Coinciding with the 18th anniversary of Sunny Isles Beach, Mayor George “Bud” Scholl, shared the city’s remarkable “$10 Billion Sandbar” success story with hundreds of Aventura Marketing Council members gathered for the AMC’s June breakfast meeting at Trump International Beach Resort.
AMC past Chair Bob Hollander of Brown & Brown Insurance, standing in for AMC Chair Cliff Schulman of Weiss, Serota, Helfman, helped welcome current and former members of the Sunny Isles Beach City Commission, city staff and police department.
Taking the podium, Scholl clarified, “Last month, the property assessor informed me that we’re actually only a ‘$9 billion sandbar’ – up from a ‘$7 billion sandbar’ last year. However, with an additional 4.7 million square feet currently under construction in Sunny Isles Beach, if we reconvene this time next year, we will have surpassed the $10 billion mark.”
Attributing the city’s renaissance to achieving the goal to incorporate, Scholl noted, “In the late 1980s and into the 1990s, there was a wave of incorporation movements throughout Miami-Dade County after seeing the positive effects incorporation brought to communities such as Aventura, [residents united to petition the county and Sunny Isles Beach officially became a city in 1997.]
“Sunny Isles Beach had some of the most desirable, under-utilized oceanfront development parcels in the region, and in very short order, the old motels were in the hands of smart, forward-thinking luxury condo developers. As completion and market values have increased, the developers have brought in world-class architects and grander building designs. At present, we have 33 oceanfront high-rise buildings under occupancy; another seven under construction; and eight more have been approved.
“We started out in 1997 at a $1.2 billion aggregate value tax base; by 2002, we jumped to $2.2 billion; and by 2007, we were at $6.3 billion – that’s a 500% increase over the first ten years. The demographics were also changing as rapidly as the skyline. When we first incorporated, over 50% of our residents were over 65 years old; however, by the year 2000, that number was down to 44%; and by 2010 it had dropped to 21%.
“The changing demographics prompted a strategic vision to acquire as much land for parks as possible and require oceanfront developments to dedicate 20-foot beach access walkways along Collins Avenue. We now have 11 public parks, complemented by 22 pubic beach access paths along our 2.5 miles of public beach frontage – not to mention a community school and renovated pier.
“We have always felt a responsibility to manage our finances as conservatively as possible while still maintaining a high level of public service. For the past four years in a row, and for a number of years before that, we’ve lowered our tax millage rate. Sunny Isles Beach now has the fifth lowest rate in the county out of 32 municipalities.
“Today, the name Sunny Isles Beach is recognized throughout the world – quite an impressive feat for a once neglected, 1.25 square mile, $10 billion sandbar.”
For more information about Sunny Isles Beach, visit the city’s website sibfl.net or contact the Visitor Center: 305-792-1952.