No longer just the gate­way to the Americas, Mi­ami is now a true global hot spot, at­tract­ing at­ten­tion from Asia, the Mid­dle East, and beyond.

Ocean Drive - - Contents - by JON WARECH

No longer just the gate­way to the Americas, Mi­ami is now a true global hot spot, at­tract­ing at­ten­tion from Asia, the Mid­dle East, and beyond.

“It’s a trop­i­cal par­adise and a truly ur­ban city,” says Craig Robins, CEO and pres­i­dent of Dacra, the real es­tate de­vel­op­ment crew be­hind Mi­ami’s lat­est boom­town, the Mi­ami De­sign District. “Mi­ami has be­come a city of global cul­tural sub­stance. It’s hard to de­fine tourist and lo­cal. We have full-time res­i­dents, we have peo­ple who spend the win­ter here, we have peo­ple with sec­ond, third, fourth, and fifth homes here, and then we have peo­ple stay­ing in ho­tels. It’s that com­bi­na­tion of peo­ple who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing Mi­ami in dif­fer­ent ways that makes up the to­tal­ity of our city. It makes Mi­ami a much big­ger city than its pop­u­la­tion.”

In­deed, the mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar pent­houses with he­li­pads at One Thou­sand Mu­seum (1000mu­seum.com), the Formula One sim­u­la­tors at the Es­tates at Ac­qualina (es­tate­sa­t­ac­qualina.com), the Olympic-size in­fin­ity pools and every other amenity un­der the sun are at­tract­ing ten­ants from across the planet, turn­ing Mi­ami into a gen­uinely mul­ti­cul­tural city.

“The first few build­ings that we started sell­ing in 2010 right after the down cy­cle, 80 to 90 per­cent of my buy­ers were from Ar­gentina, Venezuela, and Colom­bia,” says So­nia Figueroa, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of de­vel­op­ment for the Re­lated Group. “Then you saw buy­ers com­ing in from Turkey, Brazil, and Europe.” Re­lated’s Gran Paraiso (gran paraisores­i­dences.com) has drawn cus­tomers from more than 40 coun­tries—from Italy, France, and Spain to Abu Dhabi and Kuwait, Rus­sia, China, even the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of the Congo. “When we’re do­ing our outreach, we’re not only go­ing to South Amer­ica; we’re go­ing all over the world.” In fact, Canada re­cently over­took Colom­bia as the coun­try whose cit­i­zens search for South Florida real es­tate most of­ten, ac­cord­ing to the Mi­ami As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors; among for­eign buy­ers of Mi­ami-area prop­erty, Cana­di­ans rank fourth. But some ex­perts see a surge com­ing from the East.

“This is the dawn of the Asian era,” says Jesse Ot­t­ley, pres­i­dent of Cervera’s De­vel­op­ment Di­vi­sion and pres­i­dent of the Greater Mi­ami chap­ter of the Asian Real Es­tate As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica. “I think in the next 10 years, we will see a shift in Mi­ami, and a big part of that will be the in­flu­ence of Asian in­vestors set­tling down here.” In fact, the as­so­ci­a­tion is hold­ing its Global Luxury Sum­mit right here in Mi­ami, April 21–23 (sum­mit.areaa.org)—ex­pected to be the largest gath­er­ing of Asianamer­i­can real es­tate pro­fes­sion­als in the city’s his­tory.

Re­cently clas­si­fied an “Al­pha–” city by the Glob­al­iza­tion and World Ci­ties Re­search Net­work (based on its boom­ing econ­omy, di­verse pop­u­la­tion, in­ter­na­tional trade, and vi­brant cul­ture), Mi­ami now has the largest con­cen­tra­tion of in­ter­na­tional banks in the United States.

“We have buy­ers from Nor­way, we have buy­ers from Azer­bai­jan, we have buy­ers from Hong Kong—all over the world,” says Har­vey Daniels, di­rec­tor of sales at One Thou­sand Mu­seum, the 62-story down­town tower with just 83 res­i­den­tial units.

The ques­tion is why. Mi­ami has had sun and sand forever, so why in the past five or six years has it be­come more pop­u­lar than ever be­fore?

“Mi­ami is the Riviera of the South and has al­ways had that en­ergy to it, but in terms of real es­tate, there is an emer­gence of ‘star­chi­tects’ com­ing in and build­ing beau­ti­ful mon­u­ments that you haven’t seen be­fore,” ex­plains Daniels, who is also vice pres­i­dent of de­vel­op­ment sales at Sotheby’s In­ter­na­tional Realty, which rep­re­sents One Thou­sand Mu­seum, de­signed by Pritzker Prize-win­ning ar­chi­tect Zaha Ha­did.

Other ex­am­ples in­clude SLS Brick­ell (slsho­tels.com/brick­ell), with in­te­ri­ors by Philippe Starck, and Gran Paraiso, de­signed by Piero Lis­soni. “When Ital­ian pur­chasers see the name Lis­soni, they rec­og­nize that brand of el­e­gant Ital­ian de­sign,” says Figueroa of the Re­lated Group. “I think that’s a plus.”

Of course, lur­ing a world-renowned ar­chi­tect takes more than a fat pay­check. First Mi­ami needed to build its global brand—a feat it ac­com­plished by at­tract­ing a wide range of ma­jor events. In the last few months alone, the city has hosted the Mi­ami In­ter­na­tional Boat Show, the South Beach Wine & Food Fes­ti­val, the Ul­tra Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, the Mi­ami Open, and many more. And don’t for­get win­ning three NBA cham­pi­onships in just 10 years, host­ing the 2020 Super Bowl, and wel­com­ing the next edi­tion of the leg­endary soc­cer match known as El Clásico. Mi­ami is con­stantly buzzing, catch­ing the eye of jet-set­ters from around the world. But the real game-changer, ac­cord­ing to most ob­servers, was Art Basel, which de­buted its Mi­ami Beach edi­tion in 2002, ad­ding the city to the radar of wealthy in­ter­na­tional col­lec­tors, whose pri­vate jets filled run­ways from here to West Palm Beach.

