ISG dives into development, but not in South Florida

Rendering of ISG's New Orleans project. Inset: Philip Spiegelman and Craig Studnicky
Rendering of ISG's New Orleans project. Inset: Philip Spiegelman and Craig Studnicky

While Miami’s luxury condo market continues to stagnate, ISG is heading to New Orleans to launch the first, $82 million phase of a mixed-use development, this time on the developer side of the business.

After working through several South Florida real estate cycles, co-founders Craig Studnicky and Philip Spiegelman told The Real Deal they’re diversifying their interests and launching new plans for a riverfront site they own in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans.

Based in Aventura, ISG has stayed away from developing projects in South Florida. The company handles exclusive preconstruction sales for projects like Echo Brickell and the W Fort Lauderdale, and produces the ISG Miami Report, which tracks new condo sales from the start of this cycle for all projects east of I-95. Studnicky said they launched the Miami report when the market tanked in September 2009, aimed at arming agents with data about the state of the market.

“There’s a lot of my competitors that have gone out and taken everything they can get their hands on,” Spiegelman said. “We’re comfortable with the idea that we’re not competing.”

Earlier this year, ISG partnered with a Chinese firm to bring in more business from China, and has a division with the Related Group to market some of Related’s South Florida projects, like the W.

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Spiegelman said their expansion into New Orleans is another “reinvention” for ISG.

For Spiegelman, it also marks a return to his development roots. In 2005, a partnership with ISG launched condos on the New Orleans site, but shut the project down and returned deposits by 2009. ISG revisited the project about a year and a half ago, and decided the need was for new apartments with a commercial component, comparing the site to Midtown Miami. A Whole Foods or a Fresh Market, which they said is lacking in the neighborhood, could potentially lease the retail space.

Phase one of the 14-acre project calls for 400 apartments with 43,000 square feet of commercial space on 3.5 acres on the west bank of the Mississippi River, across from the French Quarter, Spiegelman said. “We’ve had that build-sell mentality for many years. It would be nice to have an income and an asset to be proud of,” he told TRD.

They paid $4.4 million for the first site and plan to break ground next summer on the project, a mix of market-rate and workforce rentals. In all the development would have four phases, with a second phase calling for more apartments and commercial space – but Studnicky and Spiegelman told TRD they’re open to selling future components or bringing on partners somewhere down the line.