Le Figaro Economie - Posted December 27th, 2013
(French Economic Newspaper)

Miami boosted by a building frenzy

Asian and South American capital wealthy clients jostle in the ambitious metropolis of Florida.

This is still a futuristic sketch, an artist's impression: a skyline worthy of New York or Shanghai , a forest of glittering skyscrapers, yet dashed . This project which everyone speaks in Florida called " Miami 2020". It concentrates more than 10 billion dollars of investment , 171 major projects , buildings of glass and steel with fine lines. It should transform the waterfront Miami hitherto known for its dolce vita under the palm trees and nightlife , to make one of the most modern and most attractive cities on the planet.

This boom is driven by foreign investment, mainly from Asia. The dizzying inflows considerably reassured developers, much less dependent in return for massive loans , as is the involvement of the most famous architects in the world , such as Zaha Hadid , Rem Koolhaas , Herzog and de Meuron or Bjarke Ingels , anxious to make their mark in this new Mecca of innovation , called " city of the future " in 2011 by the FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) magazine.

Foreign investors involved in 75% of the largest sites, no longer content to cash dividends , as was previously the case. Attracted by the prospects of the property market , Chinese, Malays , Indians seem here to stay and now quite willing to spend fortunes to erect towers combining luxury condos , offices, hotels and shops. Like the Brickell City Center, built by Bouygues on behalf of Swire Properties ( Hong Kong) and estimated at $ 1.05 billion .

Buyers , too, have completed their moult : Miami , where the crisis "subprime" occurred in 2007 and bankruptcies led to the drying up of bank loans, you pay "cash" installments of 50% , even 60 %. Which hardly pose problems for clients, including 90% of South Americans, Venezuelans , Brazilians, Argentinians and Mexicans wealthy, attracted also by a less volatile than Caracas or Buenos Aires environment.

The abundance of supply, also because of the hectic Miami a city still surprisingly affordable, but perhaps not for much longer .
"The price per square meter remains cheaper than Sao Paulo, Mexico City , Rio or Bogota, and much lower than in New York or Los Angeles , says Alexis Boudrand , the group Jones Lang LaSalle ( JLL ) . And Europeans , the exchange rate of the dollar makes the offer always interesting . "

Most of these " immigrant investors " are Chinese

Luxury apartments in the skyscrapers under construction or in preconstruction sell like hotcakes. Residential towers of 118 starts , 41 to downtown ( city center ), only 35 are already out of the ground , according to the firm Condo Vultures LLC. In the flamboyant Porsche Design Tower , available in 2015 , 90% of 132 lots would be already gone , gone between 4 and 50 million. The Crimson Tower, waterfront in Edgewater , primarily targets holders EB5 visa clients, which allows the issuance of a green card ( permanent residence) in exchange for a minimum investment of $ 550,000 . Apart from a few French , most of these " immigrant investors " are Chinese , says the promoter Fernando Levy Hara, the firm McKafka .

"The real estate boom is the secret to the success of Miami," whose relative "lack of visibility" should not last long predicted , Séverine Gianèse Pittman, a corporate lawyer . Thanks to a very favorable fiscal entrepreneurs , an ideal strategic position between North and South America , and a remarkable cultural offerings , including the highly anticipated Perez Art Museum, which opened its doors on December 4 . Culture is an economic sector weight in Miami, which generates $ 1 billion in sales per year.

Luxury but also aeronautics thrive

The range of possibilities for these enthusiastic migrants opens beyond tourism. Its corollary, the luxury sector , will soon have its exclusive neighborhood, Design District, where LVMH figure locomotive and drains the other big names so far established in Bal Harbour.

Less known , aviation generates Florida 1.2 billion annual turnover , thanks to the presence of Boeing , Airbus, Latécoère , Lockheed Martin and SMEs specializing in UAVs. Finance, biomedical, start-ups and port activities also thrive .

The only risk in the current environment , key to a possible slowdown in demand , which could stop the frenzy of construction. "Nothing suggests such a scenario in the near future , corrects Alexis Boudrand , JLL . The craze for Miami, seen as a first class city , continues to grow. "

Terminal Cruise turns into Commercial Port

The feat is huge , and it's French . May 2014 will be inaugurated the Port of Miami tunnel which will eventually unloading of goods from offshore freighters and bypass downtown Miami, stifled by increasing traffic.
Originally this technique performance , Bouygues, with a contract of $ 663 million ( 480,000 million ) , drilled 1.1 km on a complicated field that required the injection mortar to stabilize a porous and unstable coral layer. The feat says a French maker " should position Bouygues favorably " on the site of Miami, where opportunities are increasing with the influx of foreign capital (see above) .

Miami has no choice. Already stormed by cruise ships , whose passengers have made it a favorite tourist stop , the city knows that even very modest size of its port facilities , yet conveniently located in deep water, will soon have to follow the frenetic pace of urban and commercial development. Two billion dollars already spent on upgrades between acquisition of giant cranes from China and deepening the access channel.

