Is Miami Asia’s new investment target?

Is Miami Asia’s new investment target?

October 11, 2011 06:15PM
By Alexander Britell


A rendering of Genting’s Resorts World Miami 

Malaysian firm Genting’s purchase of the Miami Herald headquarters this year and large-scale plans for a casino resort could be the first of a wave of Asian investment in Miami, brokers and analysts say — both in the commercial and residential sectors.

While Latin AmericanCanadian and European buyers have spearheaded a sales surge in Miami, particularly on the residential side, Asian investment could be on the way.

And in fact, Genting is not alone.

Fellow developer Swire Properties, which is working on the mixed-use Brickell CitiCentre project downtown, has significant Hong Kong ties.

One of the notable guests at the official opening of developer Wexford’s University of Miami Life Science and Technology Park last month was a delegation from Taiwan.

“It’s my belief that we’re going to see a lot more Asian investment in South Florida in the future,” said Miami real estate analyst Jack McCabe. “They’ll add to the pot of buyers, which bodes well for sellers in the future. But I think there’s more and more [Asian] interest in South Florida.”

Investment from the far eastern part of the world could follow similar paths to those first treaded by Latin Americans, according to Peter Zalewski, founder of brokerage and consultancy Condo Vultures.

“I would anticipate that it will play out like with other countries,” Zalewski said. “Argentina comes here and builds and sells to Argentines. Brazil comes here and sells to Brazilians. I could see the same thing type of scenario playing out for the Asian buyer, especially for the Chinese.”

Accordingly, residential is likely to follow — and Miami is beginning to see moves by Asian homebuyers, particularly from China — although nothing like the wave of Brazilian and Canadian buyers seen so far.

“I think a lot of people think that’s going to happen, but it hasn’t happened right now, where there are droves of people from China,” said Jill Hertzberg, a sales associate Coldwell Banker. “But we’re ready.”

Asian buyers actually represent about 26 percent of the foreign homebuying market in the United States, according to data from the National Association of Realtors, and there have been more home sales to Chinese buyers than to any country but Canada this year, or about 9 percent of the international market.

Douglas Elliman Florida broker associate Madeleine Romanello said she had been seeing an uptick in interested Chinese clients in the market she largely covers — Miami Beach.

“In general as a city, we’re becoming more global, rather than just South and Central American-style cosmopolitan,” she said.

Hertzberg’s fellow sales associate Jill Eber said one Chinese buyer in Miami Beach with whom she had dealt had chosen not to buy, and instead rented a property for more than $100,000 per month, and another Chinese buyer in Miami Beach paid about $5 million for a property on the island.

“There are definitely Chinese people coming here, and the prediction is that as development gets its footing, it will attract more people from the country, and they will come here,” she said.

But while the Asian entry to the market may be relatively inchoate, it’s likely that Miami has been under consideration for investment for a great deal more time, McCabe the analyst said.

“Asian investors are not ones to make one due diligence trip and decide to invest millions,” he said. “They take their time, and really research and look for certain guidelines and goals.”

Miami chamber votes to support expanded gambling, with caveats

South Florida Business Journal by Oscar Pedro Musibay, Reporter

Date: Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 2:55pm EST – Last Modified: Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 4:10pm EST

The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, as part of its legislative agenda for the state of Florida in 2012, has tentatively supported the establishment of destination resorts, as long as 75 percent of the workforce is local and the impacted community supports expanding gambling through referendum.

The chamber’s board of directors voted on the issue during a closed-door meeting Wednesday to discuss both its federal and state legislative platforms. The meeting lasted an hour, with the gambling discussion lasting about 20 minutes, prior to the vote, chamber President and CEO Barry E. Johnson said.

He said the approved platform also required parity between destination resorts and the pari-mutuel industry; however, the tax rate and games available to each would not necessarily have to mirror each other. Additionally, local government would have to receive some of the gambling proceeds to “mitigate for any impacts to the surrounding communities and to provide for improvements to public infrastructure” like transportation, according to a copy of the approved language. The current legislation sends all of the new revenue to the state, Johnson said.

The chamber also wants license holders to enter into a “public-private partnership that contributes to the mitigation of the added social and infrastructure impact on the community,” according to the approved language.

He said the exact number of votes tallied was not immediately available, but the ratio was about 3 to 1 in favor.

On Tuesday, Jobs 4 Florida voiced its support for the pending destination resort legislation by letter. Jobs 4 Florida said it represents about 300,000 people through a coalition that includes Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida, the Gold Coast Builders AssociationLatin Builders Association and Engineering Contractors of South Florida.

