Condo Market Surges in Sunny Isles Beach
By Katherine Dykstra
Call it a luxury boomlet. The city of Sunny Isles Beach, a straight shot up Collins Avenue 20 minutes from South Beach, is geographically tiny, clocking in at a mere one square mile, yet in the last year six luxury high-rises have stepped into the market. What’s more, the area is seeing soaring prices to match.
Take the Porsche Design Tower (18555 Collins Ave., 305-974-0500). Since it started sales in May of 2012, the building—132 units constructed around three car elevators that travel all 60 stories and make up the core of the building—has converted more than $400 million in reservations into contracts. This includes its two penthouses.
“We sold them [each] for $22.5 million,” says Gil Dezer, president of Dezer Development, which is developing Porsche Design. “One came in early on as a reservation; now he’s under contract. The other was a walk-in, a foreign national, no broker, no nothing. He fell in love with the building, and he bought the penthouse and a cabana and a man cave.” (A man cave being a 2,500-square-foot haunt with a living room, bar, ocean views, and an up-tonine- car garage. The building has six of them.) The total sale was $25.5 million.
Over at The Mansions at Acqualina (17749 Collins Ave., 305-933-6666), 69 of the 794,600-square-foot-plus residences starting at $7.8 million have sold since the sales office opened in March last year. What’s more, Michael Goldstein, president of The Trump Group Residential, the developer on the project, says he has not one but two parties interested in the $55 million Palazzo d’Oro penthouse. The penthouse in question has two stories, 20,000 square feet, and comes complete with a $5 million Fendi Casa furniture package and a glass-bottomed outdoor pool that cantilevers out 12 feet, for a 649-foot view straight down.
And the list goes on: Regalia (19505 Collins Ave., 305-405-3270), whose 37 full-floor and two double-floor units came on the market in May 2012 (the building was just topped off), has remaining units priced in the $7 million range and up, and is “over 60 percent sold,” says Louis R. Montello, president of Regalia Beach Developers LLC. 400 Sunny Isles, a two-tower, 230-unit project on the Intracoastal, has presold close to 90 percent of its units with available residences priced from $750,000 to $3.5 million. And Chateau Beach Residences (17475 Collins Ave., 305-944-4440), which is currently tiling the foundation of the building, has 70 percent of its 84 units under contract for $1,000 to $1,100 a square foot, according to Manuel Grosskopf, CEO of the Chateau Group, the developer on the project.
These last two buildings represent a more accessible price point for Sunny Isles, around $1,000 a foot compared to The Mansions’ $1,750 to $3,500 a foot or Porsche’s average of $1,200 a foot.
“It’s a great price for us and a great price compared to the competition,” says Grosskopf. “The competition is above the $1,200 [-a-foot mark], but the difference between us is we have an absolute price that is more reasonable.”
What’s luring buyers to Sunny Isles is the opposite of what they might find in South Beach, namely large units and a preponderance of quiet.
“The only similarity between Sunny Isles and South Beach is that they’re both on the beach, and they’re both in Miami,” says Edgardo Defortuna, CEO (as well as founder and president) of Fortune International, which is developing the Jade Signature (16901 Collins Ave., 305-940-0335), a 57-story tower with 192 units and the last of the six out of the gate. Presales began in April at about $1,200 a foot. “The South Beach customer is trendy and less family oriented, and they want relatively smaller units.”
There’s a significant Russian contingent in the area, but Defortuna sees other trends building. “When you move up the beach to Sunny Isles, it becomes more Latin American, Brazilians,
Argentines, Mexicans looking for larger apartments to accommodate their families,” he says. “They spend a long time here even if they come fewer times a year.”
Sunny Isles wasn’t always so suited for families. In the ’90s, before the city was incorporated, it was a haven for cheap motels frequented by spring breakers, affected by crime, and had a less desirable quality of life. What it needed was someone seeing its potential.
“I’m a New Yorker, and I came down and saw a city that was located between three of the most expensive neighborhoods in the area,” says Dezer, referring to Bal Harbour, Aventura, and Golden Beach. “People were driving by the motels and poopooing Sunny Isles. We saw oceanfront.”
Starting in 1997, developers began buying up those old motels. Dezer Development, for one, bought 17 different parcels. And slowly new product was built. The first wave included the Acqualina, sister to The Mansions.
Now, well into the second wave, restaurants and services are following.
“You have Timo, which is a high-end Italian restaurant, Epicure [Market], there are a lot of things now,” says Goldstein. “Before there was nothing. People went to McDonald’s and KFC.”
While vacant parcels are few and far between today, there are a handful of projects still on the horizon. Dezer Development has nine plots left to develop. And the Chateau Group has approval on a building called Chateau Ocean designed by Arquitectonica, at 94 Collins Avenue, a couple of blocks south of Bal Harbour. “It’s one of the only sites that’s within walking distance to the shops and restaurants,” says Grosskopf.
If the last year is any indication, Sunny Isles still has room (and interest) to grow.
“Ninety-five percent of all the inventory has been bought up there,” says Goldstein. “There were 6,500 units available [during the real estate bust of 2005 to 2008]. Now there are fewer than 400 units.”
Montello is similarly bullish: “The distinction between the New York buyers and the international buyers is that [New York buyers] think we’re still in 2008. That ship has long sailed. All the stuff on the ocean, the high end, those prices are back up where it was, and that inventory has dried up.”
photography by fortune international (jade)
Cover shoot: Behind the scenes with Pitbull for the October 2014 issue of Ocean Drive magazine.