Construction return may end Miami-Dade property value slide
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
The third consecutive countywide decline in taxable property values puts more pressure on cash-strapped local governments, but a projected jump in new construction next year from projects in the pipeline could offset another possible decline.
Since 2008, Miami-Dade property values have fallen steeply, but construction activity compensated for that because it meant new taxable properties were headed for the tax roll.
But that hasn't been the case in recent years, with few cranes erected as a result of the real estate meltdown and lending freeze.
In the past three years, the county has been hit with an overall decline in taxable values of more than 24%. That's a 9.5% dive in 2009, 13.4% in 2010 and an estimated 3.3% this year, pointed out Miami-Dade's Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia.
During the building boom, Miami's skyline was abundant with cranes from residential and office projects under development.
"Now, the only cranes you see are at the Marlins stadium and the building under construction in the Health District," Mr. Garcia said. "That tells you everyone is waiting to build, but no one is building."
But that could soon change, as several mixed-use projects could break ground between the end of this year and beginning of 2013.
In Miami's Omni area, longtime Miami developer Tibor Hollo is close to starting to build the 35-story Sonesta Mikado Hotel & Residences.
Nearby, 13.9 acres of waterfront land owned by the Miami Herald were sold last month by its parent company, McClatchy Co., to Malaysia-based casino company Genting Malaysia Berhad to build a hotel, shops and convention center.
In downtown Miami, MDM Development Group appears set to move ahead with Met Square and Met 3, which are to add a Whole Foods Market, movie theater and 2,000-car garage.
Across the Miami River, Hong Kong-based Swire is to build the 4.6 million-square-foot Brickell CitiCentre, which is to house a shopping center, hotel, two condo towers and an office building.
In Key Biscayne, an Argentinean developer is close to starting four 14-story residential towers in a highly-coveted oceanfront site, formerly home to Sonesta Beach Hotel.
Although these projects have different timelines and some could take years to finish, these developers are confident about starting construction soon. As project phases are completed, they would be added to the tax roll.
This year's estimated property values, released May 31 to municipalities and other taxing authorities to begin budget preparations, show that some cities saw a rise in values, including Coral Gables, Pinecrest and Key Biscayne.
Sweetwater saw an unusual 262% jump in property values because it annexed a two-square-mile unincorporated area that included Dolphin Mall.
This year, only one city, Florida City, badly hit by the foreclosure plague, had a double-digit decline in values at 15.4%, vastly improved from last year's 20-plus local governments with double-digit falls.
The appraiser's office is to send truth-in-millage notices to individual property owners Aug. 24 with their properties' assessed values.
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