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“It’s On Fire.”: Miami Mayor Touts South Florida Economy

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez made an appearance on Fox Business where he discussed Miami’s booming economy, referring to it as “on fire,” as the city posts repeated increases in real estate sales, an influx of new jobs, and the welcoming of tech businesses from states like California and North Carolina.

Miami in recent years has made its mark as a burgeoning tech city, being named one of the top cities in America for eCommerce business. The city has managed to carve out a niche in the cryptocurrency space, with the creation of a cryptocurrency specific to the area: MiamiCoin.

“It’s on fire,” said Suarez. “Our tax base grew by 12 percent year over year. We’ve transferred over $2 trillion in assets under-managed companies in the last two years. Our venture capital pipeline grew by 400 percent year over year. It’s amazing what following some basic principles will do for a city like keeping taxes low, keeping people safe, keeping homeless low. We are at a 2013-year low in homelessness where our tax rate is at a 1960s low and our homicide rate is at a 1950s low.”

South Florida has seen an influx of new residents from both domestic and international origins, as well as businesses moving headquarters seeking more favorable tax structures. The surge in people inhabiting the city has led to higher demand for real estate, driving prices higher while keeping the market red-hot. Miami-Dade County’s real estate market continues to skyrocket, as the Miami Association of Realtors in MArch registered the county’s third-highest month ever in terms of sales.

“If you keep people safe, you focus on quality of life, it’s an incredible difference from what people are seeing in other major cities across America. And we now live in a decentralized world where you don’t have to physically be somewhere to be able to be successful. And people like Ken Griffin are proving that.” continued Suarez. “When Citadel moved to Palm Beach initially during the pandemic, they prove that they could be a massive market maker and not have to be in New York or Chicago. And now he’s made the move. So we’re excited to have Ken Griffin and his family in Miami.”

Ken Griffin, Illinois’ richest person and founder of industry-leading investment firm Citadel, announced in June that he is relocating his company from Chicago to Miami, citing a more business-friendly atmosphere and a comparative reduction in crime.

In a memo sent to employees, Griffin noted that Florida harbors a better corporate environment due to its favorable tax structure and lack of an income tax. The move is expected to be a multi-year process and will necessitate the construction of a new office building in the downtown Miami neighborhood of Brickell.

In prior years, Griffin threatened to pull Citadel out of Illinois, referring to Chicago in 2013 as a city of “broken schools, bankrupt pensions, rising crime, a declining tax base, and public corruption.”

“Chicago will continue to be important to the future of Citadel, as many of our colleagues have deep ties to Illinois,” Griffin said in his memo to employees. “Over the past year, however, many of our Chicago teams have asked to relocate to Miami, New York, and our other offices around the world.”

Citadel is one of the most successful hedge-fund firms, overseeing $51 billion in assets and regularly outpacing competitors and the market, making a swift recovery following the 2008 recession.


Source:  The Capitolist

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Miami Positioned As Blockchain City Of The World

Miami is very well positioned to be the blockchain city of the world, experts are saying, as an influx of talented people in the blockchain technology industry are choosing the city to develop their businesses and create a crypto-enthusiastic community.

The Miami-Dade County Cryptocurrency Taskforce, created May 4 by the county commission, is studying potential policies and ways the county could implement cryptocurrency as forms of payment for taxes, fees and services.

Samir Suresh Patel, associate lawyer for Holland & Knight and a taskforce appointee by Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, says that what is attracting a great number of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to invest in blockchain technology in Miami is that the area can offer a better lifestyle than any other city.

“The blockchain community is a young, vibrant kind of movement,” said Mr. Patel. “There is an incredible amount of energy that is being harnessed here in Miami and put towards the effort of creating a blockchain community.” CEO Peter Smith announced last June that the company would be moving its headquarters from New York to Miami.

“We already have more employees in Miami than we do in New York,” he said in an interview in June. “In Miami there is a focus of the government to build a tech economy and to put crypto at the center of that and, at the end of the day, we want to be where the energy is, where the excitement is.”

Mr. Smith said the company would plan to hire 100 employees over the next year and 300 over the next couple of years.

“Because most of these people are entrepreneurs, and block and software developers, and very experienced and well versed in blockchain technology,” said Mr. Patel, “not only they want to conduct their profitable business here, but they also want to give back to the community and build that blockchain infrastructure, where citizens and constituents of Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami can benefit from the inventions that blockchain can provide.”

