Updated 10 months ago
The tourism market is hot, home sales are setting records and international trade is flourishing. But community leaders are uneasy about a possible new wave of foreclosures, and they’re divided on the issue of resort gambling.
» Tourism: Boosted in particular by free-spending Brazilian tourists, Miami-Dade tourism was up in every respect. Average revenue per available hotel room rose 14.1% from 2010, and the average daily rate of $152.95 — up 6.2% from last year — was the fourth-highest in the nation. Average occupancy of 75.6%, also No. 4 in the nation, was up 7.4% from 2010. As this year began, occupancy and room rates continued to rise, as did interest from companies worldwide in acquiring existing hotels, especially in Miami Beach. The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau has its eye on even more Brazilian visitors if President Obama's push to loosen visa regulations is successful. Brazilians now wait for months and often travel hundreds of miles for visas.
» Home sales: Real estate brokers sold a record 24,929 homes last year, according to the Miami Association of Realtors. Sales were driven by falling prices as foreign buyers bought second homes and investment properties in all-cash deals.
[Photo: Don Carlos/Port of Miami]
|Miami-Dade Population: 2,547,708|
|Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 1.13%|
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $41,106|
|MSA||Dec. 2011||Dec. 2010||% Change||Jobless Rate|
|Miami/Miami Beach Kendall||1,176,023||1,132,600||3.8%||10.3%|
|Source: Agency for Workforce Innovation|
|Homes - Single-family, existing-home sales|
|MSA||2011 Sales||1-Year Change||2011 Price||1-Year Change|
|Source: Florida Realtors; year-end sales, median price|
|Miami-Dade County Consumer Bankruptcies|
|Source: National Bankruptcy Research Center|
Businesses to Watch
Foreign buyers — paying in cash — have scooped up second homes and investment properties in Miami. [Photo: iStockphoto]
» Grosskopf Group: Seizing on a surge in interest from foreign buyers for condominiums, Argentina-based Grosskopf Group has acquired five sites around the county, including in Sunny Isles Beach and Miami's Biscayne Corridor area.
» Banah International: The sugar producer, which leased more than 300,000 square feet in Hialeah at the end of 2011, is one of several importers establishing much larger local operations.
» Terra Group: The Miami developer is one of a small group that has been buying land in Doral with plans for major residential and mixed-use developments.
People to Watch
» Carlos Gimenez: The Miami-Dade County mayor will likely face off with county labor unions and taxpayers as he attempts to put together a balanced budget and a campaign for re-election this November.
» Fernando and Ignacio Zulueta: The brothers are major political donors and owners of the for-profit charter school management company Academica Corp., which runs more than 60 schools with $158 million in revenue in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
» Frank Nero: The Beacon Council president has come out against gambling and called for an independent task force to study the idea of destination casinos, although the economic development organization has remained neutral.
» Carlos Migoya: The Jackson Health System CEO continues to try to put the public health system's finances in order, renegotiating its relationship with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and contemplating significant layoffs.
Community leaders and voters are divided over whether expanded gambling should be allowed in the county.
Issues to Watch
» Gambling: No issue looms larger for the county than expanded gambling. Although bills paving the way for destination resort casinos are dead this year, governments and business groups throughout the county will continue to debate its merits. The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce voted to support expanded gambling, with caveats. The city of Miami Beach voted to oppose it, and polls show voters throughout the county split on the idea of large-scale casinos.
» Foreclosures: Industry watchers expect the wave of foreclosure activity to remain strong. They say mortgage-holders are moving slowly through their distressed loans, filing a steady stream of foreclosures and slowly selling off bank-owned or short-sale properties in hopes that they won't completely upset the market. One out of every 35 homes and condos in Miami-Dade was in some stage of foreclosure last year, according to RealtyTrac. That compares to a nationwide average of one out of every 69. The number of new foreclosure filings was on a generally upward trend during the second half of 2011, according to data from RealtyTrac.
