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A 12-screen movie theater

– Miami Herald, December 7, 2010

In a move that signals confidence in Miami’s economic recovery — and potential for growth in the city’s urban core — the developer of the downtown Metropolitan Miami complex announced plans to add a high-end movie theater.

Plans call for the new theater at the Metropolitan Miami complex to open by late 2012 or early 2013. It will join a Whole Foods, set for completion in 2013, and the already-open Met 1 residential tower, Wells Fargo Center office tower and JW Marriott Marquis and Hotel Beaux Arts.

Adding a multiplex is the latest step in making the area a place where people want to live, work and play. That’s a dramatic change of scenery from 10 years ago, when fewer than 40,000 people lived downtown and there was a dearth of options compared to other cities with cosmopolitan credentials.

But the building boom added towering high-rise buildings with 23,000 units — and the bust made those units more affordable for young professionals who wanted to live near their jobs. Now, 70,000 people live downtown, and the Miami Downtown Development Authority expects another 10,000 to move in by 2014.

The theater, said DDA executive director Alyce Robertson, was a missing piece for those new residents.

“This is an amenity that adds to the ambience of a 24-7 residential, commercial and entertainment district,’” Robertson said.

MDM Development Group said Tuesday that it had finalized an agreement with luxury theater company Silverspot to open a 55,000-square-foot, 12-screen theater as the anchor for the planned Met Square entertainment complex. It will also include retail and restaurant space.

“This is a total game-changer for the market,’” said Lyle Stern, principal with Koniver Stern Group, the retail leasing representative of Metropolitan Miami. “It’s real urban living.”

The downtown Miami corridor has added thousands of residents and dozens of restaurants, shops and hotels over the past decade. But the broader downtown area hasn’t had a movie theater since the AMC at Omni International Mall closed in 1999 — and even that was more than a mile north of the proposed site near Biscayne Boulevard and Southeast Third Avenue.

For a night out at the movies, downtown residents have to drive to South Beach, Coconut Grove or South Miami.

Those are attorney Eric Bluestein’s options — though he finds himself watching movies at home more often than venturing out to a theater these days.

“I like movies a lot,’” said Bluestein, 28, who lives in the Met 1 building. “Once they put a theater next to me, I’ll definitely be going quite a bit.”

Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who chairs the DDA, said downtown offers sports with the AmericanAirlines Arena and arts with the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, but lacks what he called the “simple pleasures” of going to the movies.

“It makes it a whole community,” he said. “There’s no reason you have to leave.”

The closest movie option, Paragon Grove 13, reopened in June after going dark for renovations for eight months at Coconut Grove’s CocoWalk. Like the planned theater, that cinema sells wine and beer and allows patrons to reserve specific seats.

Silverspot, which has one other location, in Naples, boasts luxuries like large leather seats, hardwood floors and marble and glass finishes. Though pricing for Miami isn’t yet available, general admission for adults at the Naples location is $15.

MDM did not disclose projected development costs for the theater at the $1 billion Metropolitan Miami complex.

James Marsh, a media and entertainment analyst for Piper Jaffray, said chains worldwide have been experimenting with offering high-end moviegoing experiences. He said the concept hasn’t yet been proven, but it could be a smarter move than trying to compete with nearby megaplexes.

Movies in general have fared “remarkably well” during the economic recession, Marsh said, despite the abundance of entertainment options on home television screens and mobile devices.

For Bluestein, who also works downtown, the promise of having a grocery store and movie theater in his back yard is “like a dream come true.”

“It’ll definitely make life a lot easier,” he said. “Anytime you can avoid traffic down here, it lessens your stress.”

His prediction: “I’m going to become a downtown hermit.”

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No future condo glut

What condo glut?

That’s what Aventura-based International Sales Group asks in a report released Friday that pooh-poohed the notion that tens of thousands of condo units would overwhelm Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

The report said 62,000 units were projected for downtown Miami alone beginning in 2005, but only 17,502 actually were built. And more than 70 percent have been sold.

“The same misconception that haunted Miami is attached to Fort Lauderdale and Broward County,” the ISG report says.

Though it’s unclear how many Broward condo units originally were projected, 5,092 were built and more than 87 percent have been sold.

Only 637 units remain. ISG did not include Palm Beach County in its report. has drawn a similar conclusion about downtown Fort Lauderdale in a separate report released Monday.

“By the end of 2011, the new developer inventory will be sold, based on current sales,” said Craig Studnicky, ISG principal.

At that time, there will be a need for new product again, though construction will still be a couple years away, added ISG co-founder Philip Spiegelman.
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Miami Modern

Grocery stores, new hotels, a tunnel project and revitalized bay front parks are adding to the portrait of a maturing downtown Miami, which already has a row of luxury condominium towers, Broadway shows at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and, oh, some guys who play basketball.

While Miami is sometimes portrayed in the national media as the epicenter of the real estate downturn, the number of downtown residents has grown an estimated 81 percent, to 71,000, since 2000.

There is a sense that downtown Miami is an exciting place to be, evidenced most recently by LeBron James’ arrival to the Miami Heat, says Neisen Kasdin, vice chairman of the Miami Downtown Development Authority, a business advocacy organization.

