Miami Today http://www.miamitodaynews.com The Newspaper for the Future of Miami Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:27:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Profile: Jessica Katz http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/profile-jessica-katz/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/profile-jessica-katz/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:00:59 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=23706 Institutions like the Pérez Art Museum Miami offer Miamians and visitors access to a variety of art exhibits, but if you’re looking to purchase or sell a work, you call Jessica Katz, vice president and director of Christie’s Miami. Ms. Katz spent the first part of her career in Christie’s New York office in the […]

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Institutions like the Pérez Art Museum Miami offer Miamians and visitors access to a variety of art exhibits, but if you’re looking to purchase or sell a work, you call Jessica Katz, vice president and director of Christie’s Miami.

Ms. Katz spent the first part of her career in Christie’s New York office in the Latin American art department. But as a native Miamian, her love of art and art history began here during high school. Now, she’s returned to an art scene that’s exploded over the past decade thanks to the profile of Art Basel Miami Beach, local art museums, a growing creative class and galleries popping up across the county.

Miami Today Reporter Nina Lincoff interviewed Ms. Katz in Christie’s Coral Gables office.

To read the full article and the rest of the Miami Today issue, subscribe to e-MIAMI TODAY, an exact replica of the printed edition. 

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2,500 more hotel rooms due in 2015 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/2500-hotel-rooms-due-2015/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/2500-hotel-rooms-due-2015/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:00:57 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=23731 Some 2,500 new hotel rooms are expected to come online in Miami in 2015, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. While new hotels are expected to be added across all price points, now more than ever the industry is filling in at low- to mid-level offerings and across many Greater Miami neighborhoods, […]

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Some 2,500 new hotel rooms are expected to come online in Miami in 2015, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. While new hotels are expected to be added across all price points, now more than ever the industry is filling in at low- to mid-level offerings and across many Greater Miami neighborhoods, from Brickell to Surfside.

The bureau tracks the hotel industry using resources like Smith Travel Research and Ortiz.

“There long been a significant build-out on the mid- to high-end of hotels. Now, our portfolio is continuing to be rounded out,” said Roland Aedo, the bureau’s vice president of tourism marketing. In 2014, about 3,000 hotels rooms were scheduled to open. Included in that number still are high-end properties like the Thompson Hotel, but moving forward more economy hotels will begin to open.

“We pride ourselves on being this very aspirational destination, and that helps. However, we want to be a destination that has a product line for as many customers as possible,” Mr. Aedo said. There is still momentum on the luxury hotel end of the spectrum, he said, but the lower end is beginning to fill in.

The 2,500 rooms the bureau is tracking in 2015 includes everything from another SLS Hotel to a Faena Hotel Universe on Miami Beach, a luxury art-inspired campus just south of the Fontainebleau. A Hyatt is also to join South Beach.

Homewood and Hampton Suites are also to be added to the market in 2014. Currently, the Greater Miami hotel industry is at the point in its cycle where hotels are filling in at all price points.

“It’s a very, very lucrative market and we continue to invest in our destination,” Mr. Aedo.

The Greater Miami brand is similar to that of a luxury car, he said. Initially, high-end luxury offerings entice and draw in the buyer, and once you’ve established the brand as high quality, it’s possible to follow suit with offerings of equal quality at a slightly less expensive price point, he said.

It’s not just that developers are building hotels, but hotel purchases also are becoming more common. “People want to have Miami real estate in their portfolio, whether it’s a hotel or an office building. A lot of investment groups are asking for the performance of tourism and hotels, so the bureau is more and more involved in that,” Mr. Aedo said.

Beyond 2015, the bureau is tracking about 800 rooms that are currently slated to open in 2016.

“There is another SLS coming online in Brickell. What’s really exciting is the Hyatt Hotel in Midtown. Midtown is one of the most vibrant parts of the community, but a hotel was the missing link,” Mr. Aedo said.

As hotels fill out across all price points in Greater Miami, it appears that the many neighborhoods are following suit and cashing in.

Joining the SLS Brickell in 2016 is the new Atton Hotel, the first in the US for the Chilean company.

In addition to Midtown and Brickell, Surfside is due to welcome a new hotel in coming years. In 2016, a Four Seasons is to open at the Surf Club, 9011 Collins Ave.

