Is South Beach the New NYC?
moderated by julia ford-carther
For a New York-based development organization and a multi-market luxury broker, it’s easy to see why South Beach is where New Yorkers are settling.
Pietro Belmonte and Michael Tillman at the new 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach.
A new wave of New York buyers and developers are hitting Miami. Michael Tillman, director of Florida development and acquisitions at LeFrak, a privately held group of real estate companies, and Pietro Belmonte, associate broker at real estate firm Douglas Elliman, discuss why, with only the sand in mind, these new players are buying up South Beach.
Michael Tillman: When people come here, their natural attention is to the Beach. Most heads of the companies know the Beach. It’s a proven entity, and even in the cyclicality, it has remained relatively stable and is the first to grow again. There is more and more interest from New York developers who want to start platforms down here. It’s saying something different for the South Florida market. When developers at the [level] of LeFrak start showing up, they expect certain infrastructure developments to be happening, which you’re seeing. Those were necessary to attract the attention of bigger guys.
Pietro Belmonte: We started seeing New York [buyers] coming down before it was a tough market. It’s a trend that’s been happening for the last two years.
MT: New York has made a huge presence, and it’s a different kind of money. It’s not necessarily capital that’s looking to get into the safety of the shore of the United States. This is a second house, a third, fifth, sixth.
PB: They’re seeing an opportunity—who else is going to think $2,500 a square foot is a screaming deal? This is a bargain, and they want to be on the sand.
1 Hotel & Homes offers floor-to-ceiling-glass end units, a restaurant by star chef Tom Colicchio, and access to the beach.
MT: The buyer who’s coming down wants to be on the beach, so we did something very creative [at 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach]. We took the concrete wall off the eastern end, and it is glass from floor to ceiling. Those end-cap units are our units in most demand. They’re two and three bedrooms, going at around $2,200 per square foot. We have 156 condos and we’ve sold about 60, and 30 percent of sales are from the Northeast.
PB: Before, developers were like, “How many Brazilians do you know? How many Venezuelans?” Now it’s, “Who’s connected to New York?” I sold real estate in New York City for 10 years prior to coming down to Miami. I personally get two to three referrals from my New York office per week. To them, Miami is interesting because the top restaurants from New York are coming down here.
MT: You have the same chefs popping up here. One of the biggest chefs in New York, Tom Colicchio, is doing his first restaurant in Miami here at 1 Hotel & Homes. Then you have the culture, the vibrancy of South Beach, and, most importantly, the pedestrian nature of this city. New Yorkers love that.
PB: For New Yorkers, it’s convenience. Like you said, they don’t want to drive. They want easy access to everything, with a sophisticated attitude. They want the building with the amenities. You guys really hit every target [with 1 Hotel & Homes]—its location, Tom Colicchio, access to the ocean. That’s why you’re getting all these New Yorkers. 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach, 2399 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-361-5100; Pietro Belmonte, 135 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach, 305-335-1981
photography by jim arbogast (belmonte)
Cover shoot: Behind the scenes with Pitbull for the October 2014 issue of Ocean Drive magazine.