Château Group unloads Aventura condo site for substantial profit

Rendering of Puerto Aventura and Peter Zalewski
Rendering of Puerto Aventura and Peter Zalewski

In a sign that the outlook for South Florida’s preconstruction condo market may be changing, the Château Group — a luxury developer that has announced plans for at least seven new towers during this cycle — has opted to unload rather than build upon a prime site in Aventura.

The buyer — a Delaware corporation called Granite Aventura LLC with a mailing address on West 39th Street in New York City — paid $21.6 million on March 4 for thenearly two-acre vacant site on Northeast 185th Street just east of Biscayne Boulevard in Aventura, according to Miami-Dade County records.

Back in October 2010, a Florida corporation controlled by the Château Group originally purchased the site — near the bottom of the last real estate cycle — for $3.6 million, according to government records.

The new ownership group is attempting to revise the Château Group’s original plans that called for a 25-story condo tower with 205 units — dubbed the Puerto Aventura — to be developed on the site, according to city of Aventura records.

Under the recently submitted revised plans, the new ownership group is seeking to build an 18-story condo tower with 204 units — ranging in size from 805 square feet to 1,890 square feet — on the site, under the name of Port Aventura, according to city records.

More details about the new ownership group and its plans for the site are expected to be revealed at a Aventura City Commission Workshop Meeting scheduled for 8 a.m. Wednesday.

In the Aventura market, developers have proposed 16 new condo towers with nearly 2,550 units in an area that stretches from the Broward County line south to Northeast 163rd Street, and the Intracoastal Waterway west to I-95 as of Tuesday, according to the preconstruction condo projects website (For disclosure, my firm operates the website.)

Overall, developers have announced plans to develop 334 new condo towers with nearly 43,000 units east of I-95 in the tri-county region of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach as of Monday.

For the Château Group, the return on the Aventura condo development site sale is substantial, especially in how it was completed in less than five years.

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The Château Group’s original purchase price for the Aventura land in 2010 works out to less than $18,000 per developable unit compared to this month’s sales price of nearly $106,000 per developable unit, according to government records.

For the Château Group, the immediate focus going forward is on new condo developments on the barrier island in Northeast Miami-Dade County.

Construction is currently underway simultaneously on the new 33-story Château Beach condo tower with 84 units in Sunny Isles Beach and the 12-story Fendi Chateau Residences with 58 units in Surfside.

In a third barrier island project, the Château Group — in a joint venture with Fortune International — is in the presale phase for the planned Ritz-Carlton Residences Sunny Isles Beach, slated to be developed in the 15700 block of Collins Avenue.

Despite the reportedly positive response from preconstruction buyers, the planned Ritz-Carlton Residences Sunny Isles Beach project was dealt a potential setback last week when a neighboring condominium association filed a $120 million lawsuit against the Château Group and Fortune International for an alleged “fraudulent scheme” meant to “preserve” the oceanfront views of the tower, The Real Deal reported.

The Château Group has a fourth barrier island project in the works. In another joint venture with Fortune International, the Château Group has announced its intention, without revealing the specific plans, to build condominiums on a five-acre site in the 18800 block of Collins Avenue that was purchased for nearly $113 million in 2014.

On the mainland, the Château Group announced plans in 2013 to build a pair of condo towers in the 600 and 700 blocks of Biscayne Boulevard, between the American Airlines Arena and the planned Miami Worldcenter in Greater Downtown Miami.

The unanswered question going forward is whether the Château Group’s decision to take the profit from the sale of the Aventura site — rather than building upon or land banking the property — represents a change in confidence about the outlook of the preconstruction condo market from one of South Florida’s most ambitious developers.

Peter Zalewski is a real estate columnist for The Real Deal who founded 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.