The Real Deal Miami

The largest homes in Miami-Dade County

By Alexander Britell | June 17, 2010 06:30PM

Music producer Scott Storch’s home was sold this year

The owners of the largest homes in Miami-Dade County all have a similar profile, other than being terrifically wealthy: they like Coconut Grove and Miami Beach, and they tend to stay in the same place for a while.

Four of the 10 largest homes by square feet are on islands that are part of Miami Beach, including two on Star Island, one on Palm Island, one on La Gorce Island and two on Indian Creek Drive, according to data from PropertyShark prepared for The Real Deal.

“I think a lot of it is because the small islands, they’re prestigious, they’re private, they’re secure, the obvious reasons,” said broker Robin Katz of Keller Williams. Katz said buyers choose these large homes for several reasons — because it’s within their reach, perhaps looking toward extended family growth, and the opportunity to host more visitors. 

“In terms of having space, some people just need it and other people want it,” she said.

Katz said these homes tend to require a different marketing approach, including a broader, national and international marketing scheme.

Indeed, many of the homes are owned by buyers or held in the name of trusts which with out-of-state addresses. But a number of the homes are, of course, owned by longtime Miami families.

The Coconut Grove home of Leonard and Jayne Abess is the largest in Miami-Dade County, coming in at 28,535 square feet, on a lot that totals 510,388 square feet. The Abess’ home has eight bedrooms and 11 bathrooms.

According to Zillow.com, the home, which was built in 1972, has an estimated value of $12.13 million. The Abess family purchased the home in 1999 for $16.2 million. According to Miami-Dade County records, the property had an assessed value of $17.3 million last year.

Abess, like many of the owners on this list, purchased the home more than 10 years ago.

Second on the list is the Star Island home of billionaire Philip Frost, which is 28,185 square feet. Frost’s home has a value of $35.18 million, according to the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser. He has owned the home since 1991, when he purchased it for just $2.1 million.

Like the Abess family’s home, which was purchased 11 years ago, and Frost’s, which he has owned for 19 years, buyers tend to look for the long term with these homes, and not as speculative gains.

Katz, a luxury broker who said her largest current listing was approximately 5,000 square feet, said that with low prices, however, many buyers were now looking at these kinds of homes as investments. Many of the long-term owners of these homes have made significant gains over the years. 

Fourth on the list is the 23,792-square-foot Indian Creek Drive home of Jeffrey Soffer, principal of Turnberry Associates. Soffer purchased the home 10 years ago for $5.3 million.

In ninth place is the former home of Scott Storch, the Villa Ferrari on Palm Island, which the record producer sold for $6.75 million to Rockstar Energy Drink founder Russ Weiner. Storch had purchased the 20,308-square-foot property in 2006 for $10.5 million. It went into foreclosure in 2009, and was bought back by the bank at auction for $5.5 million.

“I had some people that looked at [the Storch home] and said it was an okay lot but that they were going to either completely gut it or tear it down,” said high-end broker Nelson Gonzalez of EWM. “Purely at a per-square-foot price, it was a screaming deal, but the house is not that nice. It’s over the top, gaudy, with marble everywhere and cheap construction. It’s looking back at the causeway and the Port of Miami.”

Gonzalez has had a hand in some of the larger home sales in Miami of late, closing last week on the $16 million, 17,200-square-foot home at 88 La Gorce Circle, and also said he has a nearly 12,000-square-foot house on Palm Island under contract for $12 million.

Nearby 18 La Gorce Circle is also in the top 10.