“The construction industry in Florida has been devastated during this prolonged economic recession,” the group stated in the letter. “Next to tourism and hospitality, construction is one of the biggest economic drivers for Florida’s economy. We cannot continue to ignore the fact that this legislation would allow for people to come off the unemployment line and get back to work.”

The Genting Group, which is seeking a license for a destination resort for its holdings in downtown Miami, embraced the result of the vote.

“Today’s Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce decision to support regulated destination resorts demonstrates the strong consensus that exists among business and civic leaders who recognize the benefits these projects will bring to our community,” said Christian Goode, president of Resorts World Miami, in a statement. “Local residents and small businesses understand that destination resorts will result in billions of dollars in new investment, millions of new tourists annually, tens of thousands of new jobs, and much-needed relief for businesses in Miami and across the state. We look forward to collaborating with the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders, residents and businesses as Resorts World Miami takes shape.”

Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, co-sponsor of a bill designed to attract large, Las Vegas-style resorts to Florida, is also attempting to address some of the same issues the chamber raised. She is working on a “strike-all amendment” that would replace her original legislation with new language. Some possible features of the new bill include allowing pari-mutuels that invest $100 million to add more games, lowering the slot machine tax and requiring a local referendum on expanded gambling.

The original gambling bill required destination resorts to have at least $2 billion in investment, plus pay a 10 percent tax on revenue from slot machines, a far cry from the 35 percent tax pari-mutuels currently pay.

The suggested revisions Bogdanoff sent to some legislators include a flat rate of 18 percent on all slots.

The Senate Committee on Regulated Industries meets Jan. 9. A bill that is detrimental to pari-mutuels’ competitiveness in comparison to destination resorts is a “non-starter,” Democrats have said.

Nick Iarossi, a lobbyist for Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS) and a government consultant with Capital Consulting in Tallahassee, said the Jan. 9 vote is important because if the 10-member committee votes the bill down, it’s dead. So, the vote will be closely monitored by a lot of parties.

Voters would also have to approve allowing pari-mutuels to expand the games they offer to include roulette and other Las Vegas-style games.

Regardless of the details in the final bill, the road will be rough for supporters of expanded gambling.

Miami Beach officials voted against expanding what is already available.

Additionally, Miami-Dade County is asking that destination gambling resort legislation include a section that would mandate a 12- to 18-month local government review process.

At a recent Beacon Council workshop, CEO Frank Nero called for a delay in the legislation to give everyone more time to consider the issue.

Other powerful business groups, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Retail Federation and Florida Attractions Associationalso oppose destination resorts, saying they will hurt the state’s image and existing development efforts.

More Pushback Against Casinos in Miami

More pushback against casinos

South Florida Business Journal by Kevin Gale, Editor in Chief

Date: Tuesday, December 20, 2011, 10:10am EST

Miami Herald headquartersMark Freerks

Preservationists are seeking to protect the Miami Herald’s headquarters building.

Kevin Gale
Editor in Chief – South Florida Business Journal
Email  | LinkedIn  | Twitter | Facebook

Resorts World Miami reacted quickly Tuesday to the notion thatThe Miami Herald‘s headquarters building should be preserved rather than torn down for a $3.8 billion destination resort.

“The Miami Herald Building has long been an affront to smart urban planning and does not comply with Miami 21 code, nor with the City’s Charter Amendment, which require 70 percent active uses, 50 foot setbacks from the water with public access, and a 25 percent view corridor from the street,” a statement attributed to Resorts World Miami President Christian Goode said.

An article in the Tuesday edition of the Herald by Andres Viglucci, who has written extensively about architecture, talked about a move by the Dade Heritage Trust to seek protected landmark status for the newspaper’s headquarters building.

That article and another one, about hotel rates, exemplify the myriad of opposition and obstacles to destination gambling resorts in South Florida.

A local section article talks about the Herald HQ’s status as an iconic example of Miami Modern (MiMo), a mid-century architecture that emerged from Miami’s resorts. The related category of mid-century modern architecture includes Fort Lauderdale’s Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six, with its spires and revolving rooftop restaurant. Preservationists were unhappy that another mid-century modern hotel across the street was torn down, partly because of the parabolic roof by its front office.

Viglucci is on target when he talks about how a lot of people don’t appreciate MiMo. However, a lack of appreciation for architectural history isn’t anything unusual in South Florida. A few years ago, I found a 30-year-old article in the then-Miami Business Journal about plans to raze South Beach Art Deco hotels and dredge a bunch of canals.

