2023 Spotlight: Miami continues to shine despite challenges

2023 Spotlight: Miami continues to shine despite challenges

Writer: Jerrica DuBois 

3 min read December 2022 — Miami has been known to be very business centered, and the weather makes it a great vacation spot year round. However, more and more people are looking to take root in South Florida, thanks to its pro-business environment and the increasing popularity of remote work. Miami’s exponential growth, and the ensuing changes to the landscape, has become the topic of conversation for government officials, business leaders and residents. In the past year, Miami has become the focal point of a national housing crisis, continued expansion and improvements in mass transit, and took a turn from blue to red in the November midterms.  

Housing is a challenge across the country, but South Florida residents have taken a particular hard hit as the struggle with increasing housing prices, lack of inventory and more residents moving in contribute to the challenge. For many, buying is out of the question, as Miami has stayed at the top of RealtyHop’s least affordable housing list for the majority of 2022, and it continues to grow more expensive. That leaves renting, which isn’t much more of a relief to the pockets of residents. According to a new report by Zumper, Miami has the 4th highest median rent for a one bedroom apartment in the nation, edged out only by New York, San Francisco and Boston. 

“In the long term, if the pace continues, we may see challenges in the ability to satisfy this huge demand,” Sebastian Vallejo, Miami Beach managing director of Brown Harris Stevens, told Invest:. “For example, we might need to create new schools rather than just more classrooms to service the community. We may also need to hire more police force and have more police stations. There is also a need to allocate more hospital space to provide more medical attention.” 

There are, of course, efforts to ease the housing affordability challenges. Developers are working to build quickly and provide more housing options for buyers. Bluenest, for example, has started construction of 30 affordable homes priced within 80% of an area’s median income. Bluenest plans to complete 120 homes by the end of 2023.

The county is also stepping up to offer financial assistance in the midst of the housing crisis. In September, the county commission approved a budget which included $85 million in housing assistance. Proposed by Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, the budget also included a 1% reduction in property tax rates, and funds for water, sewer and transit improvements. 

In addition to fighting the housing crisis, another change for the region will be the continued push for more efficient public transit options. The region has long been plagued by a lack of mass transit and officials are looking for ways to ease the challenge for South Florida residents. As Florida’s most populous county, the needs of Miami-Dade also captured the attention of the Federal Trade Administration, which recently allotted the county $1.4 million in funds for transit improvements.

The Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works is slated to receive $840,000 to advance development of the Northeast Corridor, a long-planned project intended to run on Florida East Coast Railway. Another $533,000 will go to Homestead for transit-oriented developments around three rapid-bus stations along the South Corridor, which will run on the existing South Dade Transitway. These updates can’t come quickly enough, as ridership for Miami-Dade mass transit increased 9.5% as of the fiscal year ended September 30 from the fiscal year 2021 figures.

“Traffic in South Florida is an obvious challenge that is beset by an insufficient public transit system,” Rishi Kapoor, founder and CEO of Location Ventures, told Invest:. “ With the population swelling, we need major thoroughfares expanded to meet the growth of a city that was not necessarily designed for this type of egress and ingress volume.”

Brightline stations have recently opened in Boca Raton and Aventura, and Tri-Rail announced that within a number of months, it is likely to start direct nonstop service from its north-south corridor west of Interstate 95 into Downtown Miami. Both Miami-Dade and Broward counties, although having individual transit projects, ultimately would like to link both counties so that commuters would have coordinated local service running between a point south of the New River in Fort Lauderdale into the MiamiCentral station in Downtown Miami.

In one of the most telling signs of the shifts in Miami-Dade, the November midterms saw the county turn red for the first time in twenty years. Gov. Ron DeSantis won Miami-Dade by more than 11 points on Nov. 8 — the same county DeSantis lost by 20 points in 2018. 

There were a few contributing factors to this shift in South Florida’s support from Democrat to Republican. One is simply the numbers. Since 2018, Republicans have added more than 553,000 registered voters in the Sunshine State, while Democrats have lost about 114,000 voters since the end of October 2021. The GOP has also made significant strides with voters in the Latino and African-American communities, known historically to lean towards the Democratic party.

Miami is steadily preparing for more growth, and that foresight will be key in navigating the next few years in South Florida. Despite the challenges, the popularity of Miami for new businesses and residents has not diminished.

“Over the past decade or so, Miami in general has improved in overall quality and has shed its image of being just a party city,” Ignazio Caltagirone, CEO and co-founder of The Calta Group, told Invest:. “It’s an inviting city with a cosmopolitan atmosphere given its burgeoning restaurant scene, cultural amenities, academic quality of its universities, real estate offerings and leisure options.” 

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