Monthly Archives: December 2006

News Brief

– Chicago Sun Times reporter is shocked by Miami’s massive construction boom.

Lexus to sponsor Carnival Center.

– Miami-based firm Arquitectonica designs world’s third largest mall in Manila, Philippines.

Beach planners protect baywalk for public

– Nassau, Bahamas: Starwood Hotels and Resorts hires Baha Mar Resorts to manage the newly renovated Sheraton Resort and the Ritz-Carlton Rose island resort, scheduled to open in 2009 has begun hiring.

– The Shaya-Boymelgreen Marquis project will have its 56-unit hotel segment managed by Rock Resorts.


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The Miami Bay/River Promenade: A Dream or Reality?

There has been much speculation concerning the construction of a Bay/ River walkway from the Miami River north to Margaret Pace Park. It was said that funding would come from the half-penny sales tax as well as a government bond. However, little has been published that would indicate that the project has gone past a feasibility study. Miami’s Downtown Transportation Master Plan makes reference to the walkway and extends it to Margaret Pace Park. Developers in the North Bayshore Drive area have told prospective buyers that the walkway would reach the park, but there is no confirmation that the walkway will be built—even less reach Pace Park, which would be the ideal scenario. This is important because the city may cut back funding and possibly reduce the scale of the walkway—in consideration of the looming property tax crisis.

Such a walkway would make the bay front area of the city much friendlier to tourists, residents, and visitors. It would significantly boost the value of the surrounding land and residences. It would benefit all the establishments on it or near it by providing easier access to and from them and stimulate business growth. It would provide an excellent pedestrian link from the Miami River neighborhoods to the bay front neighborhoods, thus creating a more connected urban community. The benefits are several and clear. So, then, what is the status of this project? Is there funding? Where is the money finally coming from? Is the project done being researched? There are many more questions surrounding this exciting proposal.

Pedro Martin’s Terra Group has plans to build a public walkway as part of their 63 story planned tower near the Venetian causeway. Currently, along the Grand and Marriot, there is something of a walkway. Pace Park has a sidewalk along the bay, but it is not a bay walkway. Bicentennial is well positioned to accommodate one—pending the outcome of the Museum Park plans. Bayside, for all intensive purposes, is one. Bayfront Park, already has a semblance of a walkway, although it would have to be modified. South of Bayfront Park stands the Intercontinental Hotel and One Miami projects, which will serve as the junction point between the Miami River and the Bay front area. There are, however, many physical obstacles in the way: the inlet next to the AAA, the I-395, and all the individual buildings and venues (many of which do not have any semblance a walkway). Additionally, there are so many infrastructure lapses and proposed initiatives that many in the city don’t currently care to entertain the idea of a walkway. All of the Miami River projects have been required to incorporate public river walk space into their schemes, thus making it easier to consolidate all the river walkways. However, it is not clear how or who will manage the walkway should it exist.

The bay/river walkway will serve as a sort “cherry on top” of Miami’s urban sundae if you will. It is not necessary but boy would it be a perfect addition. I do, however, not want to understate the potential significant impact such a project would have on the surrounding area. It will serve as a repository for tourists and visitors in downtown. The views of the buildings from the promenade will be some of the best in the city. It will certainly add to Miami’s emerging “world-class” status. The only problem is the lack of information. The DDA’s website has gotten much more user friendly, but does not contain much information on the plan. Miami-Dade’s website doesn’t do much better—it references the project as a bike path. The funding being designated at 1,000,000 seems too low–begging the question of whether this is a seperate similar project or linked to the promenade initiative. On this end, the information is incomplete, and the desire to attain it is serious. BOB will certainly devote quite a bit of time to uncovering the status, potential, cost, and other factors surrounding this vital project.

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The History of Miami’s First Park

I was astonished to run into this amazing article on the history of Miami’s first park: Bayfront Park. The origins of the park are found in 1896—around the same time of the city’s incorporation. Although the article is of interest for all Miamians, it is especially worth the read for those buying units across from the park.

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News Brief

As has been reported for some time, foreclosures are rampant in Florida—which is second to California in the country.

Another affordable housing developer is involved in fraudulent activities.For more information on crooked affordable housing developers click here.

Much is happening as Wind by Neo is under construction and on schedule, the Tides models are open, Mondrian has begun sales, plans for Morrison in Little Havana move forward, Gables Centre has named its architect.

Despite the massive increase in the tax payer base due to new construction, Florida faces a property tax crisis.

Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines plans to expand in German market.

Miami-based Burger King plans foray into Japan.

Coconut Grove is seeing interesting plans for its waterfront but change will take time.

Lot’s more going on: Miami Beach’s Capri project has 7,000 cubic yard poured in 30 hours into its under water foundation for its parking garage. Fisher Island condos selling for millions! Related Group buyers will receive a new publication from the massive development firm. The Terra Group starts the Freedom Tower Foundation.

Edie Laquer, the “Queen of Miami real estate” has been operating without a valid real estate license. The lady is so busy that she failed to realize this important fact.

