Miami and visitors alike. It is important to realize that a building’s actual value is not ever dependant upon but always somewhat reliant upon it’s iconic value.In the case of Jorge Perez’s Icon South Beach, the name of his project exemplifies the importance of iconic value best. He named the project thus because he knew that it’s highly conspicuous location would make the building an urban icon. So successful was the project that he has endeavored to create Icon Brickell—a monolithic three-tower development, which shares a similarly conspicuous location to it’s South Beach counterpart, at the southern entrance to the Miami River.

Residents of all developments want to feel like they are living an exclusive lifestyle, far apart and above the rest. Most building amenities and features seem offer such exclusivity, but there is a big difference between your building being blocked by others or standing among many, and your building being situated in an obviously conspicuous position. Icon South Beach is located right on the south side of the Macarthur Causeway at the 5th street entrance to South Beach. Everyone entering the beach will see it to their immediate right. For many first time visitors the building will be part of their first impression of South Beach. Consequently, film’s in Miami and any media attention is likely to include images of the more highly conspicuous buildings. The developers of Blue also realized the importance of iconic value when they picked out and purchased the land used for Blue. Blue probably has the best iconic value of any building in Miami right now. Towering over a highway below, it is located the western end of the Julia Tuttle causeway. Everyone exiting or heading towards the beach will definitely notice and probably be impressed by Blue.

Iconic value is not exclusive to highly conspicuous properties. All high-rises will have some type of exposure to people, but most fall short of being an urban icon. For a building to have iconic value it has to satisfy at least two of several conditions:

1. A Conspicuous Location—on the bay, near the entrance or exit of major highway, on the Miami River, etc.

2. Must be Tall—The taller the better, at least 25 floors if situated conspicuously—like Bentley on the Bay (South Beach), otherwise it must be a minimum of 35 floors. Definitely, it can’t be a mid-rise

3. Must Have a Unique Design—the façade of the building must be different and either aesthetically harmonious or forward-thinking.

4. Evening Façade Lighting—An illuminated spire or façade can go great lengths towards attaining iconic value for a structure. Take the Bank of America building or Espirito Santo building, for example, which are two of the most recognizable buildings in the city. Towers such as Vue, in Brickell, and the Waverly South Beach have also benefited from such lighting, and they certainly will not be the last to do so. Lit up towers in Miami is a trend that will remain, expand, and define this great city’s future skyline at night.

Importantly, as a building resident, it feels good to see your tower lit up at night from afar, or to know that everyone entering and exiting your city will see your tower first or last. It is nice to see your towers reflection on the bay. But must important of all, it is easier to sell these units, and it is much more satisfying to buy one of them. Iconic value is the hidden gem of the high-density residential real estate market, and one should make sure to not disregard it.

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What is BOB Miami?


I’m Miami BOB. I believe that Miami’s continuing development boom is phenomenal and is going to lead to it becoming a world class metropolis. I am native to the city and have been watching it’s growth with eager eyes since I can remember. This current boom is unlike any other in Miami’s history, and American Urban history will defintely take notice of it. If this current boom busts and most of the buildings get stalled or are never built, then it will be a devastating real estate crash that would go down as one of the largest on record. But, if the growth continues near the current level of activity, either residential or commercial, then Miami as we know it, will become a city that will impress the whole world with the massive scale of its new urbanity.

The density begins in the city of Miami’s Central Business District and spreads out in all directions, with pockets of rising density throughout the county. I will navigate you through the news, data, maps, neighborhoods, and articles that involve Miami’s continuing growth. MiamiBoomOrBust.com has gathered and cited as many sources as can be compiled on the subject, analyzed the information, composed articles and illustrations to provide a Big Picture Analysis. And Hopefully you, the reader, will contribute with your own opinion, pictures, and information.

We do not endorse or sell any units or new or existing construction projects. We are documenting the historic growth and development of a city that is fast becoming one of the Western Hemisphere’s most important centers of civilization. Based out of Miami’s Central Business District, we are in the trenches of activity. We take it one report at a time, go from neighborhood to neighborhood, and scrutinize one developer at a time. We are interested in everything having to do with subject.

