Top dollar for new condos

TRD ranks SoFla's dizzying array of preconstruction projects

From left: Ian Schrager, Residences at Miami Beach Edition, One Thousand  Museum and Zaha Hadid
From left: Ian Schrager, Residences at Miami Beach Edition, One Thousand  Museum and Zaha Hadid

Miami is beginning to look like Manhattan, at least in terms of what buyers are willing to shell out for a square foot of prime real estate.

In New York, the average per-square-foot price for a new luxury condo ranges from the high $2,000s to the low $3,000s. The Magic City is still cheaper at the top of the market, but just a little: Units in the two ritziest towers going up — Ian Schrager’s Residences at Miami Beach Edition and Terra Group’s Glass, also in Miami Beach — are averaging more than $2,500. By comparison, the least expensive is Juno Beach’s Bay Colony, at $241. The median listing price: $682, according to research by Condo Vultures and, which provide market data.

The reasons fueling Miami’s dizzying prices today are the same ones that launched Manhattan’s meteoric rise so long ago: Growing prestige as a world city, which creates demand, and an influx of international cash, which lifts the price floor.

Right now, in this market run-up, there are 85 condo projects that the region’s cities have signed off on and 45 that developers want to build but don’t have the okay yet. Construction crews are busy at work on 34 towers. And only three are finished so far.

Together, the projects in their various phases represent well over 20,000 new units and more than 170 towers.

The sizes of projects this time around are smaller than the last boom.

Of 46 projects in preconstruction, nearly half — 22 — have fewer than 100 units. And there is a correlation between the number of units and the per-square-foot cost, an analysis by The Real Deal shows.

Only two of the 11 most expensive towers have more than 100 units: Oceana Key Biscayne, which has 154 condo units, and Oceana Bal Harbour, with 260 units. Asking prices there are $1,700 and $1,500 per square foot, respectively.

The top spot on the list is Schrager’s Edition, which has only 26 condos, selling for $2,640 per square foot on average.

Terra’s Glass is even smaller, more intimate — 10 units, the fewest of all the towers — but is asking slightly less per square foot: $2,592.

The biggest project by far is Paraiso Bay in Downtown Miami. The skyscraper complex will have 1,000 units. Its average per-square-foot price holds the No. 30 slot with $525, a fifth of what Glass costs.

Location — both city and ocean frontage — is influencing cost, of course.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

All of the top 10 projects are in monied Miami Beach, Sunny Isles Beach, Key Biscayne and Bal Harbour. Every one also has a bird’s-eye view of the water.

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At the opposite end of the spectrum, Juno Beach is about 85 miles north of Miami, and its Bay Colony project is at the bottom of the list.

What all the towers share is a core group of amenities. Bay Colony, as well as H3 in Hollywood, the second-cheapest project — will have fitness centers, clubhouses, pools and spas just like the two most expensive — Edition and Glass.

The priciest certainly offer more services, including round-the-clock concierges, beach attendants, personal trainers and valets. And owners of the Edition’s condos, which will sit atop a hotel, are going to be able to order room service just like out-of-towners. On the menu: Champagne and caviar.

Obviously the biggest difference, though, comes from the units themselves: bigger, wider balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows, home gyms, media rooms, marble countertops — and the list goes on.

Plus, the ritzy projects are the work of noted architects. Rene Gonzalez, a Cuban native who now calls Miami home, is the inspiration behind Glass and its clean, stacked stories; British minimalist John Pawson had the vision for the tailor-made exclusivity of Edition, with a private entrance and a secret “celebrity” one.

Moolah from everywhere

The flood of South American buyers is well documented, and now more and more are coming from Europe and Asia as well. They have cash and they’re willing to spend it. The proof is the record amounts that have already been ponied up for existing units.

A Russian, for example, paid $1.45 million — a little more than $2,900 per square foot — for a 497-square-foot condo in The Residences at W South Beach, setting a new mark for the most ever paid for a studio or one-bedroom in South Florida. And a foreign buyer, identified only as a well-known European tennis player, ponied up $5.2 million — $1,500 per square foot — for a penthouse in the decade-old Four Seasons Residences, shattering the highest price paid per square foot in Miami’s Brickell corridor. That is, until that benchmark was broken by a penthouse at Echo Brickell that fetched around $2,000 per square foot more recently.

Though the prices are great watercooler fodder, they don’t stun industry insiders, and they’re not considered unreasonable for what they’re buying.

“Given the global demand for Miami, we are priced well below cities like London, Paris and New York,” said Veronica Cervera, president of Cervera Real Estate, which is handling sales at 321 Ocean Drive in Miami Beach’s chic SoFi neighborhood.

The tower, with 30 units over 16 floors, ranks No. 8 in average per-square-foot listing price: $1,609. The oceanfront low-rise — a 1926 Art Deco building undergoing a $24 million renovation, will have a concierge, beach attendants, showers and lockers for bike riders, and an “elite” fitness center, according to its website.

Manhattan-based Schrager, who started out solely as a hotelier, is unabashedly forthright about his decision not to spare any expense on Edition. And it paid off. An anonymous buyer paid $34 million by two side-by-side triplex penthouses, the most ever for a preconstruction condo in South Florida.

The square footage hasn’t been disclosed, but the eight-figure price tag could explain why the developer puts the average per-square-foot price of the Edition at more than $3,000 — even higher than the $2,640 cited by Cranespotters.

“Miami has changed,” said Schrager, whose last project in South Florida was the Delano Hotel, 17 years ago. “Miami has become every bit the world gateway city that New York is, and buyers are not intimidated by high prices.”