Miami has its Little Havana and Little Haiti, a neighborhood known as Westonzuela and even the Venetian Islands. What lacks is a Chinatown.
Shan Jie Li wants to do something about it. The real estate developer in the city of Linyi in windy area of northeast China, plans to transform the most populous metropolitan area in Florida, with its clean beaches and its tropical climate, a destination for Chinese property investors.
"We are thinking of bringing Miami to the new wave of wealthy and educated Chinese," Li said in a telephone interview with the help of a translator. "The environment in Miami invites a very nice lifestyle. Play golf and going to the beach are attractive important. "
While Miami recovery from the financial crisis was driven by South Americans who bought empty apartments, the city today lays eyes on Beijing to support growth. The Chinese have become one of the fastest growing segments among foreign buyers, according to the Association of Realtors of Miami, in a time when the weakening of the peso, the Brazilian real and the Russian ruble discourages investment other countries.
From the most difficult times of crisis, when the rates of vacant properties in the city center rose to 60 percent, cranes returned to the horizon and property values rose. A museum of modern art from US $ 131 million funded by Jorge Pérez, the billionaire owner of Related Group, opened in 2013; next is building a science museum, next to the waterfront of the Bay of Biscay.
Latin American buyers accounted for 62 percent of purchases in Miami last year, led by Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, according to the Association of Realtors. This helped lead the median home price to US $ 276,000 in December, up 54 percent compared with US $ 179,000 in late 2011, according to Zillow.com, a website properties.
"We have a significant number of Chinese buyers; yet less than 5 percent of the total, but growing, "Perez said. After giving a recent lecture to students at the University of Miami, Chinese parents of a student bought $ 20 million in real estate, he said.
"Russia had it been a good source of buyers, particularly in places near the beach, but now it is declining," he added. "I have no idea if the South Americans continue to buy as before."
Sales in Beijing
Armando Codina, chief executive officer of the real estate developer Codina Partners, wastes no time. He sent a representative to Beijing to bolster sales of its project Downtown Doral $ 1,000 million, northwest of Miami-Dade County.
"We are seeing an activity of Chinese buyers we had not expected," said Codina, born in Cuba. "The Chinese are enthusiastic about this project in two seconds, because they have seen the emergence cities of nowhere".
Shortage of noodles
If only there were more stores that sell noodles.
"There are not enough restaurants, supermarkets and Chinese in Miami spas", Li, director of American Da Tang Group, member of the State China Communications Construction Co. "These are challenges to overcome said. We include new restaurants and services that meet the tastes of Chinese as any other. "
However, there are still skeptics.
While the Chinese media have been promoting to Miami as a real estate destination -a publication said Chinese investors are "flooding" the city-, figures from the Association of Realtors show that still represent a fraction of purchases: 3 percent. The expansion in the second largest economy in the world is the slowest in 25 years.