Pavilion from the Ocean

Pavilion from the Ocean

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Miami-Dade property values surge nearly 9 percent in 2016

Estimates of taxable values at the start of 2016 show Miami-Dade real estate at a new peak, with 8.6 percent growth countywide.

Property values grew 8.6 percent across Miami-Dade at the start of 2016, with real estate values hitting a new record and allowing local governments to reap windfalls in tax revenue for the next budget year.

Every local jurisdiction saw growth in its tax rolls, with North Miami Beach leading the pack at a 16.6 percent gain and Virginia Gardens bringing up the rear with a mere 0.3 percent increase.

The figures also detailed the construction boom unfolding along the county’s coast: Miami Beach added $1.1 billion in new construction at the start of 2016, up from about $270 million in 2015.

While Miami Beach was the leader in new construction in this year, Miami wasn’t far behind at $1 billion. The city added about $490 million of new construction in 2015.

Pedro Garcia, the county’s elected property appraiser, issued a statement touting the numbers as a signal of continued expansion as the real estate market is showing signs of slowing. “The construction boom that is visible across the county has yet to peak,” Garcia said, “and will continue to fuel this growth.”

Property values easily surpassed a forecast of 6.5 percent growth in Miami-Dade’s budget. The countywide gain, combined with an 8.8-percent increase for the county’s unincorporated areas, also will trigger a 4 percent cost-of-living raise for thousands of Miami-Dade’s unionized employees.

The compensation increase was linked to a property-value trigger that Mayor Carlos Gimenez negotiated with five county unions during 2014 labor talks. Should the remaining five unions agree to the same deal during ongoing labor negotiations, the trigger would cost the county’s general operations about $24 million in 2017, according to the budget office.

Crushed by your own condo docs

Cyber Citizens for Justice, Inc.
Article Courtesy of Florida Politics
By Peter Schorsch

Miami Beach. It’s a world-class tourist destination right here in our backyard. It’s where people go to relax and enjoy beautiful beaches, take in the five-star dining and nightlife, spend their retirement, and invest in real estate with values that have nowhere to go but up.

Unless, that is, you happen to own a unit in the Carillon Miami Beach, a three-tower, beachfront, luxury hotel/condo on Collins Avenue.
At least, that’s what the condo board of Carillon’s Central Tower is alleging in a lawsuit filed recently in Miami-Dade County’s 11th Judicial Circuit. And before that filing, the board of the South Tower entered a similar, though narrower in scope, complaint against Z Capital, charging a lack of transparency in the condo documents Z is trying to impose on that board.

The Central Tower’s suit is stunning in both the volume and content of its allegations against Z Capital. The board’s attorney, Ron Lowy, of Lowy & Cook, P.A., is nearly 70 pages long, with 16 separate complaints against Z, backed up by 282 allegations. A press release from the Central Tower’s board, sent on May 3, summarizes their suit by claiming Z Capital has, “engaged in an unlawful against … owners” to “artificially drive down property values,” as well as other acts in “clear violation of the Florida Condominium Act.”

The uproar in Carillon’s Central and South Towers (like Westeros, one can speculate that the North will likely join the fray soon enough, too) is far from an isolated incident. El Nuevo Herald and Univision 23 recently shined a light on the endemic issues in South Florida of developers bullying and defrauding condo owners. State Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla has been a leading voice for reform of the state laws that govern condo associations and owners have been rallying in Miami for change.

Among the specific allegations the Central Carillon Board has levied against Z Capital:
Owners have neither been made privy to contracts Z Capital has executed before, during or after work has been done in the building, refusing to prove that they engaged in a competitive bidding process, or allowing the association to audit their expenditures or have even basic access to records.

This suit may seem like a non-sequitur for, but this is one to watch.

A revolt is fomenting in South Florida’s condo associations, from small buildings with modestly priced units, to big-name luxury properties like the Carillon.

Another suit, similar to one filed by Central Carillon, was brought by Fontainebleau unit owners a few years ago, and Fontainbleau eventually settled for a sum rumored to be in the tens of millions. We are going to watch how this and other suits play out in the circuit courts, especially since Carillon’s claims are potentially precedent setting if they get resolved in court rather than a settlement.

Don’t expect this suit to go quietly into the night. Don’t expect these larger issues to stay out of headlines or be isolated to South Florida. This could end up being a significant problem in the 2017 legislative session.

And always read your condo association documents closely. Don’t assume what you agree to is standard and fully protects your ownership interest under Florida law. The vast preponderance of evidence suggests that it doesn’t.

South Beach residents mull the price of height in two proposed high-rise deals

One developer is offering to build the city a transit hub for a future light rail system in exchange for height for a condo tower

Another is offering $100 million for mass transit to build two towers above the public marina

Marina deal would require voter approval of three referendum questions

Even though Miami Beach voters rejected the last two high-rise plans put before them, two developers are trying to see if they can get height limits lifted for a price.

It might be very high. In new condo tower proposals, each has added an expensive incentive to sweeten the deal. One is offering to build a 30,000 square-foot transit hub at the base of a 300-foot condo tower. The other is willing to contribute $100 million toward a light rail system in South Beach in exchange for the rights to build two 400-foot residential towers at the city-owned marina.

The community is known for keeping a critical eye on all new development, with particular scrutiny aimed at size and square footage. These developers are banking on using public benefits to convince neighbors to look past these aspects. But will residents buy it?

Both the Ocean Terrace and convention center hotel proposals drew criticism for their size.

Many residents are skeptical. They want to have more input, and some worry it could lead to more similar deals.

“I’m just really concerned that this is a slippery slope that we’re going down,” said Ronald Starkman, a board member for the South of Fifth Neighborhood Association at a recent neighborhood meeting. “This, I think, sets a type of precedent that we all need to be worried about.”

The size of proposed buildings figured prominently in the recent failures of two significant proposals that required voter approval: a hotel for the Miami Beach Convention Center and the redevelopment of Ocean Terrace. Both projects were sent back to the drawing board in hopes of drawing more public support, with Ocean Terrace recently winning an initial approval for a height increase from the City Commission.

Only one of the two new tower proposals would require a public vote; the other would need only City Commission approval, but residents will undoubtedly follow their progress and weigh in on both.


City officials want to move fast on a light rail system that would loop around South Beach, forming one third of what would be a mass transit link from downtown Miami to the Beach. The expectation is that the Beach service will connect to a larger mainlandsystem that would cross Biscayne Bay along the north side of the MacArthur Causeway.

Both systems would have to connect somewhere, most likely the north side of the east end of the causeway, where cars can either continue onto Fifth Street or a take a flyover onto Alton Road.
“There has to be a place for the light rail to go, it has to land somewhere,” said Commissioner Michael Grieco at a recent public discussion. “It has to be in the area of Fifth and Alton.”

Enter developer Russell Galbut, who owns the paved parking lot on the north side of Fifth Street and Alton Road. Galbut, managing principal at Beach-based real estate investment company Crescent Heights, wants to build the city a 30,000 square-foot transit hub at the base of a 300-foot condo tower.

Preliminary plans propose transit and parking services on the first six levels, with buses passing through levels one through three and platforms for light rail occupying the next three. Some retail would go in the transit hub. The residential tower would rise another 24 stories above the hub.
The city would not have to put up any money for the facility, but it would have to increase the maximum allowable height for the property from 75 feet to 300 feet.

“We have an opportunity to accomplish something great here,” Galbut told city commissioners at a May 18 committee meeting. “And that is mass transit, rapid transit, that would give us the opportunity to connect our cultural centers. It would give us the opportunity to limit traffic on Miami Beach. And this is just the start of it.”

The concept is very preliminary but intriguing to residents and City Hall. The Beach just last week received three bids for the streetcar, and City Manager Jimmy Morales is not expected to recommend a bid until later this summer. A consultant’s environmental analysis, necessary to vie for state funding, is in progress.

Meanwhile, Galbut is asking Beach planners to review details of an ordinance that would change the area’s zoning to allow for such a tall building. Transportation officials have to look at whether 20,000 square feet is the right size for a transit hub. There’s plenty of vetting left to do.

Neighbors want to make sure they’re a part of the conversation, starting now.

