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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Miami, Dade leaders reveal multibillion-dollar downtown plan

By LARRY LEBOWITZ AND MICHAEL VASQUEZ
Miami city and county leaders have forged a multibillion-dollar public-works bonanza that could alter the face of the downtown core -- affecting everything from a baseball stadium to a port tunnel to museums.

The plan, coming together with rare speed in the world of governmental red tape, envisions a holiday bounty of projects aimed at garnering support from constituencies ranging from sports fans to arts patrons.

Announced late Wednesday by Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, the deal would cover everything from a $914 million tunnel leading to the Port of Miami to finally transforming fallow Bicentennial Park into a waterfront jewel with new art and science museums.

By also shoring up the shaky finances at the fledgling Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, the plan's framework would free up additional tax monies that could be used to build a $525 million retractable-roof ballpark for the Florida Marlins.

''This is a great opportunity for all of us -- all of us -- to create an incredible legacy for the urban core,'' Diaz said following a long day of negotiating the multi-party pact -- and then selling it to individual commissioners.

While Diaz and others in the city embraced the so-called ''global'' agreement with the county, many questions remain.

One is whether a deal this complex can actually come to fruition. With so many parts forming the larger whole, it's possible that criticism of one piece of the blueprint could derail others.

Secondly, the intricate financing has been crafted in a way to sidestep a potential voter referendum -- which could embolden critics.

COMMISSIONS TO VOTE

Selling it is key, and the first test comes Thursday when Miami commissioners decide whether to move the multilayered plan forward.

County commissioners would then begin their review of key pieces of the ballpark financing and redevelopment plans Dec. 18.

The framework -- hashed out over several weeks of behind-the-scenes talks with city and county managers -- centers on expanding the Omni Community Redevelopment Agency to include Bicentennial Park and Watson Island.

CRAs are federally mandated special taxing districts that generate extra cash for areas targeted for revitalization. By aiming to expand the key Omni district, Miami leaders envision new infusions of money that would be doled out for multiple big-ticket projects.

The biggest beneficiaries of this new Omni CRA would be the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts and a proposed new ballpark for the Marlins at the soon-to-be-demolished Orange Bowl.

Diaz said the county would essentially receive up to $400 million in CRA revenue over the next 30 years to cover debt service on the arts center.

This will free up somewhere between $160 million and $200 million in tourist taxes from the PAC -- that the county and city could then use for the ballpark in Little Havana.

PARKING GARAGE

Less certain: whether the will, and the money, exist to build a 6,000-space parking garage and one of Diaz's personal projects -- a 25,000-seat soccer stadium also proposed for the 40-acre Orange Bowl site.

By expanding the CRA boundaries over the MacArthur Causeway to Watson Island, the city believes it can also use $50 million in CRA money to pay its share of the $914 million Port of Miami Tunnel over the next 35 years.

Florida transportation officials had vowed to move their $457 million share of the tunnel deal to other parts of the state if the city didn't put up its $50 million piece by Monday.

''I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, no pun intended,'' said City Commissioner Joe Sanchez, who represents the Orange Bowl area.

Miami property owners would also benefit from the expanded Omni CRA, city leaders say.

Diaz said the city would pay off its outstanding debt on the troubled Jungle Island construction loans from the expanded CRA instead of general revenues.

By expanding the boundaries into Bicentennial Park, the city would also use $68 million in new CRA revenue for the development of Museum Park -- including a planned underground parking garage. The CRA money would not be used to build the museums.

OVERTOWN IMPACT

Another question mark: whether city officials will be legally permitted to spin another $2 million a year out of the CRA to pay for ongoing capital improvements inside the park.

A second, more hard-pressed, special tax district would also benefit under the city-county pact.

The Southeast Overtown/Park West CRA, which generates considerably less revenue than the Omni, would be extended to year 2030 and its boundaries expanded to 20th Street on the north and Northwest Seventh Avenue on the west.

The city would spend up to $80 million for affordable housing, infrastructure, parks and job programs in the economically depressed Overtown neighborhood, and it would set aside $35 million for the city's struggling streetcar plan.

