South Florida’s housing boom has not been damped by rising sea levels.
For coastal communities from Florida to Texas, this year’s hurricane season could be a harbinger of future events. With climate change, scientists say, we may see more hurricanes and more rain in the future. And as the ice caps melt, sea levels rise faster, flooding low-lying coastal areas such as Miami.
But in southern Florida, such dire predictions have hardly damped enthusiasm. Real estate consultant Peter Zalewski offers bus Tours for people keen on Miami’s hot apartment market. On a recent Saturday, he led 20 potential buyers, including some local real estate professionals and other Latin American professionals. Buses pass through blue luxury high-rise buildings and construction sites, with cranes towering over partially completed buildings. Zalewski points to new apartment buildings.
“On the right, we’re connected in bricks,” he said. “On the left, we have 1100 Millicento, you see the crane, we have Brickell Flatiron.”
Miami’s latest apartment boom is now in a slump, with fewer projects and fewer projects. One factor, says Zalewski, is President trump’s immigration policy, which creates uncertainty for foreign investors.
But the market remains hot. About 20,000 units in downtown Miami are in different stages of completion.
On the bus, potential buyers were criticized for pointing out possible investment opportunities. He incorporated his tour group into one of Miami’s most popular neighborhoods, the brikel financial district.
“You’ll have about 6,000 units on this street,” he said. “That’s why I call it the belly of a beast.”
Zalewski discusses maintenance, property taxes and market conditions with potential buyers. One thing he didn’t mention, and no one asked, was the rising sea level and potential flooding in Miami. Michael Montalvan, one of Zalewski’s people, manages properties for overseas investors. He said this was not the subject he had heard from clients.
Real estate consultant Peter Zalewski offers bus Tours for people interested in the Miami apartment market.
“They really don’t care about people coming to the apartment,” Mr. Montarvan said. “You know, I’ve never seen investors talk to me about this.”
In Florida and around the world, sea levels have been rising since the end of the ice age. Scientists say growth rates are rising as the climate changes. Models used by Florida’s local government estimate that sea levels in the area could rise by two feet by 2060.
But Zalewski said most investors did not consider the possibility that Miami would emerge in 40 years.
“It’s possible,” he said. ”
Sea level rise is hard to ignore for people living in southern Florida. In Miami, the average elevation is only 61/2 feet above sea level. Some streets now often see streets flooded whenever a high tide comes to a new or full moon – the so-called king tides. This does not take into account unpredictable events such as rainstorms or hurricanes.
During hurricane ilma, the storm surge brought deep waist-deep water to Miami’s brickwell financial district, a neighborhood in the heart of the city’s condo boom. However, jan gilbert, Miami’s chief resilience officer, said the damage was relatively minor because of the city’s strong building codes and height requirements.
“The most impressive thing about brikel is how fast it runs and people get back to work,” she said. “Two days later, I went to the brikker, where I could hang out at a cafe table on the street and enjoy my coffee shop.”
Like other governments in south Florida, the city is taking steps to protect communities from regular flooding. Tomas Regalado has just completed two terms as mayor of Miami. One of the mayor’s last ACTS was to win approval from the referendum, which will cost the city $200 million to flood and prepare for rising sea levels.
“We need more pumps,” says Regalado. “We need to have a better seawall structure, and the Irma we saw in [the hurricane] could happen again, and if it did, the damage could be in the millions.”
Miami is also revamping its overall rainwater program to create a flexible system by at least 2060, gilbert said. “Building resilience can be expensive.” But over time, it gets done slowly, because it becomes necessary.
“If you can adapt to a certain speed, you could have 25 years,” she said. “The oceans are rising and growing at an increasing rate, but they are still growing at a relatively slow rate, so there is time to plan.”
Changes have begun in Miami as people become aware of the effects of rising sea levels and flooding. Ms gilbert says she has heard friends start talking about where they live, and rising sea levels are part of their long-term plans.
“It’s definitely part of the conversation in the long run,” 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.”
In southern Florida, it is more vulnerable to flooding and rising sea levels than Miami Beach. The city has spent hundreds of millions of dollars improving its infrastructure – improving roads and installing pumps to better handle rainwater. Some developers are now looking at the city.
Despite the promise of the future, Michael stern is one of many developers still bullish on Miami. Stern and JDS believe he is building a new elastic standard for Monad Terrace, a 15-story apartment building. He proudly displayed work on the tower’s construction site overlooking Miami Beach.
At a construction site in Miami Beach, workers are using a technique called soil mixing to build a watertight basement and parking lot.
“Did you see all these dump trucks coming out? “We’re pouring cement, concrete into the ground, concrete into the soil,” he explained.
One reason why south Florida is so prone to rising sea levels has to do with geology. The bedrock of south Florida is porous limestone, allowing groundwater to rise at the same rate as the ocean. At a construction site in Miami Beach, workers are using a technique called soil mixing to build a watertight basement and parking lot.
“We were injected with deep soil mixing piles and concrete, which connected to each other to form a continuous concrete bucket, so no water came into our basement through porous limestone,” stern said.
Finally, he believes this type of waterproof will be the standard for all new buildings in southern Florida. His apartment building is also resilient in other ways, with a floor 11 feet above the current road level, additional capacity for the rainwater storage 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 said construction in coastal areas such as Miami Beach will continue to be a challenge.
“But I believe in human innovation,” stern said. “I believe we can make adjustments where we have long enjoyed.”