South Florida houses hit record prices, home- affordability crisis squeezes region
South Florida housing prices reached historic highs in May, after several months of price jumps have vaulted price tags on existing homes beyond what most residents can afford. Although the Federal Reserve has boosted its key interest rate multiple times since February, that’s done little to slow South Florida’s housing juggernaut. The home affordability crisis lingers due to the swelling home prices, lean supply of houses and condos to buy, stiff competition from out-of-state and cash offers. [Source: Miami Herald]
Florida Trend Exclusive
Tech Equity Miami aims to invest at least $100 million to boost diversity
To boost diversity and inclusion in Miami-Dade’s tech sector, JPMorgan Chase, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Miami Foundation and social impact venture studio aire ventures launched Tech Equity Miami, which aims to invest at least $100 million over five years in projects that advance internet connectivity, educational programs, resources for small businesses and tech employment opportunities for residents. JPMorgan Chase will contribute $10 million, part of the company’s $30-billion racial equity commitment. [Source: Florida Trend]
Florida’s largest-ever python has been found
Researchers have captured the most massive python ever recorded in Florida—or anywhere outside its native range, for that matter—weighing 215 pounds and measuring nearly 18 feet in length. The discovery highlights the persistence of South Florida’s decades-old python problem. Burmese pythons, a reclusive apex predator from Southeast Asia, were introduced to Florida in the 1970s, likely from the exotic pet trade. They’ve been exploding in the wild ever since, altering ecosystems by snacking on a wide variety of native species. [Source: National Geographic]
Tropics remain quiet, but for how much longer?
Conditions in the Atlantic basin remained quiet Tuesday, with forecasters watching one tropical wave in the eastern Caribbean Sea, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center. There's more activity in the eastern Pacific, which has already experienced Hurricanes Agatha and Blas. Dry air, Saharan dust and strong winds — which tear apart developing tropical systems — have helped keep activity low since Potential Tropical Cyclone One crossed Florida June 3-4. [Source: Florida Today]
Florida urges judge not to block 15-week abortion law
Attorneys for the state are fighting an attempt to block a 15-week abortion limit that is slated to take effect July 1. Lawyers in Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office filed a 29-page document Monday urging Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper to reject a request by abortion clinics and a doctor for a temporary injunction against the limit, which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law in April. [Source: News Service of Florida]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Summer road trips to Orlando roll on despite skyrocketing gas prices [Orlando Sentinel]
Thanks to the pandemic, the American summer road trip tradition is alive and well despite historically high gas prices, bringing good news for Orlando’s tourism-dependent economy, travel analysts say. With the cost of flights also high — and cancellations surging — drivers are still planning to hit the road after months of postponing travel plans because of COVID-19, although they might cut back on spending for other areas of their trips, national surveys showed.
› Miami-Dade County looks to lakes filled with floating solar power plants [Miami Today]
Miami-Dade is seeking to add floating solar power plants to its electrical operations while it looks to the private sector to speed the use of the floating plants elsewhere, a report from Mayor Daniella Levine Cava says. “The county is reviewing some of its facilities with water bodies close enough to ‘tie-in’ floating solar power plants to their on-site electricity systems,” the report says.
› Supplying metals to other countries pays off for St. Augustine company [Florida Times-Union]
When Viv Helwig got an unexpected $7,000 check in the mail, he didn’t think it was real. Timing is everything, and the check arrived 13 months after he started Vested Metals International in St. Augustine — the same time he was out of money and ready to close the doors. Technically he didn’t even have a door to close, considering he was renting a 100-square-foot mobile office. That was seven years ago. He was trying to sell raw materials to all sorts of industries, and it wasn’t going well.
› MLB commissioner ratchets up urgency of Rays’ stadium situation [Business Observer]
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred’s patience is wearing thin with the Tampa Bay Rays and the cities that want to be the team’s next home. At an owners’ meeting in New York last week, Manfred said MLB wants the Rays to remain in the Tampa Bay region, but he also mentioned the Oakland Athletics, whose quest for a new stadium has prompted them to consider a move to Las Vegas, as being in the “same category” as the Rays.
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› COVID-19 positivity rate in Leon County jumps to 20%, eclipsing statewide percentage [Tallahassee Democrat]
COVID-19 cases in Leon County have well surpassed 1,000 per week, while hospitalizations remain comparably steady. Between June 10-16, there were 1,880 new infections in Leon County and the positivity rate was 20%, surpassing the statewide positivity rate of 17%, according to a bi-weekly report from the Florida Department of Health. Two weeks earlier, DOH reported 911 new infections and a 16.5% positivity rate in the capital county.
› Tampa launches housing assistance hotline [Tampa Bay Times]
The city launched a housing information line Tuesday to help residents learn how to avoid eviction, deal with landlords and access housing and mortgage assistance. Mayor Jane Castor’s announcement came less than a week after City Council members unanimously approved asking the mayor to create a $400,000, two-person tenant advocacy office to help residents affected by ballooning housing costs.
› Taiwanese tea chain Happy Lemon opening its first Florida location in Orlando [Orlando Weekly]
A Taiwanese bubble tea shop is opening its first-ever location in the Sunshine State, and they've got Orlando dead in their sights. The first Florida outpost of Happy Lemon will be located just 4 minutes from the University of Central Florida at 11565 University Boulevard. The store is currently hiring baristas and back-of-house workers ahead of its opening.
› Longtime Sarasota furniture store owner, philanthropist Ed Kalin dies at 101 [Your Observer]
Longtime Sarasota businessman and philanthropist Ed Kalin never really settled on a traditional hobby. He played golf a little bit, fished here and there. He owned a boat for a time. Then, in the 1960s and '70s, Kalin started doing some real estate deals. That became his passion, outside work and family.