“Our interest is in making sure whatever is decided is decided transparently,” said Peter McLean, a board member at Bentley Bay Condominiums. He lives in one of the two bayfront towers across from Galbut’s site. “We want to make sure all impact studies, traffic studies, etc. are vetted openly.”

McLean said Galbut’s team will present to the condo board next week. Galbut is also speaking at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at South Beach restaurant Manolo during the weekly civic breakfast known as the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club.

Because the land is privately owned, no public vote is needed to change the zoning for a transit hub and taller building. Commissioners would have to pass an ordinance to make it happen.


Further south on Alton Road, the operator of the Miami Beach Marina and a developer want to overhaul the prime piece of city-owned waterfront land.

A surface parking lot and the building with Monty’s Sunset restaurant currently stand on the property, which the marina has leased from the city since the mid-1980s. Fort Partners, the Miami-based real estate company that is leading the redevelopment of the Surf Club in Surfside, envisions a similarly-sized retail and restaurant complex at the base of one of two 410-foot condo towers. About 700 parking spaces would be placed underground, and a public park would go above the parking.

The developer is willing to pay the city $100 million to buy the “air rights” needed for the condo towers. Air rights would give the developer the ability to build above the marina. That money would go into a transportation trust fund that would help finance the streetcar, which will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

The city is hiring an appraiser to assess the value of the land and its air rights. The dollar amount is a significant facet of the deal, but residents also want assurances that the restaurants at the marina will be neighborhood-oriented and not destinations for outside visitors. Some want to see space carved out for a dry cleaner and other services that would cater to locals. Others want to make sure the residential units, which everyone acknowledges will probably be second homes for seasonal residents, are regulated so short-term rentals don’t create a nuisance.

Fort Partners also wants to contribute to physical improvements to South Pointe Elementary, the school across Alton Road, and pay for traffic calming measures along Alton.

The developer has already started making the rounds with neighbors, pledging to meet with associations and individual residents to make its pitch. On this project, public support isn’t just another part of the developer’s pitch to the City Commission.

Before a shovel could hit the publicly owned ground, three key components would need approval through public referendum:

▪ Terms of the ground lease
▪ Sale of the city’s “air rights,” or ability to develop above the marina
▪ Increase in the maximum floor-area ratio for the development, which is the formula for calculating allowable square footage

Gerald Posner, a neighborhood association board member, said residents will need to stay as involved as possible to make sure their concerns are addressed.

“A lot of people in other parts of the city will look at this and say, ‘$100 million for public transport — and a group of well-entitled people south of Fifth are worried about their view lines?’ That’s not going to carry the day,” he said.

Even with the $100 million carrot, the proposal is a massive ask for a community that hasn’t shown an appetite for changing land-use rules.

Fort Partners would like to see the referendum questions on the November ballot, citing high turnoutfor a presidential election. But residents wants to iron out specifics before casting a vote.
Michael Conaghan, chief operating officer for Fort Partners, said he realizes it will take a lot of outreach to convince voters.

“We know we won’t please everybody, but it’s our effort to try and please as many people as possible,” he said.

Number of South Florida million-dollar homes nearly doubled since 2012 #Miami

Percent of million-dollar homes in the Miami area rose from 3 percent to 6.3 percent in four years
National average: 2 percent in 2012, 4 percent in 2016

La Gorce neighborhood in Miami Beach and Navarrea Isle in Fort Lauderdale have most million-dollar homes

Those in the market for a million-dollar home are likely to find one in the Miami metro area, where the supply of luxury dwellings has nearly doubled from 3.3 percent of the real estate marketplace in 2012 to 6.3 percent in 2016. So says the online real estate company Trulia in a report released Thursday.

The Miami-Fort Laudedale rate continues to outpace the national average among the top 100 metro areas. In 2012, it was 2 percent; in 2016 it doubled to 4 percent

The report singled out La Gorce in Miami Beach — once home to rapper Lil Wayne — as the neighborhood with the highest concentration of million-dollar homes in South Florida as of this month. More than 96 percent of the homes on the mid-beach island south of Normandy Isle cost at least seven figures, a 29.5 percent increase from 2012.

In Broward County, the narrow island off Las Olas Boulevard known as Navarrea Isle has the next-highest concentration of million-dollar homes, with nearly 94 percent of its houses breaking the $1 million mark. That’s an increase of 42.4 percent over 2012.

Nationally, Miami places 14th and Fort Lauderdale 24th on Trulia’s list of the housing markets with the highest concentration $1 million-plus homes. California snags the first five spots with San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Orange County and Los Angeles, respectively. The concentration of million-dollar homes ranges from 57.4 percent of the housing market in San Francisco to 16.3 percent in Los Angeles.

On the other end of the spectrum was Syracuse, New York, where none of the homes was valued at more than a million dollars. That was a decrease from 0.1 percent in 2012.

The report analyzes all homes, regardless of whether they’re listed for sale or not.

“The million-dollar home used to be a rarity in the United States,” said Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia’s chief economist, in the report, “but is now becoming commonplace in several of America’s largest housing markets.”

Becker & Poliakoff Partner Charged in Laundering Sting

Becker & Poliakoff attorney-lobbyist Alan Koslow was swept up Thursday in an FBI money laundering sting.

Federal prosecutors charged Koslow, a longtime partner at the firm, and Delray Beach retailer Susan Mohr with conspiracy to commit money laundering after they allegedly agreed to hide cash they thought was linked to illegal gambling, counterfeit Viagra and narcotics for a 5 percent handling fee.

Mohr agreed to surrender Tuesday and Koslow on June 2 for an initial appearance. The charge carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

They were charged by criminal information, which indicates a plea deal has been reached.

Koslow's attorneys, Alan Ross and Michael Orenstein, issued a statement from their client saying he resigned from the firm.

Prosecutors and Koslow's lawyers said the 112-attorney firm was not implicated in any wrongdoing.

Read more:

Miami Beach makes plans for traffic, crowds of Memorial Day Weekend

DUI checkpoints eliminated

Ocean Drive will be closed to vehicles

Traffic loop will be set up again

In preparation for large crowds expected to soak in Memorial Day Weekend in South Beach, officials will again create a traffic loop, close off Ocean Drive to vehicles and deploy hundreds of police officers in the streets.

Unlike last year, there will not be DUI checkpoints, but police patrols will be looking for drunk drivers.

The holiday weekend, also known as “Urban Beach Week,” attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors for a loosely-affiliated group of parties and hip-hop concerts in different venues across South Beach.
In preparation, the Beach will again have a large police presence — around 500 officers, including cops from several other Miami-Dade departments — close Ocean Drive to vehicles and set up a traffic loop to minimize traffic snarls.

Lately, many holiday and special event weekends have put the barrier island in traffic gridlock. The Beach has been a bigger draw than usual so far in 2016, with unexpectedly large crowds descending on the island during the Spring Break season and, most notably, during Floatopia. The latter caused a stir after people left heaps of plastic floats and other litter on the sand.

Captain Henry Doce, the Miami Beach police officer in charge of developing a plan to manage the huge crowds that come to the Beach each year, said this year’s crowds show that interest in the Beach keeps growing.

“We are expecting larger than average crowds,” Doce said. At a community meeting last week, he said hotels were already reporting occupancy rates of 80 percent, with some completely booked.
Some businesses see a nice spike in business during the weekend.

“This place gets full of people from all over,” said Maekel Gil, who works at Suri Pizza on Washington Avenue.

Other businesses have seen fewer patrons in the past and find it more of a hassle to even stay open. Billy Gerardi, general manager of Miami Tattoo Co., said he doesn’t get many walk-ins. And with the traffic, he and many on his staff would have to put up with a longer commute to work.
“And the parking is outrageous,” he said. The shop will be closing this year due to construction work on the rear of the building.

Other than a one-off centennial concert sponsored by the city last year, Memorial Day has typically been the only weekend where cops have crafted a detailed plan to manage large crowds — an approach that has evolved after years of steadily growing attendance and an incident where a motorist was killed by police gunfire during a chase in 2011.

After this year’s Floatopia, the City Commission wants to create a protocol for all “high-impact” weekends.