Diaz said Miami planned to adopt a pay-as-you-go approach when spending the CRA money on these big-ticket items over the next 30 years, rather than floating bonds to bankroll the projects.

The unstated reason: The projects wouldn't have to face voter approval.

In previous years, the city had contemplated issuing CRA bonds that could net perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars up front, to be used on large public-works projects.

But the Florida Supreme Court ruled in September that any bond issue local governments do with CRA money needs voter approval. Miami responded by abandoning its bond-issue plans.

This plan would sidestep those concerns.

DETAILS

As in every public project, the key is in the details, and literally hundreds of them still need to be hashed out.

First: Does Diaz have the three commission votes to pass the plan when the body meets this morning?

''God willing, [Thursday] we will approve possibly the most exciting -- largest, certainly -- package of projects in city history,'' Diaz said late Wednesday.

Commissioner Sanchez said of the ''global'' agreement: ``So far, it looks good. . . . It's a win-win situation for everybody.''

Herald staff writers Charles Rabin, Andres Viglucci and Matthew I. Pinzur contributed to this report.

 
Posted at 3:24:14 PM
 
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Updated: Friday, July 20, 2018


5 Tips for Staging Your Home

If yoursquo;re in a tough sellerrsquo;s market or just looking to get top dollar for your home, you want to do any little thing you can to make your house stand out in a potential buyerrsquo;s mind. Staging is one of those things that can make the difference between a sold sign and a house that lingers on the market.

The National Association of Realtors suggests that staging has a real impact on home sales. In fact, a majority of realtors report that staging increases the sales price of a home anywhere between 1 and 10 percent. However, the real impact of staging seems to be how quickly a home is sold, with 39 percent of Realtors stating that it greatly decreases the time spent on the market. Buyersrsquo; agents confirm the positive impact of staging, stating that 77 percent of buyers were better able to picture a home as their own when it was staged.

Of course, there is an art to staging a home, and a poorly staged home can have a negative impact on a potential sale. Here are five tips for staging your house that will have you putting up that ldquo;SOLDrdquo; sign in no time.

1. Declutter and Clean

Before thinking about decorations or furniture placement, the No. 1 suggestion of realtors is to declutter and deep clean. Clear countertops and other surfaces, and pack away anything that is not essential. Your goal is to remove anything that will distract buyers from seeing the positive aspects of your house, which is why realtors often suggest removing family photos and overly personalized decorations like your giant bobble head collection. Remember, decluttering includes removing excess furniture, which help make your rooms feel bigger.

2. Group Furniture

Once yoursquo;ve removed furniture that is unnecessary or too large for the space, group furniture into conversational groups away from the wall, instead of pushing sofas and chairs to the corners. You want there to be a flow to each room, and keeping the walls clear of big furniture will actually make the room feel bigger, says HGTV.

3. Accessories in Odd Numbers

Although yoursquo;ll need to declutter, you still want your space to feel like a lived-in home. Do this by decorating with groups of accessories like vases, books or plants. Staging professionals often recommend grouping similarly hued objects in odd number pairings of varying heights and shapes.

4. Add 1 or 2 Bold Accents

While you want to keep your staging deacute;cor fairly neutral, adding one or two bold accent pieces will help highlight a particularly great feature of your home. Adding a dramatic chandelier that matches the >

5. Use Mirrors

Mirrors can help brighten a dark hallway, bring light into a room and make a room seem larger, says Forbes. For a big impact, get a cheap mirror and add a decorative frame, or group a lot of small mirrors in differing shapes and sizes. In a room with a window, place mirrors across from the window to reflect the sunlight.

Staging is all about helping potential buyers create an emotional connection with your home. Help buyers picture themselves living in the house by decluttering, grouping furniture and accessories, adding one or two bold accents and using mirrors. Now get ready for the offers to roll in.


> Full Story

Real Estate Experts and Lawyers Working Together: A Partnership for Growth

As residential towers and commercial buildings rise toward the heavens, as they pierce the clouds and refract the light from sheets of glass unto frozen crystals, creating a rainbow so many stories above the ground but below the stars, construction accelerates. It accelerates in cities large and small, increasing the need for real estate developers and agents - in addition to buyers and sellers - to have sound legal representation. For construction to continue apace, so the economy does not lose its pace, we need real estate experts and lawyers to work together. Anything less than full collaboration threatens to stall growth and bring the real estate industry to a standstill.

