Billionaires in the Porsche tower: a new kind of condo politics

Peter Zalewski
Peter Zalewski

Condominium politics could be changing forever in South Florida.

The world’s richest individuals — all billionaires — have inked deals for nearly two dozen of the 132 units in the Porsche Design Tower going up in Sunny Isles Beach. And the developer of the 57-story tower, Gil Dezer of Dezer Properties, is traveling half way around the world next month to pitch the last 30 or so homes to a few hundred other really wealthy folks. Like the 38-year-old Dezer, they own Bugattis — a tres’ expensive French sports car — and they get together every year for a meeting — this year in Dubai for a road rally through the United Arab Emirates.

The odds of this real estate scion — dad Michael started out in New York — closing a few sales during his time in the Middle East are pretty good. After all, Dezer hung tough during the last boom-and-bust cycle and eventually sold out the six Sunny Isles Beach skyscrapers that he built with the Trump family.

(Wells Fargo apparently believes in the developer — or at least the Porsche project — too. The San-Francisco-based financial giant is ponying up a construction loan of $214 million, a mere fraction of its $1.3 trillion in assets, for the building, which should be finished by 2015.)

Of the billionaires that Dezer already has in the bag, not one has been identified — two are from Russia — and their names might never be known because so many of the well-heeled make their purchases through limited liability corporations.

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Right now, though, numbers are more important than names and countries. If Dezer wrangles in more billionaires on his trip, the Porsche Design Tower will be in the running for the South Florida condo project with the highest number of ultra-wealthy homeowners. Billionaires would control nearly 17 percent of the condo association votes.

Then, throw in the mere millionaires with the billionaires. The combination has the potential to make for some dynamic board of directors meeting and unmatched “condo commando” politics that could make the budget talks in Washington seem tame.

Just imagine how much fines will have to be to keep billionaires from breaking the condo rules. Five figures? Six figures? It’s anybody’s guess.

But the politicking won’t be just inside the tower. The “haves” don’t often go unnoticed these days by the “have-nots.” The Occupy Wall Streeters could show up. Think the Sunny Isles Beach police department has an action plan to handle sit-ins on Collins Avenue in the heart of the winter tourism season? Probably not.

Yes, there’s going to be a seismic shift in condo politics when the billionaires start moving into the Porsche tower. But there undoubtedly will be more — as developers keep one-upping each other in the luxury market.

Peter Zalewski is the founder of Condo Vultures LLC, a consultancy and publishing company, as well as Condo Vultures Realty LLC and CVR Realty brokerages and the Condo Ratings Agency, an analytics firm. The Condo Ratings Agency operates, a preconstruction condo projects website, in conjunction with the Miami Association of Realtors.