Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has an interesting perspective on COVID-19, after testing positive for the virus in March 2020. He was the first person in Miami-Dade County and one of the first elected officials to come down with the illness, thrusting him into the national spotlight to talk about the ongoing pandemic and how the city was responding to the crisis.
“Now, we’re number one in the nation in terms of the pandemic recovery,” said Suarez during a recent webinar hosted by Savills. “It means that Miami struck the right balance between making sure people were safe and protected from COVID-19 and making sure that our economy was healthy and strong and wasn’t adversely affected.”
The mayor spoke with Ken Biberaj, managing director with Savills, during the recent webinar “Coffee with Ken: Miami – The Hottest City in America.” Suarez discussed the city’s role as an emerging tech hub, the status of its multifamily market and its allure with the nation’s top tech talent.
More people, more tech
According to Suarez, Miami took advantage of the migration of people to the city after the onset of the pandemic and began creating more cultural and public spaces like the $100 million Underline, a repurposed pubic park similar to the High Line in New York. The city also brought in more sports events, including Major League Soccer and Formula 1 racing.
One of the biggest changes the city has been experiencing is Miami’s emergence as a technology hub, an evolution 10 years in the planning, according to Suarez. Cryptocurrency and blockchain companies, in particular, have made the city their home, including FTX.com, which bought the naming rights to the Miami Heat stadium, now known as FTX Arena, for 19 years. Blockchain.com and Israeli firm eToro are also relocating to the city.
“We did this with the understanding that the economy of today and tomorrow is going to involve more and more tech whether you like tech or not,” Suarez said. “Miami has metamorphized from being a fun and sun place to vacation and to retire to a place now where all the thought leaders are coming.”
Suarez claimed that Miami is the top-ranking city in the nation for tech talent migration, growing faster than any other city in the country.
“Talent will go where there are opportunities,” he said. “They are going to go places where they can grow and scale their companies, the companies of tomorrow.”
Instead of an industrial revolution, Suarez said, the world is experiencing a technological industrial revolution.
“It’s a generational opportunity and we have opportunity to lean into that generation opportunity or pretend it’s not happening and lose it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Miami’s residential market is experiencing a burst of demand, which, layered on top of growing inflation, is causing housing costs to rise significantly. Suarez said he has seen data figures showing that rental prices are up 25 percent or more in urban cities across the country, with Miami posting one of the highest increases.
“We have the ability to grow our way out of that demand crunch,” Suarez said. “We have 47,000 units in our development pipeline, which is a 25 percent increase in our housing stock. We have 6 million square feet of commercial space in the pipeline as well, which I suspect will be 8 or 10 million.”