According to Wayne R. Cohen, a professor at The George Washington University School of Law and a partner at Cohen Cohen, P.C., lawyers are an essential part of this equation. He says:

Growth is sustainable only to the degree that there are enough lawyers to ensure developers can break ground without fear of breaking the law, because they do not have the right permits or are in violation of some zoning ordinance. As much as the law can hinder growth, or an injunction can slow or stop it, good lawyers can do their best - they can do everything in their power - to reverse that restriction.

I second Cohens analysis, since the real estate industry cannot operate without effective legal counsel. The same rule applies to the rights of tenants who can too easily be bulldozed pun intended by one side. If there is to be balance, lawyers who specialize in these matters need to come forward.

What I foresee is not so much an adversarial >For these things to happen, a conversation must begin and actions must follow. The arrangement must be right, so lawyers can do justice and real estate developers can pursue legal means for a just outcome. In turn, a national conversation can ensue for the good of the public and the advancement of those goods that benefit the republic - things like the construction or repair of parks and playgrounds, the renovation of libraries and museums, the expansion of roads and highways, and the availability of affordable housing.

If the currency of the legal profession is language, if lawyers pride themselves on the precision of the words they use, much like architects and engineers must be precise in their calculations, they have a duty - we all have a responsibility - to have a dialogue about how lawyers can aid the real estate industry and assist the economy.

The jobs that result from that discussion are one of several rewards for us to enjoy.

I welcome this chance to talk, so we can succeed greatly and grow mightily.

A writer and branding consultant, Lewis Fein covers the real estate industry, technology, and marketing, among other issues. A graduate of The Emory University School of Law, Lewis resides in Southern California. You may reach him at
> Full Story

Industry Icons Saul Klein and John Reilly Join Realty Times as Executive Editors

June 28, 2018 Las Vegas, NV ndash;nbsp; Realty Times is pleased to announce the addition of two of the most prominent industry professionals as Executive Editors. They bring over 80 years of combined real estate expertise and knowledge, engaging and influencing all functions of real estate; as a managing broker, MLS/Associations board member, licensed attorney, architects of real estate communities and passionate educators.

Together, they will pursue the Realty Times mission to deliver an experienced and competent voice, providing balanced bilateral reporting and editorial.nbsp;

ldquo;For 21 years Realty Times has been a trusted source of real estate news. In todayrsquo;s world of misinformation, Saul Klein and John Reilly will provide Realty Times readers a significant level of confidence and trust as their integrity has been well established,rdquo; stated John Giaimo, Realty Times President.

ldquo;This is really the dream opportunity for John Reilly and I, after long and successful careers in the real estate Industry.nbsp; It is like being able to step off the field, as an athlete or coach, and being able to step into a commentator role. We are excited about getting started.rdquo;

About Realty Times:

As one of Americarsquo;s largest and most trusted real estate news portals, Realty Times connects buyers, sellers, brokers, nonprofits and agents with everything real estate >

About Saul Klein:

With over 40 years in real estate, Saul Klein is well recognized as an industry pioneer, especially in real estate syndication and education, and one of the few luminaries that paved the way for real estatersquo;s transition to the online world. Saul is the co-creator of ePRO, technology certification course that certified 70,000 students, as well as the creator of the 2 National Listing Syndication Service, Point2 Technologies. Mr. Klein is a proud member of the first REALTOR.com Team, pre-IPO, responsible for obtaining first 500,000 listings.

About John Reilly:

John Reilly is a real estate educator and one of the foremost writers of real estate materials, including several published books and numerous articles. His national bestseller, "The Language of Real Estate", published by Dearborn Publishing, is now in its seventh edition and selling over 125,000 copies. Together with Saul Klein, John founded Real Estate Electronic Publishing Company REEPCO, which produced RealTown and Internet Crusade. In 2000, John moved to San Diego to devote his efforts full time to real estate electronic publishing with a focus on the development and moderation of NARrsquo;s online e-PRO Technology Certification Program.


> Full Story



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