Unwrapping Miami’s New Development Market
By Jill Patterson
The bar has been raised so high this development cycle, that a whopping seven Pritkzer Prize winners are at work on new projects in Miami along with other internationally acclaimed designers and landscape designers. Both Zaha Hadid and Renzo Piano have chosen Miami to put their first residential projects in North America. In fact, every development seems to have a distinct flavor, aunique style and story to tell.
What a difference a decade makes
Blame it on Art Basel. Blame it on the savviness of today’s international luxury buyer, but developers have upped their game this time around and the result is show-stopping. For those of us who rode the preceding pre-construction wave in the early 2000s, it was a wild few years of rampant building and quick fire transactions, but nowhere was there a quality of product in Miami available as there is today. Everywhere we look, Miami is growing up more sophisticated, more artistic, more diverse, smarter, and much more beautiful.
Take a trip up Collins Avenue
Think back. Before the W South Beach, before the Setai, it was the Shore Club. Long left to languish, the Shore Club has changed hands and is now undergoing a massive renovation and rebranding by Brazil’s superior hotelier, Fasano. Known for their impeccable hospitality for over a century, Fasano will be an oasis of good taste and exemplary customer service in the same prime location.
Designed inside and out by Brazil’s own Isay Weinfeld, its condo hotel inventory offers generous sized units to appeal to entire families with large landscaped balconies. The project will feature the largest pool in South Beach with 250 feet. The restaurant will be run by a Michelin-rated chef. The feel is relaxed mid-century modern meets 007 cool.
Ten blocks north, Argentina welcomes you. Visionary developer Alan Faena’s opus, Faena District, combines condo and hotel with art and entertainment to create a unique Faena-land in and around the site of the old Saxony hotel. A collaboration of icons of architecture Norman Foster and OMA/Rem Koolhas) with icons in filmmaking (Baz Lurhmann), the District features Faena Forum, a 150 seat live cabaret and cultural center, 2 hotels (Faena and Casa Claridge’s) complete with butler service, Faena Bazaar, Tierra Santa Healing House spa with the largest hammam in Miami and several restaurants, including Los Fuegos helmed by famed Argentinean open fire chef, Francis Mallman. The condo residences are comprised of Faena House (47 units/sold out), Faena Versailles Classic (22 units) and Contemporary (41 units). The Classic is a transformation of a Roy France Art Deco sweetheart. Faena House gathered enough force behind it to mark the highest price for a condo sold in 2015 ($60 million for the PH in Faena House). The feel here is exclusive, luxurious, and fanciful.
Another 50 blocks north is a taste of Italy, with architectural powerhouse, Renzo Piano’s, 87 Park. The Shard in London, The Centre Pompidou in Paris, the New Whitney in New York… one might find it astonishing, but international architect, Piano, in conjunction with David Martin (Terra), has recently broken ground on this elegant project of 70 waterfront residences positioned just north of North Shore Park. Nature takes center stage, as entire walls of glass open to the sea and park views. Finishes are in American oak and Italian marble creating clean spaces to play host to the ocean breezes and changing light. Some units include palatial balconies of over 30 feet in depth.
Not much farther up Collins, America’s architecture master, Richard Meier has transformed the village of Surfside with his Surf Club Four Seasons stretching for 5 blocks and 880 linear oceanfront feet. A master of light and space, Meier has responded to the location with his signature glass incandescence. 119 residences and 31 hotel residences, Meier has incorporated some of the historic Surf Club where the glitterati of the ’40s once feted. Apparently, Meier liked the project so much, he bought a unit himself.
Farther north, Sunny Isles could almost be mistaken for Dubai, with its branded towers of Porche and Armani, the latter reportedly costing $1billion to build, among other magnificent, high-end projects such as Mansions at Acqualina and Turnberry Ocean Club.
Crossing back over the MacArthur, Turkish development family Bayraktar are hard at work on Island Gardens which will be North America’s only marina designed exclusively for mega-yachts. With 5,000 linear feet of docking space, the marina will be able to
accommodate super-yachts up to 550 feet offering deep harbor dockage for drafts of 18-21ft. The marina will offer full-service amenities, including on-site immigration customs clearance, water taxies, as well as 221,000sf of luxury retail, and 2 branded hotels with fractional ownership opportunities.
Back on the mainland, celebrated Iranian architect, Zaha Hadid has drilled down 177 feet in order to lay the foundation for her futuristic One Thousand Museum. An engineering masterpiece containing no interior columns, the building will be supported by 4,200 uniquely shaped forms made in Dubai and shipped to Miami. The result is striking. The building will feature high-level security, a helipad, an aquatic center on the roof and a Sky Lounge.
Finally, at the center of this new wave of construction is Brickell City Centre. Funded by Hong Kong development company, Swire, BCC was first to acquire land in downtown and begin building their $1B mixed-use project when others were still in the planning phases. Slated to open in just a few months, BCC features 5.4 million square feet with two residential towers, Reach and Rise with 780 units total, East Hotel, retail and office space. The entire project is LEED gold certified and features a 150,000 foot CLIMATE RIBBONTM trellis system.
Is all this development good for Miami? Some locals resent that they are priced out of these exclusive luxury projects placed in the most prime locations. It’s true, but there are other benefits that need to be weighed, including the exponential tax base created by these high priced developments. Those monies ought to translate into better transportation and general infrastructure for our emerging city. Artistically, the quality of new building is so astonishing, how can we not be grateful for the talent gracing our city? While some city skylines look like a chronicle of colliding architect egos, thankfully, the projects born in this cycle seem inspired mostly by Miami’s beauty and as a contextual response to its extraordinary quality of light and stunning natural elements.