“These amazing brands are coming into more and more diverse parts of our community, while South Beach and Miami Beach continue to be the epicenter of our industry,” Mr. Aedo said.

One of the most exciting upcoming projects is still in the beginning stages of development – a Miami Beach Convention Center headquarters hotel. The Miami Beach City Commission designated a site behind the Fillmore Miami Beach, and the hotel is expected to add hundreds of rooms to the market.

“A hotel there would also be a tremendous benefit for Lincoln Road, the New World Center… It would be an amazing asset,” Mr. Aedo said.

Because of its connection to the convention center, the headquarters hotel is not expected to compete tremendously with existing Beach hotels.

“If someone wants a beachfront hotel, they’ll go to a beachfront hotel,” Mr. Aedo said. The bureau isn’t currently tracking the headquarters hotel or the potential Miami Worldcenter project, which could add thousands of rooms to the market in coming years.

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Commercial land prices soar as uses shift http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/commercial-land-prices-soar-uses-shift/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/commercial-land-prices-soar-uses-shift/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:00:51 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=23735 It’s not just the scarcity of supply and high demand for commercially zoned land that’s driving land prices up, but also the competition that’s emerged from the increasing number of investors who are finding other uses for the properties. Prices for these commercial parcels are back to peak and almost beyond, having steadily increased during […]

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It’s not just the scarcity of supply and high demand for commercially zoned land that’s driving land prices up, but also the competition that’s emerged from the increasing number of investors who are finding other uses for the properties.

Prices for these commercial parcels are back to peak and almost beyond, having steadily increased during the first two quarters of 2014, said Devon White, vice president for CBRE’s brokerage industrial services in South Florida. He pointed to a 2.798-acre property in Doral that recently sold for $27 per square foot. The site at 8100 NW 25th St. was a paved lot used for trailer storage. Now, Mr. White said, the new owner plans to build a hotel there.

“The primary reason we’ve seen an increase in value is because of zoning for higher use,” he said.

Prices for commercially zoned land have definitely increased in the past six months, as has desire for various uses, said Patricia Birch, vice president for Gallaher & Birch Inc., a commercial brokerage.

“What drives demand is what a developer can do with the land and what the market can bear,” she said. “The demand for quality is high; properties in trophy locations always command the highest prices.”

Ms. Birch pointed to a 1.25-acre property at the mouth of the Miami River that sold last month for $125 million ($2,295 per square foot). “That’s an extraordinary price, and I’ve heard from brokers that there were 15 bids made on the property, which is a large pool of potential buyers,” she said.

Values and prices depend on the balance between supply and demand as well as substitutions, should a different spot be suitable for a developer’s needs, Ms. Birch said.

“Vacant sites are so few and far between that we are having infill development,” she said, referring to developers looking at older buildings in highly developed areas that they can tear down and rebuild or renovate for a different use.

Ms. Birch referenced as an example 835 Alton Road in Miami Beach, a multi-family property that sold a few years ago. The developer just announced that its new use will be restaurant and retail, something that will command higher rents, Ms. Birch said.

She said foreign investors are interested in commercial land, as are owner-users such as health care facilities, restaurants and auto-care companies that want to expand.

As to whether the trend of increasing prices will continue, Ms. Birch pointed to the Knight Frank Wealth Report for 2014 that ranks Miami in seventh place (up from eighth last year) of the 10 most important global cities to the world’s wealthy. In particular, she said, the report predicts Miami will remain in the top 10 over the next decade.

If one looks at the tremendous investment Swire Properties is making in Brickell City Centre, Ms. Birch said, it’s clear they wouldn’t be doing it unless there was firm belief that the wealthy are here in Miami and will continue to come to this city.

“Land prices are continually going up,” said Jim Fried, managing director of the Aztec Group. “There’s no top in sight right now so we cannot see the ceiling.”

It’s anyone’s guess what the tipping point on land prices is and how long the type of demand we are seeing will go on, said attorney Jim Shindell, a partner with Bilzin Sumberg and chair of its real estate group.

“We still have issues with jobs, education and public transportation that Miami will have to deal with, but the city is continuing to grow and its future is bright,” he said. “There will be swings up and down, but the city is getting better all the time.”

