Monthly Archives: January 2007

Anti-Manny Diaz Protestors Call Him a Rat

According to some, City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz is a rat. Apparently one of the definitions of a rat is a person who “throws people out of their homes”. This is according to members of The Laborers Union who accuse him of doing just that and actually displayed a twenty foot inflated rat at the recent UC Conference of Mayors in Washington D.C. Clearly this has to do with the issue of gentrification. In all due fairness, the city is not exactly tackling this important issue. What these protestors fail to realize is that the city is not kicking anyone out. Rather, new and existing landlords in prosperous urban areas are deciding to make money off of their investments. Can you believe it? These legitimate land owners are doing something positive with their real estate investments. What an outrage! And, to make matters worse, their plans are boosting property values throughout the city.

The real problem is that Mayor Manny Diaz is sitting at the helm of what is fast becoming one of America’s biggest boomtowns. So, the theory goes, if you do well, you get hated on. This theory apparently holds true for the City of Miami as well. Time Magazine and Congressman Tancredo’s recent Miami-bashing fiasco is evidence of that.

The truth is that everything is Manny the Rat’s fault. Miami being a center of International trade is also the Rat’s fault. It is obvious that the Rat is also to blame for the crystal clear warm waters that lure millions of visitors and thousands of real estate investors to Miami each year. That’s not mentioning the attractive year round warm weather which the Rat dictates as well. That animal is out of control!

C’mon haters, cut the mayor some slack. Or, don’t. The end result will remain the same. Miami will continue to boom. Random ignorant observers will continue to hate.


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What’s up with Gentrification?

I find it interesting that there is an effort to address the issue of gentrification in Miami’s urban neighborhoods. The most interesting source of information regarding this movement is found at

First and foremost, I appreciate the effort of the blog’s author, Max Rameau, of the Center for Pan-African Development, in communicating his displeasure towards the local government regarding the lack of low-income housing and alleged indifference towards gentrification in the city.

For those who aren’t sure as to what gentrification means, here is the definition from


the buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by upper- or middle-income families or individuals, thus improving property values but often displacing low-income families and small businesses.

The obvious problem being that the low income portion of the social fold is being disregarded—literally and figuratively.

The efforts of movements such as Take Back the Land are under appreciated. Gentrification will continue, but without activism, the more disadvantaged elements of the community will be swept aside with little to no consideration. Take back the Land is a movement that deals with urban development, housing, and land acquisition issues in areas that are on the fringes of government and popular interest—neighborhoods such as Liberty City and Overtown. The government’s resources are spent less in these areas due to the lack in tax revenue emanating from them and the difficulty in maintaining security. The higher crime rates in these low income areas keeps new businesses away and prosperity at bay. In terms of the big picture, these situations can be corrosive to the overall urban evolution of the county. These are also the same areas plagued with homelessness, lack of home ownership, and drug use. Certainly, there is little popular interest concerning these areas. I, myself, am guilty of the indifference.


These areas, which are predominantly African American, have suffered from government neglect for decades.. In the case of Liberty City, the neighborhood served as the repository for those who were displaced in the 1960’s during the construction of the I-95 through Overtown. Overtown, the once prosperous and long time civic and cultural center of the African American community in Miami, was all but dismantled. During the 1970’s and 80’s, when the African American community had next to no political and economic representation, unruly police officers were disciplined by being assigned to these neighborhoods. In other words, the worst cops were assigned to patrol duty. This led to a series of altercations between the residents and law enforcement that resulted in high profile police brutality and manslaughter cases— many cases were never reported or were dismissed—, which ultimately culminated in violent rioting. Granted, this is in the past, but given this starkly negative track record of government involvement in these areas, movements such as Take Back the Land, are right in defending the interests of these under-represented and disadvantaged residents.

Although I do not necessarily agree with all of the initiatives and claims put forth by this organization, it is impossible to ignore its importance in helping balance the interests of those who are less fortunate vis-à-vis those who are capitalizing off of the rampant development. Importantly, as Miami continues its historic transformation, gentrification will be unavoidable and a rather natural effect of urban progress, but leaving it unchecked is dangerous and can lead to social discontent and instability.

