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photo (1)The 2014 Sotheby’s International Realty Global Networking Event took place last week, over 2.5 days at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. It was intense and even exhausting as I tried to maximize my networking opportunities with other Sotheby’s International Realty agents from all over the United Sates and the world, while attending presentations, lunches and dinners combined with the lack of sleep that these conventions usually come along with. it was also rejuvenating and empowering to meet with so many colleagues, all of them carrying the values of the same brand across the country and the five continents. I was told were 2,500…It was really pleasant to meet again or create great connections with agents and office managers from the New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Rio, Buenos Aires, Dubai, Hong Kong, Sydney, New Delhi, Paris, Courchevel, Geneva and Lisbon. The objective is to make connections with our peers across our planet in order to be able to offer global real estate services to our clients who usually have several properties in various cities and countries. It’s also much nicer to know the person I refer a buyer or a seller to. It helps offer a larger portfolio of services, including potential partnerships with the Sotheby’s auction house. These conventions also aim at reinforcing our attachment to the Sotheby’s and the Sotheby’s International Realty brands and our leadership and sales skills through a series of presentations and workshops.

Alfredo Gangotena, the recently appointed Chief Marketing officer for Sotheby’s, showed us the new advertising campaign video before it goes public. It is a gorgeous campaign; combining the 270 year legacy of the auction house with sounds and  images of  contemporary art and music. Sotheby’s recently chose TBWA London to create a new, elegant yet more thought-provoking global brand campaign as well as marketing material to support its art, jewelry, diamond, antique and wine auctions.  Also, it was announced that Sotheby’s will break into a more accessible market, reaching out to art collectors and life connoisseurs who are either younger or who do not necessarily belong to the ultra wealthy category by creating a partnership with Ebay. Sotheby’s will offer expanded auction opportunities for prints, photos, wines, etc…Also a new lifestyle magazine, “Art and Home”, will be launched. It will offer editorial content related to art, antiques, traveling, real estate and should become a great communication tool to link the real estate to the art businesses.

photoWendy Purvey, the Chief Marketing Officer for Sotheby’s International Realty, underlined the outstanding media partnerships which offer incomparable international exposure to our clients’ properties for sale : from he websites of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, Bloomberg to Hong-Kong Tatler and The Daily Telegraph. She also mentioned that Sothebysrealty.com, the global real estate website of the company, has reached 1 million visit per month and Sothebys.com, the website of the auction house, is is leading source of traffic.

Keynote speaker was Pat Riley, former Miami Heat basketball team coach. He made a long and lively presentation of his own professional journey, giving out some inspiring advice about team work and leadership such as : ” Tell people who you are, where you come from and where you are going” or ” You need to show that you are seeking the best deal for everybody, that you want everyone to win.”

Simple but powerful words…

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The Fountainebleau hotel-Miami Beach. Photo from oliom.com

The Fountainebleau hotel-Miami Beach.
Photo from oliom.com

Every year and a half, the real estate brokerage brand I work for, Sotheby’s International realty, is hosting the GNE, the Global Networking Event, in a different city of the United States. in 2013, the event was held in Los Angeles and this year, for the second time, it is taking place at the Fountainebleau hotel in Miami Beach, on September 8th-11th. I am really glad to attend since the event combines a series of presentations from the company top executives, guest speakers conferences as well as workshops focusing on different topics related to real estate. The GNE is exclusive to agents, managers an staff from the Sotheby’s International Realty network around the world. It is quite energizing and it’s a great opportunity for agents to meet and network with 2,500 other agents from the company coming from all over the United States and the world. Meeting with our peers from other cities or countries helps us develop a referral network and be able to refer clients to one of our peers who works in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, London, Paris, Lugano, Berlin, Moscow, Shanghai or elsewhere. Sotheby’s International Realty is the first high-end network of real estate offices around the world with 700 offices in 54 countries and territories. It’s quite incredible to be chatting with a colleague from the Tokyo or Montreal offices; it just makes the world look much smaller and makes us realize that our clients are usually well travelled and own more than one property around the world. Of course, the GNE schedule is intense as presentations usually start at 8:15 am, end at around 5-6 pm and are followed by dinners and parties but it’s a good shot of professional and social adrenalin that one can easily take once every year and a half.