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Havana Club Opens before Downtown Renaissance

Mimi Whitefield, of the Miami Herald, describes downtown Miami as having been a ghost town after 6:00P.M., for years—something I have stated before and have been disagreed with. Still, the Havana Club will now offer its 700 or so members a new lavish venue, as well as “private mahogany cigar humidors. But smoking will only be permitted after the lunch hour, and a state-of-the-art air filtration system and bipolar ionization system has been installed.” The business social club has a cap of 800 members and an initiation fee of $5,000. The monthly fee is $300.00 plus charges for food and drink. Miami Club members can join the Havana Club with a $2,000 initiation fee and $200.00 monthly dues. The only other two clubs that have remained in downtown have been the Bankers Club, which has no initiation fee ($96.25 monthly dues) and the Miami Club, which now has the Havana Club as an extension of it. This seems to be another sign that downtown is on the verge of something special as the article references the city being on the verge of a “renaissance”, which is interesting since it implies that the major change have yet to be seen—something, given the current state of the CBD after 7pm, I wholeheartedly agree with.

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NIMBYs Sue the City of Miami Over Approvals

Yet again, there are those who are angry at new high rise developments near their homes. This time in the Buena Vista East neighborhood, which frankly could use all the development it can get. Not to mention that it being situated near Uptown, the Design Design District, Midtown Miami, Baypoint, and Morningside means that new developments are bound to spread into the currently obscure yet well situated urban neighorhood. The objects of their discontent are the Gallery (20 stories) and Tiziano (12 stories) projects.

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With Office Vacany Low Commercial Real Estate is Primed for Growth

More signs that there will be growth in the commercial real estate sector, which given the current decline in prices and demand in the high density residential sector, may offer a bail out to developers for the current growing residential condo glut—if indeed many opt for office/condo conversions. The trend is national, but Miami is cited as having some of the lowest office vacancy rates, which indicates that there, at one point or another, will have to be an increase in office space supply to compensate for the low vacancy rate. Developments such as Park Place, Met 2, and the second phase of Latitude, are signs that developers in Miami are moving towards commercial developments, but the current trend is minimal in comparison to the multi-family trend. The best outcome for Miami’s development arena is a boom in commercial development—an occurrence the city has never seen, and given Miami’s growing international economic influence, is likely imminent.

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New 47-story Project for S. Edgewater

47-STORY TOWER: On the Park Properties wants to build 648 residential units and retail space at 1770 N. Bayshore Drive. The developer is to ask Miami commissioners today (12/14) for a major-use special permit to start work. The 47-story complex would have 859 parking spaces and recreational amenities.

Source: Miami Today

This development is the final one across from Margaret Pace Park. From the bay front park’s vantage point, looking west, there will be an incredible view of 8 major towers (The Grand, Opera Tower, Bay Parc Plaza, 1800 Club, Quantum North and South, Paramount Bay, and now the new On the PArk development). The bay front neighborhood, as recently as four years ago, had little activity outside of Tibor Hollo’s projects, but now it will become one of the most impressive couple of blocks in the entire city. Interestingly enough, it seems that On the Park Properties had begun acquiring units in the existing property under the entity Bad Ass LLC.–not exactly professional, but given the excellent location of the development, the move was, as the name would state, bad ass indeed.

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Miami’s Asian Trade Connection

Much has been made about Miami’s Latin American trade connections, but World City has reported some very interesting Miami/Asian trade data in their December 2006 issue—highlighting Miami’s Malaysian connections. The article makes reference to Miami’s growing economic ties to the Southeast Asian peninsular nation, which according to World City is more similar to Miami than most would imagine. Kuala Lumpur, like Miami, is in a subtropical setting, serves as a gateway to several surrounding nations, and is undergoing a building boom. In 2005, Miami officials went on a trade expedition to Malaysia, the results of which are being yielded today. Malaysia opened up its third trade office in the United States in Miami—the other two being in Los Angeles and New York City. From Miami, Malaysian goods are shipped all over the Caribbean and Latin America. In addition to the Miami trade office, Malaysia has trade offices in Sao Paolo, Santiago, and Mexico City. The country ships rubber gloves, furniture, and lumber through Miami to destinations in Latin America. Importantly, the trade ties between Miami and Malaysia are developing and are by no means mature—Malaysia ranks 43rd in the long list of Miami’s international trading partners (despite a 30% increase in traffic in 2005). Exports to Malaysia from South Florida increased 55% in 2006. Plans for a widening of the Panama Canal, it is argued, will boost trade ties between Asia and South Florida. Malaysia, along with other Asian nations, is positioning itself to take advantage of that. Increased trade ties with Asia will decrease dependence on Latin American economies and help foster more balanced trade ties between Miami and other nations.

Miami Asian trade Stats (through September of 2006):

China: 2.9 billion worth of goods traded (18% increase from 2005)

Japan: 724.2 million in trade (11% rise from 2005)

Taiwan: 421.3 million in trade

South Korea: 355 million in trade (13% increase from 2005)

Hong Kong: 240.9 million in trade (9% increase from 2005)

Thailand: 231.9 million in trade (16.9% increase from 2005)

India: 232 million in trade (71% increase in the value of their trade since 2005)

Singapore: 122.2 million in trade (12.6 % increase from 2005)

Indonesia: 115.9 million in trade

Vietnam: numbers n/a but trade increased 22% since 2005

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Russians Getting Comfy in South Florida

I came across these two Russian websties that are dedicated to providing real estate information–among other things (events)–to Russians in Florida or those interested in moving to or visiting South Florida:

Russian Florida

Russian Miami Beach

The sites are in Russian, so there isn’t much one can do to purposefully navigate through the information, but they both indicate the growing influence of the Russian community in South Florida, which is mostly concentrated in and around Sunny Isles and Aventura–for the time being.

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