Here’s what you need to know about the Beach’s plan for Memorial Day Weekend 2016:

▪ Ocean Drive from Fifth to 15th streets will close to vehicular traffic at 7 a.m. Friday, May 27. Collins Avenue from Fifth Street to Española Way will be one-way heading north from May 27 to May 31. Washington Avenue will become one-way heading south between Fifth and 15th streets starting at 7 p.m. each night from May 27 to May 31. The easternmost lanes will be used for vehicles, and the remaining lanes will be closed to traffic except emergency vehicles. Normal traffic patterns will resume at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, June 1.

▪ Cops will use license plate readers through the weekend to record tags for all vehicles that cross the Julia Tuttle and MacArthur causeways. Recorded tags will be run through a database that police will use to identify outstanding warrants for registered drivers and stolen vehicles.
▪ Residents are encouraged to use the Venetian Causeway to cross the bay. Police will set up roadblocks along Collins, Fifth Street and Alton Road at night to prevent nonresident traffic on neighborhood streets.

▪ About 150 civilian volunteers called “Goodwill Ambassadors” will be stationed throughout the entertainment district to assist visitors and act as liaisons between the public and the city.

South Florida renters using Airbnb as an unregulated business, report says

Report finds that Airbnb is increasingly used as business for South Florida renters

Large portion of Airbnb’s South Florida revenue comes from multi-unit operators, properties listed 360 days or more

Hoteliers argue these kinds of rentals should be regulated, pay taxes

For some South Florida homeowners, Airbnb is more than a way to pick up a few extra dollars. It’s a 365-day-a-year business that earned more than $47 million last year.
That information comes from a report published Wednesday by Pennsylvania State University’s School of Hospitality Management and the American Hotel & Lodging Association. The report analyzed listings in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties between October 2014 and September 2015.

According to the report, about 6 percent of South Florida Airbnb operators list units for rent more than 360 days per year, bringing in 39 percent of Airbnb’s Miami-area revenue — the highest percentage of any of the 14 major metropolitan regions studied.

The study put the total South Florida earnings for the period at more than $122 million.
Other South Florida findings:

▪ About 28 percent of the 5,044 local Airbnb operators listed their properties more than 180-days per year, bringing in $93 million.
▪ Four of the top five zip codes for Airbnb revenue were in Miami Beach; the fifth was in downtown / Brickell. Together, they accounted for more than $79 million in revenue.
▪ Operators who offer multiple units on the online service drove nearly two-thirds of Airbnb’s regional revenue — about $76 million. At 62 percent, that was the highest percentage of the cities studied, which includes New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco.

That follows a national trend. Multi-unit hosts account for nearly 40 percent of Airbnb revenue in the 14 cities, or about $500 million, according to the study.

Regulations regarding Airbnb and other short-term rentals vary by municipality, but the practice is illegal in much of the region. Miami Beach bans short-term rentals in all single-family homes and allows it in multi-family buildings only in specified areas. Fort Lauderdale limits the number of guests. Key West recently cracked down on the practice, requiring licenses for rentals lasting less than 30 days.

City in a city: Brickell City Centre set to transform downtown Miami

Mega-development built with no government subsidies by Hong Kong-based Swire Properties

Across 9.1 acres, an open-air shopping center, two luxury condo towers, upscale hotel, class-A office buildings, and more

The project’s origins date back to 2008, when the condo market hit rock bottom amid the recession

As talk of the softening condo market buzzes through South Florida, a massive project in Miami’s urban core is unfolding.

As it debuts — and on schedule, no less — Brickell City Centre, a mixed-use complex of luxury condo towers, class-A office buildings, a five-star hotel, and a sprawling open-air shopping center featuring Saks Fifth Avenue, is expected to transform Brickell’s business district from a banking ghetto to a true live, work, shop and dine nexus.

The 5.4 million-square-foot development is designed to elevate the downtown Miami pedestrian experience and breathe new life into the neighborhood. With Swire Group’s track record of successful development on Miami’s Brickell Key and in the parent company’s home city of Hong Kong, the odds are in its favor.

“This destination is — and I don’t wanna overuse the word — pivotal, and a catalyst,” said Alyce Robertson, executive director of the Miami Downtown Development Authority.

The project’s caliber and scale have raised property values west of the waterfront. Surrounding developments have even taken to marketing their own projects around City Centre, calling it a neighborhood amenity.

Already built are two elements key to access: a Metromover station refreshed by Swire and integrated into the project, and underground parking stretching across five continuous city blocks, with entrances facing major arteries.

By building during the down cycle and starting early, they had pricing power that allowed them to achieve this scale. Anthony Graziano, real estate analyst

Recently opened is one of two condo towers, the 390-unit Reach. The second 390-unit tower, Rise, is expected to be completed this summer. Also completed is the 130,000-square-foot Class A office building. The 352-room upscale hotel, EAST, is slated to open July 31. The first shops in the 500,000-square-foot multilevel retail area — including Saks Fifth Avenue — are slated to open in the fall. A timeline has not yet been set for an 80-story third tower expected to be the tallest building in the southeast.

All were designed by Miami’s Arquitectonica.

Plans for the site’s northeast corner have not yet been disclosed.

Unifying the sprawling complex is its platform design, set above the city that allows pedestrians to stroll from one building to the next without crossing the street. And above it all is a first-in-the-world climate ribbon, a passive cooling system that offers shade, collects rainwater and doubles as an eye-catching attraction.

Russian billionaire betting big on Miami’s luxury condo market

Real-estate magnate Vladislav Doronin plans a 57-story, ultra-luxury condo tower in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood

Branded by the well-known Italian fashion house, the Missoni Baia will offer 146 condos fronting Biscayne Bay

Two other condo projects are planned in the Brickell area; Doronin also owns the Aman and is scouting Miami Beach locations

While most developers are pulling back as Miami’s high-end condo market slows, Vladislav Doronin is pushing forward with a 57-story luxury condo tower, and two more projects after it.

The Russian real-estate magnate’s Miami-based development company OKO Group is spending about a billion dollars to acquire the land and develop three local properties. Going up first: the $350 million Missoni Baia in the Edgewater neighborhood.

“Miami has become a 24-hour city and has become internationally significant,” Doronin said in a phone interview. “Miami’s airport is ranked second for international passengers in the United States. I also like the good weather and the happy lifestyle in Miami.”

Missoni Baia will seek to leverage both weather and lifestyle with views of both Biscayne Bay, which it fronts, and the city from its 146 multimillion-dollar residences.

Doronin, 53, is well known in international real-estate circles. Early in his career, according to The Wall Street Journal, Doronin traded commodities under the direction of Marc Rich, the oil trader charged by the U.S. with violating sanctions with Iran and tax evasion before being pardoned by President Bill Clinton.

In 1993, the St. Petersburg-born Doronin turned to real estate and launched Capital Group in Moscow, developing more than 70 projects with a total of 75 million square feet of commercial, retail and luxury residential space and working over the years with French architect Jacques Grange, the firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and Pritzker Prize winner Zaha Hadid. His 85-story OKO Tower in central Moscow is Europe’s tallest completed skyscraper. Dubbed one of the “Kings of Russian Real Estate” by Forbes in 2014, Doronin is also chairman and owner of the ultra-luxury Aman hotel company, which he purchased in 2014 with a partner; a contentious court battle between the two recently was ruled in Doronin’s favor. He’s looking for a Miami Beach site for the expanding Aman.

Although Missoni Baia will be his first Miami venture, Doronin’s no stranger to the city. In 2014, he partnered with veteran Miami developer Ugo Colombo on the Brickell Flatiron condo project and another property in Brickell. They parted ways early this year, with Colombo taking the Flatiron and Doronin continuing with the Brickell property, one of the next projects on Doronin’s runway.

He has had vacation homes in the Miami area for the past decade; in 2009, he bought the Star Island home previously owned by Shaquille O’Neal, according to media reports. Although Doronin has not given many interviews over the years, he has drawn paparazzi attention for, among other things, his previous romantic involvement with supermodel Naomi Campbell.

Last year, he formed OKO Group based in Miami to focus exclusively on the U.S. market, primarily Miami and New York City. In addition to the three Miami properties, OKO Group is redeveloping New York’s landmark Crown Building — previously owned by the late Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos and later the family of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer at the tony corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street.

And despite conventional wisdom to the contrary, Doronin believes there’s room in the Miami condo market for a project that is different.