In the 1990s, downtown was largely deserted at night and only saw 8.4 percent growth, according to the DDA.

Retail has followed the population, with 42 new retail businesses opening downtown since 2009. Additionally, downtown Miami’s retail vacancy rate of 5.06 percent is among the five lowest in the nation’s 50 largest markets, according to an Integra Realty Resources survey.

Downtown Miami can claim several groundbreaking projects, including the cleanup of Bicentennial Park in preparation for construction of the Miami Art Museum. The vision for the park, which also includes the Miami Science Museum, is to create a public space that will be the focal point of leisure activity.

In addition to the opening of boutique hotels at the Marquis and Epic condominiums, a new tower with two brands is slated to launch near the mouth of the Miami River in the coming days.

Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, of Related Cervera Realty Services, said she’s reaching out to the camps of all the Miami Heat players, including James. Not only does she want players to buy condominiums at Marquis, which she represents, but she expects Heat fans to keep Marquis’ Tempo Miami Hotel, just a few blocks north of the American Airlines Arena, at full occupancy.

Where only a few months ago, residents living downtown had to travel miles to shop for groceries, the development of a Publix has been announced just north of the Arsht Center, and Whole Foods Market is negotiating a lease at the Metropolitan Miami project.

The result is that downtown Miami is starting to show the type of overall balance already found in the Brickell Avenue neighborhood south of the Miami River.

The DDA has also launched an effort to determine the viability of a conference facility that could include hotel rooms in downtown Miami.

The JW Marriott Marquis Miami is planning to open Oct. 22. The 357-room property, located in a stand-alone tower in the Wells Fargo Center, is one of only a few hotels of its class in the downtown area. Others include the Epic, Tempo Miami in the Marquis condominium and the InterContinental Miami.

The JW Marriott will target business travelers, said Paul Pebley, director of sales and marketing.

Leisure travelers will probably only comprise about 10 percent to 15 percent of the hotel’s business, he estimated.

With prices starting at $329, the hotel will cater to upscale corporate travelers but, with 80,000 square feet of meeting and event space, group business will also play an important role, Pebley noted.

In addition, the JW Marriott will offer a special floor – the Hotel Beaux Arts Miami, a “hotel within a hotel” – that provides an even more exclusive experience, including separate registration and concierge service. Room rates start at $400.

Pebley said that the JW Marriott will do well downtown Miami since the area is becoming more of a business and cultural destination – thanks, in part, to the buzz around James and the Miami Heat.

“Our feeling was that there was a lack of modern meeting space in the downtown market,” he said. “It’s really been the most significant meeting space added to the market in many years.”

There are not many high-end hotels in downtown Miami that cater to the business traveler, but it’s not hard to find those properties nearby, either in the Brickell area or Miami Beach, said hotel consultant Scott Brush, president of Miami-based Brush & Co. Still, the hotel will do well based on the strength of the Marriott name and the proximity to business tenants in the Wells Fargo Center, he said.

“For a property in a building like that, a lot of the business comes from the tenants in the building,” he said. “It is so much easier to stay in a hotel and just walk over to your meeting than it is to get in a cab and go.”

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Developer Evangeline Gouletas Makes Her Mark On Miami


She dances the tango, rides horseback, collects fine china, once worked on the Minuteman Missile program and was previously the first lady of New York state.

Evangeline Gouletas, who founded a real estate company in Chicago with her two brothers, and moved to Miami in 2000 to head her own business, is the developer behind Miami’s SkyPalace at Mary Brickell Village.

“I knew I wanted to make a difference in the skyline: It wouldn’t be Chicago without its skyline. It wouldn’t be Miami without its skyline,” Evangeline said. “I was looking ahead to influence the skyline in all these majors cities.”

Evangeline is the chairman and CEO of both Skyline Equities Realty, a development company, and Skyline Realty International, a residential brokerage firm. Both companies are headquartered on Miami’s Brickell Avenue, and also have offices in Chicago.

“She has had the track record of being very successful, not only as a developer, but also has been very active in the Developers & Builders Alliance [trade group],” said real estate analyst Michael Y. Cannon, executive director of Integra Realty Resources-Miami. Among the alliance’s other leaders have been Donald Trump and Related Group’s Jorge Perez, Cannon said. ”Her reputation is that she is savvy and she is a hands-on person,” Cannon said.

Born in Athens, Greece, Evangeline says she brings a European sense of style and architecture to her buildings, translating design ideas from her travels. In all, her companies have developed 120 projects in more than 40 markets in the United States.

She also owns retail space and Cite Fine Dining, a restaurant on the 70th floor of Lake Point Tower, a well-known building in Chicago on the prestigious Lake Shore Drive.

“I love beauty, no matter what I have in my hands, I beautify it,” she said. “I may have a grapefruit for breakfast, but the table looks like I am going to have a feast.”

Active in sports, Evangeline has skied all over Europe and the United States, and has competed in dressage horse riding. She has a dancing coach come to her home three times a week to do ballroom dancing, and says she excels at tango. She also attends the symphony and the opera, designs some of her own clothes, enjoys cooking and collects Lalique crystal and fine china.

