Limited damage reported at South Florida construction sites
By Marilyn Bowden
South Florida developers report limited damage to construction sites in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma.
"Our projects suffered moderate damage such as some roof damage in Boyton Beach," said John Landrum, COO of The Related Group, which has about 10,000 condo units in development across Florida. "There was also some landscape damage in some projects as well as limited water damage."
Luis Rabell of LPR Builders said his townhouse project in West Dade, Netherlands at Islands at Doral, escaped with "very limited damage. The landscaping was damaged and some concrete tiles have blown away."
Sergio Pino, president of Century Builders, which has several large-scale residential communities in development in the Doral area, estimated that half the landscaping was destroyed but "basically we had no losses."
Wilma's aftermath, though, has been costly.
"We lost a whole week," Mr. Pino said. "One of the issues we have is that we've got 50-60 homes we can't close on because FPL has to come in and install meters. They are busy restoring power to residents in existing homes, and rightly so. But it will cause a two- to four-week delay in closings on those homes."
In Marathon, Franco D'Ascanio, president of D'Asign Source, which builds custom residences in the $1.5 million to $5 million range, said flooding was a bigger problem than high winds in the Keys though there was some minor damage to docks, fencing and landscaping.
"All our homes are designed to withstand 150-mile-per-hour winds, and most are built for 170 miles per hour," he said.
Two new luxury condo-hotels in Sunny Isles Beach - Trump Palace and Acqualina - did well and are trying to get ready for closing.
Trump Palace co-developer Gil Dezer said the only impact to that project was loss of landscaping.
Alan Matus, president of William Island Ocean Club, said Acqualina weathered the storm well but the ensuing gas shortages that kept most employees away from work made closing more difficult.
"We are undergoing fire marshal inspections and are very close to being ready to operate," he said three days after Wilma struck, "but we have no staff."
With forecasters predicting an upsurge in hurricane activity that could last for two decades, developers say this season may be a sign of things to come.
Mr. Pino says he's already decided to offer a generator as an option with every new home he sells.
Mr. Rabell called Wilma "a wake-up call for developers. Miami-Dade came out of this one fairly decently, but it all depends on the storm."
"It's a major expense for our company every time there's a hurricane warning to go to each job site, secure trees, remove roof tiles not installed yet and tie down lumber," Mr. D'Ascanio said, "but we have to be cautious."