Miami is a different kind of United States metropolis. It’s the country’s southernmost metropolis. It’s the hemisphere’s only truly bilingual metropolis–fifty percent of the population speak Spanish and English. It is situated in a tri-county area that sees over 80% of the international trade between North and Latin America, except Mexico. It is has large Central and South American as well as Caribbean communities. European interest in the city has spanned the eighties and early nineties into the new millennium with renewed fascination. The Winter Music Conference sees thousands of international world-renown DJ’s, mostly European. Switzerland based Art Basel, has brought Miami to the international art spotlight. The world’s top two luxury fashion companies have their Latin American headquarters here. It is Florida’s most populous metropolis. The city’s beaches have the warmest and clearest water in the continental United States, according to the Travel Channel. South Beach has the largest concentration of historic Art Deco architecture in the country. The marvelous architectural backdrop is home to some of the country’s most luxurious, public and private, establishments. The nightclubs are usually intense, seemingly enumerable, immensely entertaining, and packed with great looking people, celebrities, and freaks. Miami has the highest concentration of new high density construction in the whole country.

There is a lot to say about what has happened in Miami, and a whole lot more to say about what is and what will be happening. Covering the Miami developmental scene is not as simple as one would imagine Miami, as a real estate market, is unlike any other in the country, on many different levels. We are here to talk about why and hear what you have to say about it.

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Project List: Brickell Village

Capitol Towers I 64 floors 805ft Residential—Proposed
Capitol Towers II 64 floors 805ft Residential—Proposed
Four Seasons 64 floors 789ft Office/Hotel/Residential—Completed 2004
Infinity I 52 floors 604ft Residential—Approved
ICON Brickell 60 floors 586ft Residentail—Proposed
ICON Brickell 60 floors Residential—Proposed
ICON Brickell 51 floors Residential—Proposed

Plaza on Brickell 56 floors 585ft Residentail—Approved
Premiere Towers I 52 floors 579ft Residentail/Office—Approved
Premiere Towers II 52 floors 579ft Residentail/Office—Approved
Villa Magna I 52 floors 574ft Residential—Approved
Villa Magna II 52 floors 574ft Residential—Approved
Park Place II 32 floors 418feet Office—Approved
Jade Brickell 49 floors 528ft Residential—Completed 2005
1101 Brickell 74 floors 849ft Office/Residential—Proposed
Flatiron 73 floors 849ft Office/Residential—Proposed
Brickell CitiCenter 1 76 floors 808ft Residential/Office—Approved
Brickell CitiCenter 2 69 floors 790ft Residential/Office—Approved
Brickell CitiCentre 3 50 floors 808 feet Residential/Office—Proposed
Avenue 46 floors 495ft Residential—Approved
Espirito Santo 36 floors 487ft Office/Hotel—Completed 2004
Asia 36 floors 483ft Residential—Approved
1390 Brickell Bay 47 floors 478ft Residential—Construction
Latitude 42 floors 476ft Residential—Construction
Plaza on Brickell 43 floors 460ft Residentail—Approved
Point at Brickell 42 floors 442ft Residential—Approved
Brickell on the River 42 floors 423ft Residential—Construction
Brickell on the River II 46 floors Residential—Approved
500 Brickell 42 floors 423ft Residential—Approved
Vue at Brickell 37 floors 423ft Residential—Completed 2004
Axis I 37 floors 418ft Residential—Construction
Axis II 37 floors 418ft Residential—Construction
Park Place I 36 floors 413ft Residential—Construction
Club at Brickell 42 floors 411ft Residential—Completed 2005
Carbonell 39 floors Residential—Construction
Avenue 34 floors 400ft Residentail—Approved
The Beacon 36 floors 396ft Residential—Approved
Skyline at Brickell 34 floors 376ft Residential—Completed 2005
Skyline at MBV 34 floors Residential—Construction
NeoVertika 35 floors 369ft Residential—Construction
Latitude One 23 floors 305ft Office—Construction
The Sail 29 floors Residential—Construction
Coral Station 28 floors Office/Residential—Approved
Reflections on the River 24 floors 283ft Residential—Approved
Emerald at Brickell 27 floors 270ft Residential—Contruction
Solaris 22 floors Residential—Construction
Brickell First 21 floors 215ft Residential—Proposed
Brickell Village 14 floors 173ft Office—Proposed
SMA Tower 649 feet
Brickell Station 56 floors 599ft Residential—Proposed
One Broadway 36 floors 439ft Residential—Completed 2005
600 Brickell 68 floors 903ft Office/Hotel/Residential—Proposed

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Miami Differs Greatly from Other Housing Markets