Before entering real estate, Evangeline taught math in Chicago and was a mathematical analyst on the Minuteman Missile program in Anaheim, Calif. She holds a master’s degree in education and did post-graduate work in math and engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

But real estate was always a passion.

“During all this time I was assisting my dad making his real estate decisions — he was in real estate in Chicago, purchasing buildings and developing them,” she said. “I became very enamored with assisting him and making the buildings more beautiful, raising the quality of life for people.”

Throughout the years, she has also been involved in various philanthropic causes, including Unicef.

“I spent 12 years in New York, it was very exciting. It gave me the opportunity to lead a lot of charitable organizations and be an influence in coordinating them and raising a lot of money, doing whatever I could to promote the cultural arts and the educational field,” Evangeline said. “I worked harder than I have ever worked, and it gave me a great sense of accomplishment.”

She also hobnobbed with the likes of David Rockefeller, whose home she visited, as well as Donald Trump and his former wife Ivana, and has sailed on Malcolm Forbes’ yacht. ”It was a wonderful exposure,” she said.

Still, she said her transition to Florida was natural. While living in Chicago and New York, Evangeline said she had always maintained a second and third home in South Florida, first in Fort Lauderdale, and then in Aventura, as well as a home in Duck Key.

“It was time for me to spread my wings, and for my brother Nick to run his own company, and for me to run my own. I wanted to go to Florida, and the corporate direction was to stay in Chicago,” she said. “I wanted to be the CEO and lead a company, and I felt that I was more than ready to do that and to move to the place of my dreams.”

She chose Miami.

“Of all the major cities, I thought: `Where do I want to spend the rest of my life, and do business?’ ” Evangeline said, adding that she doesn’t ever plan to retire. “For business opportunities and lifestyle, my choice was Miami.”

Between her former and current companies, she has been involved in the development of such projects in Florida as the Executive House in Miami Beach; the Yacht Club of Aventura; Galt Towers and Royal Ambassador, on Galt Ocean Mile in Fort Lauderdale; Village Lake, a project of 346 homes in St. Petersburg; Skyline on Brickell; and now SkyPalace at Mary Brickell Village.

SkyPalace, which had expected to begin construction this summer, is now finalizing legal terms to borrow more than $100 million within the next few weeks, and contruction will start before the end of the year, said Stylianos Vayanos, Skyline Equities Realty’s vice president of public relations and international marketing.

Among Evangeline’s strengths are her determination and her marketing abilities, said Brian Tague, a partner at Tew Cardenas who has worked with Evangeline, representing SkyPalace.

It would be a mistake to underestimate Evangeline, because a lot of people say this is a difficult time to do a project,” Tague said. “But her determination and her creativity are going to make this work one way or the other.”

For the future, Evangeline plans even more projects for the Brickell area — the same neighborhood in which she lives.

“I love the energy here, the cosmopolitan feeling of what is happening in Miami, and especially this section of Miami, the Brickell area,” she said. “I feel very strongly that it is one of the best areas of the world. It has vibrancy. It has everything you want for a great lifestyle.”

Her logo, which depicts a building reaching toward the sky, describes best her business philosophy: “I’m looking ahead for my generation and the generation to come,” she said. “I’m a visionary.”

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Florida Sees Increase In International Buyers

According to an article published today by the Florida Realtors Association “…roughly two out of every three Realtors in the state had at least one international transaction within the past year. While U.S. buyers continue to struggle, foreign buyers generally see U.S. real estate as a desirable, profitable and secure investment. In addition, a weak U.S. dollar has made Florida real estate even more attractive recently. The National Association of Realtors®, in cooperation with Florida Realtors, conducted a survey of Florida members, asking them about their experience working with international clients. The survey was conducted in July-August 2010. A total of 936 responses were received.

Report highlights:

  • 65 percent of survey participants – members of Florida Realtors – worked with an international client in the past 12 months.
  • One in five worked with two international clients, and 18 percent working with three or more.
  • Half of the respondents said that international clients accounted for 25 percent or less of their business; 15 percent reported that international homebuyers accounted for more than half of their business.
  • One in three said that international clients were an increasing share of their customers in the past two years, while just under half (48 percent) noted that their share of international clients stayed about the same.
  • Canada had the largest share of buyers, accounting for 36 percent of recent sales. Buyers from the United Kingdom accounted for 15 percent, and the rest of Western Europe accounted for an additional 14 percent. Latin America, defined for the purposes of the report to include Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America, accounted for 16 percent. Other countries with a small but significant share of sales included Germany (5 percent), Venezuela (3 percent), Brazil (3 percent) and France (3 percent).
  • 11 percent of foreign buyers bought a new home, while the remaining 89 percent purchased a previously owned home.
  • 51 percent purchased a detached single-family home; 37 percent purchased a condo, 11 percent purchased a townhouse and 1 percent purchased some other type of home.
  • 38 percent purchased in a suburban area; 30 percent purchased property in a resort area; 25 percent purchased in a central city; and 7 percent purchased in a small town or rural area.
  • 15 percent of buyers plan to use their property less than one month per year; 21 percent expect to use it one to two months; and 34 percent three to six months.
  • 19 percent bought a home in the Orlando-Kissimmee area; 17 percent chose Miami-Ft. Lauderdale; 13 percent opted for Bradenton-Sarasota; and Tampa, Cape Coral-Fort Myers and Naples rounded out the top six with at least 5 percent of purchases.”

