South Florida’s housing boom was not curbed by rising sea levels.
For coastal communities from Florida to Texas, this year’s hurricane season could be a harbinger of things to come. Scientists say that with climate change, we may see more severe hurricanes and more severe rainfall events in the future. In addition, as the ice caps melt, sea levels rise faster, flooding low-lying coastal areas like Miami.
But in south Florida, such dire predictions do little to dampen development enthusiasm. Peter Zalewski, a real estate consultant, offers bus Tours for people keen on Miami’s hot apartment market. On a recent Saturday, he led a tour of 20 potential buyers, including some local real estate professionals and other Latin American professionals. The bus passes through blue luxury high-rise buildings and construction sites, cranes towering over partially completed buildings. Zalewski points out the new apartment building.
“On the right, we have bond in bricker,” he said. “On the left, we have 1100 Millicento, where you see the crane, we have Brickell Flatiron.”
Miami’s latest apartment boom is now in a downturn, with fewer projects and fewer projects. One factor, Zalewski says, is President trump’s immigration policy, which creates uncertainty for foreign investors.
But the market is still hot. At the heart of Miami’s city, about 20,000 units are in different stages of completion.
On the bus, potential buyers were condemned as Zalewski pointed out possible investment opportunities. He incorporated the tour group into one of Miami’s hottest neighborhoods, the Brickell financial district.
“You’ll have about 6,000 units in this street,” he said. “That’s why I call it the belly of the beast.”
Zalewski discusses maintenance, property taxes and market conditions with potential buyers. One thing he did not mention, and no one asked, is rising sea levels and potential flooding in Miami. Michael Montalvan, one of Zalewski’s people, manages properties for overseas investors. He says this is not the topic he hears from clients.
Real estate consultant Peter Zalewski offers bus Tours for people interested in the Miami condo market.
“They really don’t care about people coming to the apartment,” says Montalvan. “You know, I’ve never seen investors talk to me about it.”
In Florida and around the world, sea levels have been rising since the end of the ice age. Scientists say the rate of increase is increasing with climate change. Models used by Florida’s local government estimate that sea levels in the region could rise by two feet by 2060.
But Zalewski said most investors did not consider the possibility that Miami would be 40 years from now.
“It is possible,” he said, “they will not work here for a long time, basically, they want to invest their money, looking for a price rise a little, then dumping it, profits and continue to the next play. ”
For people living in south Florida, rising sea levels are hard to ignore. In Miami, the average elevation is only 6 1/2 feet above sea level. Some streets now often see streets flooded, whenever the climax meets a new moon or a full moon – the so-called king tide. This does not take into account unpredictable events such as rainstorms or hurricanes.
During hurricane Irma, storm surges brought deep waist-deep water to the Miami brickwell financial district, a neighborhood in the center of the city’s apartment boom. However, Miami’s chief resilience officer, Jane gilbert, said the damage was relatively small because of the city’s strong building codes and elevation requirements.
“The most impressive thing about brikel is how quickly it runs out and people get back into business,” she said. “Two days later, I went to brikker, and I could hang on the table at a cafe on the street and enjoy my coffee shop.”
Like other governments in south Florida, the city is taking steps to protect neighborhoods from the effects of regular flooding. Tomas Regalado has just completed two terms as mayor of Miami. One of the last ACTS of the mayor was to win approval for a referendum that would spend $200 million of urban spending on flood control and preparing for sea level rise.
“We need more pumps,” Regalado said. “We need to have a better seawall structure, and what we see in [hurricane] Irma could happen again, and if it does happen, the damage could be millions.”
Miami is also revising its overall rainwater plan to create a system that will be flexible until at least 2060. ‘building resilience can be expensive,’ Mr. Gilbert says. But over time, it will be done slowly, because it becomes necessary.
“If you have been able to adapt to a certain pace, you may have 25 years of time,” she said. “The oceans are rising and growing at a rising rate, but still growing at a relatively slow pace, so there is time for planning.”
Some changes have begun in Miami as people become aware of rising sea levels and the effects of flooding. Ms. Gilbert says she has heard friends start talking about where they live, and that rising sea levels are part of their long-term plan.
“In the long run, it’s definitely part of the conversation,” she said. “But now, people don’t run, they don’t rush, people can see their height in the next 30 to 40 years and make their own plans.”
Nowhere in south Florida is it more vulnerable to flooding and rising sea levels than Miami Beach. The city has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to improve its infrastructure – improving roads and installing pumps to better handle rainwater. Some developers are now following the lead of the city.
Despite expectations for the future, Michael stern is one of many developers still bullish on Miami. Stern and JDS believe he is setting up a new elastic standard for Monad Terrace, a 15-story apartment building. He proudly displayed the work of the tower’s construction site overlooking the waters of Miami Beach.
At the construction site in Miami Beach, workers are using a technique called soil mixing to create a watertight basement and parking garage.
“You see all these dump trucks coming out? We are injecting cement, concrete into the ground, and concrete instead of soil, “he explained.
One reason why south Florida is so prone to sea level rise is related to its geology. The bedrock of south Florida is porous limestone, which allows groundwater to rise at the same rate as the ocean. At the construction site in Miami Beach, workers are using a technique called soil mixing to create a watertight basement and parking garage.
“We are injected into the deep soil mixed pile and concrete them to connect with each other and form a continuous concrete tub, so there is no water through porous limestone into our basement,” stern said.
Eventually, he believes, this type of waterproofing will become the standard for all new buildings in south Florida. His apartment building is also resilient in other ways, with the first floor being 11 feet above the current road level, the extra capacity of the rainwater reserve system and additional emergency generators.
Mr. Stern used similar construction techniques in his recently completed apartment building in lower Manhattan, another flood-prone area. He says construction of coastal areas like Miami Beach will continue to pose challenges.
“But I believe in human innovation,” stern said. “I believe we will be able to make adjustments in places we have long loved.”