manager cites boom in first Beach address
David L. Snelling
Beach's economy is booming and should stay strong thanks to ongoing
growth in retail and restaurant sales, tourism and the office space
market, said new City Manager Jorge Gonzalez Saturday in his first
is strong, alive, vibrant and evolving every day," he told about
300 chamber members and city leaders. "They say that you need
to fix a leaking roof when the sun is shining. Today, Miami Beach
the economy is rising now, there is always room for improvement, he
said. The city manager called upon the chamber, the Miami Beach Development
Corp. and North Beach Development Corp. to come together to sustain
the good economic news and future of Miami Beach.
Gonzalez, who took the Miami Beach job less than three months ago,
spoke as part of the city's chamber of commerce annual goals conference
held at the Radisson Deauville Resort. A Coral Gables native, Mr.
Gonzalez returned to the area after serving most recently as the deputy
county manager of Montgomery County, a Maryland suburb of Washington,
Gonzalez said the available office and retail space on Miami Beach
is expected to increase from 1.5 million to 2 million square feet
by 2003. He said a 270,000-square-foot office space project is slated
to go up in South Beach "in the very near future," but he
would not name the developers.
Gonzalez also said building permits in Miami Beach are at an all-time
high. During the past 10 years, he said, 3,300 permits were issued
to build offices, hotels, retail stores and restaurants, for a total
of $343 million.
the previous 10 years, he said, 2,500 construction permits worth $96
million were awarded.
Gonzalez said Miami Beach has already invested $1.2 billion in hotel
projects through 2002. To date, he said, 3,700 new hotel rooms are
open and 500 more will be renovated.
Gonzalez also said the 1,200-room Ritz Carlton, five-star hotel will
be open for business in the next three months on the Beach and the
230-room Marriott Hotel on South Beach is undergoing renovations worth
city manager said providing the best quality hotels is vital to attract
tourists, who account for 46% of Miami Beach's economy. Last year,
he said, 400 million tourists flocked to Miami Beach where they spent
$3 billion second only to Walt Disney World in Orlando.
want to provide the best service for them because they spend a lot
of money here," Mr. Gonzalez said. "Some of them stay longer
than planned and some relocate here. With that in mind, living services
are very important to them. If we want the economy to keep rising,
tourists are a very important factor to it.
Beach business owners saw retail sales skyrocket over the past three
Gonzalez said that last year retail sales on the Beach reached an
alltime high of $1.3 billion. There are 30 national retail chains
including Nike, Gap and Banana Republic already on Lincoln
Road, he said, and more are slated to open next year.