White House: Land-use limits linked to flat incomes

Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

White House economic advisers have produced a stream of studies on America’s puzzling lack of productivity and middle-class income growth, and they have identified land-use regulations as a likely culprit.

Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in a recent speech that zoning and restrictions on land use have put “artificial constraints” on housing development.

A limited supply of housing impedes the mobility of Americans, and increasing their mobility “is going to be an important part of the solution to increasing incomes and increasing incomes across generations,” Furman said, speaking at a conference co-hosted by real estate databank  CoreLogic and the Urban Land Institute.

Tough zoning rules are “actually correlated with those places that have higher [income] inequality,” Furman said.

He cited research by Raven Molly, a Federal Reserve economist, showing that an increase in demand for labor in cities with tough limits on land use will result in less housing development, elevated home prices and lower employment in the long run.

“If you’re not pricing people out of the market, you’re able to attract more people and increase employment more,” Furman said.

He also said the Obama administration’s concern about land-use regulations and housing affordability starts at the top: “It’s something he president is personally concerned about.” [Wall Street Journal] — Mike Seemuth


Lamborghini dealership set to open soon in Davie

Larry Zinn, general manager, Warren Henry Auto Group.

Larry Zinn, general manager, Warren Henry Auto Group. (Source: LinkedIn)

South Florida-based Warren Henry Auto Group is preparing to open a new 28,000-square-foot Lamborghini dealership in Davie next month.

The new dealership’s location is 4644 Southwest 148 Avenue, near Interstate 75 and Griffin Road.

Warren Henry Auto Group also is developing a new six-story headquarters in Miami at Biscayne Boulevard and 151 Street. The six-story building with indoor parking will become the new home of the company’s Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover dealerships on State Road 7 just south of the Miami-Dade County border with Broward County.

Larry Zinn, general manager of Warren Henry Auto Group, told the Sun-Sentinel that Lamborghini dealerships across the United States typically sell one to five models of the Italian-made luxury sports car each month. Prices start at about $200,000.

“We certainly would like to sell five a month,” Zinn told the Sun-Sentinel, “but it is going to take us some time to get there.”

Warren Henry Auto Group also plans to open an Audi dealership in Gainesville late next year. [Sun-Sentinel] — Mike Seemuth


Palm Beach house listed for sale at $37.45 million

The pool area at 900 North Lake Way in Palm Beach.

The pool area at 900 North Lake Way in Palm Beach.

Real estate developer Craig Menin and his wife Rochelle listed their lakefront Palm Beach house for sale with a $37.45 million asking price.

Menin told the Palm Beach Daily News, “There’s nothing like it. It was built on the coral ridge [next to] the Palm Beach Country Club, so the property slopes nine feet from south to north.”

Built in 1986 on almost an acre of land at 900 North Lake Way, the house has seven bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, six half-baths and 19,286 square feet of living space, some of it outdoors.

Among the interior features are an arched bamboo ceiling in the living room, a walnut floor, a lapis stone-covered bar and large windows facing the lake. The wine cellar has limestone floor and a custom-made mahogany storage system for as many as 3,000 bottles.

The outdoor space includes a swimming pool, whirlpool spa, sheltered pizza kitchen, cabana, barbecue area, boat dock and koi pond that extends beneath the walkway to the front door.

Menin said the architect who designed the house, New Jersey-based Milton Klein, tried to ensure that all major rooms have views of the water.

“What’s most important to me, Milton built he house to fit the land,” Menin told the Daily News.

The Menins listed their home with agents Paulette Koch and Dana Koch of the Corcoran Group. [Palm Beach Daily News] — Mike Seemuth


Donald Trump explains the give-and-take of deal-making like only he can

donald trump illustration president 2016_make america great again_speech thumb

Donald Trump (credit: Mike Nudelman/Business Insider)

Real-estate tycoon Donald Trump has a decidedly Trump-like approach to the give-and-take of deal-making.

“It’s give-and-take,” the Republican presidential front-runner told Business Insider.

He then immediately added: “But it’s gotta be mostly take. Because you can’t give. You gotta mostly take.”

Trump, who frequently touts his deal-making prowess, gave his thoughts on the matter last week during a wide-ranging interview in his Trump Tower headquarters.

Business Insider founder Henry Blodget questioned Trump on how he would work with Congress given the fact that he couldn’t simply fire them for not performing.

“I’ve been dealing with politicians all my life. All my life. And I’ve always gotten them to do what I need them to do,” Trump replied.

