Privé builders promote safety, privacy to buyers

Daniel Lebensohn of BH3 at the Privé site (credit: Eva Cantillo) and a rendering of Privé
Daniel Lebensohn of BH3 at the Privé site (credit: Eva Cantillo) and a rendering of Privé

The site of the planned two-tower Privé development is a short distance across the Intracoastal Waterway from a slew of high-rise condo projects in Aventura and Sunny Isles Beach.

Yet the 8.1-acre island feels like a remote location, far away from booming South Florida.

That feeling of escape and complete privacy are what the Privé developers are using to appeal to potential buyers in a competitive preconstruction condo market. Daniel Lebensohn of BH3 recently gave The Real Deal an exclusive tour of the project site and future sales center, which is nearly complete in advance of an early February launch.

Hollywood Beach-based BH3 is partnering with an affiliate company of developer Gary Cohen, whose family is credited with planning and building out Williams Island, on the 160-unit project. Prominent architecture firm Sieger Suarez designed Privé, with Steven G. tapped to handle interior designs. Suffolk Construction is the project’s general contractor.

The project site is considered the last vacant island with residential development potential in South Florida.

“If someone wants to be on the beach, that’s probably not our customer,” Lebensohn said. “We’re offering safety and privacy.”

If the project timetable is not thrown off by a pending lawsuit filed by residents of nearby Island Estates or the City of Aventura’s approval process, construction would begin by the end of this year. Privé should take about 22 months to complete.

Units at the twin 16-story towers range in size from 2,585 to more than 9,000 square feet. Both buildings will have access to a two-story, 10,000-square-foot gym and spa. The project also includes a private marina with 50 boat slips available for purchase.

Condo prices range from $2 million to more than $10 million.

“There is an appetite for large units, homes in the sky,” Lebensohn said.

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Potential buyers reserved about one-third of the units since the developers launched a soft presale campaign three months ago. Early buyers come from seven European countries, four South American nations, Canada, China, Mexico, New York and South Florida.

Lebensohn would not rule out the possibility of seeking construction financing when the project is further along.

Privé should attract many buyers who already own on Williams Island and are familiar with the exclusive lifestyle the project promotes, Zilbert International Realty broker Jeffrey M. Miller told The Real Deal.

“The buyers who flock to that area are people who have lived in that community before and maybe want something more private,” Miller said. “It reminds me of Ugo Colombo’s Porto Vita. You will have people who were looking at that type of product.”

More high-end condo developers are opting for larger units as a response to market demand and a shift away from speculation.

“In Sunny Isles, the projects are offering larger units as well,” Miller said. “That will probably limit a certain type of buyer. There’s always a little bit of speculation, but people are buying what they live in and use.”

Meanwhile, a motion to dismiss in the Islands Estates lawsuit is pending. The residents of Islands Estates, which was also developed by Cohen, claim Privé would encroach on their privacy.

The project site at 5500 Island Estates Drive is located just north of the Island Estates community, connected by a bridge. Islands Estates homeowners claim the current development proposal is substantially larger than a previous plan for a group of single-family homes.

Lebensohn blasted the lawsuit as “frivolous” and noted the project’s development rights, which were established in a 1976 court order, predate the entire existence of Aventura.

“Our company is accustomed to assessing risk” before making an investment, he said. “We are going full throttle.”