The issue of Panama

In addition , Miami anticipates the expansion of the Panama Canal , dated and undersized, which should throw herself into his arms super container from China, in 2015 . China imported five containers entering the United States by the East Coast , so via the Panama Canal . Sensing an opportunity to establish itself as the gateway to Latin America and the east coast door, Miami is in the running to win as THE port of unloading goods from Asia on the same coast.

But the competition looks formidable : Charleston (South Carolina ) , Savannah ( Georgia) , and New Jersey have made massive investments to win the bet. The West Coast, either, with San Francisco and Long Beach ( South Los Angeles ) , do not easily let go of its geographical advantage , on the Pacific coast . With its ideal strategic position and its current vitality , however Miami has great assets to dream a real future port .

A Silicon Valley hatches under the palm trees of Florida

It is not yet San Francisco , New York or even , or Boston Austin . But the " tech" Miami scene timidly advanced the tip of his nose , driven by young creative and inspired by the surrounding contagious energy entrepreneurs. In the " arty " Wynwood neighborhood , covered with ephemera and colorful walls, a draft Silicon Valley emerges from artists' studios outdoors. "It is time to realize that Miami are not as hotels or palm , smiled Michael McChord , the National Learner start-up , there is a real business community here , working hard."

So far , Miami left spinning talents recruited in Silicon Valley on the West Coast, or the Flatiron District in Manhattan. "They have to stay here and find the same access to the same kind of community as San Francisco or New York ," said Daniel Lafuente, a founder of the Lab, " a coworking space" , a shared workspace in expanding. Nearly 1,000 square meters, this nursery located on the street 26ie hosts 54 startups. It is the first of its kind in Miami and inspired by General Assembly in the Flatiron District in New York.

For Lafuente, " missing here an entrepreneurial ecosystem that enables people to interact ", " techies " (engineers, programmers) , designers and academics. Lab , founded in 2011, grouped as "virtual campus " young inventors , business angels and "VC" (pronounced vici for venture capitalists ), these investors patrons solid kidneys. Starting with the Knight Foundation, named after the founders of the media empire whose flagship is the Miami Herald, which has 650,000 dollars on the table at the beginning of Lab brothers. This year, the Foundation invested $ 4 million in total across the city, whether to promote a mobile application to connect farmers South American banking or program transcript of video in written document.

Meanwhile Google

To prevent the escape of his young brains, the city of Miami and Dade County announced in 2012, $ 1.5 million grant for new entrepreneurs through training implemented by the local university. A " tech" major conference , scheduled for May 2014 , is expected to draw attention to the Silicon Valley of Florida. "We are just at the point where the ecosystem is about to take off, ensures Brian Breslin, who organizes meetings since 2006 tech " Refrech Miami . "


Just missing the Florida scene a success story on the scale of Google for San Francisco or New York for Tumblr . " We have a concentration of inspired investors , why not South Americans ," who put enough money on the table to reach a critical mass, ensures Matt Haggman, Knight . "And then you'll see what our start-up are capable of."

Le Figaro Economie - Posted December 27th, 2013 (French Economic Newspaper)




Miami Herald News - Posted on Sunday May 12th, 2013 | By Martha Brannigan

A real Estate Explosion in Edgewater, Miami's next trendy district.

Driving the streets of Edgewater recently, Martin Melo eased the accelerator of his Porsche Panamera to point out large swaths of land his family-run firm has cobbled together for high-rise development in one of Miami’s most rapidly emerging neighborhoods.

“This four-block area is ours,” said his brother Carlos, whose Melo Group has seven condominium and apartment projects lined up in the area. “We bought [the lots] one by one. It’s hard work.”

The buzz of activity at Melo Group — headed by their father Jose Luis Melo, who moved from Buenos Aires in 2001 — comes as the transformation of Miami’s funky Edgewater district has shifted into high gear.

Developers have been snapping up parcels and keying up high-rise projects in the bayfront neighborhood. Land prices are soaring.

The revival of construction — which sputtered during the real-estate crash — is poised finally to remake the character of the once-blighted city neighborhood, which unofficially stretches from Northeast 17th Street north to the Julia Tuttle Causeway at 36th Street and from Biscayne Bay west to the railroad tracks. (Some draw the western line at Biscayne Boulevard.)

“Edgewater has become one of the hippest, most chic places to live, driven by its proximity to the Design District and Midtown. It’s a place people want to be,” said Jaret Turkell, a director with HFF, which recently brokered the sale of 4.5 acres of bayfront property to Jorge Pérez’s Related Group and a partner.

Miami-based Related paid $29 million for the prime site at Northeast 31st Street, land that sold in 2012 for $11.5 million. Related plans to erect a high-rise condominium on the spot, where plans to build in the last boom were scuttled.

Separately, Related broke ground a few weeks ago on Icon Bay, a luxury condominium at 428 NE 28th St. Related launched pre-sales of units last September and “is basically sold out,” said Carlos Rosso, president of condo development for Related.

Edgewater’s big draw, of course, is the bayfront.