It is argued that Miami has become the Gateway to the
Americas, economically, politically, culturally, and practically. How is this so? The answer is simple: Miami already is a miniature version of the Western Hemisphere. Why is this important? Well, it means that it is a city version of all of Latin and North America, and is therefore an advantageous base of operations for international firms looking to do business on a hemispheric scale. The Western Hemisphere is multi-lingual, but Spanish and English dominate. English, mostly in North America. Spanish, mostly in South and Central America, parts of North, and largely in the Caribbean. So what does it mean to be a smaller version of the Western Hemisphere, and how is that relevant to Miami’s real estate market? Basically, it means that doing business and investing in Miami is quite different from other major cities in the hemisphere, and national housing market trends don’t always apply to Miami’s real estate market. Understanding this requires analysis. Miami’s demographics are truly unique. Every single country in the Western Hemisphere represents itself in force. Unlike most other major U.S. metropolises, Miami’s diverse community represents, in large numbers, every Latin American country in the hemisphere. The city is therefore the best test market for that market segment in the world*. Being in Miami means that you are surrounded by large Venezuelan, Colombian, Peruvian, Nicaraguan, Argentinean, Cuban, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Haitian, Bahamian, Guatemalan, and Ecuadorian communities. I left out several others. I challenge anyone to name another U.S metropolis like it. Over half of Miami-Dade county’s population can speak Spanish. That’s good news for anyone from South and Central America, as well as the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. If they want to come to the United States, they can go to Miami and speak their native language freely. Try that in Atlanta, Houston, or Chicago, and it just won’t work. There are few bi-lingual barriers in Miami. Even the Portuguese-speaking Brazilians find it easier to communicate among other Spanish speakers. This doesn’t mean that Miami is a foreign city based out of the United States. It just means that, at times, it can feel like one. Some like to call it the Banana Republic. Now, most are opting for the title Gateway to the Americas, and rightly so. How did this all begin? With Geography and a Communist revolution. Cuba lies just 90 miles to the south of the Florida coast. The Cuban exiles fleeing Castro’s Communist revolution had to think practically. They had to leave and they weren’t planning on going far. Most went to Miami. This inflow started in 1959. Although Cuban exile activity had been taking place for generations throughout Florida, this time the whole Cuban bourgeoisie was looking to flee north to liberty. It began with a trickle and turned into a deluge of Cuban immigrants. The traditional southern U.S. city was hard pressed to have to deal with such a refugee crisis. The state and federal governments were also alarmed. To have such a large, growing community of foreign immigrants concentrated in one U.S. city was unprecedented. Methods were taken to provide incentives for Cuban immigrant families to move north and find jobs outside of Miami, but they would just leave temporarily, make money, and return. By 1962, Americans feared the growing uncertainty brewing 90 miles south of the U.S. When it became clear that Cuba, assisted by the Soviets, was aiming nuclear missiles at the U.S., the country viewed the Castro threat differently, and Miami’s growing immigrant population got little attention in Washington D.C. Meanwhile, the Cuban community in
Miami grew larger everyday. The first immigrants to arrive were the most educated and well-off. Many opened businesses. The Cubans bought from the Cubans. Cubans hired Cubans. Cubans loaned money to Cubans. And did everything, in Spanish. This didn’t sit well with the local Anglo-establishment. Their independence and propensity to speak a foreign language seemed insolent. These initial Cuban immigrants created the foundations of their independent economic enclave and the successive waves of new immigrants sustained it by providing a growing buyers market and work force. They had, however, no political power and were therefore at the mercy of the political establishment. Nevertheless, the continued growth of the Cuban economic enclave would permanently establish Spanish as a language of business and commerce, although the political establishment would attempt to destroy it. The line was drawn in 1980 when Fidel decided to allow thousands of Cubans to leave his country. City authorities passed legislation that made it illegal to speak Spanish when doing business. The very fabric of this future gateway to the Americas was threatened. The initiative was successfully combated by the immigrant community and overturned. Gradually, the immigrant community turned to politics and began to win the mayoral election of several municipalities including Miami and Dade county, as Anglos began to leave the area. During the eighties large streams of Nicaraguan immigrants began flowing into the city, creating the second significant Latin immigrant wave. By 1994, the immigrant inflow from Cuba and Nicaragua had largely subsided. Immigrant inflow was streaming in from other Latin American countries. By then, Miami and Dade county had a huge Spanish-speaking population. As time passed, it would grow in numbers and diversity. Today, Miami’s Spanish speaking foundation is stronger than ever. Latin Americans from every country call the city their home. Miami has become a Latin American melting pot unlike any other the hemisphere has witnessed. Colombians and Venezuelans have established large, prosperous communities. The Argentineans, with there business ingenuity, have contributed generously to the fold. Central Americans abound, and Mexicans are the fastest growing immigrant community. This truly bi-lingual metropolis is a natural starting point not just for Latin immigrants, but businesses looking to focus on Latin America markets as well. Miami’s real estate market has alot more going for it than meets the eye. While housing markets throughout the country are teeter tottering on the brink of collapse, Miami’s is barely being affected. The profound investment interest in
Miami is in many respects international and multi-faceted, unlike one-dimensional
Las Vegas. Miami transcends national trends. The Europeans are not interested in U.S. domestic housing market trends. They are interested in the culture, lifestyle, diversity, and economic opportunities that Miami continuously affords them, not to mention the value of the Euro over the dollar. Jews from throughout the hemisphere are choosing Miami over Israel as the place to raise their children. Canadiens, known as snow birds because they usually arrive in the winter, have long been interested in living in the area, and are becomming increasingly permanent residents. The point is that Miami is different from all the other real estate markets in the hemisphere. Over half of the city’s population is foreign-born–the most in the world. In Miami, the weight of the entire hemisphere with all its issues, dillemmas, culture, and music, is felt the most. Miami sets real estate trends, and is rarely influenced national trends. After all, it makes sense, since when can Miami be compared to other U.S. cities? Not today, not tommorow, nor anytime in the near future. Some important statistics that further illustrate Miami’s growing divide between itself and other hemispheric cities is provided by the Beacon Council.

