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Monday, June 11, 2007

High-rises, high hopes

High-rises, high hopes

BY ANDRES VIGLUCCI AND MATTHEW HAGGMAN

aviglucci@herald.com

 

COURTESY OF THE TERRA GROUP

BIG PLANS: In 2005, this rendering of the condo tower was envisioned for the area behind the historic Freedom Tower.

In downtown, from Brickell Avenue north to the Edgewater neighborhood, up the Miami River and down historic Coral Way, great chunks of Old Miami are fast disappearing in a cloud of dust. In its place, the New Miami -- a dense, steel-and-glass forest of condo towers -- is rising from the rubble.

 

The scope, scale and speed of the transformation are breathtaking. More than 114 major projects, most of them high-rise condos, are under construction or in the planning stages in the urban core along Biscayne Bay.

 

Citywide, developers are proposing more than 61,000 new condominium units -- eight times the number built during the past decade.

 

The projects encompass the tallest skyscraper in Florida, a 74-story spire higher than any residential building south of Manhattan, almost four million square feet of new retail space (nearly as much as two Aventura Malls) and parking for more than 100,000 cars.

 

''You have a wave of development underway here in Miami that is unprecedented, bigger than anything, bigger than Hong Kong in the boom years of development,'' said former Portland, Ore., councilman Charles Hales, a transportation consultant working on a plan for a Miami streetcar line.

 

Not since the post-World War II housing boom that multiplied Miami-Dade County's population fivefold, to more than one million people, has the region experienced anything comparable. But that took almost 20 years.

 

''We are building an instant city; what should take 15 years will take three,'' said Michael Cannon, a Miami real-estate analyst. The boom struck suddenly, unexpectedly, first a trickle of projects, then a torrent. Cash has poured in from Latin America, New York and, increasingly, Europe, the result of converging market forces -- slashed interest rates, a cheap dollar -- and a worldwide infatuation with Miami among the chic and moneyed.

 

It all amounts to a multibillion-dollar gamble, outdoing in risk and bravado the 1920s boom that made Miami a modern city: That given waterfront location, a sunny climate and a hip, international culture, intensive downtown residential development can catapult Miami into the first rank of world cities.

 

Elected officials, in particular Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton, are counting on the boom to reverse downtown's long decline, to turn its seedy blocks and outlying neighborhoods into a scintillating, working urban hub with a vibrant street life.

 

''Just five years ago we were broke; we had zero development,'' Winton said. ``I'm going to bet you that when we're done -- I don't know when that will be -- historians will identify this as the most significant and rapid transformation of an American city.''

 

What precisely will the boom deliver? It's too soon to tell, experts say.

 

But this convulsion of development is already remaking not just Miami's skyline, but its streets and neighborhoods and likely its population, too.

 

If it stays on track, the boom promises a fundamentally different Miami -- more urban and congested, but also more cosmopolitan and, given the high prices the condos command, probably wealthier.

 

It also raises serious concerns. In the absence of a ready plan, how will the city cope with thousands of expected new residents and the traffic they will generate, given antiquated infrastructure, limited public transit and a shortage of parks and open space? Will Miami residents, among the nation's poorest urban dwellers, be displaced or priced out of new housing?

 

That is, if the planned condos actually get built, sold and occupied.

 

As the boom takes on the feel of a gold rush, real estate analysts, bankers and even some developers fear it's a mirage, a bubble fueled by speculators looking to resell condo units for a quick profit, and not by true buyer demand.

 

If developers build too much, and speculators can't find buyers for resale, the boom could bust, leaving Miami littered with vacant and bankrupted buildings or, worse, unfinished towers and bare lots.

 

SIGNS OF FUROR

 

For now, though, signs of the furor are everywhere.

 

Sales centers for multimillion-dollar condos that tout the merits of high-rise living sprout up across the city. Brokers push Miami condos in farflung locales, from Caracas and Bogotá to New York and France's Cte d'Azur. Lavish condo parties are thrown by developers several times a week, and advertisements for the high-rises fill the pages of local magazines and newspapers, including The Herald.

 

Downtown Miami is a thicket of construction cranes. Much of the landward side of Biscayne Boulevard has been razed, and the footings and columns of what will soon be a wall of six colossal condos, each more than 50 stories, are becoming visible.

 

''Where else are you near the water, 10 minutes from Miami Beach, 15 minutes from the airport and have access to public transportation?'' said Daniel Kodsi, chief executive of Boca Raton-based Royal Palm Communities, which plans a high-rise condo called Paramount Park across from AmericanAirlines Arena.

 

There is so much building that developers are struggling to find qualified contractors and subcontractors.

