From the vantage point of a penthouse terrace in South Beach, the word “recession” drowns in the sound of waves breaking on the shore hundreds of feet below. Indeed, despite lingering anxiety about the global economy, real estate prices for South Florida luxury condos have rebounded thanks to strong buyer demand, particularly from Brazil and Argentina, as well as Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, and Western Europe, and the enduring allure of warm weather and postcard vistas. The average price per square foot in luxury waterfront condos, for example, has risen by 21 percent since 2010, according to condovultures.com, to $710 (as of August 2012). Of course, South Florida’s most glamorous penthouses run far higher than $1 million. Here, a peek at three of them.

Bayfront Oasis: Capri South Beach
Listed at $6.9 million, this 14th-floor, three-bedroom penthouse boasts 2,970 square feet of interior space and a 1,200-square-foot rooftop terrace—a rare feature in South Beach that accounts for a sizable chunk of the cost. The unit, one of 69 in the three-tower Capri complex on 16th Street that faces the city and the bay, comes furnished by SoJo Design and features a modern aesthetic, complete with a glass-fronted wine closet with gleaming metal racks and a glass-encased rain shower open to the master bedroom (not for the self-conscious).

The unit’s strongest selling points are its four first-level balconies, which provide an expansive view of the bay with a downtown-skyline backdrop (magnificently luminescent at night), and the rooftop terrace. Directly accessible by elevator or staircase from the living room, the terrace, which increases the cost of the unit by more than $1,000 per square foot, has a Jacuzzi, summer kitchen, wine bar, and outdoor shower and washroom.

The penthouse has been “on and off the market” since 2010, according to Eloy Carmenate Group real estate agent Mick Duchon. But Duchon isn’t worried about demand. “There are many buyers looking for $6 million to $7 million places in South Beach,” he says. Capri South Beach, 1445 16th St., Miami Beach, 305-535-8175

Custom-Made Masterpiece: One Thousand Ocean
Higher up the coast—and in price point—we find this 8,770-square-foot penthouse on the southern tip of a private peninsula in Boca Raton. Listed at $15.25 million, the unfinished, designer-ready, and customizable unit, one of 52 residences in the seven-story building, has 14-foot ceilings, a private elevator landing, floor-to-ceiling glass walls, and enough space for at least five bedrooms. The unit’s expansive terraces, comprising a total of 4,417 square feet, are wide enough to accommodate an outdoor kitchen and a heated and jetted plunge pool, and afford serene views of the Atlantic, the coastline, the yachts coming and going through the Boca Inlet, and the Intracoastal.

Although it doesn’t have a rooftop terrace, the penthouse’s value skyrockets with its generous amenities, including a private three-car garage and a private poolside cabana. It’s also only minutes away from Mizner Park, Boca’s downtown shopping center, and within walking distance of the Boca Raton Resort & Club.

Jamie Telchin, president of development for LXR Luxury Resorts & Hotels, says an ideal buyer for the unit is “an individual or couple in their 50s with a net worth of at least $30 million to $40 million,” adding, “they could be from anywhere in the world.” One Thousand Ocean, 725 S. Ocean Blvd., Boca Raton, 561-869-5000

Top of the Line: Continuum on South Beach, South Tower
The mantra “location, location, location” is a given in real estate. But in the rarefied air of luxury South Florida penthouse properties, the incantation “view, view, view” also wields power over prices, and there is no more expensive one than an unobstructed ocean view from a set of sweeping rooftop terraces on the southern tip of South Beach.

Listed at $39 million and owned by original Continuum developer Ian Bruce Eichner, the eight-year-old penthouse in the gated Continuum development offers such a vista, plus a direct view of downtown. Towering more than 400 feet above South Pointe Park, the unit’s terraces (two rooftop terraces plus a wraparound terrace totaling 6,092 square feet) feature a built-in pool, full kitchen, and two bathrooms.

The penthouse itself features 11,031 square feet of interior space, with six bedrooms and seven-and-a-half bathrooms throughout its four floors. If that isn’t enough room, the unit comes with an exclusive beachfront cabana and 10 parking spaces. “It is the largest penthouse on Miami Beach, not including Fisher Island,” says broker Dora Puig. In spite of its price tag (and $7,624 monthly maintenance fee), Puig notes that this unit, at $3,215 per square foot, is priced lower than two smaller penthouses in the South Tower that recently sold for $3,390 and $3,379 per square foot. “It’s a great value for the super-luxury market,” she says.

The perks were enough to attract actor Tom Cruise, who rented the penthouse during the shooting of Rock of Ages. With Cruise gone, Puig says her ideal prospect is a “third-, fourth-, or fifthvacation- home buyer” from Russia or Latin America, or an athlete who would appreciate the 12.5-foot ceilings. Dora Puig, P.A., 305-613-2113; email dora@dorapuig.com or visit dorapuig.com 

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