Luxury Living in Miami Moves North

Shivani Vora

Not long ago, all the action in Miami seemed to happen in South Beach; visitors and locals had no reason to head to the neighborhoods to the north.

Today, it’s a different story: South Beach has remained a place to party, but it has little room for development and it can, at times, feel a little grungy. The beachfront alternatives to the north have become more appealing.

Two in particular — North Beach and Sunny Isles Beach — are burgeoning with new luxury residential buildings and more developed downtowns with restaurants and boutiques.

The next South Beaches these aren’t. Both are relaxing, quieter settings, compared with hectic South Beach. They also have fewer hotels and more condominiums, giving them a community feel.

But they aren’t carbon copies of each other, either. Sunny Isles Beach is busier and has more international residents; its condos stand out for their over-the-top amenities and designer-name affiliations. North Beach, while not lacking in luxury, is more understated and serene.

Over all, Miami’s real estate market is thriving. Dan Wagner, the director of research for the Southeastern United States for the real estate services and investment firm CBRE, said that the city’s waterfront setting, combined with its growing reputation as a cultural and design powerhouse, makes it attractive. That Florida has no personal income tax gives it even more of an edge.

Real estate sales in Miami-Dade County, which includes South and North Beach and Sunny Isles Beach, reached $9.3 billion in 2016, according to the data company Real Capital Analytics. Numbers dipped to $6.9 billion in both 2017 and 2018.

“The issue is that there isn’t a lot of product out there to buy, because so much of Miami’s real estate has already sold,” Mr. Wagner said.\

Still, buyers with a big budget will find opportunities.

COORDINATES Collins Avenue from 157th Street to 195th Street. Population is 22,500.

 THE BACK STORY In the 1960s and ’70s, Sunny Isles’ 2.5-mile-long stretch of sand was lined with budget motels, said Arden Karson, CBRE’s senior managing director for South Florida. “Locals who didn’t live near the beach would come to Sunny Isles to spend their weekends,” she said.

Change started in the early ’90s, Ms. Karson said, when the city commission decided to turn it into a more upscale neighborhood by allowing for more and taller buildings.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY From the Estates at Acqualina, residential towers under construction, to condominiums with names like Residences by Armani Casa and Porsche Design Tower Miami, residential real estate in Sunny Isles has become synonymous with luxury.

“You have these super high-end condos with incredible designers and amenities,” said Daniel de la Vega, the owner and president of One Sotheby’s International Realty, in South Florida. Prices for residential real estate currently run from $800 to $2,500 a square foot, he said.

Mr. de la Vega and the owners of these developments said that most buyers are from the American Northeast, Mexico and South America. “People like the area because it’s pedestrian-friendly and in a good location to visit Fort Lauderdale or South Beach,” he said.

Acqualina Realty, a development company owned by the brothers Jules and Eddie Trump (no relation to President Trump), was one of the early entrants to the luxury real estate scene, with the 2006 debut of the Acqualina Ocean Residences, 188 apartments that are part of a hotel resort.

While the residences were high-end at the time, the Mansions at Acqualina, opened in 2015 in a Mediterranean-style building next to the residences, are glitzier. They have 79 apartments ranging from $5 million to $38 million and count a pool, a spa, a movie theater and a virtual golf center as amenities.

The Estates at Acqualina, comprising 248 apartments in two towers, are under construction on the other side of the residences. The first tower, with 154 apartments, is scheduled to be completed in early 2021, Jules Trump said, while the second tower, with 94 units, will follow five months later. More than 75 percent of the units have sold in the first tower; the second has yet to go on the market.

Prices for the apartments run from $4.2 million to $36 million. All have large terraces with hot tubs and outdoor kitchens. Karl Lagerfeld, in his only residential project in the United States, was involved in designing the lobbies before his death in February, Jules Trump said.

The 50,000-square-foot Villa Acqualina sits between the towers and will be home to a spa, a movie theater, bowling lanes, an ice-skating rink, a gym and a children’s area. The Estates also have three pools, a dog park and a courtyard with art installations.

Fred Knoll, a New Yorker who works in the investment business, owns an apartment in the Mansions and said he takes full advantage of the amenities. “I like the community feel and how everyone says hello,” he said.

The Trumps aren’t the only developers making a mark on the neighborhood.

Fontainebleau Development, for one, owns Turnberry Ocean Club, with 154 condos spread over 54 stories. The building is to be completed by the first quarter of 2020, according to the company’s owner, Jeff Soffer, and has apartments from $4 million to $35 million. There are 60 units currently for sale.

The New York-based architect Carlos Zapata designed the contemporary glass building, which has three pools, a rooftop lounge and a spa. Owners get a membership to JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa, and a five-minute drive away. The resort has two 18-hole golf courses and a water park.

