Faena puts Versailles condo project on hold, may develop another hotel on site

Faena Versailles and Alan Faena
Renderings of Faena Versailles towers and Alan Faena

UPDATED Oct. 16 6:20 p.m. Alan Faena has put his planned Versailles condo development on hold as he ponders creating another hotel on the site instead, he told The Real Deal.

With the Faena Hotel Miami Beach open nearly a year, and the Forum and Bazaar nearing completion in his Mid-Miami Beach Faena District, he said he is reconsidering his options for the planned two-tower Versailles condo project.

“Because of the market and success of Faena [Hotel] we’re not in a hurry to decide,” he told TRD. Once the Forum, a new arts and cultural venue designed by Rem Koolhaas’s OMA, opens Nov. 27, he said he will have a better idea of demand. “We’re pulling the Versailles project to see how many rooms we will need and the reaction of the market,” he said.

Faena also acknowledged the current slowdown in the condo market as a factor in his decision-making. Presales are also on hold.

Faena currently has 10 of 12 already built and furnished penthouses in the Faena Hotel available for sale, plus 30 units at the planned 41-unit Faena Mar, formerly called Faena Versailles Contemporary that have not been presold, according to Andres Asion, founder and broker of Miami Real Estate Group, who is working as a consultant for Alan Faena.

The planned condo towers are part of the Faena District, which runs on both sides of Collins Avenue, from 32nd Street to 35th Street in Mid-Miami Beach. Other components include the recently completed, 47-unit Faena House condominium tower; Faena Forum, the arts complex now under construction; Faena Bazaar, a retail building; and a parking garage, also under construction.

In April 2015, Faena announced he was adding two residential towers, Versailles Classic and Versailles Contemporary, to his Miami Beach developments. Faena Versailles Classic was to be a 22-unit tower designed by William Sofield. Faena Versailles Contemporary, with 41 units, was to be designed by architect Brandon Haw.

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The site of the Versailles towers now

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Classic was to be located in the former Versailles Hotel at 35th Street and Collins Avenue. The building’s 1940 facade, grand lobby, terrazzo flooring and custom chandeliers would be preserved.

Today, that building remains standing, and has been gutted.

Faena Contemporary, now called Faena Mar, was to be developed next door, just to the south of Versailles Classic. That land is now being cleared.

Faena Hotel, with 169 rooms and suites, opened in late December 2015, with walls of the lobby, called the cathedral, decorated with colorful murals, the floors inlaid with an intricate mosaic pattern. Outdoors, a huge, gilded mammoth greets visitors at the entrance to the oceanfront pool and beach.

Partners Faena and Len Blavatnik completely gutted and renovated the former Saxony Hotel, originally built in 1947 by George Sax and designed by Roy F. France. Faena hired film director and producer Baz Luhrmann and costume designer Catherine Martin to help create an old-world ambiance with Art Deco decor, designed to recall the property’s former glamour of the 1950s.

Faena’s Versailles development is the latest project to be placed on hold, canceled or delayed amid a slowdown in the condo market this cycle, as the strong U.S. dollar and foreign economic turmoil continue to dampen sales.

Among the developments, H3 Hollywood, a planned condo tower, has put construction on hold while its developer seeks financing; Boulevard 57, a planned mixed-use project on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami, called off condo sales this summer, and the entire site is now being marketed for sale. And Auberge Miami, a planned condo tower just north of downtown Miami is delaying construction until at least year-end 2018.