Renters have revived the Miami condo bust, the Herald reported today. But we're not really buying it. According to our favorite daily, 62 percent of new condos built since 2003 "are inhabited by humans." When did that number become a good thing? And what about all the near-finished empty towers hanging in limbo? They aren't included in the study.
Out of curiosity, we stopped by Icon Brickell on Fourth Street and Brickell Avenue to see if things are picking up.
You might say the designers of Icon are in housing crisis denial. The $1.3 billion luxury condo is adorned with enormous glowing chandeliers, golden sculpted chairs, and $5 million Easter Island-inspired pillars. It rests like a relic of better days on the Biscayne Bay.
But there's something off about shining towers. The driveway is eerily empty. A sleepy receptionist twiddles her thumbs in the lobby. And it seems nobody's around to enjoy the decadence.
Outside a baby-faced 25-year-old security guard checks his watch: Four more hours to go. "I sit here by myself and go crazy," he says shaking his head. "It's sooo slow."
Juan (not his real name) puts his hands in the pockets of his crisp back uniform. He gestures towards a building that could be mistaken for a skyscraper. "That's tower one - nobody even lives in there," he says. "Over in tower 2 there are only 15 residents."
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The condo once sold units for $600 per square foot, says Peter Zalewski, a principle with Miami-based company Condo Vultures. Now he estimates they're worth about a fourth of that.
Icon Marketing Executive Erica Sanchez didn't return calls seeking information about filled units.
Says Zalewski "This is the best of the best and they're sitting here vacant. It 's Miami's Machu Picchu."
Look for a piece on the condo bust by crackerjack New Times reporter Lisa Rab this Wednesday.