Counties Beware: Florida Supreme Court Strikes Down Charter Amendment Implementing Transportation Tax

In a case that should serve as a warning to all Florida counties, the Florida Supreme Court recently struck down a voter-approved Hillsborough County charter amendment that created a 30-year, one-percent sales tax that could only be used to fund public transportation. The amendment also established an oversight committee responsible for ensuring that the tax proceeds were used for public transit. Challenging the amendment, a Hillsborough County Commissioner and resident argued that the oversight committee impermissibly usurped the powers granted to the County Commission pursuant to Florida law. The Supreme Court ultimately reversed the trial court’s ruling and held that the one-percent tax could not be severed from the provision implementing an oversight board and that the entire amendment was unconstitutional, reasoning that the court could not assume that the voters would have approved the tax without the requisite controls.

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Exciting Developments in Uncertain Times: What’s in Store for Real Estate in South Florida

Observers of the South Florida real estate industry don’t go very long without seeing headlines about Miami’s hot commercial real estate market. COVID-19 perhaps has only added to the growth of the market. But even in South Florida where the pandemic hasn’t blunted the market, it has indeed shifted trends and dynamics. On February 2nd, Nitin Motwani, Managing Principal of Miami Worldcenter, and Anthony De Yurre, Partner in Bilzin Sumberg’s Land Development and Government Relations Group, discussed the movement of money and migration as it relates to real estate investment and development in the region during a virtual talk hosted by Bilzin Sumberg.

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Changes to Circuit Court Appellate Jurisdiction

In its last session, the Florida Legislature passed a law that changes the appellate jurisdiction of Florida’s circuit courts and District Courts of Appeal for certain types of cases. Codified here, the new rule went into effect on January 1, 2021, and strips the circuit court of appellate jurisdiction in some instances. In these instances, appeals will be required to be filed directly with the District Courts of Appeal. Notwithstanding, the circuit courts notably retain jurisdiction over certain cases, including, but not limited to, the following:

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New Appellate Case Raises Issues For Mixed Use Developments in Florida

A recent decision by Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals could have significant implications for mixed-use developments, particularly those that contain hotels and residential condominium owners. The case considered whether the declaration of condominium for the IconBrickell condominium in downtown Miami violated Florida’s Condominium Act because it eliminated what might be treated as common elements in the condominium. Although it attempts to clarify the essential common elements, the Court’s decision does not settle the uncertainties associated with common elements in mixed-use developments that increasingly concern developers, owners and hospitality operators.

Details of the Court’s decision and what it could mean for local mixed-use development moving forward can be found by clicking here.

Open for Business: Miami Welcomes Corporate Arrivals

Miami is on the rise- again. A city well-known for its resiliency, Miami has been bouncing back from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic with a vigor that is the envy of other major American metropolitan areas. One of the main factors driving this growth is the relocation of companies and C-Suite executives from other parts of the country looking to capitalize on Miami’s advantages.

In a way, COVID-19 has accelerated a process that was already underway, as businesses from across the corporate spectrum began to recognize that the metro Miami area had developed the right mix of entrepreneurship, innovation, talent and quality of life and cost advantages that warranted serious consideration of a relocation or expansion. Florida’s absence of individual income and capital gains taxes was already fueling wealth migration from other parts of the country, particularly after the Trump Administration’s roll back of state and local tax deductions. Then with the onset of COVID-19, the floodgates opened as much of the business world migrated to remote work.

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Legal Magic: Turning Real Property Foreclosures Into Uniform Commercial Code Sales

Remedies for defaults under loans secured by real property varies on a state-by­-state basis. In the eastern part of the country, enforcement is mostly by mortgage foreclosure. In the western states, there are enforcement proceedings by way of a deed of trust. There is a spectrum of debtor protections afforded to borrowers depending on the state involved. States like Georgia permit a lender to effect remedies against a defaulting borrower within four to six weeks. In California, a lender can complete an enforcement proceeding in 120 days. But there are states like Florida, where a contested foreclosure can run more than a year; some may take several years. Continue Reading

A Growing Need in South Florida: A Q&A with Al and Terry About Affordable Housing

The pressing need for affordable housing in our region is not new, but it has undoubtedly become more palpable. Those of us involved in developing these housing options expect the demand to continue growing, regardless of the current economic conditions or the unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As concerns over the growing need for affordable housing prompt public and private sectors to explore creative solutions, I sat down with long time colleague and newest member of our Bilzin Sumberg team, Terry M. Lovell, to share our thoughts on the market. Terry, who has focused his practice on the financing of affordable housing for more than 20 years, recently joined our firm to head our Affordable Housing & Tax Credit Practice.

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City of Coral Gables Updates its Zoning Code

For the past century, the City of Coral Gables has been known for the high quality of the original plan implemented by George Merrick in the 1920s and its thoughtful application of high standards for zoning and architectural design. Over the years, the Zoning Code has served as the main document that has preserved the City’s Spanish Mediterranean aesthetics. Now, at the request of the City Commission, the Zoning Code is in the process of being updated to be reorganized and streamlined.

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Coral Gables Adopts Emergency Order Expanding Temporary Use Permits Due to COVID-19

In recognition of the impacts of COVID-19 on the local economy, the Coral Gables City Commission recently tasked staff with finding additional creative ways to support businesses and encourage individuals to participate in the local economy. On Tuesday, July 14, 2020, the City Commission adopted an emergency ordinance adding a section to the City’s Zoning Code to provide expanded opportunities for outdoor/open-air dining.The City also incorporated certain flexibilities for civic uses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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