Miami CRE Pros Hope Trump Works To Solve, Not Ignore, Sea Level Crisis
In Miami, one hotel developer sees Donald Trump's presidential victory as a big unknown. But he has hope for one thing: Trump makes good on a campaign promise to invest in the country's infrastructure. Because for Miami developers, sea level rise and climate change, are real. Very, very real.
“We don't know what his position is going to be. We know what he said on the campaign [trail]. I am sure that he does not honestly believe that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese,” says Claro Development's Sandor Scher, referring to a tweet by Trump that gained notoriety during the campaign.
For many in the Miami CRE world, Trump's ascendancy was met with some positive response, according to a recent The Real Deal article. But when it comes to climate change and sea level rise, some players are skeptical on how Trump will address to what many in coastal cites like Miami is a dire reality.
“Four years is a long time for denying what is happening,” says Borges + Associates' Reinaldo Borges, who also is one of the city's most adamant proponents of the need to address climate change as a member of the City of Miami's Sea Level Rise Committee. “Comments like the one you cited...leave out rational thinking.”
Reinaldo adds it doesn't help that Gov. Rick Scott appears to be antagonistic toward climate change as well (referring to a noted Miami Herald story from 2015 that indicates the Scott administration made it policy to avoid using terms like “global warming” and “climate change” in government docs).
That attitude could spell problems for Florida and other states along the coast in getting federal funds to address infrastructure projects that would specifically be used to mitigate the effects of a sea level rise.
“That's the big unknown down here in terms of federal funding,” says Sandor, who has many hotel projects along the coast. Reinaldo says there hasn't been any estimate on how much it would cost South Florida to harden its infrastructure as the sea does encroach, but best guesses would be in the trillions of dollars.
Reinaldo does have a couple of hopeful signs: One, Trump himself is a real estate developer. And second, Trump has been vocal about spending money to fix roads, bridges and other critical US infrastructure.
“I think there's hope in that,” Reinaldo says. “I think that Donald Trump, at the end of the day, seems to have a practical mind. I have hope that this Trump Era will not be a disaster in many ways.”