MARCO ISLAND — Music could have been playing “Happy Days Are Here Again” as Marco Island real estate agents joined Tuesday for a general membership meeting and lunch at Hideaway Beach.
It’s been a good year for sales. The city has been reporting a renaissance in model home construction. Building permits for new homes are up. Existing home inventories are down and prices are rebounding.
As guest speaker, Marco Island City Manager Jim Riviere told agents the city had done its part to keep neighborhoods attractive even through the past difficulties of foreclosures.
Determined not to let the economic fallout show, Riviere scouted the island and noted its vulnerabilities.
“You could go down the street and pick out foreclosures,” he remembered. “I told city council to make it so you couldn’t pick out the foreclosures.”
The city and code compliance stepped into action. Simple chores such as cutting grass or making repairs helped keep up appearances.
“We’ve sold 250 to 300 homes by covering street presence and marketability,” he said. He defended code compliance mitigation of fines on foreclosures. Dealing with mortgage companies and banks required the incentives to move properties when buyers were available. The city never lost a dime, he said.
Riviere noted he was originally chosen to be interim city manager for his experience in environmental impacts. At the time, the city was embroiled in a controversy over asbestos contamination in Veterans Park.
When asked about plans to add amenities to the park, Riviere told agents there was a Master Plan, but the city was running behind on implementing it. On the issue of placing a band shell there, he said it was never a good idea considering how sound travels across water.
“So, don’t hold your breath for a band shell,” he told the group.
As Riviere plans his retirement as city manager, he warned realtors not to let the city downplay the significance of its utility debt. Other areas on his watch list were the Marriott expansion, Smokehouse Bridge, the fire station rehabilitation, Mackle Park Community Center, actions of the Code Compliance Board and BP oil restitution funds.
During the business meeting preceding Riviere’s comments, Gerry Rosenblum and Bill Filbin were selected for the 2012 Florida Realtors Honor Society by Gary Verwilt, vice president of Florida Realtors, district 5. The society recognizes professionals who are active in the association.
The city’s real estate agents were urged to support political candidates who help further their needs through RPAC, a real estate politics and advocacy action committee. Of interest were candidates that would vote to retain mortgage interest deductions on tax returns.
The Law Offices of William Morris sponsored the lunch and donated door prizes.
Marco Island Council Chairman Joe Batte, an invited attendee, summed up sentiments as the meeting concluded.
“You talk with a Realtor and you get inspiration,” he said. “We’re over the hump. We’re going to make it.”