For further reading on the turbulent history of Miami’s African American history check out Black Miami by Marvin Dunn

Take Back the Land will be organizing several community awareness events during Super Bowl week:

Monday, January 29
6pm Spokescouncil Meeting
Arcola Lakes Park, 1301 NW 83 St., Miami
Guerilla Art/Superbowl Party
9pm @ Umoja Village, 6201 NW 17th Ave.

Tuesday, January 30
• 10am. Banner/Sign/Puppet Making
Umoja Village Shantytown
6pm. Gentrification Teach In
Umoja Village Shantytown
Guerilla Art/Superbowl Party
9pm @ Umoja Village

Wednesday, January 31
9am. Anti-Coal Conference Action
10am. Tour of Shame
3pm. Set Up Tent City at County Hall
111 NW First St., Miami
7pm. Party at Tent City
7pm. Global Land Struggles Discussion
Tap-Tap Rest. • 819 5th St., South Beach

Thursday, February 1
Action Against Gentrification and For Low-Income Housing
12 noon at Tent City
Guerilla Art/Superbowl Party
8pm @ Tent City

Friday, February 2
7am. Vets for Peace War Memorial
Ocean Drive between 8th & 10th st. Place tombstones on South Beach
Guerilla Art/Superbowl Party
8pm @ Tent City

Saturday, February 3
1pm Free Speech Rally
South Florida Peace & Justice, Torch of Friendship • Biscayne Blvd. and SW 1st St., downtown Miami
Tent City Party
Guerilla Art/Superbowl Party
8pm @ Tent City


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Super Bowl Frenzy

With the Super Bowl coming to town, Miami will be in the spotlight. More important than the attention of the 90 million viewers in America alone that the Super Bowl will generate is the $300 million or so in revenue that Miami is expected to generate as the host city. There can be no scientific study on the matter, but many of tens of thousands of visitors from the Midwest will be visiting Miami for the first time and may become enamored with the city to the extent of being a potential second or third home buyer in Miami’s real estate, particularly condo, market. Look for developers to try to capitalize with extra outdoor ads and ads in tourist saturated areas. As Miami puts its best foot forward, anti-gentrification activists will be mobilizing throughout the entire Super Bowl week.

Fortunately for Miami, Chicago won. I hate to say it, but Chicago fans number more than New Orleans fans—not to mention that many in the Big Easy are still reeling from Katrina and have not even returned to their city since the storm; others being financially constrained. Through a business/tourism standpoint Miami also won along with Chicago in this case. Indianapolis and New England are both attractive in terms of their fan base and despite who would have won, the result would have been positive for Miami. The resulting match up between two Midwest metropolitan neighbors will generate a significant amount of interest and probably pave the way for one of the most profitable super bowl the city has ever seen. And finally, with the Goodyear blimp flying overhead and camera crews spread throughout the city, the world will lay eyes upon Miami’s emerging new skyline. They may not be able to notice the significant change, but they will notice an impressive skyline—whereas before Miami had a pitifully sparse one with an elusive potential.

Here is more about what the media is saying about the Super Bowl in Miami:
Super Bowl Events:
Snoop Dogg Brings his Snoop Bowl III to Miami

P. Diddy Plans huge super bowl bash

Playboy plans huge Miami Super Bowl bash

Dan Marino and Jermain Dupree will be partying it up at Nikki Beach

Other News:
Christian Science Monitor Explains good eats for Super Bowl attendees in the Floribbean

The Atlanta Journal Constitution gives some advice for potential attendees

Indy studies Miami’s hosting performance in a effort to lure a future Super Bowl

Billy Joel to sing national anthem at Super Bowl

High Tech cocktails for Attendees

Charter Jets Hot ticket for Super Bowl

INS Australia explains why covering the super bowl is unlike any other event

Attending the Super Bowl is becoming increasingly pricey on a daily basis

Chicago fan uses Ebay rent space on her pregnant belly for Ads during the big game

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State of Florida House Bill 1089 Gives Developers Advantages

It is important to note that when a project is initiated as a rental/apartment complex and the developer, somewhere along the way, decides to make the project a condominium, then House Bill 1089 gives them certain, arguably inequitable advantages, at the buyer’s and community association’s expense.

HB 1089 (Construction Contracting)

1. Provides that the statutory condominium warranties given as a matter of law to condominium associations by developers and contractors DO NOT APPLY when construction begins before the project is designated by the developer as a condominium.

