Miami Herald: Six years after condo crash, 100 new towers proposed

By Peter Zalewski, Special To The Miami Herald  01/27/2013

Some six years after the South Florida condo market first collapsed, developers are  proposing at least 100 new condo towers with more than 14,500 units in the tri-county coastal region of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.

The number of proposed condo towers is expected to increase as several approved development sites from the last construction boom have traded in recent months to investors scouring South Florida for vacant land that permits high-density residential projects.

A factor contributing to the newest wave of proposed South Florida condo projects is the shrinking unsold new condo inventory. Less than 6 percent of the nearly 49,000 coastal units created in South Florida during the last boom remain unsold as of 2012.

The clearest example of the reduced developer inventory is in Greater Downtown Miami — the epicenter of Florida’s vertical condo crash — where about 850 new condo units are unsold out of pool of more than 22,200 units as of 2012.

At the current sales pace, South Florida’s remaining new condo inventory could be sold out by 2014.

Industry optimism about the prospect of selling out of the new condo oversupply — conceived in some cases about a decade ago — is spurring local developers and even more builders from outside of South Florida to intensify their efforts to construct condo towers.

As was the situation during the last South Florida condo boom, Greater Downtown Miami is attracting the most attention from developers focused on building condo high rises.

As of January 2013, Greater Downtown Miami is home to nearly 20 new condo towers with more than 6,400 units. An additional five towers with a combined 550 units are proposed for sites just north and south of Greater Downtown Miami.

The Hollywood and Hallandale Beach market in Southeast Broward County ranks second in South Florida with 10 new condo towers proposed with nearly 1,400 units. The Hollywood and Hallandale Beach market was the first of South Florida’s largest coastal condo market to sell out of boom-era inventory, doing so in 2011.

Sunny Isles Beach in Northeast Miami-Dade County ranks third with nearly a dozen new towers and 1,200 units proposed for the barrier island city.

Ranking fourth on the list of the most proposed condo unit is the tri-city region of Bal Harbour, Surfside and Bay Harbor Islands, where developers are proposing 13 new condo towers with more than 1,000 units in an area located south of Sunny Isles Beach.

Rounding out the top five most active markets for proposed condo towers is Downtown West Palm Beach, where developers are proposing at least six new condo towers with nearly 1,000 units.

Developers are also proposing new condo towers in at least a dozen South Florida cities, including Aventura, Coral Gables, Delray Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Juno Beach, Key Biscayne, Pompano Beach and North Palm Beach.

As of this month, developers have completed one condo tower and launched construction on an additional 15 towers in South Florida.

In a sign that more construction could soon be starting in South Florida, the necessary paperwork — known as the Declaration of Condominium that formally establishes a new project — has been recorded with government officials for at least six additional proposed towers.

Lender opinions are gradually changing about condo construction financing but at this time many banks are still hesitant to fund new towers. Consequently, developers are being forced to collect hefty deposits from preconstruction buyers in order to build.

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