Post Script: It is no coincidence that company’s like the Paris-based Richmont Group–owners of Cartier, Mont Blanc, Piaget, Dunhill, Baume and Mercier, among other luxury brands–as well as LVMH, owners of Louis Vuitton, have decided to base their Latin American headquarters out of Miami. Other companies with regional Latin American headquarters in Miami include: American Airlines, American Express, AOL Latin America, Black & Decker, Canon, Cheveron/Texaco, Cisco Systems, Delta Airlines, Disney, Exxon Mobil, FedEx, HBO, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft Foods, Microspft, Motorola, Olympus, Porshe, United Airlines, VISA International, Volkswagon, among others.

 

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Miami’s Early History

So how old is Miami anyways? The answer is not very old at all. It was officially incorporated in 1896. Seems like yesterday right? Still, the city is a baby compared to most other major urban centers in the hemisphere. Nevertheless, to begin with, we must address the history of the 27th state of the Union; Florida. Although the state was controlled by the Spanish for over two centuries, little of their culture remained embedded onto the culture Floridian. During the early 1800’s, Florida was suspended the Seminole Indian war. Ironically, this was the time when the first permanent settlers entered the area. The Seminole Indian conflict began around 1817 and lasted until 1842. The word Seminole was derived from a Spanish word, “cimmaron”, which meant “wild ones”, referring to the fact that they lived in wild, unoccupied areas. They were a diverse group of Native American Indians that had fled to the Florida peninsula for refuge from U.S. expansion. Historically, Florida can be viewed as the continental United States’ last frontier, due to its instability. During the early 1800’s, it was nearly unsettled. South Florida was the wildest section of the frontier peninsula. Few had good reason to dwell into the hot and humid , mosquito-ridden area. TheEverglades swamp seemed to consume all the land anyhow. In this unquestionably Inhospitable place, a settlement named

Miami was home to a handful of plantation owners, Bahamians, and slaves. The U.S. Army’s Fort Dallas and handful of plantation owners, Bahamians, and slaves resided there. The rest of the state was dotted by military forts. Fort Walton, Fort Pierce, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers as well as several others. The Civil War occupied much of the mid 1800’s. The area did not change much.

The city increased significantly in size, and with the baby boom helping inflate the population, became a relatively large city with a defined, although not very dense, urban core.The early 1960’s saw the Civil Rights movement begin to change public opinion towards African-Americans, but in
Miami
the progress was non existent. African Americans enjoyed no political rights nor economic opportunity. Despite all of this, Overtown still thrived as their civic center. They did not know, however, that it was about to be destroyed. The local authorities planned and approved the extension of Interstate 95 and the I-395 elevated highway directly through the heart of their community. Over 12,000 families were forced to move into outlying areas, mostly

Liberty City. This would come to haunt the city later. Almost simultaneously a communist revolution was succeeding in Cuba and a tyrant named Fidel began to confiscate all the private property in the island country. In succeeding waves, The Cuban middle class began there epic exodus into the city. Miami would never be the same (to be continued).

