Amid a slumping real estate market, developers of two major luxury projects in Miami’s urban core told a gathering of real estate professionals that construction timelines on their developments are moving ahead at full steam.
Allen Morris, president and CEO of The Allen Morris Company, said the SLS Lux Brickell luxury tower his company is building in partnership with The Related Group is very close to being sold out. “Yesterday, we sold one,” Morris said. “That leaves us with two, so we are 99.1 percent sold.”
Meanwhile, construction on the first phase of the $1.2 billion Miami Worldcenter is moving quickly and smoothly, said Miami Worldcenter Associates managing principal Nitin Motwani. “We have closed on $450 million in debt financing,” Motwani said. “We are fully capitalized, including our [Paramount] condo project.“
Morris and Mitwani, along with Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Esteban Bovo and Bryson Ridgeway, director of acquisitions for Stiles Corporation, participated in one of two panels during law firm Holland & Knight’s annual real estate roundtable. The event also featured keynote addresses by Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Morris said the luxury condo market is still in the doldrums due to “all the upheaval going on in South America.” However, the top buyers at the SLS Lux hail from Brazil, Argentina and Mexico and most of the tower’s penthouses have been sold to New Yorkers, Morris said. SLS Lux has been able to weather the downturn because of the track record of both developers and the high level of amenities in the project, he said.
“A lot of it has to do with timing and how you position yourself in the market,” Morris added. “We made it hard for buyers to say no.”
Motwani talked about changes to the retail component of Miami Worldcenter that is being developed by The Forbes Company and Taubman Centers. Last year, the developers scrapped plans for an enclosed mall anchored by Macy’s and Bloomingdales that resulted in a $24 million hit for Forbes and Taubman. “It was a tough decision,” Motwani said. “When you are that far along, it is hard to turnaround.”
The new plan to develop high street retail is aimed at capturing millennial shoppers. “Many of our retailers are bringing larger flagship stores,” Motwani said. “They want bigger showrooms that offer experiences.”