Whether preservationists will succeed in their goal with the Herald building is debatable, but it’s another headache for Genting Group as it seeks support to build Resorts World Miami. (If you want to read more about the destination resort debate, here are links to a recent debate in Miami and an earlier one in Fort Lauderdale.)

The article said the existing Herald building might be incorporated into a casino, but how do you successfully meld the curvy lines of Arquitectonica‘s plans for a new resort with a boxy building squatting along Biscayne Bay?

Goode’s statement continued to emphasize economic benefits and pluses for the community.

“Any impacts derived from preserving the Herald building are far outweighed by the benefits that a new master-planned development will bring to the Omni neighborhood, including activating the downtown waterfront, employing tens of thousands of Floridians, generating meaningful tax revenue, and adding value to a depressed area,” the statement said. “Efforts to stall this progress show just how far opponents of sensible development will go in putting their interests above what’s best for everyday citizens in the community.”

The statement’s “just how far” comment is indicative of how the debate is heating up.

So, who’s on the Dade Heritage Trust?

The president is Bertram “Chico” Goldsmith, who began his career in downtown Miami working for the Walter Etling Real Estate Co., according to a biography on the website for Informed Families, an organization he has served as chairman. Goldsmith has focused his efforts on managing his family’s real estate holdings.

I didn’t recognize the names of most of the people on the trustee list, except for Matthew Greer, CEO of affordable housing developer Carlisle Development Group, and bankerDwight Hill. The separate advisory group includes banker Adolfo Henriques, who won the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Sand in My Shoes Award; PR specialistLeslie Pantin; famed architect Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk; preservationist Ava Moore Parks; former Coral Gables Mayor Donald Slesnick II; and Bruce Matheson, whose family was among the pioneers in Miami-Dade County.

For Genting, this could be a formidable opposition, even though the Herald article said some board members thought the move on the Herald building was overreaching.

In the other article, an analysis by Strategic Advisory Group shows Miami Beach hotels have dramatically higher rates than Las Vegas hotels.

That fits in with a general concern that a destination gambling resort, with room rates subsidized by a casino, could drive down overall room rates and hurt existing businesses. Genting is planning 5,200 rooms in four towers, so it would be a big player.

“They’re going to destroy the market inventory,” said Stuart Blumberg, who formerly led the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association.

Last week, the Miami Beach City Commission soundly rejected the concept of a gambling resort.

There are other issues Genting and other would-be destination resort developers face. I’ll cover some of them in a year-end look back in Friday’s print edition of the South Florida Business Journal.

Payroll Tax Cut Bill Boosts Cost of New Mortgages

WASHINGTON – Dec. 19, 2011 – Who is paying for the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut working its way through Congress? The cost is being dropped in the laps of most people who buy homes or refinance beginning next year.

The typical person who buys a $200,000 home or refinances that amount starting on Jan. 1 would have to pay roughly $17 more a month for their mortgage, thanks to a fee increase included in the payroll tax cut bill that the Senate passed Saturday. The White House said the fee increases would be phased in gradually.

The legislation provides a two-month extension of a payroll tax cut and long-term unemployment benefits that would otherwise expire on Jan. 1. It would also delay for two months a cut in Medicare reimbursements for doctors; the cut is currently scheduled to take effect on New Year’s Day.

However, the House intends to vote down the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, Speaker John Boehner said Monday, and request immediate negotiations on a full-year renewal that can provide “certainty for people who are trying to create jobs.”

“I don’t believe the differences between the House and Senate are that great,” Boehner said at a news conference, although he provided no estimate on how long it might take to produce a compromise.

To cover its $33 billion price tag, the Senate-passed measure increases the fee that the government-backed mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, charge to insure home mortgages. That fee, which Senate aides said currently averages around 0.3 percentage point, would rise by 0.1 percentage point under the bill. The increase will also apply to people whose mortgages are backed by the Federal Housing Administration, which typically serves lower-income and first-time buyers.

The higher fee would not apply to people who currently have mortgages unless they refinance beginning next year.

Because of the weak housing market and the huge numbers of foreclosures in the last few years, private insurers have not competed strongly for business with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have the backing of the federal government. As a result, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA back about 9 in 10 new home mortgages.

