April 9, 2018

For decades, the appeal of suburban living has had two major advantages over downtown dwelling: space and shopping. Most downtown real estate is compact by comparison, and many retailers and restaurants moved their operations years ago from urban cores to suburbia’s shopping plazas and malls. But as a legion of luxury condos has risen from Miami’s sand and limestone, a new trend in the high-end market has shifted attention back to South Florida’s cities. Downtown Miami and Fort Lauderdale again boast thriving arts, entertainment, dining and cultural destinations.

The only missing link — space — has now been accounted for thanks to the creative thinking of architects and condominium owners. Purchasing multiple condo units and combining them into one unit gives residents everything they’re looking for in swanky downtown living: plenty of breathing room, access to everything the city has to offer and, of course, stunning views. 

“Our city is becoming more vertical, and now people are preferring condos in the urban core versus the commute into the suburbs,” said Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, managing partner and principal of Cervera Real Estate. “Plus, downtown is a beautiful place to live, so it’s a win-win. There aren’t a lot of immediate choices for larger units, so combining units is a good alternative.”

Here are six new and under-construction buildings where some owners have combined condo units, bringing a solution to cramped city living with mansions in the sky.

Palazzo Del Sol

Located on exclusive Fisher Island, Palazzo Del Sol is undoubtedly one of Miami’s most desirable addresses. As continuous requests came in from buyers to combine units, developers took note and merged Palazzo Del Sol’s two floor-plan options into a 10,000-square-foot dream home, priced at $17.4 million.

Taking the level of luxury one step higher, Artefacto transformed the five-bedroom condo into a contemporary space with sleek grays and silvers and elegant finishes. Sitting in the huge living room, surrounded by whitewashed hardwood floors and substantial art, you could almost picture yourself in a suburban manse — until the sprawling views of the city and ocean remind you where you are. 7000 Fisher Island Drive, Miami Beach.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach

The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach, has fashioned a combined penthouse of epic proportions. The two-story mansion is a mash-up of two penthouse floor plans, creating a $40-million residence with 25,589 square feet of indoor and outdoor space.

Featuring seven bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, a private hammam spa, butler kitchen, library, wine room, screening room and game suite, the unit also has soaring ceilings and views of the city or ocean from almost every room. Swimming is simplified with sunrise and sunset pools, each with hot tubs, plus two additional private plunge pools adjacent to the two master suites.

Designed by Italian architect Piero Lissoni, the property offers a tropical living experience with the service standards and amenities of The Ritz-Carlton brand. Here, that includes a 36-slip marina and floating helipad. 4701 Meridian Avenue, Miami Beach; 305-602-2929; theresidencesmiamibeach.com.

Echo Brickell

This boutique building in the heart of Brickell has taken personalization to another level. To suit their specific needs, each owner was given the opportunity to alter finishes, design elements and even floor plans. Eight chose to purchase multiple units and combine them.

Designed by renowned architect Carlos Ott, no two homes in Echo are exactly the same. Units have been combined vertically and horizontally, from $3.8 million to the $42 million Ott-designed penthouse. That 13,518-square-foot, two-story combined unit has four bedrooms, seven baths, his and her walk-in closets, private spa and gym, home theater, office, ceilings up to 23 feet, and its pièce de résistance: a 27-foot indoor pool. 1451 Brickell Avenue, Miami; 786-360-1904; echobrickell.com.

Aria on the Bay

Elevating condo life, Aria on the Bay’s gorgeous sky homes are the perfect alternative to suburban living. Their most exclusive floor plan — the A line — has been sought after by celebrities and socialites. Rapper Timbaland recently bought two units and is working on combining them.

These luxurious A-line condos start at $3.1 million. Combining two gives owners 4,724 or more of square footage to play with.

Additionally, the residences come fully finished and equipped with beautiful Italian cabinetry, Brizo faucets, Bosch appliances and a private elevator. Towering windows lead to wraparound terraces with unobstructed views of Biscayne Bay. 1770 North Bayshore Drive, Miami; 305-573-0666; ariaonthebay.com.

Four Seasons Private Residences, Fort Lauderdale

Four Seasons extends its brand of first-class living to Fort Lauderdale. The property, set to open in 2019, will have 90 exclusive residences with several combined-unit options. Penthouse residences can be merged to make a $25-million, one-of-a-kind home with more than 12,000 square feet of interior space and 10,000 square feet of exterior space, including a private rooftop and 360-degree wraparound terrace.

Owners also can combine two-story Skyhomes 1701 and 1702, which come with 20-foot ceilings and private elevator access. Price upon request. 525 North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale; 954-324-2498; fort525residences.com.

Auberge Beach Residences & Spa

Known for its five-star hotels, Auberge is bringing something unique to Fort Lauderdale beach with its private residences, which cost up to $9.5 million.

Noticing that several owners were purchasing multiple units, Auberge created a two-story penthouse with nearly 5,000 square feet of indoor living space and 3,500 square feet of outdoor terraces, complete with a private rooftop plunge pool.

A dramatic spiral staircase punctuates the floor plan, which includes nearly 10-foot ceilings and massive windows overlooking the ocean, city and Intracoastal. And a private elevator to whisk you up and down every day. 2200 North Ocean Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale; 844-352-3224; aubergebeach.com.