In the last three or four years when the market was great, everybody could build everything and everything could be sold. Right now, if you make a different product, it can still sell well.
Real estate developer Vladislav Doronin

“In the last three or four years when the market was great, everybody could build everything and everything could be sold. Right now, if you make a different product, it can still sell well,” said Doronin. “We have done our research, and we believe the time is right to bring a high-quality, sophisticated product to Miami. We are bringing a new product to the market that does not exist.”
The market isn’t so sure. With a strong U.S. dollar and slowing global economy, many Miami real-estate projects have gone back to the drawing board or have stalled, according to a 2016 report from the Miami Downtown Development Association. The number of projects taking reservations and in contracts in the urban core of Miami dropped by 42 percent year over year, the report said. Others have eased deposit requirements or offered other incentives to spur sales.

More broadly, Miami’s luxury condo sales fell 13.8 percent in the first quarter over the previous quarter and 18.8 percent year over year, while days on the market doubled, according to a market report by the Elliman reality firm.

Indeed, real-estate analyst Jonathan Miller has seen the Miami condo market downshift in the last year.

“We’re seeing a slowdown in what is being announced and longer absorption periods than when the deals were conceptualized. The international buyer is still in play, but not at the same intensity with a stronger dollar,” said Miller, president and CEO MillerSamuels, a real-estate appraisal and consulting group that covers markets across the U.S. He believes the next few years will bring an expansion of inventory that could keep prices moving sideways.

In Doronin’s view, New Yorkers and residents of other U.S. cities are still a likely market for his Miami projects, along with international buyers looking to move capital from South America, Europe and China to the relative security of the U.S. market.

“When the economy is great, people buy; and when the economy is in trouble, people try to move money out and they like real estate. … We see a lot of Europeans moving because of security, because America is very safe for their families.”

The Missoni brand will differentiate the property, he believes. Missoni Baia is the first residential collaboration for the well-known Italian fashion house and will incorporate Missoni’s trademark color palette and Missoni Home collection in the tower’s public spaces.

“It’s a great brand, with the same happy color like Miami. The Missoni brand is a match with Miami,” Doronin said.

Features and amenities include a boutique residential ambience with three “villas in the sky” per floor with private elevators and generous balconies, plus an Olympic-sized lap pool, hot and cold plunge pools, a children’s pool and an infinity pool, tennis courts, an expansive gym overlooking the bay, and a spa.

“Most important is it’s a 57-floor residence but only 146 apartments, which is really unique. Everything in Miami is 300-plus,” Doronin said.

Missoni Baia architect Hani Rashid of the New York firm Asymptote Architecture said the design aims to reflect Miami’s new sophistication.

“From the New York perspective, we’ve watched Miami grow up, jealously at times, and it is becoming a more sophisticated global metropolis,” Rashid said. “For us, it was really exciting to design a building that can meet a high bar that is being set in recent years. We’re excited to be a part of the new Miami.”

For us, it was really exciting to design a building that can meet a high bar that is being set in recent years. We’re excited to be a part of the new Miami. Missoni Baia architect Hani Rashid of the New York firm Asymptote Architecture.

The architecture firm is best known for international projects including the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel, 166 Perry Street luxury condominium in New York and flagship stores for Carlos Miele and Alessi. It’s also currently working on a museum for modern art at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, and a theater in Italy.

In Miami, he said, he hopes the building will elevate and catalyze the Edgewater district, the eastern area north of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and east of Wynwood.
“Rather than go down the route of a formally expressive building that is more sculptural and trying to be very loud, we decided to go for a more demure building that is playing against light, against the atmosphere, against the cityscape,” Rashid said.

“We are very focused on building at that scale elegance and serenity, something that resonates with the cityscape and stands out for that reason and not for reasons of flamboyance or coloration or gratuitous form. I’m pretty confident as the years go by this building will be appreciated for its architectural intentions.”

The recently opened sales center, at 777 NE 26th Ter., includes a representation of the open living, dining and kitchen area of a unit, as well as the master closet and bathroom. New York designer Paris Forino, known for her high-end custom private homes who is designing all the building’s public spaces, also designed the the sales center, which is adorned with Missoni furnishings, as well as designer pieces, finishes of pale woods, polished nickel, light-colored stone and grey-blue marbles, floor to ceiling windows and contemporary art from Doronin’s private collection, including works by Nate Lowman, Dan Colen, Julian Schnabel and George Condo.

“Light, bright and reflective — that’s our inspiration,” Forino said. “When people walk in, moods lift.”

The sales center isn’t quite complete and has been open only by appointment, but some units have already been reserved, said Alicia Cervera, president of Cervera Real Estate, which is exclusively marketing the Missoni Baia. Interest is high because of the condo’s features and the stature of the development and design team, and the Missoni brand helps as well, she said. On a recent morning, potential buyers wearing Missoni fashions were meeting with the sales team.

Doronin said he hopes to break ground next year on the Missoni Baia, with completion in 2019. The 2,500 to 3,700 square foot units, with two to four bedrooms, will be priced at about $900 per square foot, with 50 percent deposits required, he said. That’s a starting price tag of about $2.25 million.
OKO Group has two other Miami residential projects in the plans: a bayfront, 48-story luxury residential tower at 175 SE 25th Rd., and another high-rise at 830 Brickell Ave., across from Brickell City Centre.

OKO Group has two other Miami residential projects in the plans: a bayfront 48-story luxury residential tower at 175 SE 25th Rd., and another highrise at 830 Brickell Ave., across from Brickell City Centre — “also a good site, but different, with more action and everything,” Doronin said.
Reports have recently surfaced that the OKO Group is trying to aggressively buy out residents in two oceanfront Miami Beach condo buildings on Collins Avenue — the Amethyst and the adjoining La Costa — for luxury condos. Attempts to reach Amethyst management were unsuccessful, and OKO would not confirm specifics.

But Doronin said he is planning to expand the global Aman hotel brand and is scouting for an exceptional site in Miami Beach.

“For Aman, it has to be no compromise, it has to be the best location,” Doronin said. “Now’s the time. The Aman hotel will do great in Miami — no doubt.”

#Miami -Dade, Broward home prices continue to rise in April

Prices of existing condos and single-family homes rose in both counties

Miami-Dade inventory of houses priced under $400,000 remains tight

Sales of $1 million-plus homes continue to soften

South Florida remained a sellers’ market in April as the median price of existing homes continued to rise in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties. But the market for luxury homes priced at more than $1 million continued to soften.

In Miami-Dade, the median sales price for existing single-family homes rose to $285,000 from $260,000 in April 2015, representing a year-to-year increase of 9.5 percent, according to a report by the Miami Association of Realtors.

Despite the increase of new condominium units, the median sales price for existing condos rose 8 percent to $215,000 from $199,000 in April 2015.

Still, “Miami real estate remains at 2004 pricing levels despite more than four years of increases,” said Mark Sadek, a Coral Springs Realtor and the 2016 chairman of the association board said via a statement.

As prices have risen and the number of distressed homes has dropped by more than 46 percent over last year, inventory has gotten tighter. The number of existing single-family transactions dropped 7.6 percent, while existing condo transactions dropped 12.1 percent year over year.

Demand for homes priced under $400,000 is particularly strong, said George Jalil, broker-president of First Service Realty. “All our agents are working with buyers and they don’t have enough homes to show,” he said. While new condos continue to sprout, relatively few single family homes are under construction.

The number of days on the market fell 14 percent year-over-year, to 94 days. And homes sold at 95.8 percent of the asking price, up 0.7 percent.

The number of days on the market decreased 11.3 percent year-over-year, to 110 days. For existing condos, the median sales price was 93.9 percent of the list price — the same as last year.
But for homes priced over $1 million, the market has slowed. The number of condo sales dropped about 18 percent year-over-year, while inventory grew 55 percent. In single-family homes, the inventory rose 46 percent year-over-year for the quarter, while the number of sales dropped 11 percent. Those figures come from a report commissioned by EWM Realty.

EWM President Ron Shuffield said the slowdown was partly due to the increased dollar values and soft economies abroad: “A lot of those buyers are international buyers.” The uneasiness in the stock market early in the year also had an impact, he said. “It was a little bit of a scare. A lot of people said, let’s wait and see what happens.”

