2021 Legislature Clarifies Use of Contract Deposits by Condominium Developers

Section 718.202 of the Florida Condominium Act sought to address the extent that condominium developers could apply contract deposits to pay costs involved in construction of a project. This Section of the Condominium Act allowed deposits in excess of 10% of the purchase price to be used, with appropriate language in the sales contracts for expenditures used in the “actual construction and development” of the project. The meaning of “actual construction and development” was far from clear other than the specific prohibition on using such deposits for “salaries, commissions, expenses of salespersons or for advertising purposes” as contained in the statute. Many attorneys advised that the safest course was to limit use of deposits to actual “hard” costs of construction, e.g., brick and mortar costs.
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Post-COVID Miami: The Changing Landscape of Commercial and Residential Development

Earlier this month, Bilzin Sumberg’s South Florida Redevelopment Conference engaged hundreds of real estate developers, government staff and officials, architects, engineers, and construction professionals from 12 different states and three different countries in thoughtful discussions about the current real estate market and the future of land development in South Florida. This year’s innovative virtual platform allowed a broader audience to participate in an exploration of market trends, obstacles, and unique opportunities for real estate development and public-private partnerships in the region.

During a session focused on the changing landscape for commercial and residential development, panelists discussed pre-COVID-19 trends and how the realities of a global pandemic subsequently shifted market focus. Prior to the nationwide shutdowns in March of 2020, both office and industrial real estate were in high demand in South Florida. While activity in the industrial sector has remained relatively stable, the demand for office space in the region has grown exponentially over the past year. The shift to remote work for a large portion of the workforce and the luxury of year-round outdoor weather have driven many office employees down south.

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Mayor Levine Cava Highlights Miami-Dade County Priorities at South Florida Redevelopment Conference

At the keynote session of Bilzin Sumberg’s South Florida Redevelopment Conference, newly elected Miami-Dade Mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, shared her vision for the County in the coming years. With a long history of public service to County residents, and as the first female mayor of Miami-Dade County, Mayor Levine Cava’s participation in the Conference garnered keen interest from attendees.

As Commissioner for District 8, she invested her time in championing a better life for residents by advocating for innovative infrastructure and transportation projects, protecting the environment, creating affordable housing, and expanding economic opportunity. As Mayor, Levine Cava demonstrated how she had continued to champion these important topics in her first 100 days in office. She also detailed the County’s success in limiting COVID transmission and increasing vaccine distribution. And in a push for advancing equity and inclusion, one of her office’s first initiatives was the creation of the Office of Equity and Inclusion to assure that all the work being done by the County is accessible and operationalized through an equitable lens.

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Rapid Transit Zones: Essential to the Future of Miami-Dade County’s Development

Bilzin Sumberg’s annual South Florida Redevelopment Conference brings together in- and out-of-state developers looking to explore new concepts and innovative approaches for achieving business success in South Florida’s real estate sector, as well as engineers, architects, planners, and government officials and staff engaged in real estate development and procurement in South Florida.

At this year’s virtual conference, Land Development & Government Relations partners Anthony De Yurre and Stanley B. Price hosted a fireside chat and discussed the history of Rapid Transit Zones in Miami-Dade County, the effects of the municipal devolution, and future trends for the development of RTZs.

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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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