By: Ismael Rodriguez
Hurricane Irma viciously swept through Miami-Dade last week, lashing coastal communities and urban areas like downtown Miami and the neighboring Brickell financial district with powerful winds and currents of water that brought down two construction cranes and flooded streets. But local real estate experts believe the wrath of Irma spared the city’s urban core and coastal areas from irreversible damages.
Suzanne Amaducci, a partner at commercial law firm Bilzin Sumberg, told the press that 1450 Brickell Avenue, the office building where her firm is headquartered, opened Tuesday morning and had power and air conditioning. She said, “If you look at the new construction, it withstood the storm very well.”
Carlos Melo, co-founder of Miami-based Melo Group, which has developed 12 towers in inner-city Miami neighborhoods, told the press that he weathered the storm on the second floor of his company’s rental building at 425 Northeast 22nd Street.
“We had about one foot of water at ground level,” Melo told The Real Deal. “It only affected the parking area, but it never reached the building. And about an hour-and-a-half after the hurricane passed, the water had receded.”
Melo also added that none of his buildings suffered irreparable damages and the only major problem was the lack of electricity. “Nine of our rental buildings are without power and using generators,” he told the press. “The biggest problem is that there are too many downed trees and power lines to pick up.”
Melo isn’t alone, since most inner city and coastal areas lost power, too, and some remain without it.
In Miami Beach, for example, residents and visitors came in droves after the Tuesday morning curfew was lifted, finding most driveways and roads littered with felled trees, powerless neighborhoods and some eateries open to those seeking a meal in air-conditioned rooms, but no real infrastructure or construction damages.
And it wasn’t until Wednesday that Moody Analytics released a report that estimated between $64 billion and $92 billion in property damage.
Yet, real estate experts and developers have issued statements that denounce the catastrophic damage brought on by Irma. Chad Warhaft, director of construction and operations for brokerage CREC, for example, told the press that his company’s portfolio of 7 million square feet of commercial space across Florida held up well during Irma.
“Mainly, we are dealing with landscape damage and minor roof leaks,” Warhaft told the press. “There was a little bit of facade damage at two properties. Other than that, we have been in really good shape.”
Nir Shoshani, co-founder and principal of NR Investments, which is developing the Filling Station Lofts in Miami’s Arts & Entertainment District, told the press that their property at 1657 North Miami Avenue, a 10-story, 81-unit apartment tower suffered some water intrusion but nothing severe.
Shoshani’s company is also developing Canvas, a 513-unit condo building at 1630 Northeast First Avenue, which has two cranes on site hovering at 425 feet in the air.
“When we started preparing for Irma, we were supposed to be right smack in the middle of its path,” Shoshani told the press. “There is nothing you can really do to secure those things. On the contrary, you have to let them spin.”
Shoshani also voiced similar feelings about the impact of Hurricane Irma in Miami’s real estate market.
“Miami remains a very attractive place,” he told the press. “I also think people forget quickly and it won’t have long term effects on real estate here.”