While the luxury market currently is rebalancing, Shuffield has a positive long-term view: “The whole world wants what we have. I don’t see anything that will change that.”
In Broward County, the sale price of existing homes continued to rise and the number of days on the market fell, according to a Realtors report released Friday. But the outlook for the months ahead softened, with pending sales of single-family homes down from April 2015 while pending sales of condos/townhouses rose.

The median price of single-family homes jumped by 7.7 percent over April 2015, reaching to $310,000 from $287,900. The median price of town homes and condominiums rose by 6.3 percent year-over-year, with the median sales price jumping from $126,950 to $135,000. The report was released by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors.

The amount of time it took to sell an existing single-family home dropped close to 14 percent year over year, from 51 days in April 2015 to 44 days in April of this year. For condos and townhouses, the median time to contract dropped 3.3 percent, from 60 days in April 2015 to 48 days in April 2016.

The total number of closed sales for existing single-family homes remained nearly flat, up 0.1 percent. The total number of closed sales for town homes/condominiums fell by 4.9 percent. New pending sales saw mixed results, down 4.9 percent in single-family homes and up 2.6 percent in townhouses/condominiums
Overall, Friday’s reports brought a sigh of relief from Jalil. “The last thing we want is prices going up 10 to 15 percent month after month,” he said. “Prices are not spiking. It’s a stable market.”

Condo Act Reforms - cyber citizens for justice - Update #Miami

Dear Florida Homeowner and Condo Owners;

The Miami Legislative Delegation claims to be working on serious community association law reforms. Let's make sure that the bill includes HOAs into the Division, gives the Division much wider jurisdiction (including the 4 CPAs - forensic auditors - Julio Robaina proposed a few years back) and use the trust fund money for the purpose intended. Add HOAs and they have lots of money to spend. Increase the salary of the Division workers, so we attract some talent and not just the stupid morons we have now working for the Division - like some of the Bureau of Compliance employees and some of the arbitrators.

The folks from Miami have to remember that the folks North of South Florida are not really very interested in condo reforms, since they deal mostly with HOA problems. Remember, the town hall meeting crying for reform featured the same legislators and attorneys who blocked any reform ideas in the last few years. And we have to make sure that the postal workers from the Broward Coalition are not going postal again -- parotting the ideas of CALL -- the Becker & Poliakoff lobbyiung arm. Remember, the CALL Lady is back at B&P after a short stint at KGB.

Vacation rentals: Good business opportunity or neighborhood nuisance? #Miami

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
By Paul Owers
Published May 20, 2016

An explosion of short-term rentals by South Florida homeowners has left neighbors complaining and cities scrambling to regulate the practice.

Websites such as and have soared in popularity, offering travelers the opportunity to rent rooms or homes that are more quaint, spacious and cheaper than chain hotels.
HomeAway has about 1.2 million listings worldwide, the majority of which are second homes not occupied by the owners, spokesman Jordan Hoefar said.

Most of the guests are "families in groups looking for calm, peaceful getaways," he said. "It's a much more affordable way to travel than three hotel rooms for a weeklong stay."

Homeowners say that renting out a spare bedroom or an entire residence to vacationers is a great way to meet new people and earn extra cash. But municipalities, residents and homeowner groups see vacation rentals as nuisances and potential safety risks that should be banned or at least regulated.

Melinda Morgan, 49, of Fort Lauderdale said vacation renters in her neighborhood routinely blast loud music and party in the street. They also speed through the area, she said, prompting her to put up a sign to remind drivers that children are playing.

"These people are on vacation, so they have different hours and attitudes than the rest of us," Morgan said.

Bob Jasinski, who lives near a vacation rental in Fort Lauderdale's Riverside Park, says he has constant traffic on his dead-end street from renters, taxis and cleaning crews. He isn't opposed to the rentals but does want them regulated.

Susan Thomas, a resident of the Colee Hammock neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale, said she had to call police last year to deal with disorderly tenants occupying the vacation rental across the street.

That was before a Fort Lauderdale ordinance regulating the rentals went into effect. Since then, things have improved, she said, though she's still not a fan of vacation rentals because she said they change the face of the neighborhood.

Thomas recently noticed about a dozen young women at the house across the street carrying what appeared to be formal gowns. She suspects they're in town for a wedding, which isn't horrible, all things considered.

"I just hope it's not a bachelorette party because those are the worst," she said.

Despite the improved economy, some homeowners still are struggling financially and are turning entrepreneurial to find new sources of income, said Donna DiMaggio Berger, a South Florida real estate lawyer.

"They're looking to monetize things they own," Berger said. "They're using their cars for Uber and their homes for lodging."

Cindy Levine, a mortgage broker and real estate agent, said she placed an ad on Airbnb last year to rent out a room in her Coral Springs home. At the time, she said, she was unemployed and could not work.

Within two days of placing the ad, Levine said, she received an email from the city of Coral Springs telling her to stop the rental. As a result, she had to cancel five reservations.

Levine said she resents the restriction, saying homeowners should be able to rent rooms if they want.

"It was such a shock," Levine said of the email from the city. "I was really desperate for income. I was flat broke."

Under state law, cities can't ban vacation rentals, but some municipalities have adopted measures to regulate the practice.

Nick Noto, a municipal prosecutor in the Coral Springs city attorney's office, said he didn't have details on Levine's case. Coral Springs doesn't have ordinances addressing the issue, he said, but rooms rented beyond 30 days aren't considered vacation rentals and can be shut down, he said.

Other cities are grappling with the problem as well.

Fort Lauderdale last year approved an ordinance that requires people renting their properties to register with the city. Commissioners will be asked June 7 to amend the ordinance to improve compliance.

In a May 3 memo to commissioners, City Manager Lee Feldman wrote that Fort Lauderdale has received 126 applications for vacation rentals and more than $84,000 in revenue generated from registration and business tax fees.

The city's enforcement efforts led to five property owners ending the vacation rental and 23 properties submitting the required application, according to the memo.

"There are 80 properties with code enforcement action in progress and potentially several other properties that remain unidentified," Feldman wrote.

Matt Little, a Fort Lauderdale spokesman, said in an email that the city is pleased with the success of the program so far. Coordinated training with code enforcement officials, police officers and neighborhood volunteers will help in flagging unregistered properties, he said.

"If there is a property that is disrupting a neighborhood's quality of life, we want our neighbors to let us know so that we can thoroughly investigate," Little said.

In Delray Beach, owners who want to rent out their homes must get a landlord permit through the city. But owners can't rent more than three times in a year.

Michael Coleman, Delray's community improvement director, said the city does its best to keep tabs on violators, even monitoring vacation rental websites.

"But it's very labor-intensive," he said. "It's a full-time job because [the industry] has grown so much."

Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie said the city prohibits vacation rentals in single-family areas, a restriction that was on the books before the state said cities couldn't ban the properties.

Like Delray, Boca employees monitor rental websites, though some illegal operators avoid detection by omitting a photo of the front of the house, Haynie said.

"The neighbors are very upset," she said. "They expect quiet enjoyment and not a transient use next door."

Andrea O'Rourke, past chairwoman of the Federation of Boca Raton Homeowner Associations, said she hasn't been inundated with complaints in recent years. But she said some residents in single-family waterfront communities, where vacation rentals are big business, have expressed concerns about constant turnover among neighbors.

Unless city officials can find a website listing or other proof of short-term-rental occupancy, enforcement is difficult because owners and tenants simply can claim that friends or family members are visiting, O'Rourke said.

"It's like nailing Jell-O to the wall," she said.

State law doesn't prevent community and homeowner associations from banning the practice, and many boards include language in their governing documents that outlaws or severely restricts short-term rentals.

Community associations have found that vacation renters and full-time residents just don't mix, said Steven Weil, president of Royale Management Services, a company in Fort Lauderdale that oversees 28 condo associations in the tri-county region.

Neighbors have no way of knowing whether the vacationers are vandals or just there to have a good time, Weil said.

Hotels and motels are set up for the safety and comfort of visitors. An innkeepers' license allows for problem guests to be easily removed, but those staying in an owner's condo may have squatters' rights and could require evictions, Weil said.

What's more, vacation rentals could void condo insurance policies and result in zoning violations.

"It's kind of like finding a date on Craigslist," Weil said of allowing vacation renters. "It's probably not real smart."

Palm Aire Country Club Condo Association 4 in Pompano Beach requires guests to have parking permits as a way to keep track of illegal vacation renters. Still, even that isn't a fail-safe method because the complex includes 768 units in 14 buildings, said Darlene Smith, president of Palm Aire.

