Measures to contain the spread of coronavirus are still shifting by the day — and so are responses by investors, developers, builders, banks and buyers. To track the impact in real-time, RE|source Miami is asking area real estate professionals in various sectors for on-the-ground reports.
Patrick Lee is founder and president of Wynwood-based Shorecrest Construction, which focuses boutique commercial projects, custom residences, specialty retail and hospitality.
Q: How is the coronavirus crisis impacting your business? Have you had layoffs? Slowdowns on existing jobs?
At this time, the state and most municipalities are considering construction an essential business, so most of our projects are continuing to progress. We haven’t had layoffs and are hopeful that won’t be necessary. Production is absolutely affected due to new coordination challenges and the uncertainty in the world, but we are grateful to keep people employed and busy. That said, we are trying to balance this with keeping everyone safe, which is challenging.
Q: Several local cities just shut down construction sites. What impact do you think that will have on your business and on real estate as a whole?
So far it hasn’t negatively affected us, but if it becomes more comprehensive it will. Our business and the real estate market as a whole are tied to the economy. Any additional large-scale negative impacts to the economy will affect real estate and the construction industry.
I’m hopeful that the US can contain the virus, get a comprehensive testing program, and eventually a vaccine. Once that is done, we would hope to get back to work at full capacity.
Q: You have a residential portfolio as well as commercial one. How are the safety challenges different on the two types of job sites?
We implemented job-site policies to try our best to prevent the spread of the coronavirus including required hand-washing, masks, social distancing, and checking people’s temperatures. We have to maintain a healthy environment. Our residential, single-family home projects are easier to manage because the tradesman can separate and maneuver more independently, whereas the commercial projects have areas where the workers funnel, like access points, elevators, etc.
Q: What headwinds do you see for the local real estate market as the summer progresses?
I think it’s too early to tell. Hopefully, the world can get the virus contained and we can return to some form of normalcy and progress. We had such a strong economy going into this crisis and if we can return sooner than later, we should be fine.
Once that happens, the economy will be able to find its footing and we’ll know where we stand with real estate markets. One benefit to South Florida real estate is that people relocate here from the northeast in droves, and that will continue regardless of the economy.
Q: Everything has a silver living. What positives do you see in the current situation, and what is your team doing to create positive outcomes.
We’ve seen people coming together to help the community. We had an internal conversation when the schools began closing about all the children that will be affected by not having a school lunch. We began supporting “Kids Helping Kids Succeed”, a local non-profit that delivers food weekly to students and families in need throughout Miami-Dade and as far north as Davie.
Also, as a company, we’ve learned quickly how we can work remotely as a team. Zoom meetings have replaced several in-person meetings, which have significant commute and time cost savings and positive environmental impacts and we think this can become more acceptable in the future. We’ve also been forced to look at which positions in the company can work remotely, and how we can manage that successfully. This will likely give our teams more flexibility with how they work in the future.