President Barack Obama and many congressional Democrats and Republicans want to curb Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s dominance in the mortgage market. Obama earlier this year proposed raising the mortgage guarantee fees they charge as one way to do that.
AP Logo Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press, Alan Fram. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Brazil’s Slowdown Hurts South Florida Housing Market

The Miami Herald

Brazil’s economy slows

BY MIMI WHITEFIELD
mwhitefield@MiamiHerald.com

Brazil still might be the darling of foreign investors and Miami real-estate agents but as the year draws to a close, its once booming economy is slowing.Fueled by a commodities boom, a growing middle class, and mineral wealth, Brazil’s economy hummed along with a 7.5 percent growth rate in 2010. But now most economists are pegging gross domestic product growth at 3 to 3.5 percent this year — and in its most recent forecast, Fitch Ratings said the Brazilian economy would grow only 2.8 percent.“Brazil is slowing down; it’s been slowing down since the second quarter,’’ said Guilherme Da Nobrega, senior economist at Sao Paulo-based Banco Itaú, during a recent visit to Miami. His estimate has been revised down from 3.6 percent to 3 percent growth.

The Brazilian economy, he said, “was growing too fast at the end of last year.’’ Inflation also was rising.

That economic exuberance — coupled with a strong real and depressed local real-estate prices — drove Brazilians to Miami in 2011 to buy everything from ocean-view condominiums to sports gear, iPads, and fashion.

The Brazilian economy also is closely watched in South Florida because Brazil is the region’s top trading partner, and earlier this year a group of nearly 200 Floridians traveled to Brazil on a trade mission led by Gov. Rick Scott.

To cool things down, the Brazilian government adopted tighter economic policies at the beginning of 2011; its central bank also raised rates. The government also held back on public spending for infrastructure projects, such as bridges, said Da Nobrega, who spoke at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas Latin American Predictors Forum in Coral Gables earlier this month.

“That did the trick,’’ said Da Nobrega.

But Brazilian industrial production began to slump in the third quarter and was down 2.2 percent in October compared to the previous year. Twenty out of 27 sectors contracted during the month, according to Barclays Capital.

Though it is still considered strong, the Brazilian currency also began to bounce around this fall — a change that has affected some Miami real-estate purchases. The real has fallen 8.1 percent against the dollar in the past three months.

With the economy weakening, Brazil’s central bank began cutting rates in August.

And to counteract the potential impact of a widening European financial crisis, it took several measures Dec. 1 to stimulate and strengthen the economy. They included tax cuts on financial operations, tax credits of up to 3 percent on 8,500 manufactured products destined for export sales, and increased home-value eligibilityfor developer tax breaks under the My Home My Life program.

To encourage the inflow of long-term foreign investment capital, for example, the taxes on foreign investment in stocks and venture capital were cut from 2 percent to 0.

The tax on so-called white goods — stoves, refrigerators, washing machines, and the like — also was cut to encourage the consumption of durable goods.

Da Nobrega said he anticipates “another couple of months of negative numbers” before the economy begins to pick up again. With the tax cuts, he said, the Brazilian economy should be growing by the second quarter and he predicts growth of about 3.5 percent in 2012.

“We are happy with that number,’’ he said. With current policies, he said, there’s a little more risk for higher inflation but a bit less risk of slow growth.

But Da Nobrega said Brazil will have to continue to watch the European situation closely.

Meanwhile, with the approach of the 2014 World Cup in several Brazilian cities and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is in the midst of an investment boom. “We don’t run any risk of over-investment in Brazil,’’ Da Nobrega said. “As long as there is financing at all in the world, Brazil is going to take an important chunk of it.’’

Figures released by Brazil’s central bank Thursday showed that the United States wasstill Brazil’s biggest foreign investor with $105 billion in investments, excluding inter-company loans, at the end of 2010. And although China has replaced the United States as Brazil’s top trading partner, Chinese investments totaled just $8 billion, putting it in 16th place among foreign investors in Brazil.

Overall, foreign investment increased from $163 billion in 2005 to $580 billion in 2010, according to the central bank report.

Other analysts also say that 2012 seems to be shaping up as a better year for Latin America’s largest economy.

“The recent depreciation of the Brazilian currency plus the slowdown in inflation and the drop in interest rates will be very helpful for improving the health of the Brazilian economy,” Eugenio J. Aléman, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, said in a report released last week.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/16/v-print/2548407/brazils-economy-slows.html#ixzz1gjug9QNk

Loretta Cockrum builds for the future in Miami – Business Monday – MiamiHerald.com

Native Miamian Loretta Cockrum developed 600 Brickell at Brickell World Plaza, a building that features the latest in technology and a concept rooted in the stewardship of land.

LEED CERTIFICATION

600 Brickell is pre-certified Platinum under the LEED for Core & Shell rating system, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. Core & Shell covers base building elements such as the structure, envelope and building-level systems, like central heating, ventilating and air conditioning. The rating system recognizes the division between owner and tenant responsibility for certain elements of the building varies.

