Douglas Elliman, One Sotheby’s double down on Art Basel

Industry leaders say event is a boon to luxury sales

Dec.December 01, 2014 11:15 AM

The Bath Club Estates

Real estate developers and brokers are gearing up for the influx of more than 75,000 deep-pocketed art collectors at this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach with a slew of lavish parties, groundbreakings and tours designed to inspire the purchase of a luxury condo to go along with that new piece of contemporary art.

Art Basel has presented the perfect opportunity for South Florida real estate professionals to showcase existing high-end properties and debut new projects since its inception 12 years ago.

“Absolutely there is an increase in sales traffic at my projects and my listings,” said Chris Leavitt, a West Palm Beach-based sales director for Douglas Elliman Development Marketing. “I expect it to be even higher this year because more people have Miami on their radar with so many incredible and architecturally significant projects on the market.” 

Leavitt is part of the team manning a booth co-sponsored by Douglas Elliman and Knight Frank Residential inside Art Basel’s VIP collectors lounge at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

“Art and luxury real estate go hand-in-hand,” Leavitt told The Real Deal. “Last year, I met a Russian couple and a couple from West Palm Beach. I took them to see houses on Indian Creek and Star Island, as well as a few high-profile condos. They haven’t closed on any properties, but I am still working with them.”

The Douglas Elliman-Knight Frank booth will feature 27 properties in London, Los Angeles, Miami and New York, more than double the number of listings offered last year, said Susan de Franca, president and CEO of Douglas Elliman Development Marketing. The Bath Club Estates and the Residences at Miami Beach EDITION are some of the Miami properties being promoted.

The VIP lounge allows brokers to meet high-net-worth art collectors who are also interested in buying a condo in a building that is architecturally distinctive, de Franca said. “These buyers are more discerning and more demanding,” she added. “As a result, developers are raising the bar.”

In Miami’s Midtown, in which three of the major satellite art fairs are located, the sales team at Fortune International Group is setting up golf cart tours of the neighborhood and a champagne lounge for VIP brokers and qualified buyers. Sofia Espinosa, Midtown’s sales director for Fortune International, said the tour will also include the Design District. “We want people to see the growth that is taking place north of Midtown,” Espinosa said. “It’s an exciting time to show them how the Design District is becoming Miami’s Rodeo Drive.”

She said the company has scheduled 40 tours between Dec. 3 and Dec. 7 in Midtown. They are also throwing a party the evening of Dec. 5 in one of seven redesigned penthouses at the Midtown 4 building. “During Art Basel, brokers are bringing qualified buyers,” she said. “They are coming here with the sole intention of purchasing units, as well as enjoying Art Basel.”

Daniel de la Vega, president of One Sotheby’s International Realty, said his firm helped organize the Dec. 5 groundbreaking of the Zaha Hadid-designed 1000 Museum where the Iraqi-born starchitect will be in attendance. “She’s our special guest,” de la Vega said. “Being that she was already going to be in town for Art Basel, we were able to get her to participate.”

The guest list of 250 people is made up of major art collectors who have purchased units at 1000 Museum and their friends, de la Vega said.

“These are people who see Miami as an investment opportunity at a good price,” de la Vega told TRD. “They hail from London, Russia, Hong Kong and New York and are used to very expensive price points. They come during Art Basel and realize they can buy a unit at $3,000 a square foot and that is on the water.”

Some developers hosted fetes prior to Art Basel’s official start. With only 11 units, including a $32.5 million penthouse, remaining at his Porsche Design Tower in Sunny Isles Beach, developer Gil Dezer threw a VIP party at his sales center Nov. 29 to lure buyers who flew into Miami the weekend before Art Basel. “We wanted to get a jump on things,” Dezer said. “It’s an annual event that definitely helps increase sales.”

There is no doubt the fairs and the parties help brokers and developers reel in buyers, Dezer said. “Just by virtue of all the activity, we have sold units during Art Basel,” he said.

One Sotheby’s de la Vega said he cannot put a percentage on how much sales increase due to Art Basel, but it is the best time for real estate professionals to market luxury properties. “It definitely continues to raise awareness about what a great place Miami is to live in,” he said. “Art Basel and all the satellite fairs help spread the good word this is a place to buy real estate.”

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