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Residential Boom Today. Commercial Boom Tomorrow. (Part 1)

By now it should be obvious, Miami has hundreds of projects proposed, planned, in the pipeline, and under construction. At least half of them are high rises over 25 stories in height. But, almost every last one, is residential. Since when has a city undergone such a boom in high density development activity and had it remain almost exclusively residential? Throughout skyscraper history, most of the skyscrapers built were commercial. Now, in Miami, almost all of the dozens of new skyscrapers, 40 stories and higher, are residential. What happened to tradition? Where are all the commercial skyscrapers? Both New York City and Chicago have residential skyscrapers, but their tallest towers are commercial. Every city in the U.S. shares the same urban attribute. Historically, the tallest buildings on Earth have always been commercial. Then why are all of Miami’s new skyscrapers residential? Does this mean that a large scale commercial boom will never come to the city? Or that if it does, it will not manifest itself vertically? In other words, will large corporations chose the outlying Coral Gables or Doral areas instead of downtown Miami? Will the city’s poor infrastructure keep them out? In the long term, it is doubtful. In the short term, with little new desirable commercial space in Miami, and plenty of existing unimpressive vacant space, and little new commercial developments, company’s will stay to the west of the Central Business District (while the CBD becomes increasingly residential and less commercial). However, the outcome of all the large scale high density residential development in and around the city center will tip the scales of development in favor of the commercial side.

Consequently, the chance of a commercial boom happening in Miami is dependant upon the positive outcome of Miami’s existing residential boom. In order to consider the potential occurrence of a large scale commercial boom, one must first realize that there is an existing massive high density residential boom that will not bust. This boom is no mirage. The cranes, construction sites, and buyers are real. The billions being invested is no illusion. Secondly, one must consider the effects of such an explosion in high density residential development activity. Only then, can one surmise, more or less, the probability of a commercial development boom, or lack thereof.

Some say that many of Miami’s proposed residential towers will not get built. It is an interesting claim. However, it conflicts with certain undeniable truths and implications. Much of the growth occurring in Miami is being spearheaded by internationally established and well financed development firms (based out of places like Mexico City, New York City, Hong Kong, Turkey, Tel Aviv, Silicon Valley, Brazil, Greece, etc). Some of them headed by people that are considered among the wealthiest on Earth. It conflicts with common sense to claim that no one will move into these residential towers or that most will not be built, because then one is implying that not only is there an insufficient buyers market for these units, but also that these developers have seriously and collectively miscalculated the value potential of Miami’s real estate market. That is to say that these extremely competent and immensely wealthy firms are all wrong! That they are all clumsily clammering to capitalize off of a fictitous real estate gold rush. In analyzing this claim, serious doubts inevitably arise.

Miami Bob’s Claim: There is a massive high density residential boom in Miami, and the buyers market for Miami’s condo market exceeds not just the city’s boundaries, but the country’s, and the hemisphere’s, and will therefore support this massive urban development

The reasons for the presence of such a motivated and expansive buyer’s market are economic, cultural, and geo-political, but the outcome will be that most of these projects will get built and Miami’s newly acquired vast resources and new identity will trigger a strong commercial development reaction. This subsequent commercial boom will occur as the residential boom subsides and will far surpass the former boom in it’s scale and scope.

To be continued…

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Miami, in the year 2011 looks like what?

Granted, one cannot know for certain how many of the almost enumerable new high-rise projects are going to finally get built. One can be certain that currently there are so many proposed projects and construction-phase developments that even if only half of them are built, the outcome will still be staggering, and not just by Miami standards. This means that Miami will, no matter what, look vastly different from what we see today, and it will be impacting. Already one can see the buildings, one by one, begin construction. The construction activity is heavy and getting heavier by the week, from Uptown all the way south through the CBD and down to Brickell Village.