This is very important information that certainly affects a realtor’s and a real estate developer’s marketing strategy. It shows that the Florida real estate market remains a very desirable one for buyers from many different parts of the world. You can also refer to our recent blog entry under the title “Why Miami?” to read more about all the reasons why the real estate market in Florida in general – and Miami in particular – has always been and still is so appealing.

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123 New Florida Condos

In a recent article by Florida-based real estate consultancy Condo Vultures published an article on their website regarding Fannie Mae and the steady increase of Fannie Mae approved new condos for financing in Florida. Here are the many points of the article:

“Fannie Mae, the behemoth public-private mortgage company, has approved 123 new Florida condos for financing in the first eight months of 2010, a stark contrast to 2008 when not a single project was accepted, according to a new report from

New condo project approvals for financing in 2010 have already risen by more than 40 percent compared to 2009 when 87 projects were deemed acceptable for mortgages by Fannie Mae. No new Florida condos were approved for financing in 2008 after 27 projects were approved in 2007, according to the report based on Fannie Mae data.

New condominium projects that fail to receive Fannie Mae approval are virtually locked out of conventional financing where interest rates are at record lows. A lack of available financing typically means lower prices for sellers as the only would-be buyers have all cash and demand deep discount to transact deals, industry watchers said.

“Fannie Mae has made a seismic policy shift in its outlook for new Florida condos,” said Peter Zalewski, a principal with the Bal Harbour, Fla.-based real estate consultancy Condo Vultures® LLC. “Back in 2008, Fannie Mae’s underwriters failed to approve a single new Florida condo for financing. Today, Fannie Mae is approving projects at a pace of more than 15 condo applications per month.


Fannie Mae’s approval is essential for financing as the federal-chartered entity is the one of the largest purchasers of mortgages on the secondary market from loan originators.

In the first half of 2010, Fannie Mae acquired or guaranteed more than $420 billion in loans. Since 2009, Fannie Mae has acquired or guaranteed more than $1.2 trillion in mortgages, according to a recent Fannie Mae statement.

Fannie Mae’s voracious appetite for mortgages is what permits the Washington, D.C.-based entity to set the criteria for what loans it will purchase from lenders.

Loan originators, in turn, tailor their mortgages to be Fannie Mae-compliant to better improve the chances of reselling the financial instruments on the secondary market rather than maintaining the loans in portfolios.


Since January 2010, Fannie Mae has attempted to reverse the financing problem by developing new “special approval” requirements specifically for Florida condominiums.

To implement the program, Fannie Mae created a six-member team of underwriters who are versed in the “special approval” criteria and sent them out to evaluate Florida condos. It is this team that has approved more than 120 condos in 2010.

“This new initiative is geared toward providing maximum support for Florida’s distressed condo market as we continue to provide liquidity to the housing market more broadly,” Fannie Mae’s Karen Pallotta, Executive Vice President of Single Family Mortgage Business, said in a statement.”

The aforementioned increase in Fannie Mae approved new Florida condos described in the above article is one more clear indication that the real estate market is well on its way to stabilization and strengthening. All signs are positive and market trends continue their upward momentum.

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Why Miami?

The Greater Downtown Miami area lies between the Julia Tuttle Causeway south to the Rickenbacker Causeway, and Interstate 95 east to Biscayne Bay. The Brickell area (including Brickell, West Brickell and South Brickell), which is part of Greater Downtown Miami, lies between Miami River on the north, Rickenbacker Causeway on the south, Interstate 95 on the west and Biscayne Bay in the east, is a much smaller area that is being defined not only by natural boarders, but also by its residents, neighborhood feel and internationally acclaimed prestige. Greater Downtown Miami’s population is estimated to total approximately 71,000 persons and is projected to increase to over 81,000 by 2014, according the May 2010 “Population & Demographic Profile” report prepared for the Miami Downtown Development Authority by Goodkin Consulting and Focus Real Estate Advisors. The specific Brickell area had a total population of 13,584 according to the 2,000 Census. For 2010, the same area is estimated to have a total population of 28,500, whereas the 2014 projected population for the Brickell area is 33,500. These population projections show that the Brickell area will not only have sufficient occupants for the existing unit inventory, but it will experience a housing shortage due to the fact that other than SkyPalace at Mary Brickell Village there are no other residential developments planned at this point for the Brickell area in the near future.

