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The Real Deal

Miami Beach Developer Dismisses Rising Sea Levels as ‘Paranoia’

A South Florida developer is questioning the well-established facts of climate change, and is putting his money where his mouth is, investing millions to build residential projects in highly exposed Miami Beach.

Brazilian billionaire Jose Isaac Peres is hosting an inaugural party Thursday for the sales center of his planned 81-unit 57 Ocean, where the penthouse will cost $31 million. He’s also seeking permission to build another condo project, a four-story development on Ocean Drive.

The real estate magnate and chief executive officer of shopping-center developer Multiplan Empreendimentos Imobiliarios SA said he isn’t factoring in the financial risk of rising sea levels. Asked about the threat, he told a story about his youth in Brazil in the 1950s, when seawater sometimes encroached on buildings, suggesting ocean levels have risen and receded forever.

“It’s funny, that’s the last concern that I have here in Miami, that global-warming issue,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

Peres, who’s making significant investments in Miami Beach for the first time in almost two decades, said climate change has never come up with the banks and insurance companies he’s dealt with in Brazil.

“You’re leaning toward paranoia, you know?” he said, suggesting that Americans are more fixated on the study of climate change than Brazilians are. “You see a ghost, and you run after it as if it were real.”

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