Tourism Numbers Reviewed For Industry Professionals
Written by Miami Today on November 9, 2000
By David L. Snelling
Miami 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 state-of-the-city address.
"It 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 is shining."
Although 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.
Mr. 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, DC.
Mr. 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.
Mr. 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.
In the previous 10 years, he said, 2,500 construction permits worth $96 million were awarded.
Mr. 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.
Mr. 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 $20 million.
The 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.
"We 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.
Miami Beach business owners saw retail sales skyrocket over the past three years."
Mr. 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.