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“A planned passenger rail service would be an ideal way to link the nation’s most visited city with Florida’s gateway city for business and leisure travel.”

This is the sales pitch to citizens that can be found on the website for All Aboard Florida, the new railway project that hopes to create an Orlando-to-Miami passenger train service. The train would provide the vital mass transit that so many have longed for in this large state. Stops would include Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm and, of course, Orlando.

The project would create tens of thousands of jobs, not only in the railway industry, but by connecting major cities and granting Floridians more flexibility to travel to work. However, another industry that would benefit greatly from All Aboard Florida is commercial real estate.


Rendering of All Aboard Florida train

All Aboard Florida is currently in negotiations with Miami’s Community Redevelopment Agency to acquire land in downtown Miami to build a large transportation hub. As a matter of fact, a compromise was reached yesterday and is currently awaiting approval from the county. The transportation hub would include restaurants, retail, office space, and residential apartments.

Commercial real estate is extremely important to revenues for All Aboard Florida. The project will dedicate $325 million to develop about 1 million square feet of commercial real estate. They are expecting a yield of around $35 million in rent.

The money being put into the $2.4 billion project by All Aboard Florida will amount to about $125 million, or around 5 percent of total costs. A large sum of the money will be provided by institutional investors, paying up to $600 million for a preferred investment. The organization is counting on the federal government to play a part in the development as well. All Aboard Florida is expecting a federal loan to aid them with the $1.5 billion in infrastructure costs.

The next step for All Aboard Florida would be the most important, bringing in revenues through ridership. All Aboard is currently projected to attract 4 million riders by 2018, a mark that took the Tri-Rail service about two decades to hit. If All Aboard Florida can achieve these numbers, it would yield a return of $785 million.


This past Wednesday, Edgardo Defortuna, head of Fortune International, along with several authority figures in the city of Sunny Isles, gathered at the future site of Jade Signature for the ground breaking ceremony. Among those in attendance to celebrate Fortune International’s latest development were Mayor Norman S. Edelcup and City Attorney Hans Ottinot.

As the third Jade project in Sunny Isles, Edelcup claimed that Jade Signature would help Sunny Isles become “Florida’s Riviera.” Jade Signature will be the fourth Jade project overall, the first being Jade Brickell, built during the last residential boom in South Florida. The Brickell project was then followed by the two projects in Sunny Isles.


Rendering of Jade Signature

Jade Signature, however, has a chance to be the most dazzling of all the Jade projects yet. Defortuna has acquired the services of some of the most notable names in their field for the 192-unit, 57-story project. The building’s parallelogram shape was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architecture-firm Heurzog and de Meuron. The shape of the building creates room for 25-foot terraces to overlook the ocean.

The interiors will be designed by Pierre Yves Rochon and feature amenities such as a full-service concierge, beach-side restaurant, luxury spa, gym, playground and more. Raymond Jungles was hired to take care of the landscape, the same firm that will oversee the expansion of the botanical gardens for the new Miami Beach Convention Center.

The characteristic that best describes the work being done by everyone involved with Jade Signature would have to be “attention to detail.” The three-story parking garage at Jade Signature will be around double the cost of a normal parking garage, due to the fact that it is being built underground. This was done in order to bring all of the amenities closer to nature without having to put a parking garage in the way.

The workers in Sunny Isles have already begun the nine-month process of digging out space to create the underground parking for Jade Signature. Apartments at the new development are set to range in cost from $1.7 million to $25 million. According to Defortuna, Fortune International has already exceeded $300 million in sales.

As we have previously discussed, the South Florida market is, for better or worse, in the midst of a development boom. The origins of this boom, however, may not be coming from the community itself. More and more it seems as though foreign buyers are the ones leading the climb back to prosperity for South Florida’s real estate market. Cash buyers from Brazil are at the top of that list.


The Miami Tower shining for Brazil

In 2012, approximately 690,000 Brazilians visited Miami and injected $1.5 billion into the local economy. Brazilians officially overtook Canadians as the city’s top international tourists and, more importantly, the top international buyers of Miami real estate. This feat was made possible by the 123 weekly flights between Brazil and Florida, a number which is expected to continue rising before the end of the year.

