Monthly Archives: July 2007

O Yea. Here Comes Another One

PBS is airing a Herald-inspired expose concerning Miami’s housing market woes tomorrow night, but you can see it here first. This one looks pretty damn interesting.

– Via Zenobia, thanks!

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Thursday Links

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Macy’s Employees Fed up with Downtown?

In March I had put forth a prediction that Macy’s would not only remain in Downtown but get a much needed revamp within two years. Yesterday, in response to my statements, an employee at the Macy’s Downtown decided to speak out. Here’s what she said:

I completely disagree…as an employee of Macy’s headquarters office downtown, every single one of my coworkers is sick and tired of the condition of downtown Miami. The building is full of rats, we all feel unsafe going to our cars (that are already incredibly expensive to park). I’ve personally had to call police because I was followed to my car and I know of several other similar incidents, one in which an employee was beaten on the platform of the metro.

Internally, we’ve been complaining for a long time now. Senior management has promised to do the best it can, but that takes some serious cooperation from the city. It is absolutely unacceptable that just across the river on Brickell there is an urban boom and where our office sits, it looks like a deserted wasteland. Business keep closing, one after another and the only consistent traffic seems to be the homeless that pass by all day long.

Macy’s has every right to complain…for that matter, I’d be extremely disappointed if they chose to step back on their position over some measly tax break.

The company still holds an operation center in Doral and a lease on a property in Plantation…there is no reason why we couldn’t move there.

You can view my response to her in the article comments.


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Identifying the Signs of Urban Life (Intro)

What Does the Media Know Anyhow?

Since the rampant negativity plaguing the media is now on everyone’s mind, it’s important to consider whether or not it’s too soon for the gloom. Parkwest, for example, has had one building completed: Ten Museum Park.

Marina Blue, 900 Biscayne, and the Marquis remain under construction. 600 Biscayne and Paramount Park have not begun construction.

In the CBD, only One Miami and the Lofts 1 has been completed. Epic, Metropolitan Miami, The Lofts 2, Everglades on the Bay, Wind, Mint, Ivy, Flagler First, Capital Lofts at the Security Building, and 50 Biscayne all remain under construction and unoccupied.

In Uptown, Cite, Blue, Uptown Lofts, Onyx, and a handful of small midrises have been completed. For the upstart neighborhood there is a long list of buildings that remain under construction. For all intensive purposes the area is still hatching.

A Study: Signs of Urban Life

The City hasn’t had a chance to show signs of “new” life and the media has engulfed Miami in gloom. The reality is rather different. As we explore signs of life in the urban core, we will:

  • Identify the peripheral effects of the new construction
  • Factor in new retail/commercial activity.
  • Supplement the study with an acquisition analysis that will factor in what properties have been recently sold and/or acquired near new development.
  • Identify what major impediments remain in the advancement of the core, neighborhood by neighborhood.
  • Explore just what kind of change we can expect given current physical and political conditions.
  • Put the market aside, for now, and look at the city through a livable standpoint. The standpoint that so many bought into.

Miami was America’s biggest boom town at the onset of the 21st century and the story doesn’t end with the market bust. There is a truly singular city emerging from the settling of the construction dust and the signs are there if you know where to look.

(to be continued…)


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Sick Day

I’ve been racked with the flu all weekend and today isn’t much better. Kinda hard to think with a fever, so I’m taking a sick day off. BoB will be back with regular updates tomorrow.


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Miami’s Condo Glut Pushes Florida to the Brink of Recession

There is another report to add to the doom and gloom list. This time from Bloomberg. The report is eye-opening:

The oversupply will force prices down as much as 30 percent, the worst decline since the 1970s, and help push Florida’s economy into recession as early as October

The article discusses how Florida’s economic fortitude was largely attributed to jobs in the real estate sector. Now that the tide has turned, these jobs have dissipated. Ugo Colombo, Tibor Hollo, and the Related Group are mentioned–the Puig bancrupcy fails to escape the report as well. But, what is interesting is how even the articles referenced experts agree that this boom is anomalous:

We sold 38 units of the Opera Tower’s 635 units to Russians,” Hollo said, his eyes widening. “I would never have dreamed it. I would understand 38 Venezuelans, not 38 Russians.

This is dumbfounding to me,” Rosser said. “It’s a building boom in the middle of a housing bust.

There is much more to what is happening than the media says. This is no conventional event in real estate history. It cannot be summed up in one, two, or 10 reports.