Dezer Development is behind Porsche Design Tower Miami, open since 2016. The 132 units (a few are currently on the market), ranging in price from $4.5 million to $32.5 million, have balconies with 15-foot-long pools and car elevators.

“Residents drive their cars onto a private elevator that goes up directly to their apartments,” said the company’s owner, Gil Dezer. Other features include a spa and a restaurant.

Juan Pablo Verdiquio, a shoe manufacturer, has lived in the Porsche building with his family since 2017 and said he had paid $4.2 million for his 5,000-square-foot apartment. Mr. Verdiquio likens Sunny Isles Beach to a family-friendly Monte Carlo. “The design of the new buildings and all the fancy cars you see are very similar, but then you have these great parks, which my kids love and where I know they are safe,” he said.

Dezer Development also owns the 308-unit Residences by Armani Casa, expected to be completed this November. The building is more than 80 percent sold, Mr. Dezer said. Cesar Pelli, the American-Argentine architect behind New York’s World Financial Center, designed the contemporary glass tower. Armani/Casa Interior Design Studio is overseeing the interiors, which will have soft tones and modern furniture.

Residents will have access to an oceanfront pool and hot tub, a cigar room, a two-story spa, an ocean-view yoga studio and a movie theater.

 “The idea is that when you live here, you really have no reason to leave,” Mr. Dezer said.
North Beach

COORDINATES Collins Avenue from 69th Street to 87th Street.
Population is 30,000.

THE BACK STORY The Miami Beach City Commission has sought to control overbuilding and density in North Beach, and as a result, the neighborhood remained virtually unchanged for decades, according to Miami Beach’s mayor, Dan Gelber, who grew up in the city.

“Until recently, North Beach looked exactly as it did when I was a kid,” he said.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY The residential development in North Beach is defined by its understated elegance. While new buildings have celebrity names like the architect Renzo Piano and the designer Holly Hunt attached to them, they don’t have an endless list of amenities. Regardless, prices run high: Expect to pay between $1,500 and $5,000 a square foot, said Mr. de la Vega, of One Sotheby’s International Realty.

“This neighborhood is becoming the high-end part of Miami Beach,” he said.

This transformation isn’t limited to new apartments: Last year Miami Beach residents approved a $150 million proposal to build an aquatics center, a library and parks in North Beach. They also voted to reduce constraints on development to build a town center with restaurants, stores and apartments.

Jenny Starr Perez, the editor in chief of Indulge, a magazine published by The Miami Herald, has been a North Beach resident for 10 years and said that she welcomes the new development.

“When I moved in, the neighborhood was almost too quiet and even a bit unsafe,” she said. “It’s now much more vibrant with new buildings, small businesses and restaurants and has a charming beach town feel to it,” she said.

 Mr. de la Vega said that many buyers are from the Northeast United States and Canada.

The neighborhood’s turn toward the high end began in 2008, when Canyon Ranch opened a hotel and residences. The three sleek black high-rises were rebranded as Carillon Miami Wellness Resortin 2015, and the project’s wellness focus remained: There’s a 70,000-square-foot spa and gym and four pools.

“The property got a lot of buzz and helped people remember that North Beach existed,” said Joelle Oiknine, a senior global real estate adviser with One Sotheby’s International Realty.

Carillon’s 580 units range in size from 750 to more than 6,000 square feet and sell for $425,000 to $10 million.

North Beach’s first high-profile residential building with a star name association — Ms. Hunt — debuted in February with the completion of L’Atelier. Its 24 units are all 2,300 square feet and cost $4 million, said Meir Srebernik, the co-owner of L’Atelier’s development company, SMG Management. Ms. Hunt designed the public spaces, which have gray and white marble floors and furniture and fabrics in soft beige, blue and gold tones. Mr. Srebernik said L’Atelier’s centerpiece is the three-story clubhouse with a spa, a gym and two pools.

But North Beach’s biggest attention grabber is 87 Park, scheduled to open this year. It is the first major residential condominium in the United States designed by Mr. Piano, a Pritzker Prize-winning Italian architect.

On the site of the Biltmore Terrace Hotel, the building has the 35-acre North Shore Park to its south. The building’s developer, Terra, is donating $10 million to help redesign the park.

Mr. Piano’s glass tower has 68 apartments, said Terra’s president, David Martin. They are priced from $2 million to $20 million and run from 1,000 to 5,000 square feet. Mr. Martin said that most of the apartments had sold and that buyers include the tennis player Novak Djokovic.

 Amenities include a two-acre private park, two pools, a restaurant, a grab-and-go food outlet and a spa.

“The minute Renzo Piano became engaged in North Beach, other architects and developers wanted to put their mark on the neighborhood,” Mr. Gelber said. “It’s a part of town that Miamians and global buyers now want to live in.”

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