Mayor Tomas Regalado presenting various board members of the Regional Center

Mayor Tomas Regalado presenting various board members of the Regional Center

I recently attended the first of a series of presentations organized by the City of Miami to present its new federally designated EB-5 regional center. There are approximately 600 EB-5 regional centers in the United States, however, Miami is the only one to be wholly owned, managed and supervised by a municipal government. The focus is to develop investment opportunities, job growth and public-private partnerships that will benefit the community in Miami- Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. It took two years for the city to apply to become one of the US regional centers that will now deliver conditional US permanent resident visas to selected investors and their immediate family. Considering that this program is overseen by the US Homeland security, there are many strict rules to follow in order for an investor to have a chance to be approved and later on, the city will have to regularly report on the follow-up of the investment and job creation by the visa applicant. Mikki Canton is the attorney managing the center and coordinating the applications. Each investor will have to invest $500,000 or $1 million, depending on the area ( rural and under-developed areas will be matched with $500,000 projects ) and create 10 jobs. The good news is that indirect or temporary new jobs such as construction jobs are included in the job count. Also, projects that save a company and or maintain jobs are also considered as part of the program guidelines. A wide range of investment opportunities can lead to an EB-5 visa : franchises, real estate developments, manufacturing, infrastructure, for-profit and not-for-profit initiatives. The applicants will have to show proof of sufficient funds ( show a minimum of 25 % personal equity ), a strategy to raise a portion of the financial cost of the project if he/she can’t totally fund it by him/herself and measurable potential positive impact on the community.Each application will be submitted to a fee, which will vary depending on the type of application ( individual vs large corporation, for-profit vs nor-for profit ). The received funds will be used to fund public enhancement projects such as landscaping, street signage etc… Applicants will have to go through criminal background and financial checks, present a business plan and explain how or why the investment will benefit the citizens of South Florida.

A renovated building and a new store are replacing the Van Dyke Cafe building

Lincoln Road was originally a forest of mangroves. It became a social center and the home of prestigious retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue thanks to Carl Fisher back in 1912. It went through many ups and downs until the 1990’s, when it was booming again and hosted many shops and restaurants, establishing itself as one of the main entertainment spots of Miami Beach. Now Lincoln Road is growing to a new phase as a few local, New York and international investors are buying properties, renovating buildings and attracting new retailers. Prices are soaring, leading to an average of $5,000 per square foot to purchase a building and of $300 per square foot to lease. Pushed away by the increasing prices, some of the restaurants that had been there for years such as Tiramesu and Van Dyke Cafe have left the famous pedestrian road as well as a few independent retail stores. Some retailers see things big as Gap and Apple are joining H&M and Forever 21 to open two or three-story shops and new comers include : British clothing designer Ted Baker, Italian cosmetics brand Kiko Milano, Argentinian gelateria Freddo and elegant French macaron boutique Laduree.

The Miami Beach Community Church

The Miami Beach Community Church

The Miami Beach Community Church, built in 1920, the oldest church in Miami, is facing severe financial difficulties. After some debate and controversy, Miami Beach commissioners accepted the proposed plan to develop the front courtyard section of the church into  The Touzet-designed three-story property combining retail and a roof-top garden. The church had to make a choice : disappearing or accepting to redevelop a section of its property and lease it for $100 million dollars over 50 years. This is a good example of the challenges currently questioning Lincoln Road’s identity as it is reaching a new growth : how to attract large local and international brands while keeping some sense of a local community and preserve a little bit of the area’s legacy ?

Wynwood Paradise

I first started going to Wynwood back in 2006, when I was involved in participating in a couple of committees at MOCA, The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, which had a second exhibition space , “Moca at the Goldman Warehouse ”  (  now the space for The Miami Light Project ) for a few years. No one around me would dare driving West of Biscayne Boulevard, North of Downtown Miami.

Then, some of the storage and distribution warehouses turned into art galleries and the Second Saturdays Wynwood Artwalks promoted the area, first to the local artists and their friends as well as to art lovers, then to the food trucks and to families looking for something cool to do one evening a month. After seven years, the area has become much more popular, a sort of Shoreditch ( London ) or MeatPacking District ( New York ) in the making, welcoming working spaces for start-ups, thick beard tech guys walking around, cafes, restaurants and shops such as Ducati and soon to open Nespresso Cafe. Bringing more life and shops to Wynwood is great except that as new brands are coming in and rents/sales prices are soaring, a new type of animal wants a piece of the cake and be part of this area:condominiums. It is undeniable that besides Cynergi Lofts, there is a total lack of residential options in the neighborhood. This is about to change with a few mixed-used buildings ( residential buildings featuring office or retail spaces on the first floor ) in the pipeline and the ongoing  rezoning of most of the area to allow for more retail spaces, parking and a higher housing density.

Is Wynwood going to lose its soul while buildings are arriving and some art galleries are not renewing their leases, being somehow pushed out by landlords asking for much higher rents  ?