Tibor Hollo is dumbfounded by the interest of Russians. Well, this morning one of my articles on Margaret Pace Park was linked to on what seems to be a Dutch speaking forum.


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Another Quick Follow Up

Condo war rival takes judge to court

Drama at Casablanca, the Miami Beach condominium-hotel. The condo’s former board president, federal immigration Judge Lilliana Torreh-Bayouth, is a defendant in a libel suit.

Plaintiff is Richard Schecher, a multimillionaire insurance, real estate and finance executive. Schecher, 58, replaced Torreh-Bayouth, 49, as condo prez in May after a contentious recall of the board. Schecher’s company, Schecher Group, owns Casablanca’s rental program.

Schecher says Torreh-Bayouth ”falsely and maliciously” accused him of spreading misinformation, holding meetings in violation of Florida’s sunshine laws and extorting money from the condo association, according to his complaint, filed by attorney Steven M. Davis. Her ”defamatory statements” in a June 3 letter to unit owners subjected him to ”hatred, distrust, ridicule” and hurt him professionally, he says.

Their turf tussle has erupted into a Web war of the words.

Torreh-Bayouth’s attorney, Guy Spiegelman, calls it a basic “condo dispute between directors that degenerated into a massive character assassination of my client. It’s not only unfair, it’s evil.”

Schecher’s elaborate website — — has a tab titled ”The Lying Judge.” There also is a ”diva or devil” section, and a cartoon of a witch stirring the pot. ”LTB needs to stop brewing trouble,” the site says.

A Statue of Liberty photo links to a university analysis of immigration judges’ asylum denial rates. ”Has she denied any of your friends from Cuba or elsewhere? Click on the statue of Lady Liberty to view the record of all the judges, not just our Judge Lilliana,” the site says.

”Trash, malicious,” Torreh-Bayouth says. “The libel suit should have been me against him.”

Schecher uses images of Superman, a watchdog and John Wayne to depict himself. He posted his own photo in a Santa Claus suit, giving out toys to kids.

The anti-Schecher website — — says Schecher is launching ”cheap, libelous attacks” because the court ordered a new election of the board to be held after Oct. 1. ”Schecher was unable to control his anger” at a July 5 condo meeting, the anti-Schecher site says. “He started screaming, using foul and vulgar language and trying to intimidate unit owners. . . . The Casablanca website . . . is a mockery of everything decent and honorable. . . . Unprofessional, and it shows that the people behind it are unbalanced and lack any sense of decency.”

On Tuesday, Schecher e-mailed Chief Immigration Judge David L. Neal, complaining that Torreh-Bayouth is using her judicial position to ”destroy my business and professional reputation.” He also says she improperly sent e-mails from her Department of Justice work address, “giving credibility to her cause.”

”Oh, please,” she says. “I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Libel suit is before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jon Gordon. Circuit Judge Ronald Friedman is presiding over Schecher Group’s breach of contract and negligence suit against Torreh-Bayouth and the former board.

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Sir Norman Foster In Siberia?!?!

So the famed starchitect is designing a monolithic eco-friendly tower in the frost-ridden and desolate Russian territory of Siberia. It looks like something out of a Sci-Fi flick. I like.

Miami is in a slump and Siberia gets Foster. I feel sick.


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Boom Doom and Gloom

Boom Induced Media Euphoria

Miami’s construction boom was covered heavily by the national media. People were fascinated with the pace in which new buildings were being proposed and constructed. In mid 2005, USA Today reported on how the Miami market was hot, hotter, and hottest. By that time, the surge in construction had been gaining momentum since 2003. It wasn’t early in the game. The good news kept coming though. Also in mid 2005, NBC News aired this hyped up piece about the boom. NPR weighed in with their own boom outlook. Late in the same year, ABC News reported on the condo craze. Mind you, this was just before the downturn began.

The reports were spread far and wide and were all, for the most part, positive. Everyone seemed to be contributing to the buzz; from the Christian Science Monitor to the NY Times, CNN Money, CNBC, and Time Magazine.

Shit Hits the Fan

Then as flippers made their mass entrance into the market, the supply soared, prices began to fall, and foreclosures rose. Doom and gloom engulfed the media:

Forbes loves us, but ABC News’ Nightline is creeping behind in second place with their Miami fascination. Unexpectedly, Time magazine is lagging behind the two, but expect a come back. It begs the question: is Miami being underestimated or was it over hyped?


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Mid Week Links


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