 

Sales and resales in the mid-six figures, and well beyond, have become commonplace. Towers of 300 units sell out in a day, with buyers coming in the main not from Miami, but from other parts of the country and the world.

 

''Miami, New York and Los Angeles have become the three cities in the U.S. where people want to be,'' said Joe Cayre, chairman of Midtown Group, which is building eight condo towers on the site of the old Florida East Coast Railroad yards in Wynwood.

 

They are people like Sal Loduca, who plans to leave Manhattan and his family's Long Island food business to open a brick-oven pizzeria at Cayre's Midtown Miami.

 

''Everyone's making the move to Miami. How could you not? It's a great opportunity. Miami's full of life,'' Loduca said.

 

`CRITICAL COMBUSTION'

 

Real estate broker Philip Spiegelman calls the confluence of factors propelling this boom a ``critical combustion.''

 

Among them:

 

• Across the country, young people and so-called ''empty-nesters'' have been returning to urban centers, in part because of long, wearing commutes from outlying suburbs. At the same time, a dwindling supply of easily developable land in western Miami-Dade and Broward counties has prompted developers to look eastward.

 

• A shortage of waterfront property elsewhere led developers to Miami's acres and acres of vacant bayfront land.

 

• Low interest rates have fueled record home-buying, while aging baby boomers are increasingly seeking second homes in sunny or exotic places.

 

• A cleaner local government has made Miami attractive to lenders and investors who once thought the city too risky, unsafe or corrupt.

 

• The weak dollar has made Miami an alluring bargain for Europeans and Latin Americans. And compared to other urban centers like New York City, Miami remains cheap.

 

Then there is the other factor, anecdotal and unquantifiable: the speculator.

 

''As much as 85 percent of all condominium sales in [downtown Miami] are accounted for by investors and speculators,'' housing analysts at investment firm Raymond James warned in a March report.

 

Banks have started to back off lending on condo projects, or have instituted new rules to avoid giving mortgages to investors.

 

Spiegelman sold the condo units in the Marina Blue condo going up on Biscayne Boulevard.

 

''One hundred percent of the buyers were investors and speculators,'' he said. ``Anyone who tells you their projects are different are deluding themselves.''

 

ZONING-CODE OVERHAUL

 

The pace of development is so furious that it has overtaken the city's planning efforts.

 

Only now is the city getting around to a long-promised overhaul of its outdated zoning code, a complete rewrite meant to ensure that new development produces lively, pedestrian-friendly streetscapes and respects open spaces and established neighborhoods, while weaving it all together into a cogent urban fabric. The rewrite, dubbed Miami 21, will be phased in over two years.

 

Yet more than 100 large-scale projects, most of them in and around downtown, have already been approved or are under construction.

 

Public-transit improvements like Metrorail extensions, a light-rail line to Miami Beach and the contemplated city streetcar are years away, raising fears of gridlock.

 

Quipped Cannon, the real estate analyst: ``Maybe we need to give every buyer of a condo in the urban core a Segway.''

 

There are other worries.

 

Some skeptics, noting the high condo prices and the out-of-town provenance of buyers, fear that instead of the diverse, working 24-hour downtown that city leaders envision, the boom will instead create a seasonal playground for the rich, a Monte Carlo on Biscayne Bay.

 

''I bet those buildings are going to be empty a lot of the time,'' said Joel Kotkin, an urban historian and consultant who has written about the rise of what he calls ''ephemeral cities'' -- places like San Francisco, Berlin and parts of New York that increasingly cater to the rich, the childless young and tourists.

 

''Maybe this is Miami's karma, to be this kind of place, a temporary, hip, cool, nomadic population serviced by a poor population,'' said Kotkin, author of The City: A Global History. But, he added: ``History shows a city has to maintain some sense of a middle-class character if it wants to thrive.''

 

`MISSING LINK'

 

Yet there's relatively little in the new downtown priced for working families. ''The missing link here is in creating housing that the middle class can afford,'' said Rafael Kapustin, a longtime downtown property owner who pioneered the conversion of old downtown offices and hotels into modestly priced condos and apartments.

 

In partnership with a big developer, the Related Group, Kapustin developed two affordable loft condos, with units averaging around $150,000, now under construction in the inner core of downtown. But their Loft II project may be the last of its kind because of the surging cost of land and construction, he said.

 

City leaders are sanguine. They say it will take years for all the planned condos to be built and occupied, allowing time to absorb new residents, build public amenities and improve transit.

