Land grab in once-seedy Miami neighborhood

Apr.April 23, 2013 10:00 AM

Land values in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood are appreciating quickly as developers gobble up parcels, the Daily Business Review reported.

Miami-based Related Group, led by real estate powerbroker Jorge Pérez, paid $29 million for a waterfront site that was sold last year for $11 million, according to the newspaper.

As inventories dwindle in downtown Miami and Brickell, the strip of low-rise housing on Biscayne Bay between two interstate highways that lead to Miami Beach, has seen values rise precipitously, from an average $50 per square foot to $300 per square foot, the Business Review said.

Highly leveraged speculators drove up prices for Edgewater real estate during the last boom, but after the 2007 crash, condo units in the projects that didn’t fail were sold at large discounts.

This time, developers are emulating the financing structures of their South American buyers’ home countries, requiring a down payment equivalent to 50 percent of the sales price, according to the paper.

Jorge Luis Melo and his sons, Carlos and Martin, migrated from Argentina in 2001 and built their first condo project, a 96-unit tower in Edgewater, during the recession. They closed on the project last year, when units were selling for $260 to $300 per square foot, and are using the profits to build as many as 2,500 more units in the neighborhood.

Melo figured that the waterfront area so close to downtown, once a haven for prostitutes and homeless people, would eventually become valuable real estate.

“Now, there is no way back,” he told the paper. [Daily Business Review] –Emily Schmall

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