Housing developers bullish on continued demand in Greater Miami
By Marilyn Bowden
With confidence in continued demand and a recovering economy, housing developers throughout the county say they are moving full steam ahead with new projects.
At La Perla, Collins Avenue at 163rd Street in Sunny Isles, said Richard Lamondin, president of Cornerstone Premiere Communities, 256 of 326 units have sold since the property went on the market a month ago. He said he expects to be sold out within 60 days.
"We are in negotiations for a couple other pieces of property," he said.
"The market is very strong, " said Gil Dezer of Dezer Development, which recently brought Donald Trump in as partner in Trump Grande Ocean Resort & Residences, formerly Ocean Grande, at Collins Avenue from 180th-182nd streets. "We've announced 33% more product."
Dezer Development added Trump Royale, a 333-unit, 47-story tower, to its plans for the site. Mr. Dezer said the first tower, the 372-unit Trump International Sonesta Beach Resort due to open in September, is 90% sold and the second tower, the 267-unit Trump Palace that broke ground last month, is about to hit the 80% mark.
"We are constantly looking for new opportunities," he said.
Century Builders will introduce two new single-family-home projects in Miami-Dade in 2002, said President Sergio Pino. The company has nine local projects under development here.
The 270-home Century Estates, Coral Way at 148th Avenue, recently broke ground, Mr. Pino said. He said land development at the 2,670-residence Islands of Doral on 74th Street between 107th and 117th avenues is to begin in May, with construction projected for Oct. 15.
"Our goal is to meet 1,100 sales this year," Mr. Pino said. "By March 31, we'll have made a minimum of 500 sales. So we're off to a good start."
Charlie Martinez, president of Caribe Homes, said he would continue to build starter homes in the county and has enough land for about three years, "mostly in West Dade and towards Homestead."
Quantum Developments, which is putting up Venetian Isles, a 600-home gated community in West Dade, has sold more than 170 houses in the past eight months, said President Oscar Barbara.
"We're aggressively looking for new parcels for new communities," he said. "We're starting Hampton Isles in Broward and are looking at parcels in Miami-Dade, but so far we have nothing under contract here."
Avi Weintraub, president of Weintraub Cos., said he's already had several sales of units in The Breeze, a five-story, 60-unit condo at Adventure Avenue and North Treasure Drive in North Bay Village that's due to break ground this summer.
"I think the South Florida market is pretty strong," he said. "It's different from the rest of the country. The demand is certainly there."
The condo market remains highly competitive, said David Dabby, principal of The Dabby Group, a consulting and valuation firm.
"Buyers have plenty of choices in the $750,000-and-up category," he said. "On the other hand, the moderately priced luxury market -$300,000 to $500,000 - has been neglected somewhat. I would anticipate more activity in this price range. It is starting to occur."
Bradley F. Hunter, director of consulting for American Metro Study Corp., which tracks new housing starts, said the Miami-Dade market "has shown essentially no impact from the recession or any extended impact from 9/11. It's incredibly strong, especially given the status of the national economy.
"What's interesting is the core price range for demand had for years been in the $100,000 to $150,000 range. In the past year or so we've seen a big jump. Now the $150,000-$200,000 range is selling about as much and there's an extraordinary amount being sold over $200,000.
"That speaks to supply and demand and to the area of job formation, which is still occurring even in the midst of lay-offs and a recession."
Mr. Hunter said at the top of the market some developers are getting $750 a square foot.
"That shows how far the market has come," he said. "Five year ago, $300 was high."