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Florida becomes intellectuals’ burial ground http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/florida-becomes-intellectuals-burial-ground/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/florida-becomes-intellectuals-burial-ground/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:00:43 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=23720 Florida is known as a resting place for those in their twilight years. Now a study of cultural migration over two millennia illustrates the point. Researchers from Texas and Miami have created an analytic map of cultural history as it flows across the globe, newly published in the journal “Science”. Using databases like Google-owned Freebase, […]

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Florida is known as a resting place for those in their twilight years. Now a study of cultural migration over two millennia illustrates the point.

Researchers from Texas and Miami have created an analytic map of cultural history as it flows across the globe, newly published in the journal “Science”.

Using databases like Google-owned Freebase, researchers pinpointed birth and death sites of 150,000 notable thinkers over the past 2,000 years, sorting data into categories like governance, academics, business, and art and architecture. By visualizing the human flow from birthplace to death, researchers highlighted trends in cultural migration.

The project itself is an example of migration. Maximilian Schich, Ph.D., now at the University of Texas at Dallas, met Chaoming Song, Ph.D., now at the University of Miami, when both were at Northeastern University in Boston.

“I’m physics, Max is in humanities. We come from different disciplines, but we came up with a more or less complementary theory,” Dr. Song said.

In the project’s timeframe Florida is a new cultural hub, so it’s highly unbalanced in births vs. deaths. “We will see if, as Florida grows up, there is a tendency towards balance,” Dr. Song said.

Where notable figures are born versus where they die is effective in charting the migration of culture and ideas across the globe and time.

In the Americas, Mexico City and the Eastern Seaboard were some of the first hubs to grow as European thinkers left their birthplace to live and die out west. As data progresses into the 20th century, the West Coast becomes a hub for the transfer of thought and culture, drawing many of those born on the Eastern Seaboard.

In the early 20th century, the advent of affordable cars can be seen in the increase of people moving west.

Florida doesn’t begin to flourish until about the 1960s, and by 2011, it can be seen as a haven for notable thinkers to finish out their days. “Florida attracts the famous in their later life,” Dr. Song said.

Universities like UM and Florida State exemplify how Florida is a resting place. British physicist Paul Dirac, a 1933 Nobel Prize co-winner, spent his last years at UM and FSU. In one data set, 15 were born in Florida vs. the 236 that died here, Dr. Song said.

While cultural hubs like Rome and London balance in births and deaths over the years, cities like Hollywood, CA, remain significant outliers, with 10 times as many deaths as births. The unbalance in cities might be partly due to their discovery dates.

This is the first analysis of cultural migration on so large a scale. “Before, projects have looked at one particular person or one particular city, or maybe Europe in a very general sense. What we have here is a very detailed computational data set,” Dr. Song said.

Where he and his team teased out migration trends and hubs in their data, historians filled in the events anchored to the data. “With computational analysis without any historical knowledge, we can say something happened, and the historians can say what happened,” Dr. Song said – interdisciplinary study at work.

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Debate public-private deals before they’re set in concrete http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/debate-public-private-deals-theyre-set-concrete/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/debate-public-private-deals-theyre-set-concrete/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:00:41 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=23709 Governments are signing more public-private partnerships, a healthy trend – that is, if deals serve a public interest and don’t crowd out pressing needs. Last week we wrote about two such deals: Swire shut down the Eighth Street Metromover station to meld it into its vast Brickell City Centre, and the Miami Parking Authority is […]

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Governments are signing more public-private partnerships, a healthy trend – that is, if deals serve a public interest and don’t crowd out pressing needs.

Last week we wrote about two such deals: Swire shut down the Eighth Street Metromover station to meld it into its vast Brickell City Centre, and the Miami Parking Authority is talking of building thousands of parking spaces for a Miami Worldcenter.

In the case of Brickell City Centre, developer Swire is paying to add a third level to the station and blending the stop into its project.

At Miami Worldcenter, which seeks tax increment financing, the city would build and run parking that a developer usually provides – as Swire is doing in Brickell.

The Swire link to Metromover is a done deal, though details are sketchy.

But the Miami Worldcenter parking remains a concept, which makes it timely to study just what the public – which government represents – should expect when it invests in a private project.

