South Florida’s top real estate stories of 2013

Year defined by Miami's development boom, record sales & lending revival

TRD MIAMI /
Dec.December 27, 2013 02:15 PM

In a year when South Florida’s resurgent real estate market attracted national and international attention, there is no shortage of candidates for The Real Deal‘s top stories of 2013.

The year began with a failed push for public stadium funding by the Miami Dolphins and the return of construction lending for South Florida’s luxury condo sector. Record-breaking residential transactions, expensive commercial property sales and a wave of new development announcements followed. Later in the year, real estate professionals in the region focused on how to capitalize on Art Basel Miami Beach week, which has become one of the world’s most significant annual art events.

Below are some of The Real Deal‘s most important South Florida news stories of the year. Many of these projects, trends and issues will continue to evolve in 2014.

Miami Dolphins stadium renovation languishes with state Legislature

Stephen Ross struck out in his first attempt to obtain public funding for Sun Life Stadium renovations during the 2013 state legislative session.

Despite getting support from Miami-Dade commissioners for $289 million over 30 years from a proposed county hotel bed tax increase, the Miami Dolphins owner could not get the Florida House of Representatives to even vote on the plan. The state had to give final approval to the bed tax hike and $90 million in state sales tax revenue.

The Dolphins had argued a public-private partnership was needed to make crucial repairs to the stadium if the team hoped to compete to host future Super Bowls.

Condo construction lending returns in a major way

On the sidelines since the real estate crash, construction lending returned to South Florida with February’s $160 million loan for the Mansions at Acqualina project in Sunny Isles Beach.

A group of lenders managed by Regions Financial gave the developers of the 47-story luxury tower the mortgage.

The Acqualina loan was topped in September, when Wells Fargo gave Dezer Development a $214 million mortgage for another Sunny Isles project, Porsche Design Tower.

EDITION penthouse sells for record $34 million

The pending $34 million sale of a combined-unit penthouse at the Residences at the Miami Beach EDITION shows that South Florida high-end condo buyers are now willing to pay mansion prices for the finest units.

Ian Schrager’s Miami Beach project got a major boost from the March sale of penthouses 1601 and 1602. Together, the units total 16,271 square feet and include eight bedrooms and eight and three-half bathrooms.

The record-breaking transaction is expected to close in 2014, when project construction is completed and occupancy certificates are obtained.

Beach convention center redevelopment awarded, issues linger

Developer South Beach ACE was selected by Miami Beach commissioners to handle the $1.1 billion redevelopment of the city’s convention center. But threats of litigation and a commission shake-up could significantly alter — or scuttle — the project.

Mayor-elect Philip Levine has qualms about leasing the land to South Beach ACE, the team of World Trade Center developer Dan Tishman, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas, landscape architect Raymond Jungles and local developer Robert Wennett. Another incoming commissioner, Joy Malakoff, is pushing for a smaller project that would be more sensitive to traffic and flood impacts.

The original plan is for South Beach ACE to lease the site for a substantial portion of the development, including the hotel. It is supposed to pay the city four percent of the hotel’s gross revenue or make fixed payments that incrementally increase by 10 percent each decade.

Miami gets first U.S. tower by Zaha Hadid

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid designed her first U.S. skyscraper for the planned One Thousand Museum condo tower in downtown Miami.

Hadid’s design got the unanimous approval from Miami’s urban design review board over the summer. The 706-foot tower is slated for construction at 1000 Biscayne Boulevard, across from the future Museum Park.

The London-based architect was one of several star architects — or starchitects — brought in to boost South Florida condo projects this year.

Development boom starts in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood

A growing number of developers, including Related Group, planted their flags in Miami’s evolving Edgewater neighborhood in 2013.

At least 10 condo towers are currently proposed in Edgewater, which covers a 20-block stretch of Biscayne Boulevard from Northeast 17th to 37th streets. Melo Group began developing in the area during the last South Florida real estate boom. Other builders followed their lead this year.

Projects under construction or planned in Edgewater include Related’s Icon Bay and Paraiso Bay, Melo’s Bay House and Eastview Development’s Biscayne Beach.

Versace Mansion sells in bankruptcy auction to Nakash family

The Nakash family of Jordache jeans fame outbid developer Glenn Straub and a group led by Donald Trump during September’s bankruptcy auction of the Versace Mansion in Miami Beach.

With a $41.5 million bid, the Nakash family took ownership of the Mediterranean-style estate. They plan to convert the mansion into a hotel with the Versace name.

“We bought history,” Joe Nakash said immediately after winning the auction.

Brickell CityCentre, Miami Worldcenter compete for retail tenants

The developers of the massive Brickell CityCentre and Miami Worldcenter projects in Miami’s urban core prepared for a long-term retail leasing battle in 2013.

CityCentre developer Swire Properties made the first major move in June, when it announced a partnership with the Whitman family for the retail component of the mixed-use development. The Whitmans own the high-end Bal Harbour Shops and are expected to attract similar luxury retailers to the Brickell project.

But Miami Worldcenter emerged with the first significant retail lease by signing Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s to anchor the downtown Miami development in November.

Related pays $104M for Brickell site, plans massive condo complex

The Jorge Perez-led Related Group completed a $104 million purchase of a waterfront Brickell Avenue site earlier this month and announced plans to build a three-tower mixed-use project called One Brickell.

Related acquired four acres at 444 Brickell Avenue and received a $54 million loan from a New York-based Deutsche Bank subsidiary. One Brickell plans calls for 1,200 residential units, a five-star hotel and at least 200,000 square feet of office and retail space. The company formed a joint venture with GTIS Partners for the project.

Minto plans 6,500-home project in Palm Beach County

Major residential builders gobbled up many available large vacant sites in Palm Beach County this year.

One of the most notable transactions was the $51 million purchase of a 3,800-acre citrus grove in western Palm Beach County by Minto Communities. The Coconut Creek-based homebuilder wants to build 6,500 houses and a baseball spring training facility on the site.

Previous attempts to develop the site into a master-planned, mixed-use community failed, but the state has since loosened growth-management controls.

Other notable stories:

Faena Miami Beach construction begins

Thousands of borrowers could elude foreclosure

Howard Stern buys Palm Beach compound for $52M

-Soffer family resolves Fontainebleau Vegas bankruptcy, gets refi for Fontainebleau Miami Beach

Office Depot remains in Boca Raton after merger


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