The Real Deal Miami

What Gimenez means for Miami real estate

By Alexander Britell | August 24, 2011 11:14AM

Clockwise from left: Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Daniel Zelonker and Jorge Luis Lopez

Two months after his victory in a special election, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has a lot of real estate on his plate — from the ongoing Port of Miami tunnel project to dealing with a still-slow commercial market.

But just what kind of impact Gimenez will have on Miami’s commercial real estate market is less clear.

“It remains to be seen,” said Daniel Zelonker, a broker-associate at Mizrach Realty in Miami. “I think Manny Diaz had a very negative impact. I think we need somebody in there that’s going to grow real estate, and grow development.

Zelonker pointed to the recent boomlet in Coral Gables as an example of the kinds of work on which Gimenez should focus. The Gables has seen seven new developments begin work. In downtown Miami and Wynwood, another three have started.

“The one time I did talk to [Gimenez] he said he was going to try to make getting [development] permits easier, because right now it’s really tough,” he said.

Frank Rollason, former assistant city manager for the city of Miami, said he wasn’t sure how much impact the mayor of Miami-Dade County generally had for local real estate — but that Gimenez’s stated agenda of fiscal austerity could be an advantage.

“It’s got to be good for us to get our finances finally under control one way or another –that should help with our bond rating,” Rollason said. “When you have a better bond rating, it makes investors feel a bit better about the community they’re coming to.”

Gimenez, a Republican [though the Mayor’s office is non-partisan] and former Miami-Dade County Commissioner, defeated former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina, also a Republican, in a runoff election June 29.

“To me, businesses and real estate companies coming here are looking to see that you’re stable and have got good education, sports and some culture,” said Rollason, who worked for Gimenez at two different times, as deputy fire chief when Gimenez was Chief of Fire-Rescue, and as assistant city manager for operations when Gimenez was Miami’s City Manager. 
Jorge Luiz Lopez, a Miami attorney soon to be named to the Beacon Council, said Gimenez’s impact would be “very positive,” for several reasons: In his new post, Gimenez has already executed a rollback of taxes, a massive reorganization of the county and will be overseeing a renewed push for jobs initiatives in the fall.

“He’ll be looking at initiatives that will facilitate job creation, both at the construction level as well as longer-term jobs,” he said. “[The reorganization] will expedite and facilitate future development, but, much more importantly, have a more cohesive and collaborative view [of development].”