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Transit, Millennial Impact Focus Of Downtown Miami Pros

When it comes to opinions on Miami's transit system, Rilea Group's Alan Ojeda doesn't pull any punches.

Vidaris' Robert LiMandri Rilea Group Alan Ojeda Pininfarina of America's Matteo de Lise

“What we have was created in the '80s, [it's] still in the '80s. Old. Obsolete,” Alan told our audience of more than 250 during last week's Evolution of Brickell & Downtown Miami event. “We need to realize we cannot keep bragging and calling ourselves a global city if we have a system of the '80s. That's pathetic.”

Vidaris' Robert LiMandri Rilea Group Alan Ojeda, Pininfarina of America's Matteo de Lise, CBRE's Shay Pope, and Barlington Group's Martin Pinilla

Alan was part of a power lineup of Downtown Miami developers and CRE pros, including Vidaris' Robert LiMandri (who moderated), Pininfarina of America's Matteo de Lise, CBRE's Shay Pope and Barlington Group's Martin Pinilla. Alan, known for his colorful commentary in general, was particularly robust on the evolution of Miami as a city.

While a vast majority of condo sales are still being picked up by foreign investors, Alan says “slowly, slowly we will see more people...owning.” But renting is not a stigma anymore, especially when it comes to urban living: “The old concept of only people who cannot buy are renters is not true,” he says. “I was raised in a condominium. This was normal.” He also lashed out at city officials denying certain uses within Downtown Miami, such as schools. “A city is a bunch of things together...We need to have a critical mass of every single thing. We do not have a city if we do not have kids. And we will not have kids if we do not have schools and public transportation, etc., etc.”

Martin Pinilla Bill Fuller Barlington Group

Martin (on left with partner Bill Fuller) noted the financial collapse of 2008 had an ironic benefit to Downtown Miami: It sank rents for the new gleaming condo skyscrapers and allowed for an influx of Millennials and young professionals into the city. And that brought on restaurants and entertainment and retail “sort of by mistake,” he says.

Brickell skyline

Certainly, that demographic is featured in Miami's corporate demographic: Shay says 38% of the workforce today is Millennials. By 2025, that will be nearly half. And that could lead to an office renaissance in Brickell and Downtown Miami. “As we start to see more of the Millennial generation move into the city, I believe there's a direct correlation between that and the companies that want to be here and to recruit and retain that type of talent,” Shay says. It's already led to a 20% increase in office rents over the past two years. Today's Class-A office space rents for $47/SF. Shaw predicts that will possibly surpass $53/SF by 2018.