Pre-certification is a unique aspect of the LEED for Core & Shell rating system that gives formal recognition to a project for which the owner/developer has established a goal of achieving certification under LEED. It provides the core and shell owner/developer the opportunity to market to potential tenants and financiers the unique and valuable green features of a proposed building.

ICORDLE@MIAMIHERALD.COM

Equipped with the utmost in technology and environmental sustainability, 600 Brickell at Brickell World Plaza is the latest entrant to Miami’s financial district, soaring to 40 stories of glass and steel.

The lobby is lined in eucalyptus wood, the floors decked in marble. And set back from the street, it is skirted by a grand plaza, designed to be to Miami what Rockefeller Plaza is to New York.

Yet, beyond the modern office building’s exterior, its conceptual roots are firmly planted in Midwestern fields of corn, and Southern plantations of timberland.

600 Brickell at Brickell World Plaza, just completed, lies at that crossroads of the past and future — years in the making and designed to next-generation standards, but now mostly unoccupied, its destiny is still unknown.

The building was developed by native Miamian Loretta Cockrum, who grew up spending her summers at her family’s farms in Indiana and Illinois. It was there that she formed a love of the land.

Nearly 40 years ago, after working for the nation’s largest ranch management company, she started her own business, Foram Group, helping families run their farms.

HIGH RATING

Now, she views Brickell Avenue’s newest commercial real estate tower — the only one in Florida LEED pre-certified platinum, the highest green rating — as the natural progression of that stewardship of land.

“It is the foundation of our sustainable commitment, because if you are managing farmland and timberland and you are not an incredible steward of that property, there is nothing that will deteriorate faster,” said Cockrum, whose company still manages 25,000 acres in South Carolina, Georgia and Colorado, for its clients. “So it applies to the building of a vertical building.

“Therefore, we didn’t wake up one morning and say this sounds like a cool idea, let’s build a LEED building.  . . .  This building is a culmination of all those years,” she added. “It just happened to get wrapped up in a vertical construction project.’’

Built at a cost of $310 million, including $180 million of equity, 600 Brickell at Brickell World Plaza is owned by a family originally from Malaysia, which has entrusted the preservation of its ample wealth to Foram Group, as its fiduciaries.

In fact, Cockrum created the tower as part of a 100-year strategic plan for the family, geared to be relevant 25 years from now, Cockrum said.

“You have to be building for a future,” she said. “I told them we are not going to be profitable in the beginning, and may not see a profit for 10 years,” she said. “They said do whatever you have to do.”

Cockum, who has represented the family for 35 years, first purchased the Brickell property in 1990. Over the next six years she assembled all the various parcels (in addition to the 85,000 square-foot building), including three outparcels between Brickell Avenue and the Metromover.

“My original plan,” she said, “was to hold it for 10 years and then build a significant building, a flagship for this family portfolio.”

Brickell was coming alive as a vibrant location, not just to work, but as a place to live and a destination to dine out.

“It was that energy and that ignition of life that would allow us to build something like this,” Cockrum said. “Otherwise, it’s just another stagnant office building.”

In 2006, Cockrum began the design and construction process and first applied for LEED silver status, a lower level than the current platinum. The former building on the site was torn down in late 2006, and she broke ground in April 2007.

But hindered by the recession and real estate market downturn, as well as competition from other new Class A buildings, she slowed construction. At the same time, she had her team of architects, engineers and builders take a fresh look at how to make the building stand out.

The end result is an office tower with 614,000 square feet of rentable space that qualified for platinum precertification, with all the latest eco-friendly and high-tech features.

Among them: the building uses “daylight harvesting,” within 15 feet of the perimeter of the building. There, sensors keep the light at levels considered optimum to decrease eye strain, and adjusts if it gets cloudy or as the sun trails, said Tracy L. Story, president of Foram Management and Leasing.

Additionally, the lights turn off completely when someone leaves the room.

The bathrooms are also equipped with automatic sensors to turn on and off the lights. They also have dual flush toilets and waterless urinals, Story said.

Water conservation is another key feature. Rainwater is collected and recirculated back up to cooling towers, with overflow directed to the irrigation system and to fountains on the plaza.

OPERATING COSTS

As a result, Story said, the building uses 30 percent less water than the average office building and offers an 18 percent savings on electricity, which add up to lower operating costs for tenants. In addition, the windows are impact-rated at 334 miles per hour, she said.

The building is directly connected to the NAP of the Americas in Miami, one of only eight Tier 4 Data Centers globally. And it has wireless Internet access throughout the building and on the plaza, among other high-tech offerings.