This means that what we see today, will change tomorrow, literally. The ordinary resident or visitor probably won’t notice, but today some new building just had a floor completed, another building was demolished. Somewhere else two new cranes went up. The skyline changes almost as often as the weather down in Miami. It is astonishing. There is such a high degree of developmental activity that every week, if you’re actually paying attention, you will notice something different. Since in reality this is already happening, imagine what the city will look like in 5 years. It is impossible to do. No one can. Not the developers. Not the architects. The right is exclusively reserved by the Almighty. Importantly, taking into consideration that Miami is a young city, one must, at the very least recognize that we are currently in the initial stage of what is a major urban transformation. Five years from now, today will seem quite a distance away. Miami will be unrecognizable then. You will likely find it hard to believe that it looked the way it does today. In a historical sense, with respect to Miami, we are living in the past of what will undoubtedly become a future legacy of urban greatness that will compare to the development of the greatest centers of civilization.

Briefly, let us endeavor to imagine how Miami’s urban landscape is changing, neighborhood by neighborhood. Brickell Village, is turning out to be a dense urban neighborhood. In the recent past, projects on Brickell Avenue normally had one phase or building. For example, The Bristol, Santa Maria, Four Seasons, Espirito Santo, and the most recent being Skyline and Vue, but lately, that trend has shifted to more dense two and three phase projects. For example, with two phases there are Axis, 500 Brickell, Avenue, Park Place, Infinty I and II, Villa Magna, and the Capital Towers. With three phases there are Icon Brickell and Brickell Citi Center. Clearly, this shift towards cramming in more buildings per project is increasing the urban density of Brickell to a level never before seen in the area.

In the Central Business District, there is a unique occurrence. The formerly commercial hub is turning increasingly residential. Even today, there isn’t one occupied residential building in the CBD. Within 5 years several of Miami’s largest residential projects will have been built there; One Miami, Met1, Met2, Met3, 50 Biscayne, Everglades on the Bay, The Dupont Towers, Lynx Towers, The Loft I and II, Flager First, Capital Lofts, Lynx, Empire World Towers, and more. One Miami and the Loft I are near occupancy. Almost every other project is seeing major activity on their premises. There is much more happening in the CBD. The Jewelry District is getting modernized. Infrastructure throughout the area is getting improved. But still, what is most important is the shift towards a more residential identity than commercial. Will the current CBD shift north or south? Time will let us know.

Just to the north of the CBD is an area that just 3 years ago no one cared to even think about. The area is Park West. Now we are seeing so much activity there that it is simply mind boggling. On its current track, the neighborhood is pacing itself to become one of the most standout urban communities in the country and possibly even the world. Take into consideration the development of Marquis, Ten Museum Park, Marina Blue, Paramount Park, 900 Biscayne, and Empire World Towers. All of these towers are visually stunning, luxurious, and quite tall. Then consider Museum Park (currently Bicentennial Park): a large neighboring park set aside Biscayne Bay that will house two world-class museums. Then there is the Media and Entertainment District that hugs the west side of Park West. After the development of it’s tall neighbors to the east, the area will rival the nightclub scene in South Beach, guaranteed.

Uptown, or the area north of the I395 and east of I-95, will have develop into a mosaic of vibrant, cultured, and energetic urban neighborhoods. The Performing Arts District, at the southern end of Uptown will be the center of the music and dance culture. The Wynwood area, already becoming the heart of a genuine art movement in Miami, will have become a genuine Arts District. The Edgewater area, from Margaret Pace in the South to the Julia Tuttle entrance in the north will be lined with some of Miami’s most striking residential highrises: Opera Tower, 1800 Club, Quantum, Paramount Bay, Onyx I and II, Element, Platinum Bay, Blue, Soleil, Lima, Cardinal Symphony Towers, and a series of several other projects. Plus, there is the Midtown Miami project with its several phases, will be the center of the urban rennaiscance in the area. the area is also witnessing an influx of mid-rises development that is making for a unique urban enclave that will blend in nicely with the nearby highrises, making the area dynamically urban. Importantly, we do not yet know what the Terra Group will do with the 10 acres surrounding the Herald Building and we do not know what New York based Argent Ventures is going to do with the Omni. We do know, that with all the huge plans in the neighboorhood, both sites will have to undergo a massive transformation to keep up.
Miami, in five years, will be almost unrecognizable, except for its beautiful bay. The syline will be a vast wall of sleek skyscraper streching from Brickell in the South to the Julia Tuttle cauesay in the North. Our Areas of High Density Devlopment section covers all the activty with utmost attention to detail. In the next five Miami will start to feel like a true urban metropolis, and even the skeptics will be swayed and the pessimists left awe struck. As for the visionaries, it will be a dream come true.

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