The Real Deal Miami

Celebrity, branding pivotal for Miami condo projects

November 14, 2013 10:00AM
By Peter Zalewski

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Peter Zalewski

Peter Zalewski

South Florida is bracing itself for the evolution of the local condo market to the point where newly proposed towers are named after – and influenced by – international consumer brands, famous architects and pop culture celebrities.

In the increasingly competitive South Florida preconstruction condo market with more than 175 new towers proposed, developers are searching for unique marketing angles to attract loyal buyers and maximize profits.

As many developers take the predictable path of using star architects such as Lord Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid to design their projects, others are seeking to align their projects with internationally known brands and celebrities.

Sunny Isles Beach developer Gil Dezer has been leading the way by affiliating his condo projects with celebrities and brands for the last decade.

At the beginning of the last South Florida condo boom in 2003, Dezer built six condo towers named after New York businessman and celebrity Donald Trump and generated strong presale prices for his units before the market ultimately crashed.

With this latest South Florida condo boom, Dezer has picked up where he left off by introducing the Porsche Design Tower project in Sunny Isles Beach that is inspired by the German sports car manufacturer and its avid followers.

The Porsche angle has reportedly helped Dezer sell 22 condo units – nearly 20 percent of the building – to the world’s billionaires.

Dezer is reportedly ready to continue the brand-inspired condo tower trend by announcing in December plans for a new project inspired by Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani.

To maximize the appeal of this upcoming project, Dezer has reportedly hired internationally acclaimed architect Cesar Pelli for added marketing power in case the Armani brand is not enough.

As it was during the last boom, location, floor plans, amenities and price remain keys to attract preconstruction buyers in the current South Florida condo wave.

This time around, prepaid buyer deposits that average 50 percent, compared with 20 percent last time, are the primary funding source for condo construction.

Given this reality, developers today are forced to move away from building for the masses and instead create boutique projects that appeal specifically to people with cash.

This is where brand alignment comes into play.

As the South Florida condo market evolves, watch for an increase in the marrying of projects with luxury brands the likes of Bugatti Veyron, De Beers, Gucci and Montecristo cigars.

Along those lines, it is conceivable that other condo towers could be named after pop culture icons such as musician Jay-Z, Brazilian artist Romero Britto and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Dare we say, new condo projects could eventually be named after characters from popular television dramas like “Breaking Bad” or reality shows “Real Housewives” and “Jersey Shore.”

After all, celebrities have served as spokespeople for products since the beginning of advertising. What precludes these celebrities from being the inspiration for future condo towers in pop-culture conscious South Florida?

Peter Zalewski is real estate columnist for The Real Deal who founded Condo Vultures LLC, a consultancy and publishing company, as well as Condo Vultures Realty LLC and CVR Realty brokerages and the Condo Ratings Agency, an analytics firm. The Condo Ratings Agency operates CraneSpotters.com, a preconstruction condo projects website, in conjunction with the Miami Association of Realtors.

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