Saturday, August 10, 2013

Watson, I presume? More on Related Group's Jorge Perez ... by gimleteye

In the Herald, it looked like one of those sober, face-saving events when big land deals involving elected officials and zoning changes go awry. The same Jorge Perez who dragged neighbors of Mercy Hospital through years of protracted conflict and litigation, is now "a very responsible citizen of Miami" who gave up a project because it would over-burden infrastructure.

In the case of Mercy Hospital, where Perez had the politics lined up, a majority of city commissioners loved the plan -- now scuttled -- to put multi-million dollar condos on the Coconut Grove waterfront. The highly unpopular Perez condo fizzled in the solvent of the housing crash, during a period when Perez' empire and status was teetering on an edge.

Perez survived because bankers from far away who funded over a billion in loans to Perez, icon of overdevelopment, decided he was too big to fail. But Perez never cared about "overburdening" public infrastructure. His entire fortune is based on shifting costs of traffic, water, wastewater, etc. to taxpayers. Why give up the formula for millions, now?

My sense is that there is more to the cancellation of the Watson Island overdevelopment. The reported antagonism the project engendered between Miami and Miami Beach was the ostensible rationale.

It had to be about business and profits, and my guess is that the costs to Perez had to outweigh the benefits. No Miami developer has ever flinched from putting more traffic onto overcrowded roadways. That's the rationale offered by the neat as a pin press conference featured in The Miami Herald. So what would those costs have included, that perhaps the attendees of the public/private press conference would not want to talk about?

I wonder if Perez had trouble insuring the project. Is the back story that sea level rise is finally braking the overdevelopment of coastal South Florida? That would be a good question for Herald reporters and Miami Today, to start asking.

Perhaps Perez' prospective insurers, or re-insurers, are paying attention and read UM chair of the Department of Geologic Science Dr. Harold Wanless' testimony on wastewater infrastructure issues and seal level rise, in the lawsuit by Biscayne Bay Waterkeepers in federal court: "By 2063, there is projected to be further sea level rise of 1.8 - 3.1 feet according to the most recent NOAA projects. With a further 1.5 - 2 feet of sea level rise there will be no natural Virginia Key left. This will happen within the net 32-53 years."

Watson, I presume?



Malagodi said...

" Is the back story that sea level rise is finally braking the overdevelopment of coastal South Florida?" A very reasonable guess.

I think we've started to see the contraction, as officials start to react to what they've been seeing in the S. Fla. Regional Climate Plan, and absorbing what their staff engineers are telling them. The costs (and profits to contractors) are going to be so big for climate adaptation that there is no money for anything else, including libraries, art, public transportation or any of the other indicators of a modern city.

I attended the "I Will" #Act on Climate event organized by the Democratic Party on Friday in Bayfront Park. It was publicly announced on FB and "keynoted" by former Governor Bill Richardson, who I like very much. I was virtually the only one there, except for staffers, organizers and crew and a few late stragglers pushing other agendas (38 total).

After being banned from the gathering; "no home-made signs allowed"; a gathering that was evidently designed solely as a photo opportunity and activity for some summer interns, it was evident that no-one knew what what-the-hell the governor was talking about, as I ~from my exile in the bleachers~* was the only one applauding at key points in his (party-line) speech. It was so evident that - much to my amazement - after his speech he invited me up to the podium to speak to the party operatives, which I did for about 2 minutes on the importance of focusing on the "All of the Above" policy; in my opinion a sad failure. Governor Richarson is a stand-up guy, as far as I can tell.

Point is, at least on the Democratic Party side, the locals have no clue, which means that when the winners and losers are chosen by regional and metro governments it is the elites (who can easily adapt to climate change) and the contractors (who know an opportunity when they see it), and their political mouthpieces (who know who holds the feed-bag) that will be the winners, and Joe and Jane South Dade homeowner will be the losers again.

If there is any justice in this particular decision, it is that the bankers and insurance companies are not going to put their money up for any projects in coastal S. Florida, even for an Jorge Perez.

When the rain falls, it falls on the just and the unjust alike.

*a couple of guys tried to eject me from the public bleachers at the Tina Hills Pavilion for being 'disruptive' as I sat there, silent and alone with my home-made sign rolled up and undisplayed. I told them to go get a cop to evict me. They wisely demured.

Anonymous said...

I think this had more to do with political pressure, though it would be nice to think common sense prevailed.

Perez and his buddy's will find another way to screw the public be it land or money or both.

Anonymous said...

And now, here's hoping all of Watson Island that's not developed remain so and get converted to a public park. Sorry, City of Miami, no gambling palaces here. That property was deeded by the state for public purposes originally and should stay that way. We should all enjoy it as open land until the sea reclaims it, along with the rest of the city. Same goes for Virginia Key. Sorry, City of Miami, no gambling palaces and hotel/shopping palaces either in the Marine Stadium area, but the Marine Stadium will make a nice artificial reef someday sooner than you think.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a watery grave will come to Virginia Key. That's quite a report you link. Based on those projections, we assume Key Biscayne, Fisher Island and Brickell will meet the same fate. As to the Port of Miami, doesn't look like there's a need to dredge so much as the sea will rise up. Only problem is there won't be anywhere on solid ground to unload those ships or anyone around here to consume all those bananas shipped in.

Gimleteye said...

Steve, great report from the bleachers. Thank you. Your assessments are spot on. Count on it: insiders will be the first to "exit" long term obligations and debt, that will get purchased by the overly optimistic. In the end, the discounts to par required to attract successive tranches of investors will turn the state into a trailer park the way Gov. Scott and the radical right is planning. Joe the Plumber will wonder feel sucker punched, wonder what happened and reach for another Red Bull and vodka. It's the gub'ments fault. At least here, you get a chance to put the markers out. Thank you.

flamingo33139 said...

"A cloud no largre than a man's hand . . ."

Anonymous said...

Jorge Perez coveted the Watson Island site because it is well located and it is owned by the government. The broke Turkish group, who has failed for the past 12 years, is desperate for an exit strategy other than bankruptcy. Perez enlisted Marc Sarnoff to con the City of Miami. Irate citizens on Miami Beach quickly recognized that a mega mall and mega dense towers on Watson Island could have extremely negative consequences. Paul Cejas hired Victor Diaz and many smart people volunteered to defeat Perez's plan. Perez has not given up.

Anonymous said...

Well, the longer he waits, the sooner it will be under water. . .

Anonymous said...

Jorge Perez is waiting for the City of Miami to terminate its deal with the deadbeat Turkish dude. Deadbeat Turkish dude is toast.

Anonymous said...

Why did Miami agree with Turkish deadbeat guy in first place. Reminds me of Joe Martinez wanting to rent out Homestead Air Base to porn filmmakers to make it Florida's version of the valley.

Anonymous said...

Flub a dub dub
Jorge Perez in a tub
Who's his next sucker?
It's us, mother...