City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has strongly advocated to integrate cryptocurrency into the government infrastructure and to create a “cryptocurrency innovation hub” in the city, to incentivize citizens and merchants to adopt this technology.

On Nov. 2, Mayor Suarez tweeted that he would accept his next paycheck in Bitcoin. While those initiatives have not yet taken place, his efforts move ahead plans to integrate cryptocurrency into the city government.

“County politicians and city politicians have become more vocal in inviting these enterprises and these people into the city,” said Mr. Patel. “We are seeing this mass influx of talent and money, involved in blockchain technology.”

Mr. Patel also said that many residents have attended meetings of the Miami-Dade Cryptocurrency Task Force expressing interest and sharing independent projects.

“The enthusiasm that started with venture capitalists,” he said, “has certainly trickled down to actual community constituents.”

CityCoin, a non-profit and open-source electronic wallet that allows people to hold and trade cryptocurrency representing a city’s stake, introduced a MiamiCoin last August.

According to its website, traders in the community “mine” MiamiCoins by “forwarding STX tokens (Stacks tokens) into a smart contract in a given Stacks block.” Miners would keep 70% of the rewards – as they stack them – while the remaining 30% is sent to the wallet of the City of Miami in STX for them to convert it into US dollars.

The MiamiCoin protocol has sent about $7.1 million to the City of Miami, the Washington Post reported. Although the city has not adopted the protocol yet, city commissioners agreed on Sept. 13 to accept the donations. In the past three months, the report said, it has reached a total amount mined of $21 million.

“If it were to become part of the fabric of the blockchain ecosystem that is here in Miami-Dade County,” Mr. Patel said, “it would certainly be something that has not been replicated anywhere else in the world. There is not a city or a county that has its own cryptocurrency that is being transacted within its constituents.”


“There are still legal and political due diligence that needs to be done, when it comes to accepting city taxes or other kind of city payments in cryptocurrency,” he added. “I do think that the City of Miami is operating very strategically and very carefully, and rightfully so.”
The blockchain community is endlessly searching for legitimacy, he also said, “and one of tell-tale sign of legitimacy is having the support of politicians, whether that be senators in Washington, governors in states or mayors of local municipalities.”

Alex Lemberg, the CEO of Nimbus Platform, a decentralized finance company that provides 16 revenue streams for traders and recipients of cryptocurrency, said more people and institutions are realizing the real scope of the transformation these innovations create.

“Decentralized finance (DeFi) extends this transformation to existing and new financial products and services with the same security and protections traditional financial institutions offer,” he said in an email. “It provides full transparency and offers the advantages of decentralization, such as eliminating intermediaries and hidden fees.”

According to Mr. Patel, it is actually very difficult to create a decentralized autonomous organization legally, “but it’s like any kind of invention, as blockchain technology has shown, it takes a little bit of time in order to get acceptance by society.”

DeFi, he explained, is a bank operating on the blockchain; a series of smart contracts – computer codes without human intervention – which, in conjunction with each other, provide bank services.

“One of the big things that I’m waiting to see,” he said, “is a way to improve the infrastructure within cities, like laying down high-fiber optic cabling in order to handle massive amounts of blockchain technology information flowing from one end to another. Having a microscope on Miami would certainly be something that can be extrapolated to the greater world.”


Source:  Miami Today

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Real Estate Wins in Miami’s Mayoral Elections

Real estate-friendly candidates and initiatives came out victorious across Miami in Tuesday night’s election, particularly in the mayoral races in the high-profile cities of Miami and Miami beach.

In Miami Beach, Mayor Dan Gelber handily won reelection, capturing 62 percent of votes for this third term. The Democrat had tied his campaign to a controversial referendum to curb partying in South Beach. The referendum proposed rolling back the last-call time to serve alcohol at establishments along famed Ocean Drive, to 2 a.m. from 5 a.m.

The majority of voters agreed with Gelber, with 56 percent approving the non-binding measure.

Proponents say the initiative will help curb disorderly conduct and crime at the wee hours of the night.

“They don’t have to have a 24-hour party. Our residents cannot be held captive to a business model that creates disorder,” Gelber said last night.

Real estate is also at play. Endorsers believe the measure will help revive a historic but shabby part of town, and soften its wild-party image incongruent with the expensive condominiums that surround it.