In earning its pre-certified platinum score, the highest level of certification, 600 Brickell achieved 45 out of 61 possible points, said Ashley Katz, spokeswoman for the U.S. Green Building Council, which develops and administers the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system.

Included in its credits, 600 Brickell achieved points in the category of innovation and design for sustainable sites, exemplary performance in energy and atmosphere, and exemplary performance in green housekeeping, Katz said.

WHAT’S MANDATORY

Tenants have the option of building out their spaces in accordance with LEED commercial interior requirements, though certain features such as daylight harvesting and recycling are mandatory, Story said. And Foram intends to apply for full platinum certification once a majority of the tenant build-outs are made.

“We believe the building can accommodate any forward-thinking company that can appreciate the benefits of LEED, the technology aspects of the property, the security aspects of the property, and wants the amenities and location this property offers,” she said.

Among the amenities, on the building’s 14th floor, where Foram has its offices, is a rentable conference center with state-of-the-art video conference equipment, as well as a fitness center with more than two dozen Cybex machines

Outside, the grand plaza has lighted railings and fountains, and offers space for entertaining.

“The plaza is designed to integrate the community into the building, to enhance the live-work-play experience that is Brickell,” Story said.

600 Brickell at Brickell World Plaza’s official “coming out party,” scheduled for last weekend, celebrated the opening of the building, with the lighting of hundreds of thousands of colorful lights.

“We selected the first Saturday of December as the annual event because we really see this as something in the future that will be extremely significant for the holidays,” Cockrum said.

GETTING TENANTS

Soon, restaurants and possibly other service providers are expected to occupy the street-level retail space. Various bids are under consideration, Story said. Foram is leasing the 15,000 square feet of ground level space, plus the 14th and 15th floors, while Jones Lang LaSalle is now the broker for the rest of the building’s office space.

“We get six to eight calls a day,” Story said of the retail space. “And the key is to get the right mix for the building, so they feed off each other.”

As for the office space, besides Foram and its affiliate companies, so far just two tenants have leased space at 600 Brickell: Credit Agricole, which is leasing the entire 37th floor, and de la Peña Group, a Miami law firm, which is leasing about 3,000 square feet on the 17th floor.

De la Peña Group moved just a week ago, after spending 18 years on Brickell Key. The boutique litigation firm chose the new building for its location, efficiency of space and availability of conference rooms, and technological advantages, said Leoncio de la Peña, founder and managing partner of the de la Peña Group.

“The most important factor is connectivity,” he said. “The practice of law has changed dramatically and the type of law we practice has changed dramatically. We are 100 percent dependent on the Internet, and clearly the best building with the most secure, the most consistent and the fastest Internet is 600 Brickell, period.’’

Glenn H. Gregory, senior vice president for Jones Lang LaSalle , marketing and leasing agents for 600 Brickell at Brickell World Plaza, said the timing of the building, after deferring its entry into the market until now, should work to its advantage. For $42 to $46 a square foot, he said he will be marketing the “Class A tier one plus” office space to all South Florida businesses with leases expiring in the next five years. Other Class A competitive properties are in the $40 to $44 per square foot range, he said.

“The marketing program for 600 Brickell will cater to not only domestic tenants that have the need for the connectivity the building offers and sustainability,” Gregory said, “but we will test the market for the international tenant that might not have chosen Miami and may not be here today.”

MARKET RATES

In fact, the commercial real estate market in downtown Miami and on Brickell has stabilized, said Jon Blunk, senior director of Cushman & Wakefield, who is based in the firm’s Miami office.

“Rates have hit bottom,” he said, “and hopefully are slowly on their way back.”

Still, it’s a difficult climate in which to convince tenants to move and pay the costs of relocating, and it could be a long haul to lease all the space at 600 Brickell, Blunk said.

“It’s the most expensive building probably built in downtown Miami and Brickell, so it has the most amenities,” he said. “It should command the highest rents — in the low to mid $40s.”

Yet, Cockrum is counting on seeing the space leased.

“By this time next year if we are not significantly rented, and/or committed to rent, I will be disappointed,” she said, “because I will feel that what we have provided and what we’ve done and what we’re offering maybe wasn’t that special.  . . .  It’s very risky to be this cutting edge.”

Cockrum, 74, is a third-generation Miamiam. Her grandparents came here in 1923, settling in Coral Gables.

After studying dental hygiene at her mother’s request, she worked for six months as a dental hygienist in Atlanta. Later, Cockrum spent five years in the Atlanta office of Oppenheimer Industries, which she said was the largest ranch management company in the United States, with 5 million acres under management.