This is a significant change in the law providing that statutory condominium warranties will not be given to associations if a project begins as an apartment building and is subsequently converted to a condominium while construction is ongoing.

2. Lawsuits for construction defects must be filed within four years of completion of construction, except claims for latent defects, which must be filed within four years of discovery and, under no circumstances, more than ten years after completion of construction.

This may be relevant to buyers at Cite, which was formely Village on Bayshore Dr (rental) and Opera Tower and 1800 Club, which were both initially planned to be rental and, subsequently, changed to condominium. The significance is that if there are construction defects, it will be more difficult to sue the developer and, in some cases where law suits are not feasible, get the orignal contractor to even fix the defect under warranty. In other words, the incoming condominium association is liable.

construction defects are more the exception than the rule, but now-a-days one can almost come to expect certain developer shortcomings and construction defects. HB 1089 does nothing to protect the consumer. In fact, it is the unit owner’s bank account that will have to fund any construction defect for such communities.

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News Tid Bits

Miami puts on game face for Super Bowl as thousands of Indianapolis Colts and Bears fans are slated toinvade the tropical city.

International Development and Miami

In consideration of Panama City’s bid for the FTAA Secretariat, it is important to consider the Central American city’s massive development boom, which according to many, is emulating Miami’s.

Any half witted Miamian knows that should the iron curtain accross the Florida Straits be lifted, then the result would mean changes for Miami. As a result, two Miami developers bankroll a study concerning a potential development boom in Havana.

Local Developments

Major Advertising firm Posner is opening new southeast division in the heart of Miami’s burgeoning Design District, thus adding to the neighborhood’s growing commercial sector.

Shaq’s O’Neil Group intends on putting forth projects to change city’s landscape. should it be disconcerting that Shaq is entering the development realm? Hmmm. I wonder. Could you imagine: Shaq, the next Jorge Perez? Probably not.

Strong Mayor Vote: Does anyone care? Transit Miami with some thoughts.

Miami Dade County commits $7 million to river dredging project. God this has taken forever!

Cleveland orchestra makes Miami winter home adding to the city’s growing cultural mix.

Innovative Miami architect Chad Oppenheim in Dubai to discuss the growing “green” trend in building planning , which is not just a new marketing ploy for developers, but a viable benefit to unit owners in averting rises in regular monthly assessments due to out of control energy costs—a problem that is rather common in new developments.

Miami International Airport’s expansion is plagued with cost overruns (originally planned to be $1 billion, now it is estimated to cost $2.5 billion), but boy does it look great!

Miami’s rental apartment remains robust as condo market cools. This is the reverse of what was happening around 2003 where many rental developments converted into condos.

International Franchising Expo comes to the Miami Beach Convention Center giving the city a boost in hotel revenues and providing a venue for domestic and international business investors to look into franchising options.

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Insurance Crisis for Florida Condos

Section 718.111(11), Florida Statutes, provides that a condominium association shall use its best efforts to obtain and maintain adequate insurance to protect the association, the property, the common elements, and the remaining property required to be insured by the association under this Statute. Additionally, the Statute provides that an association or group of associations may self insure against claims against the association, the association property, and the condominium property required to be insured by the association, upon compliance with Sections 624.460 through 624.488, Florida Statutes.

The Details about Self Insurance under Chapter 624, Florida Statutes

Under Chapter 624, Florida Statutes, a commercial self insurance fund may be established by a not-for-profit group comprised of no less than ten (10) condominium associations, as defined in Section 718.103(2), Florida Statutes, which is incorporated under the laws of Florida and which restricts its membership to condominium associations. Such corporations must be organized and maintained in good faith for a continuous period of one (1) year for purposes other than that of obtaining or providing insurance. In order to legally self insure, the association is required to set up a self insurance fund consistent with the statutory requirements and maintain membership in the Florida Self-Insurance Fund Guaranty Association. The Association must also apply for and receive a Certificate of Authority from the Department of Insurance. The application requirements include:

  1. Proof of competent and trustworthy administrators to service the self-insurance fund in the area of claims adjusting, underwriting, risk management and loss control;
  2. Current financial statements showing aggregate net worth of at least $500,000, with a ratio of assets to liabilities of at least one to one;
  3. Combined working capital in an amount establishing financial strength and liquidity to promptly provide for payment of the normal property of casualty claims proposed to be self insured;
  4. An initial deposit of $100,000 or a surety bond in that amount;
  5. Proof of excess insurance from insurance companies authorized or approved to transact insurance in Florida, which provides specific and aggregate limits and retention levels satisfactory to the Department of Insurance in accordance with sound actuarial principals;
  6. A deposit of at least $50,000 or 10% percent of the estimated annual premium, whichever is greater, to be paid into a common claims fund;
  7. A fidelity bond for at least 10% percent of the total funds handled each year by the administrator, up to a maximum of $500,000; and
  8. An operating plan, which includes a statement prepared by an actuary who is a member of the American Academy of Actuaries or the Casualty Actuarial Society establishing that the fund for self-insurance has a plan of operation based on sound actuarial principals.

The association is also required to maintain the forgoing records current, file an annual report, report all activity from the fund, and pay an annual license fee.

Liabilities and Pitfalls Associated with Self-Insurance

There are considerable pitfalls and potential liabilities that are associated with self-insurance. Insurance is intended to protect the interests of both owners and the mortgage holders. Therefore, even if the association is able to pursue the option of self-insurance, if a catastrophic storm hits and members choose not to rebuild the condominium, the individual board members may have liability to the mortgage holders to the extent the failure of the Board to maintain adequate insurance is deemed to be a breach of the association’s statutory obligations and a breach of fiduciary duties of the individual Board members.


Given the financial constraints and the risks involved, many communities which have considered self-insuring have determined to go another route, such as funding a reserve for the deductible portion of the windstorm policy. The larger the reserve becomes, the higher the deductible can be and, therefore, presumably, the premium would be lower.

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Developer Profile: Jorge Perez (the Related Group)

Jorge Perez is the quintessential hotshot developer. He’s not just educated in Urban Planning and Development, but in fact, graduated Suma Cum Laude and attained his Masters degree in the discipline. It should be rather clear to most that Mr. Perez is the foremost developer in Florida and arguably one of the most preeminent in the country. According to the Related Group’s official website, his firm is the largest Hispanic-owned business in the United States with a current portfolio of over $10.7 billion. The Jorge Perez effect, which has so drastically altered the Sunny Isles, South Beach, and Miami cityscape, was first set into motion in the late 1970’s with affordable housing projects throughout the county.

He was born in Argentina to Cuban exile parents. His family subsequently moved to Colombia—where they had successful business interests. His ambitions led him to C.W. Post College and then the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. In this case, it seems clear that his studious efforts proved extremely useful in helping him maneuver in a tightly contested and pressure-ridden field. His track record indicates a steady increase in quality and project scopes—from affordable housing to redefining luxury multi-family housing.

In considering his high profile projects, it is impossible to dismiss certain claims that are made about the man. Some consider him to be the “Trump of the Tropics”, the “Bill Gates” or “Steven Spielberg of Development”. What’s next for this exceptional developer? The “Messiah of luxury housing”? Whatever title he is given by observers, admirers, and in some cases, critics, his portfolio speaks volumes. The man’s actions have redefined South Florida, one neighborhood at a time. When all is said and done (whenever that may be) all will look back on Miami’s developmental history and view Jorge Perez, in a similar light to developer legends such as John Collins, Carl Fisher, George Merrick, and Glenn Curtiss.

Jorge Perez fostered and facilitated the building boom in Sunny Isles with his Ocean’s I, II, III, and IV projects. Still, he is redefining the small yet filthy rich municipality. There are those nostalgic buffs who may consider his Sunny Isles projects to have been historically corrosive—having diminished the charming and affordable seaside family vacation town. Objectively speaking, there is some element of truth to this, since Mr. Perez certainly did not help preserve the older quaint Sunny Isles, but as is expected with such a visionary, Mr. Perez’ attention is fixed on the future. As of late, he has endeavored to partner up with the Dezers in Sunny Isles with the three-phase Trump Towers project—a sign of the classic “if you can’t beat em’ join em’” cliché.