As Miami attracts corporate giants, developers, including Jorge Perez of the Related Group, say Miami Beach has fallen behind, partially because of the perception of mayhem. Related is looking for a marquee name to fill its One Island Park office development in Miami Beach.

Last month, a tape leaked of Gelber talking with unidentified developers about creating a Political Action Committee to fund city commission candidates that support redevelopment, according to the Miami New Times, which first reported about the tape. The mayor also said he could put initiatives on the ballot favored by developers as a way of bypassing the commission approval.

“In politics, money plays a big part …” Gelber is heard saying. “Tell us what you need to reimagine the areas we know need to be reimagined.”

A Political Action Committee supporting the Ocean Drive measure earned donations from Starwood Capital Group’s Barry Sternlicht and developer Alex SapirThe Real Deal reported.

Critics, like the Citizens for All a Safe Miami Beach, say the measure will cost as much as $40 million in lost tax revenue and drive up unemployment, which will only worsen crime in the area.

Across Biscayne Bay in Miami, Mayor Francis Suarez also cruised through reelection, winning nearly 79 percent of the vote. The Republican elected official was a shoo-in, having raised millions of dollars.

Suarez’s crowning achievement has been to rebrand Miami into the “Wall Street and Silicon Valley of the South” by courting companies to relocate while embracing cryptocurrency. Many took note. Corporate heavyweights BlackstonePoint72 Management and Microsoft, just to cite a few, signed office leases in Miami this year.

Developers have reaped the benefits of the corporate migration. Office landlords have kept rates high thanks to the new-to-market demands. Residential rents and home prices have skyrocketed over the past year due to the influx of moguls and high-earning workers.

Suarez will undoubtedly continue to lobby companies — now with voters’ blessings. “Today we embark on a new chapter to finish what we started,” Suarez said last night. (Representatives for the mayor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

The mayoral race in Sunny Isles Beach, a town littered with new oceanfront high-rises, will go to a runoff since no candidate captured more than 50 percent of the vote. Real estate attorney and town commissioner Dana Goldman will face another commissioner, Larisa “Laura” Svechin. 

Down south, Homestead Mayor Steve Losner squeezed out a victory, winning by 68 votes.

Out west in Hialeah, Esteban “Steve” Bovo, who earned an endorsement from former President Trump, won the mayor’s race.


Source:  Commercial Observer


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Two Venture Capital Funds And StartUp Ink Leases in Miami’s Wynwood

Venture capital funds Founders Fund and Atomic, as well as the start-up OpenStore, signed three office leases totaling 22,000 sq. ft. in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District, at Wynwood Annex, a creative office building developed by Related Group and East End Capital.

Founders Fund is a major Silicon Valley venture capital firm with billions of dollars in capital under management. Co-founder Peter Thiel, who also co-founded PayPal, showed interest in Miami last year when he signed a short-term lease for office space before selecting Wynwood as home to its permanent Miami office.

Already home to popular tech companies Spotify and Live Nation and start-ups like the CodelittWyncodeASOFTIO Software, and now, OpenStore, some are beginning to refer to Wynwood as the epicenter of Miami’s urban core.

According to a release, the following recent announcements are also helping to solidify Wynwood as the creative hub of Miami:

  • Microsoft and SoftBank Group, one of the world’s largest tech investors, announced they are looking for 100,000+ sq. ft. of space;
  • Announced last week, Wynwood will host the world’s largest Bitcoin Conference in June 2021 where Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will speak at Mana Convention Center.  The conference was previously held in Los Angeles, California; and
  • Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced the City’s first-ever Chief Technology Officer and is currently considering a contract for employees to receive all or part of their salaries in Bitcoin, and for the public to have a Bitcoin option while paying for city services.    


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Super Bowl Descends on Miami and Its Changing Skyline

The last time the Super Bowl came to Miami, the football stadium on the edge of the Everglades and just off the turnpike was surrounded by asphalt and dirt parking lots.

Miami-Dade County had 20% fewer apartments and 23% fewer available hotel rooms during the championship game in 2010, when Airbnb and ride-hailing companies such as Uber were in their infancy. Brightline, the commuter train service renamed Virgin Trains USA that connects Miami with West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, didn’t exist. All those factors are expected to play major roles this weekend as Miami hosts the Super Bowl for a record 11th time, attracting more than 200,000 people to a region with a skyline that has changed dramatically.