 

While few city residents can afford waterfront condos, thousands of moderately priced condos and rental apartments are being built by private developers in adjacent Overtown and neighborhoods like Little Havana and Allapattah, many with direct city subsidies, according to a recent report from Miami Mayor Diaz.

 

`SELF-REINFORCING CYCLE'

 

And gradually, as new residents move into downtown, businesses, shops, restaurants, neighborhood retailers and services will follow, said Neisen Kasdin, a land-use lawyer and former Miami Beach mayor.

 

''It becomes a self-reinforcing cycle,'' Kasdin said. ``Yes, there will be a large segment of temporary residents, but as the city continues to grow as an international business city, it leads to the continued growth of a permanent community.''

 

Meanwhile, the city has instituted measures that strengthen the planners' hand in shaping an attractive, livable downtown: hiding parking garages inside buildings; lining sidewalks with shops, offices, dwellings and restaurants; and keeping garage and service entrances off Biscayne Boulevard and other main arteries.

 

'We used to sit here and say, `Someday,' '' said Miami Planning Director Ana Gelabert-Sánchez, alluding to the city's long-frustrated hopes for a downtown revival. ``Well, someday is here.''

 

Herald staff writer Larry Lebowitz contributed to this report. 

 
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Posted at 12:04:07 PM
 
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Real Estate News
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2018


What Not to Leave in Your Garage During Extreme Weather

Any kind of extreme weather could bring potential damage to your garage. Fortunately, a lot of the risks they present are preventable mdash; although a recent Esurance survey found that only 25 percent of homeowners proactively prepare for damaging weather events. Donrsquo;t get caught unprepared. Whether itrsquo;s triple-digit heat, below freezing cold, hurricane seasons or drought-induced wildfires, itrsquo;s best to prep your garage ahead of time to minimize your safety risks.

From fire hazards to burst pipes, herersquo;s how to prepare your garage for extreme weather.

Extreme Heat and Wildfires

Propane tanks
Propane tanks should never be stored indoors in the first place, but they are a particularly big risk in extreme temperatures as they begin >

Do this instead: Store propane tanks outdoors, about 10 feet away from the house and out of the sun. Make sure theyrsquo;re painted in a color that reflects light. If theyrsquo;ve been left in the sun and you worry that theyrsquo;ve gotten too hot, hose them down.

Oil-stained rags
It might seem obvious, but oil-stained rags have been known to cause house fires mdash; even if theyrsquo;ve been through the wash. When the temperature in your garage rises to extremes, they can spontaneously combust. If a wildfire breaks out, they pose a substantial risk for fueling the flames and even causing small explosions.

Do this instead: Dispose of heavily used oil-soaked rags and replace them. Wash gently used rags a few times before storing them in a covered metal can.

Aerosol cans
Eighty percent of aerosol cans mdash; even ones filled with hairspray and the like mdash; contain 3 to 5 ounces of butane or propane. When temperatures reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit, they can explode, sending bits of metal shrapnel through the air, or they can become propelled like rockets, capable of causing serious injury or damage.

Do this instead: Store aerosol cans in the garage only if the temperature is between 55 and 80 degrees.

Snow/Ice Storms and Extreme Cold

Aluminum cans
Carbonated beverages are temperamental, and they can be dangerous at freezing temps. Beverages like soda and beer freeze at around 15-20 degrees. Once frozen, the carbon dioxide separates from the water and pressurizes, becoming especially dangerous if handled or opened, potentially bursting and sending the top of the can flying.

Do this instead: Keep your canned, carbonated beverages in a refrigerator or cabinet in the house, where they wonrsquo;t freeze.

Glass bottles
Similar to aluminum cans, water-filled glass bottles can shatter in the cold, regardless of whether or not the liquid is carbonated. Thatrsquo;s because water expands as it begins to freeze. It can wreak similar havoc on your pipes.

Do this instead: Store your glass beverage containers in the house along with the aluminum cans.

Exposed pipes
As water gets colder and colder, it begins to expand, putting extra pressure on pipes. Regardless of the strength and material of the pipes, they will eventually burst under the pressure.

Do this instead: Let water drip from your faucets. Moving water helps prevent freezing. You can also insulate your exposed pipes to prevent them from freezing. Conventional foam insulation is easy to slip over existing pipes with a bit of tape. You can also go with the self-sealing variety, but you may want to leave the spray foam insulation to the pros.

Hurricanes and Windstorms

Generators
Anticipating the power going out? Make sure yoursquo;re not running your generator inside mdash; even in your garage. Generators produce large amounts of carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in contained, unventilated spaces.

Do this instead: Set your generator up outside mdash; at least 10 feet from your house mdash; to ensure proper ventilation.