He then listed some of his New York real-estate projects that required working with the local government.

“The West Side Rail Yards, 6,000 units on the West Side. Everyone said, ‘You gotta be kidding me, you’ll never get it.’ I got it. People said, ‘S—,’” he continued. “In fact, it’s now being finished up right along the West Side from 72nd Street to 59th Street, right? So people said, ‘You’re never going to get that zoned.’ I got the land cheap.”

“You make deals,” Trump explained, “and you get ’em to do what you have to do.”


Falling popularity of golf forces a change of course

The Bonaventure golf course.

The Bonaventure golf course.

Florida has more than 1,000 golf courses, more than any other state, but the sport is undergoing an upheaval that has shrunk some courses and closed others. In South Florida, developers are building houses and condos on the former grounds of some golf courses.

Nationwide, 130 to 160 golf courses are closing every 12 months, and the trend will persist for the next several years, according to the National Golf Foundation. The foundation calculates that the number of golfers in the United States has fallen by four million in the last decade.

Many private golf clubs have stayed in business by reducing membership fees, reducing the number of golf holes, and introducing non-golf amenities.

For example, Mark Schmidt, owner of the Woodmont Golf Club in Tamarac, plans to reduce the 36 holes to 18 and to build a commercial center spanning 4.5 acres plus 152 single-family homes on the property. Schmidt also told the New York Times that his golf club also will be getting a new clubhouse, fitness center and swimming pool.

“Without these adjustments, golf would be in desperate trouble,” he told the Times. “This is an absolute necessity.”

A $50 million renovation of the Boca West Country Club, home to about 6,000 residents, includes construction of a new activities center spanning 150,000 square feet and upgraded fairways.

Michelle F. Tanzer, a Boca Raton attorney whose clients include developers and owners of resorts, told the Times that Boca West is adapting well to the new business reality of golf: “They’re spending a fortune on making the place family-friendly. It’s home run.”

Jay DiPietro, the president and general manager of Boca West, said the problems at other golf clubs center on bad management and a misguided emphasis on “the business of selling houses.”

At Boca West, which charges new members $70,000 to join, “we’re in the people-pleasing business,” DiPietro said told the Times. “These people paid a lot to be here.”

Oliver K. Hedge, a golf course appraiser with Cushman & Wakefield, said many closures have involved public golf courses and semi-private courses that have membership programs but allow non-members to play by paying a fee.

Hedge also said luxury golf courses are experiencing a revival, citing $20 million of renovations at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter and $250 million of fix-ups at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami-Dade County, now known as Trump National Doral. Presidential candidate and developer Donald J. Trump added both South Florida properties to his portfolio of golf courses in 2012. [New York Times] — Mike Seemuth


Canada’s ice hotel is rebuilt every year from 30K tons of snow

Hotel de Glace in Quebec

Hotel de Glace in Quebec

The Hotel de Glace in Quebec just might be the coolest hotel in the world. Either way, it’s the only ice hotel in North America.

The hotel is a temporary structure that only exists for a few months every year. It was first built in 2001, and has been created every winter since then. This year, it will be around from Jan. 4 to March 28.

The hotel is made of 500 tons of ice, and 30,000 tons of snow. The snow used is man made: churned until it’s extra humid and dense.

Construction begins in December, as soon as the temperatures have been consistently below 32F for a week. Around 50 people work tirelessly for around six weeks to create the 32,000 square-foot, 44-room hotel, which also features a restaurant, hot tubs, a sauna, and an ice bar.


Speculative Singer Island condo under construction

Rendering of Vista Blue Riviera Beach.

Rendering of Vista Blue Riviera Beach.

Third Palm Capital began construction of a mostly speculative 58-unit condominium on Singer Island, an oceanfront area of Riviera Beach, after pre-selling just four units.

Kevin Spina, an agent with Keyes Company who is marketing Vista Blue, said the developer, Simpsonville, South Carolina-based Third Palm Capital, is funding construction internally instead of obtaining a construction loan.

To obtain a construction loan, condo developers usually must sell half the units before breaking ground. “We are doing things a little bit differently,” Spina told the Palm Beach Post.

Spina also told the Post that Vista Blue was the first construction project on the oceanfront of Riviera Beach since 2007.

Prices at Vista Blue start at $1.6 million for units on the west side of the building and range up to $7 million for a penthouse. The floor plans range in size from 3,368 square feet to 4,131 square feet.

Construction of the project is scheduled to be finished in 2017. [Palm Beach Post] — Mike Seemuth