Before such a deal, we should debate whether the project serves a public interest, whether the public and government are getting adequate payback, whether money and resources the public side invests could be better used elsewhere, and whether the project is a community need or just a business venture.

Add one more question: Is government there merely to jumpstart a faltering project?

If both the community and the business entity need the project to succeed, that might create a win-win. But if the developer alone needs the win, why should the public sector be involved?

It’s hard to analyze public involvement in either of these massive projects, because neither has been publicly vetted. That’s a pattern here: such deals are hashed out in private and only unveiled when final approval is pending, far too late to debate the policy questions we’re raising.

A refreshing exception was the dealing between Miami International Airport and Odebrecht, the firm that was to have developed a mixed-use, 33-acre Airport City there. Negotiating talks were public and recorded for those who couldn’t be present. A political storm, not those open talks, caused the project to crash.

As we revealed last week, officials of multiple county and city bodies have been meeting privately with Miami Worldcenter to cut public-private deals at the long-awaited project. Since talks are closed, we have no idea what criteria officials are using to decide whether an accord would be appropriate.

But transparency in public-private deals is vital, a two-month-old report by the International City/County Managers Association finds.

The association, which is the think tank for the nation’s city and county administrators, examines the “inherent complexities” via a paper titled “Public-Private Partnerships: Tips for Success.”

Among the association’s concerns with such deals are the “sustainability of projects, the motives of partners, the investment of local resources, and partners’ influence in determining whom local government serves.”

Who is served is vital. Miami might be the nation’s fourth poorest big city. Should its resources be spent in major mixed-use projects for upper-income users or are bigger needs unmet elsewhere? On the other hand, would thousands of city-provided parking spaces create jobs for poorer residents? Should that be a top priority?

The association finds some such partnerships do indeed miss a community’s core mission and “they might even present a conflict with that core mission.”

“Addressing community needs is a powerful motivation for city and county administrators….,” the policy paper says. “Yet responding to community needs may not carry the same importance for a potential partner.”

Is that the case at Miami Worldcenter, or is the project central to the city’s future and therefore a priority?

That’s the type of question public debate should hash out well before the city engraves plans in a parking building’s concrete. Indeed, the policy paper suggests that details of such partnerships be aired in the press “from the outset.”

Of course, it’s easier to do everything behind closed doors. Public debate is messy. But then, so are open government and democracy. We should demand openness.

One point the policy paper misses is fairness in public-private deals. Even assuming a need, a $3 billion public investment in a Miami baseball stadium from which the public gets no money makes a mockery of “partnership.”

Before any public-private deal rumbles very far down the road it should be vetted in public to see if it meets criteria the respected management think tank carefully laid out – and then decide whether the public would get a good deal. The time to start is now.

 

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Classified Ads http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/classified-ads-126/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/classified-ads-126/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:00:37 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=23713 Window tinting. www.lumenessefilms.com. Solar Heat Rejection. Safety Hurricane Protection. Frosted Privacy film. 305-470-9393   CLASS A OFFICE FOR SALE $270K. 647 sf, incl 1 parking. Peabody RE 305-491-2609. www.investinbrickell.com  

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Window tinting. www.lumenessefilms.com. Solar Heat Rejection. Safety Hurricane Protection. Frosted Privacy film. 305-470-9393

 

CLASS A OFFICE FOR SALE $270K. 647 sf, incl 1 parking. Peabody RE 305-491-2609. www.investinbrickell.com

 

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County weighs impact of medical marijuana farming http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/county-weighs-impact-medical-marijuana-farming/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/county-weighs-impact-medical-marijuana-farming/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:00:23 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=23733 As Florida prepares to enter the world of legalized marijuana, Miami-Dade County wants to know where it’s going to stand. Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature already have approved a strictly limited form of medical marijuana use, beginning in January. However, a Florida ballot initiative – Amendment 2 – for the Nov. 4 election would […]

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As Florida prepares to enter the world of legalized marijuana, Miami-Dade County wants to know where it’s going to stand.

Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature already have approved a strictly limited form of medical marijuana use, beginning in January. However, a Florida ballot initiative – Amendment 2 – for the Nov. 4 election would allow broader use of the drug.

