April 12, 2024

Miami's billion-dollar real estate boom

Billions of dollars from foreign investors may propel Miami into the ranks of the world's elite cities.

Mike Vogel | 12/5/2011
K.T. Lim
"We hope to play a catalytic role to stimulate the right sort of development to come and build up this city."

— Genting Group
Executive Chairman K.T. Lim
[Photo: Daniel Portnoy]

The Florida Chamber of Commerce opposes expanded casino gambling. The board of the Beacon Council, the local economic development group, hasn't taken a position, but in October President Frank Nero urged caution and creation of a task force that would take up to a year to study casino impacts, including the effect on diversifying Miami beyond tourism into an international business center.

Perez says he could be open to a couple of casinos but rejects a shift to a Vegas-like identity for the city. Without a doubt, he says, Miami will join the ranks of Hong Kong and Singapore but asks, "Did you see those cities become great cities because of gambling? The answer is no."

Lim says it's natural, but a mistake, for Americans to think of Vegas when they hear casino. He says he sees the casino as just one attraction within a resort, a means to the end of enticing people here who may wind up investing in Miami as he did.

Top 10 U.S. Markets for Foreign Investment (Commercial real estate 2011)
Market Investment
Manhattan $6.07 billion
Chicago 1.62
Boston $619.40 million
Dallas 559.80
Los Angeles 535.66
D.C. and Va. suburbs 486.53
San Francisco 479.49
Miami 471.54
Washington, D.C. 438.40
NYC boroughs 421.60
Source: Real Capital Analytics
Note: Figures reflect direct commercialreal estate investment only.

"I came here 40 years ago, and I enjoyed the city and I came back again and again and again and now that has resulted hopefully in investing billions of dollars into the place. We hope to play a catalytic role to stimulate the right sort of development to come and build up this city as a living city where people can come to work, can come to play, can come to enjoy themselves and also to live in. Ten, 15 years I like to think I see another Singapore here — that city-state, which is a more modern version of New York City. It's better planned, well laid out and it's safe, it's interesting, it's diverse. It is in my interest to try to move that city-state model to proceed," he says.

Whether big-time gambling comes to Miami or not, says Raul Valdes-Fauli, CEO of Professional Bank in Coral Gables, the new international investments are a "game-changer" for Miami.

Valdes-Fauli, who chairs a chamber committee devoted to downtown, says the "safety valves" of Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina and the like have helped the community recover economically faster than it otherwise would have — and faster than other parts of Florida — from the downturn and condo boom.

"I'm just absorbing now that maybe Miami is a more unique and special place than I ever thought possible," says Valdes-Fauli, "and we're attracting some real unique and special developers to downtown."

Says Valdes-Fauli, "Miami's ready for a new chapter."

Tags: Miami-Dade, Housing/Construction

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