“I was running an agricultural management company — we managed farms and timberland,” she said. “I bought the crops, I sold the corn, I did the financial statements. I helped families manage family farm operations.”

It was a case of necessity, she said. Her husband had become ill, and she knew she would have to support her children, who were in their early teens at the time.

“I hadn’t worked for 14 years, so I got this job and it was something I was passionate about and it’s something I am still passionate about,” said Cockrum, who continues to run the agricultural arm of her company today.

It was in Atlanta, shortly before she launched Foram as an agricultural management company, that she met the Malaysian family that now owns 600 Brickell. In fact, Foram stands for Farm or Ranch Management.

“I started it in ’78 in Atlanta on my dining room table,” she recalls. “Like most women in the 1970s who were starting a business, it was very unusual.”

In 1986, she moved Foram’s headquarters to Miami.

“It was circling back to my roots, because my grandfather was in the real estate business at the time of George Merrick, in Broward and in Miami-Dade,” she said. “It’s pretty much in my DNA.”

Foram operates as a wealth manager, investing solely in real estate. Today, Foram has 26 employees and represents three families as clients. All are foreign, and each is very private and does not want their identities disclosed, she said. In all, the company manages hundreds of millions of dollars of real estate in Colorado, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, including agricultural land.

“I develop properties, but I’m not a developer. To me that is a dirty word,” Cockrum said. “I am building real estate portfolios for families, but only a part of what I do is develop a property, if it is appropriate for a particular portfolio.  . . .  What I do is build value in real estate, and if that means I build a building on a property we already own, that is what I do.”

Over the past 15 years, she said Foram has purchased for its portfolios close to 1 million square feet of office buildings in Florida, including Miami.

“I love the city, I feel very attached to it, it’s very much a part of what I want to leave behind better than I found it,” Cockrum said. “And I really think that has a great deal to do with why 600 Brickell is what it is. . . .  The plaza — the city really needs something of that significance to make it a special place.”




Update: “Sonesta Project” on Key Biscayne

 COUNCIL APPROVES SITE PLAN FOR FORMER SONESTA PROPERTY

 

­Key Biscayne Council members voted unanimously Monday, August 21, to approve developer Consultatio Key Biscayne LLC’s new site plan for the 350 Ocean Drive property. (The former site of The Sonesta Hotel).

As Consultatio Chairman Eduardo Costantini told local leaders, the new site plan significantly downsizes the project the Council approved in 2007 in order to address concerns about mass and impact on neighbors. “If you approve this project, I think it’s going to be a superb project. We’ll look forward to working together as a team,” he said.

Site plan complies

The project’s 646,415 square feet of livable space equals a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 1.435; a FAR of 2.0, or 899,863 square feet, is allowed. Maximum lot coverage is 40 percent, or 179,972 square feet; Consultatio’s plan shows 35.7 percent coverage, or a 160,630-square-foot footprint.

The project also eases in below density caps: Projects with this zoning  can have 16 residential units per acre, meaning 165 units on the 10.5-acre Sonesta lot; Consultatio proposes 154 units, or 15 per acre.

Elsewhere, the proposed project meets height caps of 150 feet; more importantly, Consultatio vastly exceeds rear setback requirements of 25 feet, meaning the 150-foot buildings are far from neighboring single-family homes. The project’s west rear setback, the one that impacts Holiday Colony (the east rear setback is from the ocean), comes in at 393 feet, 11 inches.

Only 12 freestanding villas would sit within that nearly 394-foot area, Kurlancheek said, and the villas are capped at 35 feet in height, the same as single-family homes. “There’s a 50-foot setback until you get to the villas themselves,” he added.

Consultatio was able to move the bulk of its development further back by eliminating two of the original four towers. The new design features two 14-level towers linked by a shorter structure that features 10 levels worth of condo units atop a three-story high open breezeway.

Open space

A key condition states the Village must be in compliance with its Comprehensive Plan standard of 2.5 acres of open space per 1,000 residents before it can issue a Certificate of Occupancy for the 15-story residential tower. Or, the Village and Consultatio can sign a binding contract stating the open space facilities will be completed within a year of the CO being issued.They state Consultatio will grant the Village two 25-foot-wide public beach access paths, one on the north side of the property from Ocean Drive and the other on the south side of the property from East Heather Drive. Both paths will include improvements like paving and landscaping.

Helfman added Consultatio’s plan includes a $7 million voluntary contribution to the Village’s Land Trust, a fund set up for the sole purpose of acquiring public land, plus another $1.5 million toward improvements at the Key Biscayne Community Center or another recreational need.

