Terra Group Reveals its Secret Sauce

June 22, 2015   |   GlobeSt

Terra Group does commercial real estate differently. The result: it has sold over $2 billion worth of high-end residential, commercial, land and mixed-use projects. The question is, how is Terra thinking?

Founded by father and son Pedro and David Martin in 2001, Terra has developed projects like 900 Biscayne Bay, Quantum on the Bay, and Nautica on the condo side but the company is also working on retail projects that are turning heads in Doral, like Doral Commons, a 150,000-square-foot development that’s under construction there.

GlobeSt.com caught up with David Martin, president of Terra, to get inside his head. He shares with us what sets his firm apart, the origin of his “less is more” philosophy, and more in part one of this exclusive interview. Be sure to come back to this afternoon’s Miami edition, where he will discuss how his firm picks the right sites.

GlobeSt.com: Terra calls itself a responsible developer. What does that mean and how does it set your firm apart?

Martin: It starts with the premise that real estate development is a privilege, not a right. That means creating environments that enhance people’s lives.

We begin by identifying places where we can have a positive impact when it comes to design, the local economy, the urban fabric and nature. Some developers build in a vacuum and impart their vision on a neighborhood that already exists.

But at Terra, we are always looking for opportunities to listen to our neighbors, collaborate with likeminded partners, and enhance the areas where we develop. We’ve taken this approach in communities across South Florida—from Coconut Grove and Miami Beach, to Doral and Weston—and we’re proving the model can work.

GlobeSt.com: What is the origin of your ‘less is more’ philosophy and what are some examples of your low-density development approach?

Martin: Many people assume that bigger developments are better when it comes to maximizing value, but we find that less is sometimes more in residential real estate. We can often create more value for residents and a surrounding community over the long-term by delivering a project in scale with an existing neighborhood, even if it means reducing density.

You can find examples of this across our portfolio. At Glass in Miami Beach’s South of Fifth neighborhood, which will be the first new residential building to deliver in Miami Beach this cycle, we initially planned to 45 units but downscaled to 10 units. At Grove at Grand Bay in Coconut Grove, we’re building 98 units on a site zoned for up to 440 units.

GlobeSt.com: In your experience, what role can architecture play in creating value for a community and for residents of a development?

Martin: Sophisticated design and planning can transform entire neighborhoods, and we’re seeing this trend unfold in South Florida. Terra is working with some of the top architects from South Florida and around the world, and in every instance we are planning projects and creating designs that complement our surroundings.

For example, Renzo Piano is creating a master plan for our 8701 Collins project in North Beach which adds new public green space and expanded beach access for the neighborhood. Bjarke Ingels’ design for Grove at Grand Bay is inspired by the outdoors and the relationship between interior and exterior spaces. This approach applies to our suburban work as well. At Botaniko in Weston, local architects Chad Oppenheim and Roney Mateu have designed single-family homes within a low-density, master-planned format.

How Terra Picks Winning Sites

June 23, 2015   |   GlobeSt

MIAMI—Terra Group has been massively successful with its business model and its projects are helping transform South Florida neighborhoods. So how do the company’s principals decide where to place their development bets?

GlobeSt.com caught up with David Martin, president of Terra, to get his thoughts on this question. He also discusses how buyer bases different and the firm’s North Beach condo project in part two of this exclusive interview. You can still read part one: Terra Group Reveals its Secret Sauce.

GlobeSt.com: You have projects underway in both urban and suburban neighborhoods. How do you identify development sites and decide the best use of those sites?

Martin: Terra is extremely conscious of where, how and what we develop. We’re always looking for neighborhoods with high barriers to entry that lend themselves to  uncovering inefficiency, filling a market void or delivering a concept that’s never been executed.

Whether it’s a high-rise residential tower or single-family estate homes, we pick our spots carefully and deliver projects that are appropriate for the community and market dynamics. This strategy is helping to reshape places like Coconut Grove, where Grove at Grand Bay and Park Grove have contributed to the area’s revitalization.

New businesses are opening, more investment is pouring in, and South Floridians are relocating to the area. We expect to have a similar impact with Botaniko in Weston and in North Beach, where our 8701 Collins project will jumpstart an area that has mostly sat untouched for decades.

