The Real Deal Miami

Developer’s daring-do belies a hint of caution

May 20, 2013 10:00AM

Gil Dezer and Avra Jain at TRD roundtable. Photo courtesy Jose Larrota.

When Gil Dezer, the developer of Sunny Isles’ Porsche Design tower and an avid sports car racer, arrived to The Real Deal’s South Florida panel discussion last week with both legs broken from a boating accident, it didn’t exactly shock industry colleagues.

Instead, it was his hint of caution in a roundtable talk of otherwise boundless optimism that had people turning heads.

Dezer, among five top Miami-area developers on TRD’s spring 2013 South Florida Market Report panel, expressed an all-engines-go attitude on the present recovery, where prices are creeping closer to pre-bust 2008 levels, while acknowledging that the source of the money financing South Florida’s most ambitious projects may not be sufficiently vetted.

“I’m worried about where the money’s coming from,” he said. “My philosophy’s simple: If the bank wouldn’t give them money, why should you?”

Dezer and his father, Michael Dezer, together own 27 acres of Sunny Isles Beach, newly dubbed “Little Moscow” but where waves of immigrants of 20 different nationalities have bought property in recent years, congregating under the banner of the Russian language.

Almost half a billion dollars worth of pre-construction units have been sold for the Porsche Design tower, where duplexes and triplexes selling for as much as $25 million boast private floor-level parking and expansive, multi-storied terraces facing the Atlantic.

Five years since South Florida’s real estate industry collapsed, sending the economy into free fall, developers are racing to buy up fast-dwindling land as buyers offer as much as 80-percent cash deposits to secure what is little more than a blueprint.

A handful of developers including Dezer are placing huge stakes on a sustained recovery.

“I want to be the last man standing with oceanfront property,” he said during the panel from his wheelchair. –Emily Schmall