“If you were here 10 years ago and came back, you’ll find that this city is completely different,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said.

North of downtown, once-distressed neighborhoods such as Allapattah and Little Haiti are attracting new development that appeals to millennials who want to live close to where they work. One of the trendiest areas of Miami is Wynwood, a former industrial and garment district now drawing offices, retail and residential. Tour buses regularly pass through Wynwood, allowing visitors to snap selfies among the spray-painted graffiti that adorns many of the buildings in the rollicking arts district.

“Miami has become more of an urban place where people live and play now,” said Rodney Barreto, chairman of the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee. “It wasn’t that 10 years ago. Heck, at 6 or 7 o’clock at night you couldn’t find anybody downtown. Now at 11 o’clock at night, people are walking their dogs.”

In the past 10 years, close to 30,000 new apartments have been built across Miami-Dade County, helping make it the U.S. capital for rentals as a percentage of inventory, according to CoStar data. The market has added 11,000 more hotel rooms, not including thousands of new beds now available through home-sharing giant Airbnb. Scores of luxury condominium towers are sprouting up in downtown Miami, including one that has an amenity deck that can be transformed into a skyport for flying cars and another with a robot concierge service.

The 65,000-seat Hard Rock Stadium is now the new home of the Miami Open tennis tournament and has attracted soccer, concerts and other events. Last year, ground was broken on a $135 million Dolphins training facility next to the stadium. And gondolas were installed that will make their debut on Super Bowl Sunday, giving fans an aerial view of the pregame festivities.

“It’s definitely a different town, and we’re going to be really proud to show it off, for sure,” Barreto said.

The Feb. 2 game at Hard Rock Stadium between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers is expected to generate an estimated economic impact in excess of $400 million. Hotels in the Miami area are projected to break all-time highs for average daily rate and revenue per available room, two industry standard measurements, according to figures from STR, a travel industry data and analytics firm owned by CoStar Group, the parent company of CoStar News.

Making the Pitch

NFL owners voted in 2016 to award South Florida this year’s Super Bowl, a game that marks the league’s 100th season. They were sold after listening to a pitch from Miami Dolphins owner and Hudson Yards developer Stephen Ross about hundreds of millions of dollars he spent to renovate the aging Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, on the edge of the Everglades northwest of downtown Miami.

At the time, the Dolphins and Barreto said the region’s bid, which topped 550 pages, included a budget of cash and incentives valued at more than $40 million. Barreto now declines to discuss specifics of the bid, saying parts of it eventually will be made public.

Miami, the nation’s seventh-largest metropolitan area, is a preferred destination for the Super Bowl because of its size and the consistently warm weather, notwithstanding the Super Bowl in 2007, but even then fans found it strangely appropriate that halftime performer Prince sang his hit song “Purple Rain” in the rain.

Meanwhile, the matchups in Miami have been among the most memorable in league history.

In the second of five Super Bowls played at the Orange Bowl in Miami, New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath famously guaranteed victory over the Baltimore Colts in 1969, a huge upset that led to the merger of the NFL and the American Football League.

Twenty years later, in a new stadium privately funded by Dolphins founding owner Joe Robbie, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana jokingly pointed out actor John Candy in the crowd to his teammates before leading them on a last-second drive to beat the Cincinnati Bengals.

A decade ago, the New Orleans Saints outlasted the now Indianapolis Colts with the help of a risky onside kick to open the second half, delivering the Big Easy’s first title, 4 1/2 years after the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

But not long after the Saints beat the Colts in February 2010, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell delivered a stark message to Ross and other officials hoping to schedule another Super Bowl at Hard Rock.

“The commissioner was very adamant and very loud about we would not get another Super Bowl until we made renovations,” Barreto told CoStar News.

Stadium Improvement Process

Ross first sought public money to renovate the stadium that opened in 1987, though that effort hit a political wall. In 2014, he struck a deal with Miami-Dade to pay for the upgrades himself in exchange for bonus payments to the Dolphins for hosting the Super Bowl and other events.

The phased stadium improvements brought new seats, two new concourses, new suites, four high-definition video boards and a canopy that shades 92% of the fans. The cost: more than $550 million.

Gondolas will make their debut at Hard Rock Stadium at the Super Bowl Feb. 2 in Miami. (Paul Owers/CoStar News)

Ross’ total investment at Hard Rock Stadium now tops $700 million, noted Tom Garfinkel, president and CEO of the Dolphins and member of the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee.