Officials recently discovered two legal renters trying to rent out rooms on Airbnb in violation of board rules.

"We just ran across them by accident," Smith said.

Hoefar, the spokesman for HomeAway, said the company supports regulations on vacation rentals. But ordinances often are written in legal language, making it difficult for people to understand, he said.

Hoefar added that the bans, however well-intended, effectively drive the practice underground and make the rentals less safe for everyone.

"People are just going to find sneakier ways to rent them out," he said.

Miami Rental Prices May Have Already Started to Drop

The world laughed when Jimmy McMillan ran for New York City mayor with the slogan, "The rent is too damn high!" Yet, how many of us now repeat that line verbatim whenever we cut our landlord a check or browse apartment listings in Miami? They are, indeed, categorically, undebatably too damn high

In fact, they might be too damn high for the market to sustain. New data suggests that Miami's average rental rates have already started to dip, and may experience even further drops.

The first bit comes from real estate website Abodo, which releases it monthly National Apartment Report. The latest report found that the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Miami fell 3 percent between April and May. It was the eighth largest dip of any market in the country.

Granted, that's just a month-to-month snapshot, but Abodo spokesman Sam Radbil says that the rent dip may be an indication of more adjustments to come.

"With construction at its highest level since the 1980s, we believe that a steady decline in rent prices in metro areas like Miami might be on the way. Developers delivered 250,000 new rentals in 2015, and the forecast is for 285,000 more units to be finished in 2016. As we've seen in the past, as the supply of rental units increases, prices should begin to decrease," says Radbil.

“Miami, specifically, is following a trend that analysts and industry experts have seen in many U.S. cities. Young adults either can’t afford to buy a home or they don’t want to be bothered with the hassle of owning one. This has led to more demand for rentals and an increase in rent price. But as more developments are completed in 2016, renters may get relief from extremely high prices because of the abundance rental options in large metro areas like Miami."

Miami's condo sales market is slowing down as demand lessens, and yet, developers are still pumping new units into the market at breakneck speed. Previous analysis already suggests that condo prices in Miami should start to fall by the end of the year.

That means that buyers who scooped up apartments for investment properties may have a hard time turning around to sell them for a profit, so they may put the units on the rental market instead.
"Rents will likely tumble as preconstruction buyers unwilling to take losses on their condos flood the rental market with new units," reads the report.

But those owners may have a hard time finding anyone to pay top-market rents for those units, meaning that some may, "chose to rent their units will have to rent for an operating loss …Resulting in negative carry / negative cash flow."

So, properties bought by foreigners as an investment or pied-à-terre may soon be put on the rental market at a bargain. Add to this the fact, as the Miami Herald reported earlier this week, that Miami developers are now turning away from the ultra-luxury market to rental properties, and the market will soon be flooded with reasonably priced rentals properties.

WATCH OUT: Key West cracking down on vacation rentals

City targeting repeat offenders

License required to rent for fewer than 30 days

This Key West luxury vacation rental won rave reviews on the travel website Airbnb, where tourists showered their host, Don Morris, with gratitude for his accommodations and charm.
"Don was a great host and the property is incredible," gushed Airbnb user Richard this past January.
But the place with the balconies, pool and private garden was an illegal rental inside the four-bedroom 916 James St., for which Morris lacks the required transient rental license.
Morris, a repeat offender who in May 2015 signed an agreement with the Key West Code
Compliance Department swearing not to rent the place again, now faces up to $8,000 in fines and fees.

Last year, the city fined Morris $5,000 for illegal rentals but suspended it as long as he ceased the practice.

In Key West, a license is required to rent short-term housing for fewer than 30 days.
Morris, 65, is due before Don Yates, the city's special magistrate governing code cases, for the 1:30 p.m. hearing May 25 at Old City Hall, 510 Greene St., to answer to three separate allegations he advertised and rented his home this year.

Searches of Airbnb, Homeaway and FlipKey turned up Morris' home going for rates ranging from $169 to $244 per night for up to two guests, according to paperwork filed by Code Officer Peg Corbett.

In March, undercover code officers rented the James Street room for two nights, paying $498 via Paypal, and they checked in April 8.

Three weeks ago, the city announced one code officer would be assigned to work only illegal housing rentals, citing a rise in illegal vacation rentals that "often disrupt residential neighborhoods," said spokeswoman Alyson Crean.

"The majority of people doing it, these are their second homes," said Jim Young, Key West's code compliance director. "It's depleting the housing that's available for people who live here and work here."

At recent code hearings this year, some illegal rental offenders have defended themselves by citing the high cost of living in Key West and the demand for rentals. One man said he was raising money for a college scholarship fund he had created.

City officials aren't sympathetic.

Young said he recently lost an employee who could no longer afford living in the Keys after losing a roommate. The city worker was living on Cudjoe Key and commuting to Key West.
Monroe County officials have also called for a concerted effort to go after illegal rentals for lost bed taxes.

Ten Key West cases, including the three starring Morris, are on the agenda for May 25, but he isn't the only alleged repeat offender.

Rebecca Peige is once again accused of agreeing to rent out 925 Seminary St., where she is a tenant not the owner, according to code officers.

Also, Charles Weitzel and Teresa Willis are back before code for allegedly advertising $175 nightly rentals at 323 Petronia St., the former Floyd's Barber Shop that now houses the Blue-Turtle Gallery where Willis sells her original paintings.

As condos sales slow, #Miami developers turn to rentals

More than 12,500 rental units are in currently in the pipeline

New apartments designed to satisfy long-standing demand in the urban core

Units labeled “attainable” by developers, but still pricey

As Miami’s condo market loses traction amid a softening world economy, developers are shifting gears.

Rental apartments are sprouting throughout Miami-Dade as focus turns from ultra-luxury condos to apartments geared toward young professionals seeking an urban lifestyle.

READ MORE: Brickell City Centre is city in a city

More than 12,500 new rental units are in the works, with almost 2,000 of those landing in 2016, according to the Miami Downtown Development Authority’s residential report for the first quarter of 2016, prepared by Integra Realty Resources.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen 2,000 rental units come online in downtown Miami. This is one of a kind,” said Anthony Graziano, Integra’s senior managing director.

Many of these new apartment buildings boast pools, gyms and other perks. Units range from 400-square-foot studios to 1,350-square-foot three-bedrooms.

Prices run an average of $1.80 to $2.70 per square foot, translating into $1,600 to $2,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.

“It’s [high quality] but it’s attainable,” said George Spillis, principal of Grass River Property, the developer behind Grove Station Tower, a 184-unit apartment building at the intersection of U.S. 1 and 27th Avenue that opened in January.

While those prices may be expensive for many in the millennial target market, the new buildings are filling up. When the Melo Group’s 497-unit Melody Tower next to the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center, 85 percent of the apartments were leased when the building opened to its first tenants this week. Grove Station, which opened in January, is more than 60 percent full.

By most accounts, Melo Group is the “poster child of multi-family developments.” Among the 14 residential developments in its portfolio, 11 are rentals. Of those, 10 have been completed with a total of 2,000-plus units across Edgewater, Brickell, Allapattah and the Arts & Entertainment District.
It isn’t just the father-son operation supplying the rental market.

At Miami Worldcenter at Northeast Second Avenue and Northeast 10th Street, developer ZOM is set to break ground on Luma, a 429-unit rental tower, later this year. In the same development, CIM Group and Falcone Group will partner to develop two rental towers, delivering a total of 863 apartments beginning in summer of 2018.

And the list goes on.

The wave of rental properties is designed to satisfy long-standing appetite for housing in the greater downtown area, where almost 150,000 people commute each day for work. Over the next five years, downtown Miami will see an increase to nearly 200,000 office jobs, according to the DDA.
Still, the sudden sprout of so many rental buildings may be more than the city can handle, at least for now, say experts.

Existing condos, many of which delivered between 2007 and 2010, previously satisfied demand. But as markets shift, Graziano said, condos may be re-purposed and rental tenants are pushed out, shrinking overall supply. The downtown Miami population also continues to increase. It was estimated by the DDA in 2014 that more than 80,000 people occupied the 3.8-square-mile area that begins in Midtown and extends to the tip of Brickell Key. That number is projected to grow 14 percent, to 92,519, in five years.

