GROWING RAPIDLY AND STEADILY
Invest: Miami speaks with Alex Wertheim, President, SPACiO Design Build
What demand is currently driving design services?
Over the years, we have seen significant growth in residential demand. Developers can execute large-scale projects, as the cost per square foot in South Florida is still much less expensive to buyers than in many other major cities within the U.S. This region offers a competitive cost of living as well as an advantageous tax structure. Growth in the residential segment has caused growth in the commercial segment as well, to the point that we are seeing more activity in the commercial real estate sector than in the residential market when it comes to construction in Miami.
What are the main profile trends of the client base for contractor and design services in Miami?
There was an important change in the profile of the clients after the crisis of 2009. We have started to see more Latin American clients reaching out to us to build-out their recently purchased high-end condos since then. This is expected to continue, as Miami is a melting pot for Latin Americans. However, in the past few years, we have begun to see an increase in the number of clients from the U.S. retaining our services, which makes me think the domestic market is coming back. Miami is attracting many retirees from the Northeast that are looking to take advantage of the lower cost of living. We have also seen an increase from international clients from other regions of the world such as Asia and Europe.
Miami is growing rapidly and continuously. In 2017, we will continue to see such growth driven by international and American buyers. We are also going to keep seeing continuous repositioning of real estate properties. As we run out of developable land, developers are rapidly buying up existing Class B and Class C properties in up-and-coming neighborhoods to turn them into Class A properties, from hotels to retail space. As a full-service general contractor, we are seeing – and we will continue to see in 2017 – an increase in retail space construction. We are currently involved in building out Breitling and very soon Swarovski in Brickell City Centre. The demand is a direct result of Miami’s evolution as a high-end shopping and dining destination.
Which sectors are expected to be the growth engines for design and contracting services the upcoming years?
Even though both residential and commercial sectors are growing simultaneously, commercial will
start to see an important increase in the hospitality sector, especially restaurants. Miami has developed its culinary offerings extensively over the past couple years. These new restaurants have made significant investments in design services because they understand the importance of aesthetics for their businesses. The Nobu restaurant in Miami Beach is a perfect example. Chef Nobu Matsuhisa sought the “best of the best” to build out the space. For example, the stone flooring was imported from Italy, the oak flooring from Denmark and many other finishes are derived from around the world. Nobu truly adds an extra level of sophistication to the iconic Eden Roc. We were very fortunate to work under Chef Matsuhisa’s leadership building out that amazing space. Hotels – both new and existing – have also made important investments in design with an important emphasis on quality and that will continue to happen in Miami
What would you identify as the current major challenges in construction?
From a business perspective, one of the main challenges for the developers is making sure they hire the right architect and designer. Doing all the correct due diligence and pre-construction work is extremely important. Not many people realize the amount of work that goes into pre-construction and its importance. When done poorly, this ends up being a problem for developers as they execute their projects. The way to tackle this issue is by making sure their pre-construction work is handled by highly qualified professionals. Another challenge is finding qualified construction workers, especially when you are working on high-end projects. We make sure we take good care of our people because we see value in loyalty and having an A team that we can move from job to job.
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