Another factor that continues to stimulate Brazilian tourism in Miami is the extremely favorable exchange rate. What does this mean for those looking to invest in Miami’s recovering real estate market? For the same price of a property investment in Miami, buyers would end up spending nearly three times as much in Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. Ironically, Brazilian buyers may have been driven to South Florida’s real estate market after the global crash in order to take advantage of softer pricing.

Not only did Brazilians lead the pack amongst foreign buyers of real estate last year, according to the Miami Real Estate Agents’ Association they represented 6 out of 10 foreign buyers. A good portion of the buyers (41.9 percent) intend to use their property as a vacation home for themselves and their families. On top of that, 78 percent of Brazilians paid for their property in all cash purchases, a trend that may prove troublesome for U.S. tax authorities in Brazil.

Brazilians have created a massive trend of investment in the South Florida real estate market, not simply because of the previously mentioned factors, but also due to their close-knit culture. Local brokers that have worked with Brazilians claim that if you can sell to one, you can sell to more, given that they tend to enjoy living near one another. This characteristic makes Brazilians a truly great friend for the South Floridian economy.

Founded in 1903, The Miami Herald quickly became the largest newspaper in all of South Florida and one of the most highly-regarded papers in the nation. On August 19, 1960 construction began on a building for the Herald, and by March 24, 1963 the newspaper had a new home at One Herald Plaza. Now, 50 years later, the Genting Group has received a permit from the city to demolish the iconic building.

MiamiHeraldBuildingThe Genting Group, a gaming company based in Malaysia, purchased the property for $236 million in May of 2011. Demolition on the building is ultimately set to begin some time before the end of this year. Their plan for the 14 bay front acres is a mixed-use project that would include a luxury hotel, along with condos, retail, restaurants, and a glamorous 800-foot promenade overlooking Biscayne Bay.

Excitement had been generated through town at the news that the project would include a casino, but the plans have since been scaled down a bit. Genting made up for this fact at the Port of Miami, where their new ferry contains a casino and takes travelers from Miami to Bimini, where there of course is another Genting casino.

The Herald moved out of the building into their new location in May of this year. What they leave behind at One Herald Plaza is a storied-history that has earned much respect from the citizens of their city. The building was the representation of a nationally-honored media outlet and it became a landmark for those driving through downtown Miami. In their time at One Herald Plaza, the newspaper won 19 of their 20 Pulitzer Prizes, the most prestigious award for any newspaper in the country.

The building at One Herald Plaza is a display of the importance of real estate in Miami. One building has the capability to represent both a prestigious history and an exciting future. For one last virtual glimpse of the iconic building, take a look at this picture-tour from Curbed Miami.

Every year the city of Miami plays host to countless internationally celebrated events such as the Sony Ericsson Open, South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Art Basel, and, of course, the NBA Finals. Add the fact that Miami International Airport and the Port of Miami are two of the busiest ports of entry in the world and you get this result: a city with over 38 million visitors on an annual basis. Alone, tourist spending in Miami accounts for $17.1 billion. It’s no surprise that retailers have responded by making Miami a destination of their own.

This winter, Spanish clothing retailer Zara is preparing to open a flagship 26,000 square foot store. The space they’ve chosen for this chic apparel-filled monstrosity? The corner of Washington Avenue and Lincoln Road, otherwise known as 420 Lincoln Road. The former site of Carl Fisher’s Lincoln Hotel, the building was constructed in 1940 and designed by architect Albert Anis.


Rendering of 420 Lincoln Road Zara

The site is likely to be a cornerstone on Lincoln Road, a nationally recognized pedestrian mall. Zara isn’t just taking a stab in the dark, either; they’re very familiar with South Beach. Their Collins Avenue location, a mile away from 420 Lincoln Road, assuredly inspired the opening of the flagship store.

However, Zara, though fashionably elite, is far from setting the trend this time. They are following in the footsteps of others who have also recently decided to open flagship stores in the area. Just last November, Swedish retailer H&M had their 1,000 guest grand opening for a 24,000 square foot location on Lincoln Road. The event was so grand that it even featured a live performance from Flo Rida, who was feeling the signature Miami humidity so much that he decided to take off his shirt during his last song.

Lincoln Road also recently welcomed Forever 21 to their family. The Los Angeles-based retailer took the cake, opening the largest store in the pedestrian mall at 39,000 square feet. All together, in just over a year, Lincoln Road has added nearly 90,000 square feet of flagship retail space. These are the achievements of just three stores on one major pedestrian mall in Miami.