The South Florida real estate market continues to offer something for everyone. Whether it’s a metropolitan pied-a-terre, a waterfront condo, or a cozy home in the suburbs, you’ll find it here. International and second home buyers, as well as new residents, are attracted by the exciting lifestyle, the beautiful weather, the tax benefit of no state taxes and the international ambiance locals have grown accustomed to. Miami, which ranks number one in the nation for international buyers, is a world-class city featuring relatively inexpensive real estate in an enviable environment. Following the record-breaking real estate boom of a few years ago, the South Florida market, like many others in the nation, experienced a much needed correction, resulting from speculative buying activity. Overbuilding brought about excess inventory. But now buyers are realizing the benefits of buying in a great place and at discount pricing.

Most economists agree that it is difficult to predict when the real estate market has hit bottom, until after it begins to recover, and the Brickell area real estate market appears to be doing just that, according to the most recent statistical data. Affordability reached record levels according to the National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, consumer confidence has increased significantly according to the University of Florida Beaurau of Economic and Business Research, and international buyers continue buying property in the area. Based on the input we receive on a daily basis from our own real estate brokerage company and other brokerages that we work closely with, is that the single most important factor influencing the purchase of a condo in Miami, is that it is viewed by the vast majority of foreign buyers as a desirable location. Some of the main reasons behind this desirability are the following:

Culture, Entertainment and Performing Arts

Miami is home to dozens of entertainment venues, theaters, museums and performing arts centers, hosting international arts events, film festivals and book fairs. Miami is a major fashion center, home to some of the top modeling agencies in the world, and fashion shows such as the annual Miami Fashion Week and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Miami. There are more than 2,400 motion picture and video businesses along with photography, television, cable networks and a thriving music industry. The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami, the American Airlines Arena, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, the Miami Museum of Science, the Lowe Art Museum of the University of Miami, the Miami Arts Museum, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens, the Miami Metro Zoo, the Miami Seaquarium, the Miami Children’s Museum, the Miami Parrot Jungle Island, the Miami Coral Castle Museum, and the Florida International University Frost Art Museum are only a few of the countless cultural, entertainment and performing arts attractions that Miami has to offer.

International City

Miami is knows as the “Capital of the “Gateway to the Americas.” Miami hosts 11+ million visitors annually – including over 5 million international visitors – generating nearly $14 billion in revenues and 100,000 leisure and hospitality jobs. In Miami-Dade County, 50.9% of residents were born outside the U.S., and 67.9% of the population speaks a language other than English at home. Miami is home to 150 ethnicities and 60+ languages.

Global Business Center

There are more than 100 international consulates, trade offices and bi-national chambers of commerce in Miami-Dade County that support the worldwide flow of goods and services. Miami-Dade has 5,553 companies specializing in leisure and hospitality, employing more than 101,500 people. There is also no state or local income tax.

Lifestyle and Weather

South Florida enjoys an average temperature of 75ºF (23ºC). Miami-Dade has 84 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline, 15+ miles of beaches and 67 square miles of inland waterways. Miami-Dade County has six public golf courses, 504 tennis courts and 181 handball / racquetball courts. Most overnight visitors (48%) say the thing they like the most is the weather, followed by the beaches, the international ambience, and the nightlife.

World Aviation Hub

Miami is a world aviation hub connecting North and South America, the Caribbean and Europe, handling 34+ million passengers annually. More than 80 airlines connect Miami International Airport to nearly 140 domestic and international destinations. Private aircraft owners and travelers benefit from three general aviation facilities in Miami-Dade County. Miami ranks #1 for international freight in the U.S., with 1.95+ million tons annually. Miami International Airport is the second busiest hub airport for American Airlines, one of the world’s largest passenger air carriers.

Port of Miami

Miami is the cruise capital of the world, with 4+ million cruise passengers per year. 250 seaports are served and 7+ million tons of sea cargo transported. China leads imports at the Port of Miami, followed by Honduras, Germany, Hong Kong and Brazil. The port boasts an economic impact of $18 billion and more than 150,000jobs.

Sports and Recreation

South Florida has year-round recreational and sporting activities, including soccer, cricket, handball, football, hockey, baseball, snorkeling, diving, jet skiing, boating, sailing, fishing, golf and tennis championships, marathons, charity walks, horse racing, greyhound racing and Jai-Alai. Miami is the “Wreckreational” Diving capital of the world, with over 50 diveable wreck sites. The Homestead-Miami Speedway hosts Grand Prix, Indy and NASCAR races. The area is home to three major professional sports franchises – Miami Dolphins, Florida Marlins and Miami Heat, the NBA team that just added LeBron James to its already great composition of players, something that will have a multimillion impact to the City of Miami to the extend of $500 to $600 million, according to a recent article in Miami Herald. Miami-Dade County has more than 800 parks, recreational areas, and nature centers with great beaches, golf courses, bicycle and walking paths, bays and lagoons.

Schools, Universities and Hospitals

The Miami-Dade Public School District is the fourth largest in the nation; there are five colleges and universities, and three law schools. Florida International University (FIU) enjoys the highest ranking classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a Doctoral / Research University. Recognized as a Carnegie I Research University, the University of Miami is the largest, most comprehensive private research university in the southeastern U.S., and holds a well-earned academic and athletic reputation. Miami Dade College is nationally recognized as one of the largest and best community colleges in the country. The total approximate college-university student enrollment in the county in 2006 was about 245,000, one of the largest in the U.S. There are 33 hospitals in Miami-Dade County. Miami Children’s Hospital is rated the top pediatric hospital in the country. There is also Baptist Hospital and Mercy Hospital, as well as University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center and Holtz Children’s Hospital.

