Meet the new neighbors: Flamingo Drive is going from modest to mansions

Flamingo Drive (Inset from left: Oren Alexander, Nelson Gonzalez and Rahmi Koç)
Flamingo Drive (Inset from left: Oren Alexander, Nelson Gonzalez and Rahmi Koç)

Like many of Miami Beach’s quiet neighborhoods over the years, Flamingo Drive is undergoing a subtle transformation. The signs are easy to spot: a contractor’s banner over one home, a vacant lot where another used to stand.

Behind the manicured lawns and iron gates, some serious wealth is driving Flamingo Drive’s metamorphosis from a modest row of mid-century and pre-war homes to a new-construction hotspot.

Douglas Elliman’s Oren Alexander is building himself a sprawling waterfront contemporary estate on the street, spec developer Todd Glaser has a home there, and even Turkey’s richest family — the Koçs — got a piece of the action earlier this year when they picked up a home for $10 million.

Flamingo is a quiet, winding mile-long road that fronts the Indian Creek waterway. It’s a sort of off-shoot from Pine Tree Drive that culminates in a pedestrian bridge near Collins Park on its south end, and a main thoroughfare, West 41st street, to the north.

“You can stand in the middle of the street for an hour and not run into a car,” EWM Senior Vice President Nelson Gonzalez told The Real Deal. “Unfortunately like everything else in Miami Beach, it’s being discovered.”

Gonzalez has owned a waterfront home with his family on the street since 2004. At the time, he was looking for a large yard — a plot in the 20,000-square-foot range — for his three young children. Something that wouldn’t break the bank. He settled on a mid-century Art Deco home measuring under 5,000 square feet with a big back yard for $1.65 million. Compared to similar lots on North Bay Road or Pine Tree Drive, it was a bargain.

The 1920s-era home at 3541 Flamingo Drive, which the Alexander family knocked down

The 1920s-era home at 3541 Flamingo Drive, which the Alexander family knocked down

But in the past year, a new batch of neighbors have moved in with less modest intentions.

A few blocks north of Gonzalez’s hamlet on Flamingo’s southern end, the Alexander family — Oren’s father is spec developer Shlomi Alexander — is beginning construction on an extravagant contemporary mansion.

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Designed by architect J.W. Jarosz and with 10,000 square feet of interior space, eight bedrooms and 10 bathrooms housed in three separate structures, the home promises to be one of the largest Flamingo Drive has ever seen. One of the three structures, which will sit at the head of the driveway, is a two-bedroom apartment for the home’s staff, Alexander told TRD.

His mega-manse is replacing a three-bedroom house at 3541 Flamingo Drive from the 1920s that his family’s development company recently tore down after buying it in 2014 for $3.42 million.

3525 Flamingo Drive

3525 Flamingo Drive

Immediately to the south of their property, Turkey’s wealthiest family, the Koçs, made waves earlier this year when they dropped $10.12 million on a pre-war home at 3525 Flamingo Drive. The family, whose wealth is pegged at $8 billion by Turkish media, made its fortune on a wide range of businesses from international trade to energy.

Under their conglomerate Koç Holding, the family’s enterprises are responsible for roughly 9 percent of all exports from Turkey, according to a report from Reuters.

The family’s purchase on Flamingo closed in January, the same month patriarch Mustafa Koç died of a heart attack.

According to information from listing website, four homes have sold on the street so far this year, with another five currently up for grabs.

Gonzalez himself is listing one of them for $4.5 million at 3329 Flamingo Drive, an Italian villa-style home owned by famed Parisian designer Jean-Louis Deniot and his partner on the deal, William R. Holloway. The two are also gearing up to list 2979 Flamingo Drive between $9 million and $10 million this fall after they finish its interior renovations, Gonzalez said.

“You have to be cognizant of the fact that there’s really no land available, and now to tear down any of the existing structures … you have to jump through a lot of hoops with the city of Miami Beach,” said Zeb Jarosz, the Alexander family’s architect who’s been involved with four projects on the street so far.