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Jay Usner

Real Estate Club Experiences Miami

by Jay Usner Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On October 23, Wisconsin School of Business students traveled to sunny Miami, Florida to not only escape the budding Madison winter, but also to study the local real estate market. Due to the efforts of the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association and its dedicated group of southern Florida alumni, 35 graduate and undergraduate Real Estate Club members were able to tour real estate assets across one of the most widely discussed markets of the past five years.

Miami View

The trip began at the home of Diana Parker, a senior vice president at CBRE with over 25 years of brokerage experience in the south Florida market. Ms. Parker generously welcomed us into her 30th floor condo overlooking the Port of Miami and Biscayne Bay, allowing club members to sip mojitos, dine on traditional Miami fare, and take in the city from her wrap-around porch.

Our first full day began at the Port of Miami, which is in the midst of capital improvement projects geared to increase cargo traffic over the next 10 years. Projects currently underway include the construction of a tunnel connecting port traffic directly to the interstate system and the dredging of the South Channel to -50’/-52’ in order for Miami Portpost-Panamax ships to berth at the port.  The master plan looks to 2035 and will take the port into the future with projects that will increase both cargo and passenger activity. Cruise passenger projections are estimated to grow from 4.1 million passengers per year to 5.9 million in 2035, and cargo projections are slated to go from 847,249 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2010 to 1.7–3.3 million in 2035.

Our next stop was at the Brickell City Centre development. Situated in the heart of the Brickell financial district, Brickell City Centre is Swire Properties’ largest project in Miami to date. The development has a GFA of nearly 3 million square feet and will include shopping and dining, three office buildings, two residential towers, and a 264-room hotel with 87 serviced apartments. The development, which incMiami Brickell City Centerorporates Brickell’s light rail system, was designed by Miami-based architectural firm Arquitectonica. The three towers which comprise phase I are currently under construction and are expected to be completed in 2015. Phase II is scheduled for completion in 2018 and includes an 80-story skyscraper (to be the tallest in the district) which will house retail, class-A office space, residential condos, and the development’s hotel.

A bus tour through Little Havana led us to our lunch destination: Versailles. The group feasted on plantain chips, empanadas, croquettes, fried yucca, rice, beans, and Cuban sandwiches. The meal ended with Cuban coffee, but naps would have likely been more fitting. Special thanks should be given to Felipe Izquierdo and Jared Brunnabend for not only sponsoring lunch for the group but also for acting as our unofficial tour guides to the city.

Miami Mark Cuban's YachtAfter exploring the Coral Cables and Coconut Grove neighborhoods, we arrived at the offices of Ernst and Young for presentations by E&Y and the Related Companies. Known most widely for its 17 million square-foot Hudson Yards development in New York City, Related Companies also developed the W hotel and residences in Miami. That evening, students attended a dinner at the Van Dyke Café sponsored by WREAA, then headed out to explore the Miami nightlife.

 Day two in Miami began with a walking tour along Lincoln Road. Complete with fountains and gardens, Lincoln Road is a thriving shopping and dining district and is the ideal spot for people-watching. From Lincoln Road, students rode through the Wynwood neighborhood to the art district and the Dacra design studio.  

Dacra is part real estate company, part art studio. It relies heavily on architecture and design to build creative real estate concepts. Currently, the company is revitalizing the once-abandoned Miami Design District where it resides. Dacra’s multi-phase development project seeks to awaken the area as a neighborhood dedicated to innovative fashion, design, architecture, and dining experiences. The multi-million dollar project will bring a boutique hotel to the Miami Dacra Design Districtneighborhood and dramatically increase the district's retail, commercial, and art exhibition space.

After lunch in Midtown, club members capped-off this trip in luxury fashion: a sightseeing cruise along scenic Biscayne Bay aboard the Island Queen. The 90-minute tour allowed students to take in Miami’s spectacular coastal sites including the beautiful downtown Miami skyline, the Port of Miami, Fisher Island, Miami Beach, and "Millionaire's Row," all while soaking in the sun, sea, and cool air.