As the issue plays out on the state level, county officials are considering the private sector potential for growing medical marijuana in Miami-Dade and other issues it could raise.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s office is expected to deliver a report on the matter in two or three weeks to county commissioners, said Commissioner Dennis Moss, who raised the issue in May. Commissioners then voted 12-1, Javier Souto dissenting, to direct the mayor’s office to study the issue.

“I don’t know where the whole debate is going, but we need to be prepared for what may be a reality down the road,” Mr. Moss told Miami Today last week. “There could be potential for a whole new industry.”

That industry, he said, could center on the agricultural lands in southern Miami-Dade, where his district is located. He added that the year-round warm weather and fertile soil there seems ideal for growing “high-quality, high-grade” marijuana.

One of the outcomes, Mr. Moss said, could be that marijuana could turn into a new “cash crop” for Florida that might dissuade owners of local farmlands from selling off or developing their properties for housing.

Among the issues he hopes the mayor’s report will address: the potential economic impact in Miami-Dade, particularly for agricultural businesses; how many jobs it could create; what security concerns it could raise; who would oversee “quality control” of medical marijuana; as well as potential “downsides,” such as the need for more drug treatment programs.

“We need to be at least positioned and poised to have a response,” he added.

In June, Gov. Scott signed a bill legalizing a limited form of medical marijuana known as “Charlotte’s Web” – a strain that is low in euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, but high in cannabidiol, which supporters say provides the health care benefits of pot without the high.

The strain is said to dramatically reduce life-threatening seizures in children with a rare form of epilepsy, but has not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The law limits eligible medical marijuana growers to large commercial nurseries that have been in business in Florida for at least 30 years. It also allows five distribution centers – one each in the southeast, southwest, central, northeast and northwest parts of the state.

Under the law, growers also would manufacture the substance and distribute it. They must register with the state Department of Agriculture for the cultivation of more than 400,000 plants and post a $5 million bond.

The law specifies that Florida doctors must be certified to prescribe medical marijuana after determining that “no other satisfactory alternative treatment options exist for that patient.” It allows marijuana’s use for medical patients suffering from cancer or “a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms.”

All the restrictions and conditions under the law prompted Florida independent gubernatorial candidate Farid Khavari to call it “Republican medical marijuana from the Florida Legislature: trying to look like they care about people but protecting big business.”

Meanwhile, some conservatives are preparing to oppose the proposed state constitutional amendment, Amendment 2, on the November ballot that would allow for more widespread use of marijuana for medical purposes without the restriction on THC content. Major backers of the measure include Orlando trial attorney and Democratic campaign contributor John Morgan.

Amendment 2 would allow the medical use of marijuana for people diagnosed with “a debilitating medical condition” such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, hepatitis C, HIV-AIDS, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or “other conditions which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”

Under the proposal, the Florida Department of Health would be responsible for regulating marijuana for medical use, issuing patient identification cards, personal caregiver identification cards, and developing procedures for medical marijuana treatment centers and regulations defining reasonable amounts for medical use.

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County Hall travel spending soars 56% http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/county-hall-travel-spending-soars-56/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/county-hall-travel-spending-soars-56/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:00:23 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=23718 Spending on Miami-Dade County employee travel increased 56% last fiscal year from the prior year. Staff spent about $1.78 million on travel in 2012-13, about $640,000 more than 2011-12. That was funded by the general and special revenue funds, grants, and all but two proprietary funds. If travel funded by the two proprietary accounts were […]

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Spending on Miami-Dade County employee travel increased 56% last fiscal year from the prior year.

Staff spent about $1.78 million on travel in 2012-13, about $640,000 more than 2011-12.

That was funded by the general and special revenue funds, grants, and all but two proprietary funds. If travel funded by the two proprietary accounts were included, then spending increased 50%, additional data showed.

Not only did the funds for staff travel jump from year to year, but so did the number of trips.

Between 2011-12 and 2012-13, total county employee trips rose 16% and the number abroad soared about 76%, according to a Miami Today analysis of the county report.

County officials did not address Miami Today’s inquiry why travel spending and the number of trips rose.

In 2012-13, staff took 2,186 trips, 146 of them abroad.

These figures consider one trip taken by multiple employees as multiple trips. For example, if seven staffers went to Colombia to develop economic ties, it was counted as seven trips.