Developers continue to bask in robust demand from foreigners willing to pony up 50 percent or more of the price for a pre-construction condominium near the water in South Florida.

Brickell and downtown, where the resurgence of condo construction began after the crash, are nearly built out. But Edgewater has land for projects that can provide spectacular views of Biscayne Bay at a lower price.

“We’re looking at a couple more deals in the area. We have sites under contract. The views of the water are something in really high demand. It’s something everyone wants and expects in Miami,” Rosso said.

Edgewater’s layout works well for high-rise condos, Rosso said. Running parallel to the bay is the major thoroughfare of Biscayne Boulevard with shops and restaurants. “It’s an attractive area,” he said. “It’s got good bones.”

Other developers have noticed. “There are probably a dozen groups that have multiple parcels they’ve assembled and a lot of single owners,” said Ryan Shaw, a senior associate with Marcus & Millichap, which has a listing at 28th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. “It’s starting to really heat up.’’

A key lure for developers: permissive zoning allows for high-rise buildings. And the area borders trendy Wynwood and the Design District, which is on the rise thanks in part to DACRA’s venture to bring in luxury retail icons like Louis Vuitton and Hermes.

In March, GTIS Partners, a New York-based real-estate private-equity firm, and Eastview Development of West Palm Beach acquired a 2.65-acre bayfront site between 29th and 30th streets with plans for a 42-story condominium with 394 units.

“We like special sites — not ‘shoulder-shruggers,’ ” said Rob Vahradian, senior managing director of GTIS, touting the “fantastic views” along the 335 feet of bayfront.

Vahradian sees Edgewater as “a transforming market, but not a pioneering one.” He points to the strong prices for the already-built Paramount Bay tower and for pre-sales of Related’s Icon Bay project.

Along the bay, Margaret Pace Park, once a hangout for drug users and the homeless, is abuzz with mostly young residents, walking dogs, riding bikes, and playing volleyball. A new Publix supermarket with a second-floor parking garage opened at 1776 Biscayne Blvd. last year, and restaurants and shops have been moving in nearby. A trolley runs through the area.

“It’s definitely gentrified. There is less crime, fewer homeless. There are more amenities,” said Richard Strell, who has lived in Edgewater for 12 years. Still, Strell, like some other locals, is frustrated that one major amenity envisioned for the area — a baywalk along Biscayne Bay — appears to remain an elusive dream.

“It went from a place you would not want to go walking at night to something fairly safe,” said Norman Wartman, president of the condo association at Onyx on the Bay. “And it’s getting better.”

Last fall, the National YoungArts Foundation acquired the Bacardi Tower at 2100 Biscayne Blvd. as its new home for fostering young artists, adding to the neighborhood’s cachet.

More condominium owners are living in their units instead of renting them, according to Craig A. Werley, president of Coral Gables-based Focus Real Estate Advisors. “Two particularly notable trends during the last 12 months are the percentage of renter-occupants declined from over 60 percent to 50 percent of area residents [and] owner-occupants/full-time residents increased from 24 percent to over 40 percent of area residents,” Werley said.

In the “Edgewater East” area, east of Biscayne Boulevard, the average sales price of condos built since 2003 soared to $454,317 in the first quarter of 2013 from $236,649 in 2009, at the depths of the downturn, according to Focus Real Estate Advisors.

Developer Carlos Melo said Edgewater, where Melo Group has its offices, was blighted when his father began pioneering new development there in 2001. “This area was a disaster. People were sleeping in the streets. There was prostitution and drug dealing.”

Melo said the family business, which also acts as general contractor on its projects, has sufficient land for 2,800 residential units in the area.

Within a few weeks, Melo expects to top off Skyview, a 32-story, 258-unit rental apartment at 425 NE 22nd St. The new apartment tower dwarfs an old two-story apartment complex next door, underscoring the transitional feel of the neighborhood.

In September, Melo plans to break ground on BayHouse, a 36-story condominium with 164 units at 600 NE 27th St., a one-acre site purchased last year for $5.5 million — far above some earlier deals. Units will range from about $500,000 to about $1.5 million.

For many of the parcels, the current flurry of development in Edgewater marks a new lease on life.

AXA Developers and Strategic Properties Group recently paid about $20 million for a two-acre site at 545 NE 32nd St., once intended for a project called ICE, with plans to build a condominium.

Aventura-based mckafka Development Group, founded by principals Stephan Gietl and Fernando Levy Hara, bought a note from a bank two years ago for about $2.1 million and foreclosed on a site at 623 NE 27th St.

“At that moment, things didn’t look so optimistic,” said Levy Hara, who has previously developed real estate in Buenos Aires and Miami. Levy Hara and Gietl, an Austrian, are preparing to file condominium documents with state regulators soon and are working on construction drawings for a 90-unit building called The Crimson, near Icon Bay. Prices are expected to average about $435 a square foot, putting units in the range of $330,000 to $1 million.

“We were taking some risk buying this land,” Levy Hara said. “But waterfront land in Miami is becoming very scarce. So we knew at some point this would be very valuable.”



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