Miami residential sales jump 51 percent in third quarter: report

The sales of single-family homes and condominiums in Miami-Dade County rose by 51 percent in the third quarter, according to a report from the Miami Association of Realtors. It was the 13th consecutive quarter of increasing sales in Miami. The average sales price of single-family homes also rose, jumping 19 percent, and the average sales price of condos jumped by 21 percent. “Strong demand from international buyers is fueling robust sales activity in Miami despite low consumer confidence and high unemployment,” said Jack Levine, chairman of the board of the Miami Association of Realtors. “Local sales are expected to set a record this year that should exceed the height of the boom in 2005.” Total housing inventory in Miami-Dade County fell 38 percent from the same period in 2010, with a 65 percent total drop since August 2008.  –Alexander Britell

Highest Priced Home for Sale in the US

Casino and resort developer Richard Fields is asking $175 million for his 1,750-acre ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The asking price is believed to be the highest for a ranch in the U.S.

The ranch, called Jackson Land and Cattle, is a valley property with 35 buildable sites. It’s made up of a 450-acre equestrian center bought around 2004, with 52 stalls and an indoor riding arena, plus a 1,300-acre ranch bought around 2006 that belonged to the late Wyoming Gov. Clifford Hansen and his family. There’s a main house and guest house. The hope is that the buyer will be conservation-minded, said listing broker John Pierce of Hall & Hall. Juliet Chung looks at a $175 million ranch listing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which may be the most expensive listing in the U.S., as well as a cheaper ranch next door which can be yours for just $100 million.

Mr. Fields is chief executive of Coastal Development, whose projects include the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and Hotel and, through an affiliate, the Suffolk Downs racetrack in Boston. Mr. Fields says he and his family are selling because they don’t get to spend much time there anymore. Mr. Fields is also asking nearly $10 million for his vacation home on 44 acres in Jackson.

A Second Wyoming Ranch Hits the Market for $100 Million

Also in Jackson Hole, a 1,848-acre cattle ranch is on the market for $100 million.

Walton Ranch has three miles of frontage on the Snake River and is under a conservation easement, though some development is possible. There’s a 2,200-square-foot, three-bedroom main house and a manager’s housing complex with two homes, a bunk house, outbuildings, barns and corrals. The seller is the estate of oil geologist Paul Walton and his wife, Betty, who assembled the property over decades.


 

Condo Vultures St. Regis Bal Harbour Project Ramps Up New Condo Sales Effort


As the South Florida real estate market was crashing in 2008, the developers of the proposed St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort were launching construction of the three-tower condominium and hotel project with more than 500 units on a site that fronts the Atlantic Ocean.
Fast forward three years to the present. The complex’s developer is ramping up the sales campaign to identify buyers in anticipation of completing the project in the fourth quarter of 2011. The official grand opening is scheduled for January 2012.
Besides the Collins Avenue location on a nearly nine-acre, oceanfront site across from the Bal Harbour Shops, a cornerstone of the sales effort is the slightly reduced prices that start at $760 per square foot compared to more than $1,000 per square foot at the onset of construction, according marketing materials.
“Many people were skeptical when the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort construction began at the start of the real estate shakeout in early 2008,” said Carolyn Ross, a real estate sales associate with the licensed Florida brokerageCVR Realty™. “To the development group’s credit, they pushed ahead with the construction despite the condo world experiencing dramatic change all around them. As we look ahead to the project’s formal opening in 2012, many of the early skeptics are surely reconsidering their outlook.”
Bal Harbour is a ultra-wealthy village of 3,300 people located on a barrier island between Miami Beach and Sunny Isles Beach.
Bal Harbour is a destination for a lot of boat owners as the village is located on the south bank of the only inlet on the barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway between Miami Beach’s trendy neighborhood of South Beach and Fort Lauderdale.
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort is comprised of three 27-story towers with more than 500 condos, condo-hotels, fractional condos, and hotel rooms.
The North and South towers are slated to be traditional condominiums while the Center Tower is to be comprised of a St. Regis hotel that includes condo-hotel units, fractional residences, and traditional condominiums.
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort is to include four swimming pools, a 12,000-square-foot Remede spa, and signature restaurants.
In Bal Harbour proper, there are 194 condominium units on the resale market at an average price of $622 per square foot as of March 25, according to an analysis by CVR Realty™.
An additional 41 units – with an average asking price of $398 per square foot – are currently under contract waiting to transact, according to the analysis based on Florida Realtors association data.

Within the last six months, buyers have acquired 71 units at an average price of $383 per square foot in Bal Harbour, according to the analysis.

Commercial and Residential Real Estate in Miami and Palm Beach Florida

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