Brickell – “Millionaire’s Row”

Miami has the largest concentration of international Banks in the U.S., the vast majority of them are located in the Brickell area. Brickell Avenue is a tree-lined thoroughfare that runs south from the Miami River and extends three miles to SE 26th Road/Rickenbacker Causeway. This neighborhood can be further divided into North Brickell Avenue which runs from the Miami River to SE 15th Road, and South Brickell which extends from SE 15th to SE 26th Road. South Brickell Avenue is exclusively a residential area in which all of the high rise properties are on the east side facing Biscayne Bay. All of the condominiums on South Brickell were developed before 2005 and currently offer only resale inventory. Hence the competitive market for SAMBV is North Brickell Avenue. North Brickell Avenue presents itself much like Park Avenue in New York; as a divided landscaped boulevard lined by over five million square feet of modern office space set back from the street including the architecturally distinctive Espirito Santo tower. The neighborhood houses the nation’s second largest international banking center with over 120 international financial institutions and most of the accounting and legal services that facilitate international trade. It is a stark contrast to the older, governmental buildings in the Central Business District which is also part of the Greater Downtown Miami area. Additionally, this area includes the Four Seasons and Conrad hotels which accommodate many of the international visitors to Miami. Most of the residential properties lie east of Brickell Avenue over to Biscayne Bay, and west of Brickell over to SW 1st Avenue, on the quieter, tree-lined side streets adjacent to the office towers. North Brickell also includes Brickell Key, a separate island accessible from 8th Street and is the home to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and 12 separate condominium towers. As a result of its proximity to the commercial center of Miami, Brickell has evolved to become the in town desirable place to live, work and socialize. As a result it now has a large and growing population of young professionals, empty nesters and international business people.

Top Rankings

Miami’s skyline ranks third in the U.S. behind New York City and Chicago, and 18th in the world, according to the Almanac of Architecture and Design. Miami ranks as one of America’s Cleanest Cities according to Forbes Magazine. In a recent UBS study, Miami was ranked as the third richest city in the U.S. and the world’s 22nd richest city. Miami is the only major city in the U.S. bordered by two national parks: Everglades National Park on the west and Biscayne National Park on the east. South Beach is continuously ranked one of “America’s Best Beaches.” Miami was named the “Top City for Hispanics to Live” according to Hispanic Magazine. Miami is one of the “Top 15 Cities Most People Would Like to Live” and was named one of “America’s 50 Hottest Cities for Relocations and Expansion.” Miami was also named the “Best U.S. Metropolitan Area for Small Businesses according to


The median age in South Florida is 36. Miami is the most populous city in Florida. The Miami metropolitan area is the 7th largest metro area in the U.S. The United Nations estimated Miami to be the 4th largest urbanized area in the U.S., behind New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. A recent report published in May 2010 by the Miami Downtown Development Authority and prepared by Goodkin Consulting and Focus Real Estate Advisors, states that the current downtown area population is estimated to total approximately 71,000 persons and is projected to increase to over 81,000 by 2014. According to the report, the specific Brickell area had a total population of 13,584 according to the 2,000 Census. For 2010, the same area is estimated to have a total population of 28,500, whereas the 2014 projected population for the Brickell area is 33,500!

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Miami’s Mystique is Ubiquitous, Unyielding and Undeniable!

“The demographics may change and the market conditions may change, but there is one constant in Miami and that is its desirability.” This was the opening sentence of an article written recently in the Miami Monthly Magazine. It is an undeniable fact that Miami commands attention around the world with its sophistication, multicultural aura and ideal weather. Viewed as a fabulous playground, an international gateway, a business-friendly community, or a warm and welcoming place to live, Miami has intrinsic value. Savvy investors understand the longevity of this value, compounded by the fact that real estate is a limited South Florida resource.

The South Florida real estate market continues to offer something for everyone. Whether it’s a Metropolitan pied-a-terre, a waterfront condo, or cozy home in the suburbs, you’ll find what you are looking for. International and second home buyers, as well as new residents, are attracted by the exciting lifestyle, the beautiful weather, and international ambiance locals have grown accustomed to. Miami, which ranks No. 1 in the nation for international buyers, is a world-class city featuring relatively inexpensive real estate in an enviable environment.

Following the record-breaking real estate boom of a few years ago, the South Florida market, like many others around the nation, experienced a much-needed correction, resulting from speculative buying activity. But the South Florida real estate market and specifically the Greater Downtown Miami real estate market, which includes the prestigious Brickell area, seems to be picking up steam again! The Miami Downtown Development Authority published a Residential Market Trend Update for the second quarter of 2010, in which it is stated that total sales in the first six months of 2010 (1,933) were up 110% over the first six months of 2009 (919). The average unit sales price in the second quarter of 2010 was up 3% from the first quarter and the average price for the first six months of 2010 was up 16% from the first six months of 2009. Finally, the average price per square foot for units sold in the second quarter of 2010 was up 9% from that of the first quarter of 2010 and the average sales price per square foot for units sold in the first six months of 2010 was up 14% from that of the first six months of 2009.