“It’s a testament to Steve Ross’ commitment,” Garfinkel said in an interview. “The stadium has become a global entertainment destination.”

The NFL seems impressed.

Senior Director of Event Planning Eric Finkelstein, whose crew of 6,000 workers has been in South Florida since Jan. 2 preparing for the Super Bowl, said the new canopy allows the league to introduce surprises for fans during the championship game.

“To us, it feels like a brand new building because of how much has changed,” said Finkelstein, who is overseeing his 21st Super Bowl.

NFL owners typically vote to award the game to cities with warm weather or domed stadiums. Teams that agree to build stadiums, as the Los Angeles Rams are doing, have a good chance of eventually hosting the Super Bowl. Tampa, Florida, doesn’t have a new stadium, but NFL owners voted to move the Super Bowl there in February 2021 from Inglewood, California, because of construction delays at the Los Angeles Rams’ SoFi Stadium. It will be the fifth time Tampa has hosted the game. The big game heads to SoFi Stadium in the Los Angeles area in 2022.

Local civic and business leaders insist they aren’t taking for granted the impact of the game on South Florida, no matter how many times it has been played here.

“We have the attention and the focus of the world,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said.

Barreto has signed paperwork to allow South Florida to compete for the Super Bowl in any year from 2025 to 2030. He was watching on television Wednesday when Goodell, speaking at his state of the league press conference, praised local officials and indicated the game likely will return to Hard Rock Stadium.

“We’re ecstatic,” Barreto said. “I believe they like Miami. We’re experienced, and we know how to work with them.”


Source:  CoStar

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ULI Recommends Changes To City Of Miami Zoning Code

A new Urban Land Institute report suggests city officials relax certain provisions of the Miami 21 zoning code to encourage denser developments on narrower lots and further incentivize developers who reduce or eliminate parking, among other recommendations.

Report co-author Andrew Frey presented his ULI focus group’s findings on Friday to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who declined to comment about how he will incorporate the report’s recommendations into a revamp of Miami 21 that is currently underway.

“We are focused that [growth] happens responsibly,” Suarez said. “That it supports things like transit; that it supports our resiliency efforts.”\

Frey, director of development for Fortis Design + Build, said the focus group was formed last year to look at aspects of Miami 21 that inhibit progress in areas of housing choice, affordability and mobility.

“We wanted to give specific textual recommendations that hopefully can shorten up the cycle between finding glitches or gaps in Miami 21 and filling them,” Frey said. “We tried to make the recommendations as concrete as possible.”

According to the report, city officials should consider deleting lot size minimums and density maximums in certain areas, such as those zoned T4, T5 and T6. The neighborhoods with T4 zoning allow a transition from single-family homes to multifamily buildings with room for small businesses and mom-and-pop retail such as Southwest Eighth Street in Little Havana. In T5 neighborhoods, developers can put up mixed-use buildings that accomodate retail, office and apartments such as Wynwood. And T6 neighborhoods allow developers to build multi-story condo, apartment and office towers such as downtown Miami, Brickell and Edgewater.

Getting rid of density maximums would allow developers to build more apartments sized smaller for mid-market renters because they would be able to build 100 or more units an acre . And by eliminating lot size minimums, Miami can encourage the development of more housing types such as townhouses, row houses and brownstones found in other major U.S. metropolitan cities, the report states.

The ULI focus group also suggested dramatic revisions to the parking standards in Miami 21, including having the Miami Parking Authority provide all on-street parking in single-family residential neighborhoods as residents-only at no cost. Other recommendations included significantly reducing parking requirements for new buildings and allowing developers to obtain parking reductions without having to pay impact fees.

Greg West, CEO of apartment builder ZOM Living and ULI Southeast Florida Caribbean District’s chairman, attended the mayor’s presentation. He noted that the report was produced with input from several heavy hitters from the real estate industry, including urban planner Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, the original author of Miami 21. In addition to Frey, the focus group included land use attorneys Iris Escarra and Steven Wernick, developers David Martin and Kenneth Naylor and architects Reinaldo Borges and Raymond Fort.

“We had a pretty big tent on whom we sought input from, which also included the people who originally wrote and drafted Miami 21,” West said. “I think from the private side and development community, we got a good base.”



Source:  The Real Deal

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