“The drivers behind the multifamily business are based on the local economics and job creation and movements of populations to the urban cores,” said Arnaud Karsenti, principal of 13th Floor Investments. “There’s definitely room to create a rental inventory.”

Ezra Katz, CEO of Aztec Group, a real estate investment firm, said there may not be enough demand in the short term to soak up new condos and rentals. (According to the DDA, a total of 22,154 residential units will be delivered during this real estate cycle.)

“Without trying to be a soothsayer — I’m using my 35 years of being in business — I predict that the impact will not be positive,” he said.

At least in the short run. “The long term effects,” he said, “depend on how many people will live in condos they purchased and how many will change their mind and put them back on the market.”
Still, one key part of downtown’s residential appeal — avoiding commuter traffic — isn’t like to diminish any time soon.

“The commute times to go from south to north or west to east are ridiculous ... [It’s] unbearable to sit in your car all day,” Karsenti said.

Karsenti’s 13th Floor is partnering with Adler Group on Motion, a 294-unit apartment building in Kendall being marketed as “transit-oriented” due to its proximity to the Metrorail, which connects riders to downtown Miami and Brickell.

More than 80 percent of new developments are borrowing from the same playbook, according to the DDA, situating themselves within one mile of mass transit, such as the Metrorail or Metromover.
“Younger employees, which are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. workforce, prefer urban neighborhoods and easy access to alternate transportation. We’re seeing this impact the Miami market as developers build transit-oriented developments and companies prioritize office locations in areas that are walkable and well-connected,” said Steven Hurwitz, principal with commercial real estate firm CREC and a member of the Urban Land Institute’s district council.

Grove Station, for instance, sits across the street from the Coconut Grove Metrorail station. Directly across the road from Brickell City Centre on SW Eighth Street is Solitair Brickell, a 391-unit rental development with access to Metromover. And the two rental towers of MiamiCentral will sit literally above the tracks of the Miami-to-Orlando Brightline express rail and adjacent to Government Station, accessible to both Metrorail and Metromover.

Another plus for the rental market: The millennial preference for moving around. An April 2016 study by Fidelity Investments found that about half of millennials plan to change jobs within the next two years, requiring a move to a different neighborhood or even a different state.

Case in point: When 25-year-old Bruno Lupo began searching for a Miami apartment, his No. 1 priority was finding a short-term lease. Lupo, who moved to Miami from Dublin, Ireland, in January with his girlfriend, wanted flexibility in case he was dissatisfied with his new apartment, new job or new city.

“We wanted to keep our options open,” he said.

Today, Lupo and his girlfriend, Christine, share a fully furnished studio in the Opera Tower north of the Venetian Causeway for $2,000 a month. They would pay less on a one-year contract, said Lupo, an operations manager of Trump National Doral resort’s golf course. To offset costs, he takes Uber to work and uses public transportation in downtown.

“I feel like Miami gets a really bad reputation for public transportation. But I have the Metromover and the trolley, which is free, and it’s actually been quite easy to get around,” Lupo said.
Spillis said Grove Station Tower’s proximity to mass transit has been a big draw, and it has gotten “a great response” from millennials, defined as being born between 1981 and 1997.

“We’re giving pricing options that they need that they can’t get in the market,” he said.
But even these rates are beyond the budget of many millennials, especially those living solo or in their early earning years.

“The typical salary of recent grads, you’re talking about the low [end of the $30,000 to $40,000 range]. And $25,000 a year for rent, you’re talking about a huge chunk of their gross income,” said Ali Bustamante, economics professor with Florida International University’s Center for Labor Research Studies.

According to a 2014 report by the Miami Downtown Development Authority, the average per-capita income of the greater downtown Miami area is $49,802. About 44 percent of those residents are between 25 and 44 years old.

By traditional standards, consumers are advised to spend a maximum of 30 percent on housing. For a two-income downtown household, that would mean a maximum of about $2,700 per month. For singles, that may mean finding a roommate, much as they might in New York or Los Angeles.
In those cities, rents are even higher. But so are wages.

“When you think of your LAs, New Yorks, San Franciscos, they have so many tech jobs. So many jobs in finance,” Bustamante said. “Miami is just on the cusp of developing these industries.”

Becker & Poliakoff Faces Malpractice Suit Over Bankrupt Mall

, Daily Business Review

Friday the 13th brought bad news for Becker & Poliakoff, which was named in a multimillion-dollar malpractice suit by a powerful Chinese conglomerate.

The firm and attorney Pamela Anselmo, who left the law firm in 2014, are being sued by Tangshan Ganglu Iron & Steel Co. Ltd., which claims sloppy legal work by Becker & Poliakoff helped cost it at least $140 million on its failed redevelopment of Plantation's shuttered Fashion Mall property.

Becker & Poliakoff "flatly denies it ever represented Tangshan Ganglu" and claimed it met with the company's chief executive "on at most a handful of occasions." The firm claims the lawsuit assigned to U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas is a baseless attempt to recover millions after Tangshan Ganglu emerged on the losing side of a bankruptcy battle.

The complaint contends the firm represented the Chinese investor as well as an accused swindler who, instead of guiding its U.S. investments, diverted millions from the project.

The plaintiff is one of China's largest companies — a conglomerate with more than 10,000 employees engaged in mining, steelmaking and related businesses. Founder Zhen Zeng Du alleges Becker & Poliakoff had conflicting interests when it represented him, his company and several others created by minority partner Wei Chen.

Chen formed and managed three companies, Mapuche LLC, U.S. Capital Holdings LLC and U.S. Capital/Fashion Mall LLC, which were supposed to transform the mall into 321 North, a sprawling mixed-used development with retail, housing, dining and entertainment.

The project failed after hurricane damage, foreclosure and a fight between Du and Chen for control of the three development companies. That dispute ended when Chen put all three companies into Chapter 7 bankruptcy over Du's objections. Du argued he invested more than $100 million in the project, and the move would cost him millions.

The property sold for $38 million to Encore Housing Opportunity Fund at a bankruptcy auction in March 2015, but news later emerged that Chen appeared on a Chinese government list of alleged economic fugitives for reportedly embezzling $120,000 from a former employer before moving to the U.S.

Du claimed he started investing in the beleaguered Broward County project in 2004 as part of an entry strategy into U.S. and Latin American markets. His suit alleges Becker & Poliakoff represented Chen and the three companies starting in 2005 as well as Du. In 2005, for instance, the firm represented Du and all other parties when it drafted an operating agreement that laid out the ownership structure for 321 North, the suit claims.

For years, corporate documents described Du's company as the majority shareholder with a 99 percent stake until the law firm reportedly filed a "secret third amended" document with a forged signature giving Chen control of the project. After a nasty legal battle, Broward Circuit Judge Jack Tuter ruled Du's signature had been forged on a corporate document giving Chen control of the project.

No Representation

"Inexplicably ... in or around April of 2010 B&P and Anselmo drafted corporate documents which completely destroyed plaintiff's control over the 321 North Project. In particular, B&P and Anselmo created a new operating agreement for Mapuche, which removed essentially all the protections and control over management of the project provided for in the second operating agreement," according to the suit filed by Lawrence Kellogg of Levine Kellogg Lehman Schneider + Grossman in Miami. "They did so without discussing the change with Mr. Du or Tangshan Ganglu, without showing the proposed amended operating agreement to them and without even providing a signature line for Tangshan Ganglu, the 99 percent member, or Mr. Du, the co-manager."

Kellogg declined comment.

Anselmo, who is no longer with Becker & Poliakoff, did not respond to a request for comment by deadline. She left the firm in 2014 to join Hinshaw & Culbertson in Fort Lauderdale.
Becker & Poliakoff, meanwhile retained Bob Critton of Critton Luttier Coleman in West Palm Beach to handle the litigation.

"Ganglu never requested that Becker & Poliakoff represent it," Critton said in a statement.
He said Tangshan Ganglu never signed a representation agreement with Becker & Poliakoff, never received any legal bills or invoices from the firm and didn't pay for any services. Instead, he said the firm worked with in-house counsel to represent the three related companies managed by Chen.
"In-house counsel not only provided the assignments but reviewed the work, which was requested," Critton said. "The meritless lawsuit against Becker & Poliakoff seeks the very same damages that Ganglu claims as a creditor in the consolidated Chapter 7 bankruptcies. The Fashion Mall redevelopment project was an ongoing disaster from almost the beginning of the mid-2000s. It suffered through mismanagement, foreclosures, hurricanes, lawsuits and judgments. Ganglu is looking for a deep pocket to blame, rather than itself, for its claimed losses."

