October 22, 2014

real estate

Two Miami-Dade Cities Buying Up Commercial Property

Sunny Isle Park
[Photo: Tony Rosabal]
Sunny Isles Beach is in the process of buying the building above, which it will raze to create a public park on the site (rendering, below).
Sunny Isle Park
[Photo: LIVS Associates, Architects & Engineers]
Two Miami-Dade cities are taking advantage of the real estate slump by buying up commercial properties, planning to use the sites for parks, senior housing and other community purposes.

Miami Gardens — the county’s third-largest city — has made several deals in the past year. “We’re 95% built out, and you just can’t find vacant land here,” City Manager Danny O. Crew says.

The biggest deals include $8.9 million for 40 acres on which Cornerstone Developers had planned a townhome project. The city moved in when the project faced foreclosure.Thirty-eight of the acres the city bought were already approved as a Development of Regional Impact, and it plans to sell that land to a developer who will follow through on the approved plan. “It may be three or four years before the market gets to where someone will do it, but that’s fine with us,” Crew says.

The city also bought 14 acres for $3.5 million from the Archdiocese of Miami; it plans a senior citizens facility and a park there. Earlier in the year, it purchased a 15-acre parcel, which was in danger of foreclosure, from luxury auto dealer Warren Henry. He has a three-year option to buy the parcel back, but if he doesn’t, the city will look for a different buyer for “15 acres of the best commercial land in Miami-Dade County,” Crew says.

Sunny Isles Beach, meanwhile, paid $9.37 million for two adjacent retail buildings on 1.4 acres and is about to close on a third retail property just south of them. It plans to raze the buildings and create a park once the current tenants’ leases expire. The city also closed recently on a 2-acre parcel, and is negotiating additional acquisitions.

A continuing dearth of financing for private-sector buyers has given municipalities an advantage in real estate deals. Banks are more willing to lend to municipalities, which tend to be long-term purchasers, and they also have other funding sources.

“The market is right,” says Sunny Isles Beach City Manager Rick Conner, “for communities that have the ability to expand their parks systems and provide additional amenities to their community.”

Tags: Miami-Dade, Housing/Construction

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