Similarly, Jorge transformed South Point or Portofino or South of Fifth or SoFi or whatever the heck you choose to call the relatively small neighborhood south of Fifth Street in South Beach. His Portofino Tower, Murano, Murano Grande, Icon, Yacht Club, and Apogee developments have all but monopolized the area’s identity. In other words, his building designs and amenities have drawn a specific type of buyer—a certain affluent and typically wealthy one. These buyers have become the fabric of the neighborhood’s demography; helping turn what was once a backwater into one of the more exlcusive and valuable neighborhoods in the city. His SoFi buildings have become the skyline for the area. And all of it boils back down to Jorge himself; his intentions, his planning, and his ability to execute his developments. One man’s actions can define a city or at least a neighborhood as in the case of Sunny Isles and South Point. Importantly, Jorge Perez has been intuitive enough to take full advantage of a neighborhood’s potential by building big, in bundles, and with architectural consistency. Most of his South Point developments have been designed by Sieger Suarez. The reasoning behind this could be as simple as their designs sell, or it could be that through an urban development standpoint it fostered uniformity without them seeming to be replications of one another (for that, Sieger Suarez gets credit). If he hired a different firm for each building in the same neighborhood then the result might be a messy mélange of buildings, the result of which would hinder the neighborhood’s aesthetic identity. On the other hand, there are those that would disagree with the aforementioned notion claiming that such exclusive architectural involvement would create a homogeneous urbanism.

Importantly, and most excitingly, his latest efforts have been focused on the urban core of Miami. This is where Mr. Perez’ true legacy may be defined. After all, the entire metropolitan area revolves in orbit around the urban core. Through an urban development standpoint, the CBD or urban core is the most important area to develop in. In consideration of Miami’s emerging status as a truly urbanized city, Jorge’s major downtown efforts are of immense importance. In fact, his downtown projects are his most ambitious to date. Interestingly, these projects have been confined to Brickell Village and the CBD. He has not ventured north of the I-395 into Uptown. In fact, he has not even ventured into Parkwest. In Brickell, he has three massive multi-phase projects: 500 Brickell, Icon Brickell, and the Plaza. In the CBD, he has his Loft I, II, and III developments along with the two phase One Miami development. It is worthy to note that although there is a significant amount of new development in the CBD, One Miami and the Loft I were among the first to be topped off. That can only mean one thing: Jorge Perez had his eye on the ball first. 50 Biscayne will soon follow suit as the building is almost topped off.

It will be exciting to see how he will differentiate his urban core projects from his nearby competitors. Unlike South Point, where he had almost no competition, and Sunny Isles, where the beachfront town rested on the fringes of the urban sphere of influence, downtown is saturated with new development and much of it is being built by billionaire developers with massive ambitions and capital resources. The reality is, however, that Miami and the surrounding areas are Jorge’s turf and has been for quite some time. He has helped define it and will have a competitive edge because of this fact. His operation is entrenched, his connections are vast, and his reputation is paramount. His name will be appreciated and considered revered by posterity. He is known for his innovative partnerships, for example, his joint ventures with Phillipe Starck for Icon South Beach and Viceroy in Icon Brickell. And now, he is venturing to develop in NYC, Las Vegas, and Atlanta, among other places. His reach is no longer limited to Miami’s sub-tropical sphere, but Miami is still his nursery, and will be the recipient of his greatest projects.

Post Script: Mr. Perez has been the recipient of numerous awards. According to the Related Website: “Builder of the Year, from Multifamily Executive; Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year; the Hispanic Achievement & Business Entrepreneurship Award from Hispanic Magazine; Champion of the Community Spirit Award from The Wellness Community; Citizen of the Year from The Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce; Sand In My Shoes Award from the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce for his commitment to the South Florida community, and Developer of the Year from several other associations and publications. Most recently, Mr. Pérez was awarded the Icon in Real Estate Award of Excellence at MIPIM in Cannes, France; the only American developer ever to have been honored with such a prestigious award.” He is married and has four children

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Bob’s Back

I recently got back from a long and relaxing holiday hiatus. The kind that makes you want to ignore life and just chill in sublime laziness. But now I’m back and have to get back to business.

Coming soon:

Full Midtown Miami report

Status Report of the Street Car Initiative

Architect Profile: Borges + Associates

Developer Profile: Jorge Perez (the Related Group)

and quite a bit more…

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