The inventory of new, unsold condominium units in the downtown area was estimated at approximately 5,400 units as of June 30, 2010. An average of nearly 500 new condos traded per month in Greater Downtown Miami between April and June 2010. At this sales pace, the Greater Downtown Miami remaining inventory of new condos could be absorbed within the next 18 months, according to an article published by the Miami Herald on July 28, 2010.

The current Greater Downtown Miami area population is estimated to total approximately 71,000 persons and is projected to increase to over 81,000 by 2014, according the May 2010 “Population & Demographic Profile” report prepared for the Miami Downtown Development Authority by Goodkin Consulting and Focus Real Estate Advisors. The specific Brickell area had a total population of 13,584 according to the 2,000 Census. For 2010, the same area is estimated to have a total population of 28,500, whereas the 2014 projected population for the Brickell area is 33,500. These statistics point to higher demand that the current housing supply will not be enough to satisfy, which in-turn means that prices will be pushed higher and higher until new projects start and supply increases again.

Based on the input we receive on a daily basis from our own real estate brokerage company, Skyline Realty International, and other real estate brokerage offices that we work closely with, the single most important factor influencing the purchase of a condo in Miami, is that it is viewed by the vast majority of foreign buyers as a very desirable location.

Some of the main reasons behind this desirability are the following:

  1. Culture, Entertainment and Performing Arts
  2. International City
  3. Global Business Center
  4. Lifestyle and Weather
  5. World Aviation Hub
  6. Cruise Capital of the World
  7. Sports and Recreation
  8. Schools, Universities and Hospitals
  9. Demographics
  10. Top Rankings with the most International Banks in the U.S., one of the most recognizable Skylines of the World, one of the Cleanest Cities of the World, the only US City Surrounded by Two National Parks, one of America’s Best Beaches, one of the Top Cities for Hispanics to Live in the US, one of the Top 15 Cities in the US Most People Would Like to Live in, one of America’s 50 Hottest Cities for Relocations and Expansion, and one of the Best U.S. Metropolitan Areas for Small Businesses.

The Miami mystique has been, is and will continue to be ubiquitous, unyielding and undeniable. This fact in combination with the aforementioned positive news regarding the real estate activity in the Greater Downtown Miami area leads us to the conclusion that the prestigious Brickell real estate market is positioned for a dramatic comeback. Furthermore, without any new residential development projects starting soon, Brickell is bound to have a shortage of housing in approximately 18 months. This is great news for real estate developers in the area and we look forward to closely tracking market activity and updating our readers on where the real estate market is headed during the foreseeable future.

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SkyPalace at Mary Brickell Village – Monthly Newsletter

Dear SkyPalace at Mary Brickell Village friends:

Ken Smuts, P.A.

Greetings from beautiful and sunny Miami! The Skyline team is continuing its diligent work since our last email communication to you last month – with the updates regarding the exciting additions of new tenants at The Shops at Mary Brickell Village – to finalize the construction financing process and commence construction.

In preparation for the construction phase we have added to the Skyline executive team Mr. Ken Smuts, P.A., as our new Executive Vice President of Development. Having successfully completed over $5 Billion dollars of development projects, Ken is an expert builder and real estate developer. He has over 25 years of development, design, construction management and sales and marketing experience on a wide variety of mixed-use, multi-family, hospitality, retail, commercial office, health care and industrial projects. Starting his career as a nuclear construction engineer, he quickly advanced as a project manager, and then executive providing corporate vision, strategy, leadership and guidance for several prominent New York, Philadelphia and Miami based construction managers and developers. Ken’s most recent appointment has been with The Related Group serving as a Senior Vice President and Managing Director for the $1.5 Billion, 2,000,000 square foot St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort & Residences and for the $1.8 Billion, 2,000,000 square foot Icon Brickell in Miami, Florida. Having accepted an appointment as Executive Vice President of Development with Skyline Equities Realty, he is now responsible for the successful completion of Sky Palace at Mary Brickell Village in Miami, FL. Ken is a licensed professional engineer and holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in civil engineering from Rutgers and Drexel University. He has three grown children and resides in Miami, Fl, with his wife Kathi.

Market News – Updates

We have already provided you with some of the positive news regarding the Greater Downtown Miami, including the Brickell area, real estate market, which is showing clear signs of strengthening. Here is an updated list of all the positive news regarding the Greater Downtown Miami real estate market (for additional information click on the hyperlinks below to go directly to each story and read it or view it in its entirety):

The Miami Herald published an article in July 2010 with the title Hopes Rise With Sales of Downtown Miami Condos, where the point was made that sales of downtown condos have accelerated during the first half of this year, the inventory of empty new condos on the market is steadily declining and prices are on the rise as well.

The Miami Herald published an article in July 2010 with the title LeBron Means Big Bucks Flow to Miami, where the authors explained the multimillion impact that the addition of NBA star LeBron James to the Miami Heat basketball franchise will have in the area and the attention and subsequent property value increase that will result from it.