While the report showed Aviation Department staff took 38 trips abroad last fiscal year, the department later said only 22 trips were abroad.* If that is the case, overall county travel abroad increased 57%.

County Commission Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa had requested the report to see if the county can wring savings from staff travel spending.

Ms. Sosa said economic development trips are important. Travels to Washington, DC, and Tallahassee are a must since that’s where the county fights for its interests, she said. But, she added, the report’s data would be useful to learn if the county could reduce professional training trips:

“Sometimes instead of sending 15 employees to another place for training, maybe we could bring the trainer here.”

*Clarification: After publication, an aviation department spokesperson said that nine of Aviation’s trips were funded by outside sources and some trips from a previous fiscal year were incorrectly included in the county report obtained by Miami Today.

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Home insurers’ premium margin expands http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/home-insurers-premium-margin-expands/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/home-insurers-premium-margin-expands/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:00:18 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=23729 Last year, Florida homeowners insurance companies took in more than $8.5 billion from policy premiums while paying out $2.3 billion in losses and other expenses, for a net difference of $6.2 billion, a new financial analysis shows. That would seem to be the industry’s most lucrative year in Florida since at least 1995, according to […]

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Last year, Florida homeowners insurance companies took in more than $8.5 billion from policy premiums while paying out $2.3 billion in losses and other expenses, for a net difference of $6.2 billion, a new financial analysis shows.

That would seem to be the industry’s most lucrative year in Florida since at least 1995, according to figures in the Demotech Inc. report.

However, the analysis doesn’t include a major expense to insurers – the increased cost of purchasing reinsurance, said Joseph Petrelli, president of Demotech, a Dublin, Ohio-based firm that provides financial stability ratings for the insurance industry.

“The insurance carriers providing residential property insurance coverage to Floridians are purchasing more reinsurance protection than ever before,” Mr. Petrelli wrote in a cover letter to the report.

“Second,” he wrote, “the carriers reviewed and rated by Demotech should be commended, not condemned, for being Demotech rated and meeting or exceeding our reinsurance requirements and other financial analysis criteria.”

Demotech, he said, has “stepped up to be the solution to a crisis” when Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida in 1992, resulting in the liquidation of dozens of insurance carriers countrywide, 21 of which were “domiciled” in Florida.

“We do not ask to be thanked,” he added. “We do not deserve to be pilloried.”

Reinsurance provides a way for insurance companies to protect themselves from financial ruin by passing on the risk to other companies. Reinsurance redistributes or diversifies the risk, or the threat associated with the business of issuing policies, by allowing the reinsured to show more assets by reducing its reserve requirements.

The reinsurance industry became more active during the late 1990s and early 2000s because natural disasters and class-action civil litigation resulted in large payouts by insurance companies, some of which become insolvent.

Mr. Petrelli did not have specifics about growing reinsurance costs to Florida’s homeowners insurance industry. However, he said it isn’t possible to strictly gauge the industry’s profitability from just the numbers presented in the report since it doesn’t include reinsurance costs and other expenses, such as payroll.

What the report does show is that the industry in Florida has steadily increased its totals of “direct premium earned,” or revenue recorded from policy premiums, each year from 1995 through 2013, with the exception of two years – 2008 and 2009 – when the economy and housing market bottomed out.

It also shows “incurred losses,” which typically are payouts from claims on policies, and “defense and cost containment,” which typically are expenses from defense litigation, medical costs containment expenses, fees and salaries for hired professionals, among other costs.

In 1995, for example, the Florida homeowners insurance industry’s direct premium earned totaled $1.59 billion, while incurred losses and defense and cost containment expenses totaled nearly $987.8 million, for a net of roughly $607.8 million.

By 2003, those numbers had steadily grown to $3.99 billion in direct premium earned versus $1.48 billion in losses and other expenses, for a net of $2.51 billion.

However, the growth trend was reversed during the hyperactive storm years of 2004, when Florida was hit by four hurricanes and two tropical storms, and 2005, when the state was hit or was impacted by near misses by six hurricanes and two tropical storms.

The unusual string of storms was reflected in the industry’s numbers for those years. In 2004, direct premium earned totaled more than $4.63 billion, but losses and other expenses totaled nearly $13.22 billion, for a deficit of $8.59 billion.