Open doors and windows
It might go without saying, but open windows or doors in your garage invite tons of messy debris during a hurricane mdash; not to mention the potential damage to your car and other belongings.

Do this instead: Double-check that your garage door is closed and any and all windows are shut and locked before the storm makes its way in. Consider installing storm windows or shutters to the exterior of the garage to add extra protection against high winds and heavy rains.

Important Documents and Sentimental Items
With an increased risk for flooding and water damage, make sure you remove any important files or boxes with sentimental items before the storm hits.

Do this instead: Move any at-risk items safely indoors and store them in an interior room for the duration of the storm.

Are you prepared for extreme weather? Protect your family and your home by inspecting your garage to prevent unsafely storing potentially dangerous items in a weather emergency.


Eric Brandt has more than 25 years experience in the insurance industry. Eric currently serves as Chief Customer Advocate for Esurance, where he leads the customer experience, including claims fulfillment. Prior to joining Esurance, Eric led customer-centered transformations in the areas of claims, risk management and >
> Full Story

Has Your Marketing Content Become Stale?

Does your marketing receive regular complete overhauls? Or, do time
pressures only allow for the periodic makeover of one or two content
sections? On the other hand, you may simply rearrange existing content
with little more than headline changes. Or, do your marketing efforts
fall somewhere in between? Regardless of the approach you take, why are
you confident your marketing content and strategies resonate with your
select target market?

Answer this on-point ldquo;YES or NOrdquo; Quick Quiz to clarify where you
stand regarding content creation:

1. Is there really anything new to say about buying and selling real estate?nbsp;YES/NO

2. Is there anything that buyers and sellers havenrsquo;t heard already?nbsp;YES/NO

3. Is there truly something different about the way you, as a real
estate professional, work with real estate prospects, buyers, and sellers?nbsp;YES/NO

Real estate professionals who want to create magnetic, engaging real
estate content for their target market must answer each of these three
key questions above with a resounding ldquo;YES.rdquo;

Professionals who answer one or all of the questions above with ldquo;NOrdquo;
will not only produce stale content, but they may also find other
aspects of their practice and their productivity lacking

1. If real estate professionals cannot continually see ldquo;newrdquo;
perspectives in buying and selling real estate, how can they stay fresh
and eager enough on a daily basis to attract prospects and retain clients?

2. Professionals who donrsquo;t believe there is a lot that buyers and
sellers will benefit from hearing about real estate, may not radiate
enthusiasm and, as a result, may not be as productive or resourceful as
necessary to build a sustainable practice and achieve long-term
financial goals for themselves and their clients.

3. A professional, who does not clearly see how to uniquely serve the
niche of buyers and/or sellers this professional wants to zero in on,
cannot expect target prospects and clients to see any difference between
this professional and the rest of the real estate ldquo;pack.rdquo;

Fresh, target->
deep, accurate knowledge on many levels, but always from the targetrsquo;s
point of view.

Are you in the right frame of mind to create great content for the
buyers and sellers you aim to serve? Professionals who decide to hire
custom content developers or to buy stock content, must also know
exactly what targets need and why.

bull; How do you measure the effectiveness of your marketing
content? Buyers and sellers expect their selected real estate
professionals to continually prove and improve their value. Marketing
content, in any format or on any social media platform, must meet the
same target value demands. How do you measure ROI Return on
Investment on your marketing efforts, for you and your clients?

bull; How regularly do you update your Brand Profile? Fresh,
engaging language, concepts, and offers are essential to keep your brand
uppermost in the minds of target buyers and sellers. Donrsquo;t follow
your competition into trends-lead your targets.

bull; Have you recently updated the selected target buyer and
seller profiles or personas you concentrate your business efforts
on? Do your target profiles and content on each social media
platform synch up, but remain distinct and in keeping with each specific
platform? Is your content an engaging, thought-provoking mirror of
target issues?

bull; What process and systems do you use to efficiently recycle
and refresh content across selected social and traditional media? Do
you have a documented marketing strategy that transforms blog posts into
email newsletters, then into YouTube videos and interactive webinars, or
whatever media your targets prefer? What criteria do you use to
decide when to employ your own content creation skills and when to hire
proven expertise?

As well as consistently improving content development, professionals
benefit from becoming progressively more sophisticated, more refined,
more elegant in their communication techniques, approaches, and
outcomes.

Herersquo;s an example of clever email content that lets target clients
convince themselves of the value of the content developer, while quickly
and simply revealing what targets are doing right and what more they can
do for themselves. A lot is packed into one 7-page, graphic-rich
publication. Does it inspire you to tackle something similar to reveal
your value while giving your targets opportunities to measure their
ability to be excellent buyers or sellers working in their own best
interest?

