The South Florida real estate market boomed in 2014, and The Real Deal was there with breaking news, features and analysis of the industry’s most important trends. As we head into 2015, we look back at the web stories that garnered the most attention from readers over the past year. Here are the top stories as determined by the number of page views between Jan. 1 and today, Dec. 29:
In July, Riverwalk East Developments bought the 1.25-acre parcel at 300 Biscayne Boulevard Way, adjacent to the EPIC Hotel & Residences in downtown Miami, for $125 million. CBRE brokers arranged the sale between developers Ugo Colombo and Diego Lowenstein and Riverwalk East. State corporate records link the purchaser to the Coto family. Led by prominent businessman Alfredo Coto, the Coto family runs the large Coto Supermarkets chain in Argentina.
After months of speculation, Bravo revealed the 2014 cast of “Million Dollar Listing Miami.” Samantha DeBianchi and Douglas Elliman Real Estate’s Chad Carroll and Chris Leavitt are the three brokers featured on the show, which premiered in June. World of Wonder Productions produced the Miami edition of “Million Dollar Listing.”
Peter Zalewski, who answers reader-submitted questions in his Friday column for The Real Deal, answered the following in July: It has been a while since you have written about the preconstruction condo market in the South Miami Avenue corridor of the Brickell Avenue Area in Greater Downtown Miami. What’s the latest with the preconstruction pipeline on South Miami Avenue? Do you still see South Miami Avenue as being at risk of over-saturation?
Zalewski said that at that point, the lack of bank financing for condo construction, combined with high presale deposit requirements for buyers, appeared to curb any serious chance of an imminent crash.
While Russian buyers fled Sunny Isles Beach, investors from New York and Los Angeles have flocked (and continue to do so) to Miami to buy luxury homes, according to a group of brokers who participated in a panel discussion during The Real Deal’s Annual Real Estate Forum and Showcase in the Design District’s Moore Building. Panelists included Douglas Elliman’s Jay Parker, who predicted an influx of Chinese buyers in 2015. “There is significant interest from China to get into Miami,” he said. “Once it starts, it will be quite robust and opportunistic.”
Chinese investors were first up among the growing pool of foreign nationals expected to take advantage of the immigration status perk from EB-5, a visa program that can lead to permanent residency in the U.S. The timing of Miami’s designation as an EB-5 Regional Center for Foreign Investment came shortly after major changes in another popular target market — Canada. In February, the Canadian government canceled its Immigrant Investor Program and in effect redirected more than 45,000 mainland Chinese investors to the U.S. They have now replaced South American investors as the largest group to utilize EB-5 in Miami.
The long-anticipated Sunny Isles Beach collaboration between the Armani Group, Dezer Development and the Related Group was made official in July. Armani/Casa Interior Design Studio and the developers are partnering on a 60-story condo tower dubbed Residences by Armani/Casa in Sunny Isles.
Argentine architect Cesar Pelli designed the 260-unit luxury project at 18975 Collins Avenue. The group hopes to finish the tower in 2016.
Russian mining oligarch and developer Oleg Baybakov jumped on the Edgewater bandwagon. A company tied to Baybakov paid $21.5 million for a 37,462-square-foot property in the burgeoning Miami neighborhood, county records revealed. Seller HypCor700 of Miami enjoyed a nice return on its 18-month investment. It paid $9.9 million for the property in August 2012. There are at least 10 condo towers currently proposed for the area, including Related’s Paraiso Bay, Melo Group’s Bay House and Eastview Development’s Biscayne Beach.
Local filmmakers Camila Alvarez and Natalie Edgar collaborated on “Right to Wynwood,” a look at how Wynwood transformed from the city’s oldest Puerto Rican community to an art hub with many galleries and studios. The 21-minute documentary covers how the late Tony Goldman spearheaded Wynwood’s gentrification. Joseph Furst of Goldman Properties and David Lombardi are among the developers interviewed in the film. Artists, gallery operators and community leaders also opine on the neighborhood’s evolution.
British Open winner Rory McIlroy dropped $2 million in cash on a 10th floor penthouse at Ocean’s Edge at Singer Island. His latest condo buy at the 5050 North Ocean Drive building features 3,100 square feet and three bedrooms.
Over the past two years, McIlroy has spent $13.75 million on Palm Beach properties, including a $9.5 million waterfront mansion in the Old Gate neighborhood of Palm Beach Gardens and the vacant property next door, which he picked up for $2.25 million.
New York-based real estate investors poured money into Miami’s Design District as the area evolves into a luxury retail hub. The district’s conversion is led by Craig Robins’ Dacra and private equity partner L Real Estate Advisors, which lured A-list tenants like Cartier, Hermes and Louis Vuitton to the district. Their $1 billion mixed-use project could bring a total of 120 high-end retailers to the 19-acre site by fall 2015. The district’s traditional tenant base of furniture and home furnishing retailers is looking to relocate to neighboring blocks in anticipation of being forced out by the luxury brands.