The Miami Downtown Development Authority published in June 2010 its latest report on the Residential Market Trend Update for 2010 Q2, which is clearly showing that total sales in the first six months of 2010 (1,933) were up 110% over the first six months of 2009 (919) and that the average price for the first six months of 2010 was up 16% from the first six months of 2009.

The Miami Downtown Development Authority published in May 2010 its Population and Demographic Profile for the Greater Downtown Miami area, which is clearly showing that the current downtown area population is estimated to total approximately 71,000 persons and is projected to increase to over 81,000 by 2014 and that at the current sales pace, downtown Miami’s new condo inventory could be absorbed within the next 18 months!

The Miami Downtown Development Authority published in March 2010 its Residential Closings and Occupancy Study for 2010 Q1, which is clearly showing that occupancy in new condominium buildings including owners and renters climbed 12 percentage points from 62% to 74% of completed units in Greater Downtown Miami.

A recent article by the National Association of Realtors emphasized that “International Interest in US Homeownership Increases.”

In a recent Bloomberg article the title exclaimed: “Miami’s Downtown Comes Alive as Condos Fill with Renters.”

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams recently aired the story “Buyers Return After Miami’s Housing Bust.”

NBC’s Today Show also recently aired the story “Condo Sales Skyrocket in Miami.”

CNBC & MSNBC also aired a story under the title “Housing Battles Back.”

All these reports are clear evidence that the market has turned for the better and all indicators lead to the logical conclusion that it will continue to strengthen in the Greater Downtown Miami in general and the Brickell area in particular.

For our existing buyers who were among the lucky ones to purchase their SkyPalace unit(s) already, the above market data is great news and they should be excited about their profitable investment decision. Please let your friends and family know that now is the time to buy at SkyPalace, as prices will naturally increase upon construction commencement and will continue to rise as supply of available new condo inventory further diminishes and demand from local, national and international buyers further increases, as the aforementioned demographic reports show. Own a piece of Paradise at one of the most sought-after residential addresses in Miami – SkyPalace at Mary Brickell Village!

Act Now…Close Later…Enjoy for a Lifetime!

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Stabilization in Downtown Miami condos

On Thursday, August 5th, 2010, the Florida Real Estate Journal published a study on the Greater Downtown Miami condo market. According to this study, nearly 80 residential buildings encompassing 22,000+ units were built in Greater Downtown Miami during the condo boom, transforming the area into one of the fastest growing urban communities in the U.S. Now, following years of oversupply, never-before-seen levels of demand for urban living is resulting in a thriving community of renters and owners.

A new study released by the Miami Downtown Development Authority finds that sales of downtown condos were up 110% during the first six months of the year, effectively shrinking the inventory of available condos in the market to approximately 5,400 units and driving average prices up 16%. Furthermore, the study finds that condo and apartment rentals have increased by 14% during the first six months of 2010.

This report comes only three months after a similar study, which assessed occupancy rates in the Downtown Miami area and revealed that 74% of the district’s residential condos are occupied. Of those units occupied, 52% of those are renters, resulting in one of the strongest rental markets in the country.

The 2010 Q2 Residential Market Trends Update report, conducted in partnership with Goodkin Consulting/Focus Real Estate Advisors, reveals a 110% year-over-year increase in condos sales from the first six months of 2009 (919 recorded sales) as compared to the first six months of 2010 (1,933 recorded sales).

Highlights from the second quarter 2010 market trend findings include:

- Sales and leasing velocity remains strong: Average monthly residential leasing velocity in the downtown area increased from 342 units per month during the first quarter of 2010 to 376 during the second quarter, representing a 10% quarter-over-quarter increase. Leasing activity in the downtown area is up 14%, increasing from a monthly average of 315 units in the first half of 2009 to an average of 359 units per month in the first half of 2010.

- Sales and rental rates begin to rise: The average unit sales price for the first six months of 2010 was up 16% from the first six months of 2009, from $306,700 to $356,000. The average monthly rental rate for units rented during the second quarter of 2010 was $1,805, up 2% from the first quarter average of $1,766.

- Inventory of empty condos is shrinking: The inventory of new, unsold condominium units in the downtown area is now estimated at approximately 5,400 units (out of 22,079 units overall) as of June 30, 2010. This reflects an 11% reduction from only three months ago.

Additionally, following a spike in pre-foreclosure activity in March 2010, monthly pre-foreclosure activity dropped to the lowest levels of the past year during the second quarter. The number of foreclosure auction sales activity during the second quarter of 2010 also declined about 40% from the previous quarter, indicating signs of stabilization.

According to Craig Werley, co-author of the Q2 2010 Residential Market Trend Update and principal of Focus Real Estate Advisors, the current residential sales velocity, coupled with increasing sales and rental prices and decreasing foreclosure activity spells positive news for market recovery.

“Residential sales and rental rates have been improving in the Downtown Miami area, primarily because of the quality of inventory, lifestyle, and affordability,” said Werley. “We have every reason to believe these trends will continue over the coming months and year ahead.”

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