Warehouse are teared down to build residential buildings

Warehouses are teared down to build mixed-use buildings

250 Wynwood and Wynwood Central are two of the residential buildings which are going to break down in the upcoming weeks. Bradley Carlson and David Polinsky, the developers behind 250 Wynwood, which first renderings for the architecture of the proposed building were recently published in The Miami Herald , will be building a boutique building at 250 NW 24 street. They claim to be concerned about keeping the character of Wynwood  alive by incorporating graffiti style artwork inside and outside the building via a partnership with gallerist Anthony Spinello and by offering an edgy architectural style. Central Wynwood will combine 69 rental residences, as well as retail and commercial spaces. However, New York developer David Edelstein is looking to get approval for the construction of a 264 unit condominium… In the meantime, quite a few investors and buyers in need of large warehouse and showroom spaces as well as artist studios and art galleries are moving out of Wynwood, where prices per square foot to lease or purchase are now more accessible.

City Hall in Doral  ( Photo from footage.shutterstock.com )

City Hall in Doral
( Photo from footage.shutterstock.com )

As I was recently driving around Doral, I just could not believe how the city was changing, from being either a suburban area accommodating guests of the famous Trump National Golf championship golf course or an industrial zoned city to becoming a town where residents will live, work and play. Doral is transforming itself into an urban area, attracting a higher number of residents and investors who are getting tired of the soaring real estate purchase prices and rents in Brickell, Downtown Miami or Miami Beach.

Did you know that  Doral only has approximately 16,000 homes/condos when 200,000 people are currently working there every day ? This City hosts a brand new, contemporary-designed city hall, the headquarters of The Miami Herald, Carnival Cruise Lines and Univision as well as the regional offices of the Federal Reserve and  Pepsi Cola, amongst others. 

Future sidewalks and shops at Downtown Doral

Future sidewalks and shops at Downtown Doral

As I was driving by blocks of empty land, one after the other, I realized the magnitude of a real estate project currently being developed there.

 Downtown  Doral is a new, massive, 120-acre real estate project developed by Codina partners.

It will include several residential and office buildings, townhouses, a 3-acre public park featuring outdoor sculptures by artists John Henry and Michele Oka Doner, a K-5 charter school and a variety of shops and restaurants aligned along a few sidewalks. 5252 Paseo is the first residential building to be built, chosen designer is Adriana Hoyos ( who has a showroom in the Design District ) and groundbreaking is planned for this summer. Its asking prices range from $390,000 to $839,000 for 2 and 3 bedrooms and many units offer a view on the Doral golf course. The second residential building is being launched now. This is a great opportunity to own a newly built home close to one’s work place or a smart way to invest in an area that is more affordable than Brickell or  Miami Beach and where the price of land are on the deep rise.

Also, as Doral is growing, land for large industrial spaces is getting more scarce and warehouses are selling at increasing prices. This trend is not going to stop anytime soon, considering the current need for large storage spaces in Miami-Dade County.

images[6]A lot has been written these past few months over the search for the perfect location for David Beckham‘s new professional soccer stadium to be built in Miami. Various locations were mentioned and the South West corner of PortMiami was going to be the preferred option… until a few days ago, when County commissioners rejected for PortMiami to host the new stadium. This county-owned land is a valuable piece of property which is being under used at this point. Development plans are not confirmed yet but there is a chance that mixed-use commercial properties be developed there. A few days ago, the Beckham Group revealed the new plans for a soccer stadium that would be built in a new location; on the boat slip located between the American Airlines Arena and Museum Park in Downtown Miami. However, considering that this piece of land was supposed to become a park, the appointed Arquitectonica architects recently included expanded green spaces East of the Arena, to the new plans.  8.5 acres of new park land will be added there while 4.2 acres of park will be removed where the stadium will stand. City officials and supporters of the new stadium are working hard to find a solution that will please ( almost ) everyone, as there are major economic, cultural  and social impacts related to this endeavor. The Beckham Group would pay for the construction of the stadium ( estimated at $250 millions ) as well as the filling of the slip to be able to build it. The City, which owns Museum Park, would most probably lease it to the Beckham Group. As The Miami Herald reported, the long-planned Museum Park, which was supposed to be seen from Biscayne Boulevard and sit along the street would be disappearing. Most of what pedestrians and drivers would see as they pass by would be the 100-feet high stadium wall. No additional parking has been planed so far, which raises the concern for parking on a game night. I was assured via Twitter by the Miami Major League Soccer that Miami Heat games would not be scheduled on the same evening then the soccer games. But isn’t it already challenging to find parking in Downtown Miami when there is a Heat game ? Coming from Europe, I welcome the idea of having a soccer stadium built in Miami. I just wonder how the parking, traffic and lack of green space visible from the street will be handled by Miami residents and visitors once it is built. The county residents will still have to vote to approve this project in November.

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