By Katie Jackson | February 9, 2016 | Home & Real Estate
An inventive developer and a leading broker discuss why buyers are begging to call Miami’s thriving downtown—one of the city’s fastest-growing areas—home.
A rendering of the Paramount, a future nexus for living in downtown.
Although once thought of as a place that had seen better days—or a place to work from 9 to 5, then quickly leave—downtown Miami has rapidly become a true destination, a center for culture and entertainment, with spacious homes wrapped in architectural ingenuity. Dan Kodsi, CEO of Royal Palm Companies, and Darin Feldman, a top Miami broker and founder of the downtown boutique luxury real estate firm Insignia International Properties, are certainly wise to the many perks this booming area has to offer. Kodsi—lead developer on the 60-story, 466-unit Paramount, which promises to bring a new wave of evolution to the neighborhood— and Feldman, a downtown pioneer, discuss why buyers are flocking to this burgeoning location.
Darin Feldman: Downtown has a very special place in my heart. Right before the market crashed, in about 2007, I was approached by the hard-equity lender for Ten Museum Park. We became friends, and he asked me if I would like to resell the penthouse at Ten Museum. I sold it, and he gave me the whole resale program for the building, and that created my career downtown. Years later, I opened Insignia. I feel like it’s a part of me, this area.
Dan Kodsi: When you start looking at cities on the Eastern coast of the US, Miami really has the greatest potential of being that next city that provides an urban living experience. The generations of today are all looking for that style of living. People want to be where they can shop, dine, and be entertained all in one place, and [Paramount] is going to offer that.
DF: You have Midtown, which just came to life, and you have Brickell and Coconut Grove—those were the areas. This is the one area that’s the connector. This is the area everyone was waiting for.
DK: When you talk about New York, for instance, you can go see a professional basketball game, you can see a Broadway show, go to museums, but you’ve really got to go to different parts of the city to experience them. Here it’s all within walking distance. The access is great, too. You can get to 395 and get to South Beach; you can get to I-95 within seconds.
At Ten Museum Park, two-bedroom residences average 1,800 square feet.
DF: I travel a lot, and whenever I say I’m from Miami, people go crazy. They say, “Oh, it’s got to be so exciting! Are there cranes everywhere?” And I say, “Yes, it’s an amazing city, because it’s a new city.” This is something that’s new and fresh, [downtown] especially. People don’t realize that the entire waterfront is open to the public in downtown, too. Everyone has access to the waterfront.
DK: We’ve seen trends where people just want to be outside. And I’ve seen so many [developers] do these wraparound balconies. They’re three- or five-foot wraparound balconies, and nobody ever furnishes them. What we did [at Paramount] was we created these boxes, which are really outdoor living rooms, and it’s an extension of your home. Now you can extend your indoor living room to your outdoor living room and have an outdoor living experience.
DF: I can’t tell you how many calls I get from people saying, “I want to come downtown.” They come downtown and they go into buildings like Museum Park, and the average unit there is, like, 1,800 square feet for a two-bedroom, and their jaw drops when they walk through the door. And then they see the bay views, and then the price, and they’re like, “What’s wrong with it?” And I say, “Nothing!”
At the Insignia International Properties offices, Feldman and Kodsi discuss how an influx of residents and visitors is bringing vibrancy to downtown.
DK: We have people come into the Paramount sales center who we think are coming to invest. Some people actually go to the extent of buying two residences. They buy one for an investment and then they say that the other is for when they come to Miami. It’s where they want to spend their time.
DF: This is a neighborhood. This isn’t an area. It’s where people are going to live and play, go to museums and the symphony. They’re going to raise their families here. I think in the next cycle you’re going to see more schools—and private schools—come to this area.
DK: As much as I want to say Paramount is going to transform the area, it’s the area, it’s the sidewalks and the urban parks—all of that together is what’s changing this neighborhood. Having the mix of residential homes, rentals, and hotels is going to bring people to the street. Having an active street is going to create that energy and a vibrant downtown.
DF: This is an area in transition; we are way in the forefront. You’re a pioneer, and you have to understand there are advantages and disadvantages to being a pioneer. It’s gratifying to now look up and see a tower where I once stood and there was nothing. It’s gratifying when the people I sold to who were the first buyers in the building are still in the building. They love what I told them about [downtown], and it came true. Dan Kodsi, Royal Palm Companies, 1855 Griffin Road, Ste. A-370, Dania Beach, 954-771-6777. Insignia International Properties, 1040 Biscayne Blvd., Ste. 20, Miami, 305-582-6200
photography by graciela cattarossi