Some days in South Florida, it’s hard to separate the cranes from the completed projects. Dozens of tall, lanky machines are literally building the region’s next generation of luxury living from the ground up.
Perhaps what’s more remarkable than the sheer number of developments are the names attached: Armani, Fendi, Missoni, Porsche, Aston Martin—the list goes on.
Some of the biggest names in luxury consumer goods have found a new way to market their brand in the form of high-end real estate initiatives. Each is competing against the others for foreign and domestic dollars alike that don’t seem to be dwindling anytime soon.
“The numbers are encouraging for buildings like these—ones that have a unique personality,” says Aston Martin’s vice president and chief marketing officer, Simon Sproule.
The car brand recently broke ground on a 66-story waterfront tower in Biscayne Bay, with residences ranging from $700,000 to $50 million for a penthouse. The property is 35 percent sold even though it’s three years away from completion.
Although things were slow over the last couple of years, 2018 seems to be roaring back: Mansion Global reports that total contracts for luxury condos at the end of March were up 22 percent over last year. And contracts for Miami Beach in particular rose 92 percent in the first quarter.
Developers and realtors alike are banking on these collaborative projects to continue driving interest in Miami and the surrounding cities up the Atlantic coastline.
“There are a level of services in these buildings that haven’t been seen in 30 to 40 years,” says Porsche Design Tower and Residences by Armani Casa developer Gil Dezer.
Both projects, a stone’s throw from each other on Sunny Isles Beach, define the new level of hospitality that buyers now expect.
Completed in early 2017, the Porsche Design Tower (where residences range from $6.3 million to $32.5 million) was built in an industrial-chic style paying homage to some of the German brand’s legendary automotive designs. It includes a critically acclaimed car elevator, which takes residents’ cars directly to their condos, and the building even has an option to put the car directly in one’s living room as a showpiece. The tower is at 94 percent capacity.
Armani is offering 56 stories of classic Italian style, directed by Giorgio Armani himself. The entire residence is inspired by the fashion house’s home division and will feature an art collection easily valued in the millions. It’s of a more subdued contrast to the flashiness of its nearby German neighbor but is eloquent luxury nonetheless, with prices starting at $2 million and rising to $15 million for the penthouse.
Back in Miami proper, another Italian fashion house is staking a colorful claim to a swath of the coastline in Midtown.
A walk into Missoni Baia’s sales gallery is like stepping through a portal into an impeccably curated design agency. Colors pop everywhere off the stark white walls, with individual paintings and sculptures placed with a visible amount of thought.
The rectangular showroom sits on what will eventually be the pool deck of the 649-foot-tall tower. Unlike other high-end projects in the area, Baia has some extra land behind the tower, which will be dedicated to a full-service amenity center with everything from an Olympic-sized swimming pool (one of five on-site) and an elevated tennis court. It’s really like living on a small resort within the confines of the tightly packed Edgewater neighborhood.
The most central example of South Florida’s branded residence boom is the Aston Martin project right in downtown Miami. It’s an extension of the British brand’s nonautomotive partnership division, which has put its heritage on everything from a speedboat to a design consultancy.
Having a physical real estate footprint is a big marketing tool for a company looking to raise its U.S. profile. “The U.S. is our single biggest market, 15 percent to 20 percent of our global sales,” Sproule says. “This project was symbolically and incredibly important for us. It’s provided confidence as a proof of concept that it’s actually happening.”
Therein lies a common thread among all of these branded real estate endeavors: expansion and opportunity.
Transitioning from their traditional industry to real estate signals that these consumer brands are bigger than just a car, a bag, or a piece of furniture; they are full lifestyles that the wealthy can not only obtain but also immerse themselves in. A home is one of the truest representations of one’s personality—so what better way to represent oneself than live within the confines of a highly coveted luxury brand?
It’s also a nod to the European and Latin American influence in South Florida—Miami in particular. These brands are finding success in part because the existing client base can relate to the origins of many of these brands well beyond their sellable goods. With the continued influx of international money into South Florida coupled with tough competition for prime land, there’s no reason to believe that the region is in store for another luxury slowdown anytime soon.
“We’re not creating any more waterfront,” Dezer says. “This is it.”