The city has proven to be as much of a destination for retailers searching for new flagship space as it is to the millions of tourist who come from all over the world. Along with Lincoln Road, there has also been a major expansion in Dadeland Mall and another H&M grand opening in Aventura Mall. The future for retailers and, as a result, for shoppers in Miami is extremely bright.

We’ve been discussing it for months, if not years, and now it seems to all be coming to fruition. The Miami-Dade real estate market is well on it’s way to soaring past pre-recession peaks and setting it’s eyes on historic highs. It is certainly a very exciting time to be living this city, and an incredibly opportunistic time to be working in the development, construction, or real-estate sectors.

Leading the way in this boom is the downtown area, as we have discussed previously. The Real Deal South Florida reports that out of the 23,000 condos built in the area from 2003 to 2012, 93 percent have been sold. This has led to a dramatic increase in assessed property values (6.4 percent) and asking prices, but also an inventory crunch. Not to worry, developers have gracefully accepted the challenge. There are currently 5,500 condo units planned for development in downtown Miami.

However, other areas have assisted in making Miami-Dade one of the most attractive counties for real-estate investment in the country. Jade Signature in Sunny Isles, from our very own Fortune International, is one of the most breathtaking developments in South Florida. Designed by the famed architecture team, Herzog & de Meuron, the latest Jade project has already surpassed $300 million in sales. Miami Today also recently sang praises for the Coconut Grove area, where condos and single-family residences are primed to reach new peaks. The luxurious Grove at Grand Bay is the most appealing of many new preconstruction projects in the area.

This has all, of course, led to an increase in economic activity and tax revenue for the city of Miami. The Miami Herald recently reported that property-tax rolls have increased by 3.39 percent in 2013, marking the second consecutive year of growth. With a higher tax base, the city can expect government downsizing to slow down and taxpayers will in-turn see more bang for their buck.

However, one must always account for negative indicators, as well. This boom is not being felt, for example, in Florida City, where taxable value has decreased by 5.58 percent. Hialeah has also seen their rolls decrease by 3.5 percent, though that could be attributed to a new homestead exemption for low-income seniors. Even areas such as downtown, where values are skyrocketing, run the risk of growing too quickly and pricing too many people out of the market.

Overall, the news is too optimistic to end on a negative note. So, in that case, let’s enjoy this awe-inspiring preview video of Fortune International’s Jade Signature:

Jade Signature Sneak Peek Video from Jade Signature on Vimeo.

One of the major advantages in favor of the South Florida area is the vast nightlife that comes with the territory. Over time, the hotel scene has become one of the greatest boons for establishing this one-of-a-kind selling point. It has done this not only by providing a first-class experience to those searching for a vacation (or staycation), but in cases like Club 50 at The Viceroy, by becoming a key fixture in the nightlife itself.


b2 Miami Hotel in Downtown

The downtown area, according to the Greater Miami & The Beaches Hotel Association, supports 31 of these properties. This gives the area an approximately 7,000 room capacity for businesspeople and partygoers alike. Those numbers were calculated including the new b2 Miami downtown resort and the Aloft Miami opening on July 11th, however it did not take into account the several unannounced hotel deals that are also in the works.

That’s right! A development boom is taking place for hotels, too. The popular and much hyped SLS Hotel in South Beach is planning to open a new location in Brickell. Atton Hotels from Chile has also decided to open up their first North American outpost in the downtown Miami area. However, the best doesn’t only lie ahead for the Miami hotel scene. Arguably the most important hotels in downtown Miami have already been up and running, each doing their part to set the bar. The Intercontinental with their breathtaking views of Biscayne Bay, The Viceroy with Club 50, and The EPIC with Area 31 all add a spice of life to the area.

It’s no wonder that Smith Travel Research ranked Miami as the top hotel destination in the country. The research company also found the city to have an occupancy rate that was 20 percent higher than the rest of the U.S. at around 80 percent, and ranked Miami at the top in revenue per available room and average daily rate. Statistics such as these will only lead to more development, more hotels, and a nightlife beyond our imagination.

For more on hotels in South Florida, check out Curbed Miami’s list of The 38 Essential South Florida Hotels.