“Art Basel ex­posed us on a dif­fer­ent level,” says Peggy Fucci, pres­i­dent and CEO of Oneworld Prop­er­ties, the exclusive sales and mar­ket­ing firm for Para­mount Mi­ami World­cen­ter (paramount­mi­ami.com). “Mi­ami was not the Mi­ami Vice drug scene that peo­ple around the world thought it was. Art Basel brought so­phis­ti­ca­tion, and every year it has grown to ex­ceed the ex­pec­ta­tions of vis­i­tors with restau­rants and cul­tural cen­ters.”

But the city’s cul­tural de­vel­op­ment since Art Basel hasn’t just at­tracted scores of tourists; it has also given them a rea­son to stay. In­sti­tu­tions like Pérez Art Mu­seum Mi­ami (1103 Bis­cayne Blvd., 305-375-3000; pamm.org), the In­sti­tute of Con­tem­po­rary Art, Mi­ami (icami­ami.org), and the Frost Mu­seum of Science (frostscience.org), and restau­rants such

For years, Mi­ami was a place to watch the sun rise, Jet Ski across the bay, and spend un­told hours soak­ing in the scenery. Heaven on earth hopped up on Cuban cof­fee, the city’s lo­ca­tion made it the per­fect es­cape not just from frigid weather to the north, but from political tur­moil to the south. The whole world, it seemed, wanted to come to Mi­ami. They still do, of course, but in­creas­ingly now, they all want a piece of the ac­tion.

as Joe’s Stone Crab (11 Wash­ing­ton Ave., Mi­ami Beach, 305-673-0365; joes stonecrab.com) and Prime 112 (112 Ocean Dr., Mi­ami Beach, 305-532-8112; mylesrestau­rant­group.com) —two of the top 10 high­est-gross­ing restau­rants in the coun­try—made Mi­ami unique. Then, New York City hot spots like Up­land (49 Collins Ave., Mi­ami Beach, 305-602-9998; up­land­mi­ami.com), Em­ploy­ees Only (1030 Wash­ing­ton Ave., Mi­ami Beach, 786-264-3945; em­ploy­eeson­lymi­ami.com), and Blue Rib­bon Sushi Bar & Grill (336 21st St., Mi­ami Beach, 305-800-0404; bluerib­bon­restau­rants.com) came south, ad­ding a dash of culi­nary fa­mil­iar­ity for in­ter­na­tional scen­esters.

“Our culi­nary roots are in­ter­na­tional and ig­nore bound­aries, and Mi­ami is cer­tainly that kind of place,” says Blue Rib­bon owner Ken Bromberg. “One re­view from the early days re­ferred to our menu as a ‘League of Na­tions,’ with salt-and-pep­per shrimp, es­car­got, and matzo ball soup all hap­pily co­ex­ist­ing. Mi­ami strikes us as the same kind of city, one where mul­ti­ple cul­tures mix and where the clien­tele ap­pre­ci­ates an el­e­vated but ca­sual ex­pe­ri­ence.”

That di­ver­sity—in the eats and on the streets—in turn helped at­tract even more peo­ple. “Be­cause Mi­ami is so mul­ti­cul­tural, it’s very easy to in­te­grate here,” says Ot­t­ley of the Asian Real Es­tate As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica. “It’s very easy to come here and be ac­cepted. Twenty years ago, I think a Chi­na­town would have been an im­por­tant com­po­nent, but this new, younger de­mo­graphic is a lot more in­te­grated and not re­ly­ing as much on that. Mi­ami is an open city and one of the eas­i­est ci­ties to start a busi­ness in, and the price points for real es­tate are ex­cep­tional.”

For the Chi­nese in par­tic­u­lar, Ot­t­ley ex­plains, a grow­ing Asian stu­dent pop­u­la­tion at the Univer­sity of Mi­ami and other lo­cal col­leges has helped lay the foun­da­tion: They ar­rive, their par­ents in­vest in prop­erty here, and fam­i­lies be­gin to put down roots. Add the Hong Kong-based Swire Prop­er­ties’ de­vel­op­ment of Brick­ell Key and Brick­ell City Cen­tre (and the pos­si­bil­ity that the air­line Cathay Pa­cific will soon de­but a non­stop flight be­tween Mi­ami and Hong Kong) and the fu­ture con­tin­ues to look bright. “It all be­gins to weave an in­ter­est­ing story of how South Florida will de­velop with the Asian mar­ket,” he says.

“China is a mar­ket I’ve been cul­ti­vat­ing for sev­eral years,” adds Oneworld Prop­er­ties’ Fucci. “Last year I was there five times. For us, the Chi­nese are our third most im­por­tant buyer be­hind Brazil and Turkey.”

No mat­ter where he or she ar­rives from, the new Mi­amian has high ex­pec­ta­tions when it comes to real es­tate ameni­ties, restau­rants, cul­ture, and, of course, shop­ping. Robins, who cre­ated the De­sign District, knew that for it to

“Mi­ami is an open city and one of the eas­i­est ci­ties to start a busi­ness in, and the price points for real es­tate are ex­cep­tional.”—jesse OT­T­LEY

The mon­u­men­tal bronze sculp­ture by Fer­nando Botero out­side SLS Brick­ell. ƫƣơơƭ: One Thou­sand Mu­seum, de­signed by Zaha Ha­did, one of the star­chi­tects who helped put Mi­ami on the global map.

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