Rendering of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. Groundbreaking was held in February, and completion is set for late 2014.
» Condos: From sales of existing condos (largely to foreign investors) to rentals of investment condos and new development, the condo business is booming. In 2011, the average sales price of new units rose 21% in the downtown area, according to CondoVultures.com. In downtown Miami alone, 10 towers are proposed or already in progress, which has lead to a resurgence of construction cranes and sales parties.
» Museum Park: Although their new homes in Museum Park won't be finished until 2014 or later, the city's museums are already making huge waves. On the heels of a $35-million gift from Patricia and Phillip Frost, the Miami Science Museum garnered a $10-million pledge from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, bringing its fundraising total to $70 million of the $100 million it needs to raise for its new building. And developer Jorge Perez's $35-million gift to Miami Art Museum in late 2011 has further raised the visibility of the city's museum scene.
The Miami Marlins play in the new Marlins Park. The SEC is investigating the city/county deal to cover 80% of the stadium's cost. [Photo: Aerial Photography Inc.]
» Stadium deal: The deal for the Miami Marlins' new stadium continues to plague city government, which looks to be stuck with an annual tax bill of up to $2 million for the stadium's garages, which the city believed would be exempt from property taxes. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the negotiations surrounding both the city's and county's commitments to cover 80% of the stadium's $634-million cost. And with the ballpark set to host its first game this month, the city has neither the plans nor the funding for promised mass transit routes that would alleviate the lack of adequate game-day parking in the area.
Businesses to Watch
» Espacio USA: The arm of Spain-based Inmobiliaria Espacio is developing a mixed-use project on two properties it holds near Genting's proposed resort while ramping up leasing on the existing office and mixed-used buildings.
» Swire Properties: The Hong Kong-based company's multiphase, 9.1-acre, $700-million Brickell CitiCentre in downtown Miami is the most ambitious project after Genting's.
» Walmart: Controversially, Walmart is expected to break ground this year on its first super store in the city, in the heart of the hip dining and living area Midtown.
People to Watch
» Christian Goode: The president of Genting's Resorts World Miami leads development of the 30-acre destination resort the company plans for downtown Miami and will likely be a force in efforts to get the state, county and city to approve turning it into a casino resort.
» Albert Santalo: CareCloud's president and CEO is one of the leaders of a nascent but strengthening group of tech entrepreneurs in the city, having raised more than $20 million from Silicon Valley venture capital firms for his web-based medical practice software company.
» Alicia Cervera Lamadrid: The managing partner of Cervera Real Estate has long specialized in selling condo units for developers. With the recession easing and sales in the city ramping back up, she's one of the go-to condo brokers for a new wave of sales, using new ideas that largely target foreign buyers.
Issue to Watch
» Downtown dining: The city's dining scene is finally in a position to compete with those in Miami Beach and Coral Gables. Some of the county's best dining can be found in Midtown, the Design District and even downtown Miami. But restaurants worry about competition, both from food trucks that haven't yet found a gathering place in city limits and from the potential destination resort that Genting wants to build in the Omni area.
Healthy visitor and tourism spending numbers are expected this year, buoyed in part by hotel and marina renovations and a zip line attraction planned at Crane Point Museum and Nature Center in Marathon. An expected port of entry designation at Florida Keys Marathon Airport will allow more private jets to enter the U.S. there, rather than in Key West or Miami. The state has given permission for 100 additional hotel units in Marathon — an exception to state-imposed limits under the Rate of Growth Ordinance — which the city must now allocate to existing and new properties. In Key West, debate continues about whether to widen the ship channel to allow bigger cruise ships. Fishermen will find out this year whether 2010's Deepwater Horizon spill affected lobster larvae in the Keys. But the biggest issue in the Keys this year may be state-mandated but still unfunded central wastewater treatment throughout the lower keys, which municipalities are reluctant to pay for.
|Monroe Population: 74,376
Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 0.56%
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $65,651|