GlobeSt.com: Terra is building both high-rises and single-family homes. How do the buyer bases for each project type differ?

Martin: There’s a perception that the Miami market is dominated by residential buildings being bought up by foreigners, when the reality is that the bulk of our housing supply is low-density product outside the urban core. International buyers do account for a significant portion of our sales, but we’re seeing a growing number of local and domestic buyers purchasing units as well.

In some cases, such as at Grove at Grand Bay, there’s a migration of South Florida residents looking to downsize their home and relocate to an urban, walk-able environment. Meanwhile, single-family homebuyers are often in the market for more space at a lower price per square foot. Generally speaking, they want to be closer to high quality schools, libraries, parks and other amenities that you find in places like Doral and Weston.

GlobeSt.com: What can you tell us about the North Beach condo project at this point?

Martin: Our boutique residential tower at 8701 Collins is a case study for the Terra development model. We are collaborating with the architects at Renzo Piano Building Workshop, the planners and landscape designers at West 8 and the interior designers at RDA1 to create a project that will be an anchor for the larger North Beach neighborhood.

The site is set directly on the sand and bounded by a 35-acre public park, so it’s a quiet piece of property compared to what many people expect to find in Miami Beach. The project emphasizes the relationship between indoor and outdoor living. We’re creating a 1.5-acre private park for residents and including oversized balconies in all units. We think North Beach is poised for a transformation over the next few years, especially given its location midway between South Beach and Bal Harbour.

Terra Wraps Last SoFi Residential Development

November 18, 2015   |   GlobeSt

MIAMI—Terra just wrapped up its first residential tower in Miami Beach during this commercial real estate cycle. Glass is an 18-story, luxury boutique building in the coveted South of Fifth neighborhood. The address: 120 Ocean Drive.

Glass is 10 stories tall and just steps away from the ocean. It’s named Glass because it’s an all-glass tower. It’s one of the first residential developments completed within the City of Miami Beach in nearly five years and the last high-rise to be built in South of Fifth due to zoning restrictions. Residents should begin moving into the sold-out tower this month.

“GLASS embodies Terra’s approach to responsible development that strengthens neighborhoods through innovative design and planning,” says Terra president David Martin. “We could have built up to 45 units on this site, but downscaled to only 10 units. Our belief that ‘less is more’ in real estate, coupled with the designs of Rene Gonzalez and Raymond Jungles, has delivered a stronger finished product and enhanced value for our residents and neighbors.”

Glass features a façade of patterned glass that appears to fade as it rises toward the sky. Architects worked off the natural landscape of sea, sand and sky that surrounds the building. The building’s entrance, for example, references the visual effects of waves meeting the shore and receding into the sand with the use of porous Coquina stone interspersed with blue Macauba quartzite.

The building’s first five floors house common areas, including the lobby, pool and gym. The resident's amenities deck features lounging and sunning areas, swimming pool, spa and lush landscaping. Personalized services include an onsite estate manager, pool and valet services, housekeeping and maintenance, 24-hour security, and a resident beach club with attendant service and 20 reserved umbrellas and chairs.

Terra’s next residential development, Eighty Seven Park, will rise a few miles to the north in Miami Beach’s North Beach neighborhood. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano and featuring landscapes by West 8, the project will host 70 oceanfront residences next to a 35-acre public park.

Terra’s next residential development, Eighty Seven Park, will rise a few miles to the north in Miami Beach’s North Beach neighborhood. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano and featuring landscapes by West 8, the project will host 70 oceanfront residences next to a 35-acre public park.

Sophisticated design and planning can transform entire neighborhoods, and we’re seeing this trend unfold in South Florida,” Martin tells GlobeSt.com. “Terra is working with some of the top architects from South Florida and around the world, and in every instance we are planning projects and creating designs that complement our surroundings.”

The Rem Koolhaas-designed Park Grove and the sold-out Bjarke Ingels-designed Grove at grand Bay towers in Coconut Grove, along with Modern and neovita in Doral; and a master-planned community in Weston designed by archtiects Chad Oppenheim and Roney J. Mateu called Botaniko Weston are among the other Terra projects underway. Click here to learn more about the company’s approach.