Boca Raton-based Encore Housing is mulling a high-end, mixed-use project with luxury housing, retail, restaurants and offices on the 33-acre property northwest of University Drive and Broward Boulevard.


By Eric Glazer, Esq.

Despite the fact that legislative progress has been made in getting owners access to association records, there is still confusion as to whether or not associations and/or management companies can charge an owner for such access and for photocopies of the records. Let’s address the law for both condominiums and HOAs.

For condominiums: One way of potentially making it easier on the association and the owners to provide and obtain access to records is to post them on a secure website that only owners have access to. In fact, Florida Statute 718.111(12) states that the association may offer the option of making the records available to a unit owner electronically via the Internet or by allowing the records to be viewed in electronic format on a computer screen and printed upon request. Please note however that the unit owner has the option to receive the records in this fashion, if the association offers it. If the unit owner wants to inspect the physical records, they can still do so and reject the association’s offer to provide the records electronically.

The right to inspect the records includes the right to make or obtain copies, at the reasonable expense, if any, of the member. In other words, the unit owner has to pay for the copies if they ask the association to actually make copies.

However, who needs the association to make copies? The law provides that an association shall allow a member or his or her authorized representative to use a portable device, including a smartphone, tablet, portable scanner, or any other technology capable of scanning or taking photographs, to make an electronic copy of the official records in lieu of the association’s providing the member or his or her authorized representative with a copy of such records. The association may not charge a member or his or her authorized representative for the use of a portable device.

So, the condo statute is clear. The association can’t charge anything for access to records if the owner will be making their own copies. It’s cut and dry.

So, by way of example, let’s say that a unit owner wants copies of the association’s bank statements from 2013. The management company tells you that the records are stored in a warehouse and they need to send personnel to the warehouse to find them and retrieve them and that it will take four hours to do all this. If all of the banking records exceed 25 pages, the first half hour of the manager’s time is on the house. However, the other three and a half hours can be charged at $20.00 per hour. Someone explain to me why the law should allow condo owners to get this for free, but require an owner in an HOA to spend $70.00.
In any event, these are the rules and most importantly, failure to provide timely access within ten days subjects the association to a penalty not to exceed $500.00 and payment of the owner’s attorney’s fees and costs. A condo owner denied access to the official records has the right to immediately file for arbitration but an HOA owner has to go to pre-suit mediation first and if mediation fails, must go through the expense of filing a lawsuit against the association.

#Miami Suddenly Has a Glut of Plush Hotel Suites

  • Rates decline during what is typically busiest season
  • Mild U.S. winter also limits demand from the Northeast
Hotels in sun-drenched Miami are getting burned by a pullback in Brazilian travel and a building boom that has added thousands of rooms to the market.

Nightly room costs are dropping. Greater Miami’s revenue per available room -- a key measure of rates and occupancies known as revpar -- has fallen each month this year, and in April was the worst of the top 25 U.S. markets, according to STR, a data provider for the lodging industry. Marriott International Inc., set to become the world’s largest hotel operator, said on its first-quarter earnings call that Miami is among its weakest U.S. areas.

The city, known for its Latin American influences and trendy South Beach party scene, is being hit by too much hotel supply and not enough demand. An unusually mild winter in North America has curbed visits, while Brazilians, a major source of tourism, are pulling back as the country’s currency slumps and its economy is mired in recession. Developers who rushed to take advantage of soaring interest by wealthy tourists are now facing the prospect of a glut of rooms, particularly at the high end.

“Miami has been this go-go-go market and now we’ve got to take a breath,” said Gregory Rumpel, a Miami-based managing director for commercial-property broker Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.
Hotel revpar in the Miami-Hialeah market fell 3.6 percent from a year earlier in the first three months of 2016, compared with a 2.7 percent increase nationally, according to STR. Occupancies slid 1.9 percent, while rates dropped 1.7 percent.

In March, the average nightly room rate was $250.93, also down 1.7 percent from the prior year. It was still the costliest in the U.S., since the month is typically part of the city’s high season as travelers from New York and other northern areas flee the tail end of winter.

The cooling continued last month, with greater Miami revpar down an average 6.5 percent for the four weeks ended April 30, according to STR. The average room rate fell to $201.60. A drop in revpar for the full year would mark the first annual decline since 2009.

Northeast, Brazil

New York was the biggest source of visitors to the city last year, at a record 2.1 million people, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. Brazil was second, with more than 747,000 visitors, followed by Canada, Colombia and then Chicago.

“The mild winter in the Northeast killed us,” said Robert Finvarb, principal of a Miami-based family company that develops real estate.

Brazilian travelers have also pulled back, said Steven Marin, vice president of Travelers Hotel Group LLC, which buys, develops and manages lodging properties in South Florida, typically near airports. Tourists from Brazil, and to a lesser extent Venezuela, used to order goods from Amazon to arrive at their hotels before landing, sometimes 15 to 20 packages per guest, he said.

“When it started to get out of control, we said there’s a five-package limit,” he said. “That has slowed down a lot.”

Brazil Weakness

Marriott also indicated that Brazilian visits to the market are slowing.

“Miami is weak, probably mostly because of the weakness in Brazil, one of the great source markets for Miami, and to some extent maybe growth in luxury supply,’’ Chief Executive Officer Arne Sorenson said on Marriott’s earnings call on April 28. The company declined to comment further.
Marriott’s properties in the area include the Miami Beach Edition, a tower designed by famed hotelier Ian Schrager that opened in December 2014 as part of a building boom in the city.

Miami trails only New York for U.S. hotel construction, as measured by the number of rooms in the pipeline relative to existing supply, according to research firm Lodging Econometrics. Hotels either being built, scheduled to start construction in the next 12 months or in the early planning stage account for 29.3 percent of the existing market in Miami. In the top 25 U.S. markets, the pipeline represents just 14.6 percent.

Miami Beach

A total of 2,866 hotel rooms opened in the Miami area in 2015, with 62 percent of those in Miami Beach, according to Greater Miami & the Beaches Association. An additional 2,128 rooms are slated to open this year, with only 186 of those in Miami Beach.

Collins Avenue, the north-south spine of Miami Beach on the Atlantic Ocean side, is lined with hotels that run the gamut from the decades-old Fontainebleau to newer luxury boutiques to a Holiday Inn. Miami Beach openings last year included the 388-room Roosevelt Hotel, the 169-room Faena, the 426-room 1 Hotel & Residences and 105-room Hyatt Centric South Beach.

The temporary partial closure and renovation of the Miami Beach Convention Center, home of the Art Basel festival each December, likely is contributing to softness in hotel performance, said JLL’s Rumpel.

Any slowdown in Miami hotel performance is a “blip,’’ said Marc Shuster, a lawyer at Berger Singerman LLP whose work includes advising about 140 family offices, many of which are interested in hotel investments in Miami-Dade County. He said he has several clients who already own hotels in Miami that are running at or near full occupancy and are looking to invest in new developments.

“Clients are knocking down my door to put their money in those projects,’’ Shuster said.

Developer Appeal

International upheaval enhances the perceived safety of U.S. markets, and South Beach has trophy appeal for hoteliers the way Beverly Hills, California, has for retailers, Shuster said. A slowdown in Miami’s luxury-condominium sales could end up helping hotel developers, who often lose out to residential developers in bidding for land, he said.

Hyatt Hotels Corp. in April purchased Thomson Miami Beach for $238 million and renamed it The Confidante. CEO Mark Hoplamazian called Miami a “key expansion market” on the company’s May 3 earnings call. He didn’t mention a slowdown in the city, though said properties in Rio de Janeiro are being hurt by weaker demand.

May is looking like a stronger month for Miami visitors, said Peggy Benua, manager of the Dream South Beach hotel, known for its rooftop pool and Naked Taco restaurant. She said it may take two or three years for demand to catch up to the new supply.

“Miami continues to grow as a destination,” Benua said. “Right now, there’s some readjustment.”