MIAMI—With billions of dollars flooding into Miami’s urban core, the district is in the cross hairs of some of the largest real estate developers and investors from around the world. All told, nearly four dozen cranes are now towering over city streets, making Miami the second most active construction market in the U.S., behind only San Francisco.
As the private sector targets Miami, the public sector has also been pouring capital into the area in the form of infrastructure improvements, new services designed to lure residents and businesses, and new amenities like parks and cultural venues. These public dollars are enhancing quality of life in downtown and serving as a magnet for fresh capital.
As a City of Miami Commissioner and Chairman of the Miami Downtown Development Authority, Marc Sarnoff is on the front lines of the city’s current real estate boom. He has helped direct hundreds of millions of dollars in public spending to downtown and has been an advocate for pro-business policies. Hardly a day goes by when Sarnoff isn’t meeting with a major developer seeking to invest in downtown. GlobeSt.com caught up with Sarnoff to get his take on Miami commercial real estate action.
GlobeSt.com: What programs undertaken by the City of Miami, and Miami DDA, have had the greatest impact on the real estate market in recent years?
Sarnoff: Major public investments like the rise of Museum Park and the launch of the Brickell-Biscayne trolley route have helped garner investor interest from around the world. Smaller projects have made a big impact as well, including improving neglected lots, planting trees, creating a no-panhandling zone, and initiating a Downtown Ambassador program.
The DDA has commissioned a series of residential occupancy studies which continue to show that the condos built during the last boom are nearly all occupied by full-time residents. This data has resulted in rising property values while demonstrating demand for urban living, which is helping attract businesses and new development. At the end of the day, there’s no substitute for a growing residential population.
GlobeSt.com: When you meet with international developers eyeing Miami, which amenities appeal to them most?
Sarnoff: I’ve met with three companies in the past two months whose plans account for new commercial development totaling more than 100 acres of land in downtown. They are drawn to the same factors that are luring companies and residents. Things like public parks, walkable streets, public transit links, and cultural and entertainment outlets are all attractive to developers.
They want to know that the city is actively investing in the area and that their long-term investment here will be safe and is likely to appreciate. We’ve reached a point where major developments such as Brickell CityCentre and Miami Worldcenter are serving as magnets for other investments. Buyers and developers want to leverage those anchor projects. The result is that pockets of growth will expand over time and begin to merge as we reach critical mass.
Be sure to come back this afternoon for part two of this exclusive interview, where Sarnoff will discuss how issues like the cost of living, walkability efforts, what he sees as the next big trends, and more.