Daily Archives: June 12, 2007

Welcome to BoB: Palm, Hibiscus, and Star Island Residents

The official website for the Homeowners Association of Palm, Hibiscus, and Star Island has placed BoB’s article regarding the FDOT Plans for the I-395 on their homepage. We want to extend a warm welcome to the Boom or Bust: Miami blog and appreciate their interest and readership.

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More on Condo Association Political Turmoil

Recently, I wrote about the “Seesaw Effect” in condo association politics. I referenced the Casablanca Condo on Miami Beach as an example of this effect and stated that there is currently a political war going on there. Today, a reader sent me this: Save Casablanca. Heh.

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Tax Breaks for the Wealthiest Community in America: Fisher Island

This interesting report was forwarded to me today by a reader:

June 12, 2007

Fisher Island Homeowners Cost Public Coffers Millions, New SEIU Report Shows

Miami, FL—, Fisher Island homeowners have aggressively used the system to reduce the assessed value of their property on the exclusive island by a cumulative total of more than $965 million from 2002-2005 alone. That has resulted in a loss to the County of an estimated $15.2 million in tax revenues over this three year period; —a particularly staggering amount given that there are only 800 properties on Fisher Island, a new study by SEIU finds. (To download the report, go to www.seiu11.org)

The report underscores the inequity that thrives on the island. At the same time that island residents use the system to reduce the amount they pay into the public coffers, they augment the demand for public services by paying their workers so little that many must seek out public help to provide health care and other services for their families.

While Fisher Island homeowners worked the system to reduce their tax payments, workers on the island like Christiana Monestine saw the market value of her home increased by 27%. Although the increase in her home’s taxable value was capped at 3% by the Save Our Homes exemption, her taxes still rose by about $300. Christiana, a housekeeper on the island who earns $8.50 an hour, can barely afford to absorb the higher cost. “To a resident of Fisher Island, $300 is dinner at the club, but to families living in poverty and struggling to make ends meet the additional taxes could cost them their home,” the report says.

The study, “Fisher Island: Rich Play, Poor Pay: How Rich Fisher Island Residents Challenge Property Tax Assessments for Big Breaks, While Miami-Dade’s Poor Can’t Afford to Pay to Play,” analyzes property tax assessment records for the island during a four-year period, from 2002-2005. “The very system of challenges and appeals meant to ensure fair property tax assessments has turned into a pay-to-play scheme in South Florida that allows the rich to win big tax breaks while middle-class and low-income homeowners struggle with the rising insurance and tax costs of owning a home,” the report concludes.

According to the report:

* The small, exclusive Fisher Island is not only the wealthiest community in the County by far; it is in fact the wealthiest community in the nation, with residents having an average net worth of around $10 million.
* While Miami-Dade County homeowners saw their property values increase an average of 90% from 2002 to 2005(roughly 9.3% for those who qualified for the Save Our Homes rate cap), Fisher Island property owners saw their values increase only 7% over the same period.
* From 2002 to 2005, appeals were filed for 76% of Fisher Island properties at least once, and in some cases every one of those four years.
* From 2002 to 2005, properties worth more than $1 million on Fisher Island received breaks of over 5% from the VAB fully 85 times.
* Many or most Fisher Island property owners apparently send representatives each and every year to argue for lower assessments and then—regardless of the outcome of these informal conferences—direct those representatives to file VAB appeals in an attempt to further decrease their assessments.

On June 15, workers on the Island campaigning for higher wages and health insurance will lead a march to Fisher Island, to highlight the extreme income inequality that currently plagues our country. For more information visit www.SEIU11.org.

To download the report go to http://www.seiu11.org.

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Florida is the Republic of Korea on this Strange Map

This cool map comes from the Strange Maps blog hosted on WordPress. The map replaces the names of U.S. states with that of countries with similar GDPs. For example, New York is Brazil, Alabama is Iran, etc. I love that blog.

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Interesting Q&A Regarding Condo Management

The Miami Herald, in this article, focuses on condo management with a Q&A session with the Continental Group’s Gene Gomberg. South Florida-based Continental, by the way, is like the Wal Mart of condo management. They are the largest management company in the country. The interview sheds light on some of the company’s challenges and expectations as a result of the boom. The condo management sector is expected to grow significantly due to the excess in condo construction.

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Logik Sets Class A Office Precedent for Overtown

The construction of Logik, a two phase Class A office tower project (I.C.E. Development), in the often overlooked Overtown area signals a positive stride in Miami’s office market and the urban core’s evolution. As it stands, Overtown represents an entire under utilized segment of the core. Park West is rising to the east, the CBD is busting at the seams to the south, and the M&E is seeing quite a bit of activity to the north. The well-designed Logik will help to fill in the Overtown development gap with Class A office. Construction is set to begin this year. The towers are slated for completion some time in 2009. Office condos start at the $300’s.

Logik specs:

  • 31 floors (352 ft. height)
  • 700,000 total sq. feet
  • 130,000 sq. ft. for office tower suites
  • retail component

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