Contact Us

Commercial Real Estate Braces For Hurricane Irma

When Oceana Bal Harbour was built last year, it complied with all the code requirements to withstand a hurricane. But with Hurricane Irma now a Category 5 storm and gunning for Miami, Oceana has an even more formidable challenge: protecting its multimillion-dollar art collection, two Jeff Koons sculptures permanently displayed outdoors in particular, at the beachfront property.

Jeff Koons' sculpture, Seated Ballerina, is on display at Oceana Bal Harbour.

"Seated Ballerina" is a nearly seven-foot sculpture that sits beside the pool at Oceana. "Pluto and Proserpina" is a 10-foot-tall piece that adorns the breezeway. The sculptures were purchased for the property for $14M by Oceana's founder, Eduardo Costantini, the CEO of Consultatio Real Estate and the founder of the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires.

The works are for the viewing pleasure of Oceana residents, who include a Paraguayan tycoon, the scion of a wine and spirits company, and a managing director of UBS Bank.

A spokesperson for Oceana told Bisnow that the sculptures are getting four layers of protection. First, foam will be molded to the shape of the sculptures. Then, steel boxes will cover them. A hurricane-proof tension fabric will then be wrapped around the steel boxes, and finally, the tension fabric will be anchored down to the concrete from four corners.

This begs the question: What is the Faena Hotel doing to protect its $15M Damien Hirst sculpture of a golden wooly mammoth, famously displayed in a glass case along Miami Beach? Bisnow asked, but a spokesperson declined to comment.

Jeff Koons sculpture Pluto and Proserpina is on display at Oceana Bal Harbour.

Other Miami CRE pros, however, did talk about how they are preparing for the storm. Hurricane Irma's winds have been clocked at 185 mph, making it the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.

Keeley O'Leary, a senior property manager with Colliers International South Florida, said that her team prepares all year for hurricanes. Although Colliers does not own buildings, it manages 159 properties in the state, a mix of commercial, medical and industrial facilities.

Its property managers constantly assess things like trash containment and security. The chain of command is clearly laid out and a list of first responders is kept up to date. Once a storm is 72 hours from hitting, O'Leary's team members assess building exteriors and round up stray objects.

“Tie it down or bring it in,” O'Leary said. “We look at rooftop A/C units, garbage cans, large dumpsters; anything that can become a projectile.”

Alex Wertheim, founder and president of Spacio Design Build, has worked on hotels, restaurants and luxury condominiums. He warned of scams that often follow a storm.

“Everyone and their mother will slap a magnet on the side of their truck and say they are a general contractor,” he said.

He suggested checking licenses online, asking for references and even doing a site visit to look at the contractor's prior work. Make sure the contractor holds liability and workers' compensation insurance, and make sure you are added as an additional insured on any policy while work is being done on your site.

“If a bank is involved, it should name the bank as well,” he said.

Although no one wants to get hit by a hurricane, Wertheim said, property owners can look at the bright side and use repairs as an opportunity to upgrade to stronger windows and better materials.

Colliers South Florida Project and Facilities Director Jackson Taunton said his company's national reach gives it an edge, especially in the cleanup and recovery phase after a storm.

“Initially, we'll bring in chief engineers and senior property managers,” Taunton said. Once they have assessed damage and consulted with owners, roofers and landscapers will be needed, then general contractors can come in to do more hefty repairs.

“We have national purchasing agreements with different contractors to do various types of things,” Taunton said. “We have a national procurement program with roofers, different generator vendors. Colliers as a whole already has programs set up.”

Taunton said at each property, a book is kept on-site that contains up-to-date information on tenants, photos of the property and detailed information about the location of electrical switches, fire pumps, water valves and alarms. It is all helpful if workers come in who are not familiar with the property.