After the economic downturn that began in 2006, about 30 percent of the South Florida economy was eaten up due to poor real estate investments. Speculative buyers inflated prices, creating the necessity for other buyers to take out risky loans. Since the bust, South Florida has been waiting for the moment that real estate would make a grand comeback. 2013 seems to be the year they have been looking for.

It seems these days there is finally nothing but good news everywhere you turn in the South Florida real estate market. Figures recently came in from CoreLogic, a California-based data firm, that home prices in the greater Miami area are up 8.6 percent in March from a year ago. Adding to this outstanding development is the fact that prices rose 0.3 percent from February to March alone.

Stitched Panorama

  The gorgeous Downtown Miami skyline, 1100 Millecento highlighted to the left

Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward have approximately 15,000 condo units in the preconstruction stage. Nowhere is the recovery more prevalent than in Downtown Miami, where locals seemingly cannot walk one block without running into a new development being built to meet the increasing demand.

The poster-child for these developments being the Related Group’s new 1100 Millecento development in Brickell. After breaking ground just a few months ago, 1100 Millecento is already 99 percent sold. While buyers in the last South Florida boom were posting deposits around 20 percent, preconstruction buyers are putting down close to 50 percent this time around. Signs such as these display true confidence in a real estate boom that is just beginning to take flight.


Icon Brickell, future home to Cipriani Downtown and La Cantina No. 20

Fabio Faerman of the Fortune International Realty Commercial division has been looking forward to this week for some time. Last May, Faerman represented the landlord in the lease of three floors of space in Icon Brickell to two restaurants, La Cantina No. 20 and Cipriani Downtown. The latter of the two is officially opening this week on May 10.

Cipriani Downtown, the Italian eatery from owners Maggio and Ignazio Cipriani, will include a bar as the central point of the restaurant and luxurious floor-to-ceiling windows displaying a view of the breathtaking Brickell waterfront. These features will be similar to those of other Cipriani locations in New York and Los Angeles.

The Cipriani restaurants are known as celebrity magnets, and it was most likely for that reason that they were originally looking at property on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. As fate would have it, those plans never came to be, thus creating the opportunity for the perfect marriage between the Cipriani name and the vast nightlife of Downtown Miami.

Also leasing space at the Icon is La Cantina No. 20. The product of a group which owns 30 restaurants in Mexico, La Cantina is sure to bring a sophisticated style of Mexican cuisine to the Brickell area. Along with Cipriani, La Cantina will manifest a reputation for the Icon Brickell as a must-see destination in one of the most active areas in the city of Miami.

“This property was on the market before for almost four years,” said Faerman. “We focused our search on high end restaurants outside of Florida and we repositioned Icon as a brand spot and the only space left on the water in the entire Brickell area.”

A recent article in The New York Times praises Downtown Miami for boosting the recovery in South Florida. Developers have responded to an influx of foreign buyers by attempting to get new plans off the ground. In the past two years, the area has announced 25 new condo projects to begin development.

So far, of the 22,000 downtown condos created during the boom years, less than 4 percent have yet to be sold. The recovery in residential real estate being seen in Miami is ahead of the curve, even for an overall strong rebound in the national real estate market.

In February of 2013, national home prices were 9.3% higher than they were in February of 2012. This rate of growth was the highest that the nation had seen since May of 2006. In addition, over that same span of time the growth rate in Miami added up to 10.4 percent, well ahead of the national average.


Rendering of Brickell CityCentre

No project is a greater representation of this progress than the highly-anticipated Brickell CityCentre. The $1.05 billion project is set to span four blocks in West Brickell, measuring in at 5.4 million-square-feet. Brickell CityCentre will consist of four stories dedicated to retail and entertainment, including a luxury movie theater and restaurants. It will also feature six other towers that will add 800 condos, a hotel, business district, and wellness tower to the Downtown Miami area.

One could argue that the Brickell CityCentre has already brought a noticeable economic boost to the city, not just by it’s own construction, but by the construction of the 1,600-car underground parking lot that will accompany it. The 8th Street exit of the Miami Metromover will also be seeing renovations in order to incentivize citizens to use public transportation in their commute to the CityCentre.

These projects, along with the many other developments in Downtown Miami, will undoubtedly continue to be a boost to South Florida and assist in the robust recovery for the area.