New-York-based content developer, Contently, recently
produced ldquo;The Contently Content Maturity Modelrdquo; as email
marketing content.
Disclaimer: Although I have met some Contently staff, I do not have a
working >mine.

bull; The Model reveals how, as Strategy, Technology, and
Process improve, this leads to ldquo;significant improvements in efficiency,
data use, and collection, and alignment across teams.rdquo;
bull; The checklist of ldquo;major attributes that represent your maturity
at each [of four] phasesrdquo; reveals what you donrsquo;t do and should when it
comes to content development, and what Contently does for their
clients.
bull; The strong sales pitch is in plain sight. Does it seem balanced
by valuable content to you? If not, you may not be the selected target.

Resource:
For more, visit PJ Wadersquo;s ldquo;Whatrsquo;s Your Point?rdquo; blog.


> Full Story

5 Tips for Economically Renovating Your Home

In 2017, homeowners spent an average of 15,000 on house renovations. However, you need to take each step carefully if yoursquo;re on a tight budget. Letrsquo;s walk you through some simple tips to remodel your home economically:

1. Begin by cleaning up

As soon as the idea of home renovation pops in your mind, you need to hold your horses. This is because any design pointers that come to your brain at this point will be hazy. Thanks to the clutter, you cannot develop a crystal clear idea of what you want.

If you canrsquo;t do that, you canrsquo;t budget realistically. It details the very purpose of renovating your home reasonably. Therefore, start by cleaning your place thoroughly. Declutter and clear out what you donrsquo;t need.

Chances are that cleaning your space and rearranging the furniture can help you redesign your entire house. If your house is in good shape, only cleaning and moving things around can work to give your house a new look. If not, then this DIY project will help you visualize the home remodel that you want.

2. Set a realistic home renovation budget

Business Insider revealed that 61 of us donrsquo;t have a budget, but that wonrsquo;t work if you aim to renovate your house on a shoestring budget. You need a budget, and while you are at it, you need a realistic budget.

This means that if you put yourself in utopia and estimate fairytale costs, you wonrsquo;t be able to get anywhere with your home renovation plans. Hence, you need a fair estimate of what renovations you want in your house.

For instance, if you plan to spruce up your existing backyard, then you need to research the rough estimate of getting done all that yoursquo;ve in your mind. On average, Landscaping Network reports that a budget of 25,000 is typically dedicated to backyard renovation. A good contractor such as Terra Nova Landscaping can help you figure out the costs as per the revamps you want.

3. Decide what you want in advance

Budgeting means there is no room for a change of heart at the last minute. You also donrsquo;t get to be picky, saying that a certain color doesnrsquo;t look the way you anticipated it to, because such double-mindedness quickly adds to the costs.

The simple way to nip this unwelcome evil in the bud is to plan beforehand. Browse through the internet or flip through interior design magazines to get an idea of what yoursquo;re looking for. Turn Pinterest upside down if you have to while rooting around renovation ideas and trends, but do it before you seal the deal with your contractor.

Once you have a blueprint of what you want in your mind, yoursquo;ll be better able to map out your budget. Plus, you can save your money from going down the drain by saving yourself from buying things on impulse.

4. Get a black and white paint palette

You know that you need your home remodeled when the color leaches from your walls. Since yoursquo;re on a mission to give your house a new look on a tight budget, consider a black and white color palette.

Getting different colored palettes can add to the total cost. To counter that, go for the >

Alternatively, choose a neutral color scheme for your rooms. It is a perfect pick because it offers you a lot of flexibility when it comes to decorating. This makes the neutral color scheme a budget-friendly choice because it allows you to add nearly any deacute;cor or accent color.

5. Think smaller home remodeling changes

Another smart tip to refurbish your house on a tight budget is to make small changes. While itrsquo;s nice to think of the big picture, it is useless to daydream about a new look for your house if you donrsquo;t have the cash to make the dream come true.

In such a case, making small changes can significantly change your housersquo;s look. One way to do this is to renovate your house in sections. For instance, get your kitchen renovated this year and then save up and revamp your bedroom sometime later.

Or, you can make minor changes that make a big impact. For instance, change the hardware on the kitchen cabinets for a refreshed look instead of getting the cabinets replaced altogether. Similarly, change the rugs or curtains in your house for a different look.

Wrap up

Budgeting can be tough but not impossible. You can always stay within the limitations of your wallet by planning, making small changes, spending thoughtfully instead of impulsively, and doing some work yourself.


> Full Story



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