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"Because of Basel, the whole area is snowballing and [has] grown to a mass that should carry on through the whole year," Dorsch says. "The references to Chelsea are there, and this has basically become the center of the art scene in Miami. We are definitely getting more foot traffic. Now all we need is a café."
Lombardi disputes that the gallery-going public will translate to increased pedestrian traffic year round, and cautions that only an infusion of young, lifestyle-oriented home buyers as well as the goods and services to attract them will make a long-term difference.
"Sure, many of the galleries are busy during the season. But the rest of the year, the momentum doesn't carry, and it's like a mortuary science experiment. What we need is for people to move into the area and that the butchers and bakers and candlestick makers join them. That's what's coming next," opines Lombardi, mentioning that the recent opening of the big-box retail stores in midtown Miami are a boon.
The developer says that even though the residential market has slowed, the condo crash is not as severe as many people think. He expresses little doubt that the area's real estate inventory will be absorbed.
"You have a lot of first-time home buyers who want to escape the sphere of pain that comes from a long commute downtown. This is an instant-gratification society, and instead of looking at a house in the $600,000 range and emptying a bank account, people will take a luxury condo with the fancy kitchen and beautiful view," Lombardi posits. "Then you have people in Miramar, Plantation, and Coral Springs, whose kids are out of the house, and are willing to sell their homes and relocate so they don't have to sit in traffic all day."
And then there is the continental wild card Basel adds to the fray: foreign visitors who come to the fair and are enticed into purchasing a second home in Miami.
"The euro is still strong, and Europeans get a twenty percent discount when they buy here," Lombardi says, also noting that artists are often stalking horses for real estate development. "The wealthy always follow artists to appear hip and cultural."