Fabiola Castro's Blog
Sales have started for a condo complex in western Miami-Dade County that caters to short-term rentals.
The Residences at Dolphin CitiCenter in Sweetwater would offer 113 condos in an eight-story building situated between two shopping venues, the Dolphin Mall and International Mall. It would have studios starting at 403 square feet and one-bedroom units at 498 square feet, with prices starting at $209,000. There also would be a retail promenade, including restaurants, on the ground floor for a “walking, living area,” said the developer, J. Brett Houston, of REMS Group Inc.
Owners would be able to rent out their unit “as if it was a hotel suite,” though there would be a three-night minimum, Houston said.
The target audience: people from South America, particularly from Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador, wanting a vacation home in Florida. Houston said some families have even gobbled up more than one unit.
The city is already known to be friendly to Spanish-speakers: According to 2016 estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, almost all of the residents of Sweetwater speak Spanish.
In fact, census figures say about 4,000 residents of Sweetwater — a city of 20,000 people — have Nicaraguan heritage. After the Sandinista National Liberation Front took power in Nicaragua in 1979, Sweetwater became a popular destination. Through the years, the city became known as “Little Managua” after the Nicaraguan capital.
“The dynamic is unique” in Sweetwater, Houston said. It’s not like with New York or Canadian snowbirds who stay in South Florida for six months, rather it’s South Americans “who come in for a week, two weeks,” he said.
“It’s not weather making them come in, it’s attachments — friends and family. And they shop here for things they can’t get there.”
Houston said he is scheduled to request site plan approval next week, which is needed for the building permit. The project is expected to be completed in 2020.
Staff researcher John Maines contributed to this report.