Aquarela apartments in Little Havana set to open


Bar Invest Group is launching a 30-unit apartment building in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, as the real estate investment, management and construction firm expands its South Florida holdings.

Aquarela, at 401 Southwest 17th Avenue, will be the first of two new apartment buildings the Miami-based firm is developing. The project will officially launch on Friday, Hervé Barbera, vice president of Bar Invest Group told The Real Deal.

One-bedroom, 800-square-foot apartments will rent for $1,650 a month; two-bedroom, 1,000-square-foot apartments, $2,100, or a little over $2 per square foot. Bar Invest Group purchased the land for $900,000 in 2004, Miami-Dade property records show.

Bar Invest is owned by the Barbera family of France, with roots dating back to 1965.

Hervé Barbera’s father, Jacques Barbera, chairman of Bar Invest, launched the Miami company in 2001. The first project was co-developing Mary Brickell Village with Constructa, which the companies sold to Quebec-based Ivanhoe Cambridge for $135 million in 2005.

Since then, Bar Invest Group has been actively acquiring commercial properties in South Florida. The firm spent $36.8 million this year with the purchases of University Commons in Tamarac for $10.7 million, Palm Johnson in Pembroke Pines for $8.5 million, and Palm Square in Pembroke Pines for $17.6 million. 

Bar Invest also has acquired 27 Art Deco apartment buildings South Beach, North Beach and Bay Harbor since 2009, totaling 373 apartments. 

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herve barbera

Hervé Barbera

The strategy: buy the buildings, renovate them and raise the rents as much as 35 percent to 40 percent, Barbera told TRD.

Most of that South Beach portfolio is now on the market for $65 million, marketed by CBRE. The units are located in 15 low-rise buildings on Euclid, Michigan, Jefferson, Drexel, Penn and Meridian Avenues between Seventh Street and 15th Street in Miami Beach. The average rent is $1,380 per month, which breaks down to roughly $2.20 a square foot.

“Since the market in South Beach is getting harder, we did the same type of thing in North Beach,” Barbera said. In the past three years, the company has bought 180 units in Miami Beach’s North Beach.

Bar Invest also turned to Bay Harbor Islands, where it bought two buildings with 36 units for $6 million in June 2014.

Now, the company is focusing on Aquarela in Little Havana as well as developing an apartment building in Miami’s Health District.

Blue Residences, at 1301 Northwest Eighth Street, will be built in two phases, each with 86 apartments, Barbera said. The land was part of a $6 million land purchase from 2009. Groundbreaking is expected in December.

“We acquired the land a few years ago in the crisis,” he told TRD. “It was a good time for us to buy.”

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