The following year, the industry recorded more than $5.53 billion in direct premium earned, but losses and other expenses totaled about $8.45 billion, for a deficit of $2.92 billion.

After those two bad years, however, the industry’s numbers quickly rebounded, with direct premiums exceeding losses and other expenses by unprecedented amounts: by $4.6 billion in 2006; $6.29 billion in 2007; $4.98 billion in 2008; $4.16 billion in 2009; $4.27 billion in 2010; $4.76 billion in 2011; $5.58 billion in 2012; and $6.26 billion in 2013.

This year, however, a lot of insurers in Florida have been filing for rate decreases, said Sam Miller, executive vice president of the Florida Insurance Council, a Tallahassee-based trade association that represents the insurance industry.

Explaining the filings for decreases, Mr. Miller said Florida hasn’t been hit by a hurricane in eight or nine years and costs are down for the industry. He noted that the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation permits the industry to make a profit but would take issue if it finds those profits are reaching “excessive” levels.

Meanwhile, the Florida homeowners insurance market is the strongest it has been in 10 years, according to Florida Insurance Commission Kevin McCarty.

“Florida companies, which make up a majority of this market, have built $4.5 billion in surplus, $16 billion in reinsurance capacity, and renewed profitability that has created new competition in the market,” Mr. McCarty wrote in an editorial last month.

“Nor is anyone lax in monitoring these insurance companies as some [news] coverage has suggested,” he wrote. “We have toughened the rules and procedures over the past three years and continue to evaluate our efforts.”

Private insurers in Florida now must have a minimum of $15 million in surplus, up from $5 million previously required.

And last spring, the Florida Legislature provided state regulators with “additional tools” to aid in the ongoing supervision of insurance holding companies. “New solvency standards make fundamental changes in the way insurance companies and their affiliates are supervised by the office,” he wrote.

The Office of Insurance Regulation, he added, “will continue its diligence to ensure that insurance companies licensed to do business in Florida are financially viable, operating within the laws and regulations governing the insurance industry, and offering insurance policy products at fair and adequate rates which do not unfairly discriminate against the buying public.”

 

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Filming in Miami: August 21, 2014 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/filming-miami-august-21-2014/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2014/08/20/filming-miami-august-21-2014/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:00:04 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=23711 These film permits were issued last week by the Miami-Dade County Mayor’s Office of Film & Entertainment, (305) 375-3288; the Miami Mayor’s Office of Film, Arts & Entertainment, (305) 860-3823; and the Miami Beach Office of Arts, Culture and Entertainment-Film and Print Division, (305) 673-7070.  FELIZ LA LLC/LANDIA. California. AT&T. Matheson Hammock Park. VENEVISION PRODUCTIONS […]

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These film permits were issued last week by the Miami-Dade County Mayor’s Office of Film & Entertainment, (305) 375-3288; the Miami Mayor’s Office of Film, Arts & Entertainment, (305) 860-3823; and the Miami Beach Office of Arts, Culture and Entertainment-Film and Print Division, (305) 673-7070. 

FELIZ LA LLC/LANDIA. California. AT&T. Matheson Hammock Park.

VENEVISION PRODUCTIONS LLC. Miami. Voltea Pa’ Que Te Enamores. City of Hialeah, Miami-Dade County Transit, Milander Park, Swale Parking.

SOUTH BEACH TOW PRODUCTIONS INC. LA. South Beach Tow. Miami Beach citywide.

VENEVISION PRODUCTIONS LLC. Miami. Ruta 35. City of Hialeah.

UNIVISION COMMUNICATIONS INC. Miami. Despierta America. Collins Avenue/17th to 41st streets.

NBC NEWS – PEACOCK PRODUCTIONS. NY. True Crime with Aphrodite Jones. Miami-Dade County Police Crime Lab Bureau.

FLAMA MEDIA NETWORK LLC. NY. Left unattended. Miami Beach citywide.

THE BOLLOCKS PRODUCTION LLC. North Carolina. Stills for UK Editorial. Crandon Park Beach.

GREG HINSDALE PHOTOGRAPHY INC. Miami Beach. Stills for Belk. Countywide, Greynolds Park, Greynolds Park Golf Course.

MANASSEH JORDAN MINISTRIES. NY. Stills for Bullion Fitness. Haulover Beach Park.

 

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