Swiss developer debuts in Miami with multifamily project

Empira plans eight-story, 85-unit building in The Roads

Empira’s Rafael Aregger with 3025 and 3051 Southwest Third Avenue (LinkedIn, Revuelta Architecture International)
Empira’s Rafael Aregger with 3025 and 3051 Southwest Third Avenue (LinkedIn, Revuelta Architecture International)

Swiss firm Empira Group is making its foray into South Florida with a $9 million purchase of a multifamily development site in Miami’s The Roads neighborhood.

Empira wants to build the eight-story CoralGrove Brickell project on a half-acre site along Coral Way, at 3025 and 3051 Southwest Third Avenue, according to the developer’s news release.

Sources independently confirmed the purchase price to The Real Deal. The deal closed on Monday.

The seller is an affiliate of Santiago, Chile-based Ambienta Developers, led by CEO Claudio Cordero, records show. Ambienta had paid $5.85 million for the property in 2020, meaning it sold it for a 54 percent gain.

Max La Cava and Simon Banke of JLL represented the seller.

The property consists of a two-story apartment building and a one-story apartment building, both vacant and set for demolition this year, according to records and the release.

CoralGrove will have 85 units, ranging from one-bedroom apartments to three-bedroom apartments, and 900 square feet of ground-floor retail space, according to the release.

Empira is tweaking the previously approved 79-unit project for the site to increase the unit number and to also move a pool, once slated for a mezzanine level, to the rooftop, Rafael Aregger, Empira’s head of investments in the U.S., told TRD.

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Construction is expected to start in the second half of next year, with completion slated for 2025.

Empira, which is based in the town of Zug, is an investment manager on behalf of German institutions such as pension funds, insurance firms and banks, according to Aregger. Led by CEO Marcus Bartenstein, Empira has $7 billion of assets under management.

The firm primarily focuses on real estate in German-speaking parts of Europe but made its U.S. entrée two years ago. Since then, it has amassed a 2,100-unit apartment portfolio in the Midwest with its joint venture partner Zidan Management Group, Aregger said. Empira’s Miami office is the company’s U.S. headquarters. It also has offices in London, Stockholm and Dubai.

Empira always planned to expand in the U.S., as real estate here offers much higher returns, but recent uncertainty in Europe is boosting its plans, Aregger said. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has increased oil prices in Europe, and the dollar has gained strength against the euro, with the two trading almost equally on Wednesday.

The company is eyeing future expansion to Sun Belt states such as Arizona, Texas and Florida, he said.

The Roads, which is west of Brickell, is a largely residential neighborhood that has not experienced much new construction, unlike the rest of Miami.

Over the past two years, South Florida’s multifamily market has prospered because of an influx of population. This has allowed for unprecedented rent increases, although the growth rate has slowed in recent months.

In a recently proposed project near The Roads, Menesse International wants to build a 24-story apartment tower at 143 Southwest Ninth Street in Brickell. It paid $23.5 million for the site in July.