Moving On Up

October 1, 2020   |   Centurion Magazine


In late 2018, the developers of Eighty Seven Park, a condo in northern Miami Beach designed by the celebrated architect Renzo Piano, listed the building’s 12,410-square-foot penthouse for $68 million. It was an audacious move. For one thing, the building was not yet complete. But more importantly, $68 million was more than anyone had ever paid for a residence in Miami-Dade County—$8 million more than billionaire hedge funder Ken Griffin shelled out in 2015, in a record deal for dual penthouses at Faena House, several miles down the beach. It was true, however, that with some 18,000 square feet of terraces, the Eighty Seven Park penthouse had more than twice the outdoor space of Griffin’s place. It also had a full array of amenities to go with the stone finishes, floor-to-ceiling windows, and panoramic vistas that are de rigueur in such properties: indoor/outdoor home theaters, twin infinity pools, a Turkish hammam.


Perhaps even more than its price, Eighty Seven Park’s boldest element was location. Like Faena House, it stood close to the ocean, on Collins Avenue, the busy artery that extends north to south through Miami Beach.


But it was also located 4½ miles farther north, in a quiet residential neighborhood with little in the way of nightlife or restaurants. Arguably, it wasn’t in North Beach at all, but in Surfside, an adjacent, still sleepier community. Eighty Seven Park was a full eight miles from the southern tip of South Beach—that glittering Miami of the Mind—where the city’s most exclusive residential buildings have traditionally been clustered. In effect, Eighty Seven Park’s developers were betting that the most expensive residential sale in Miami history would occur in a place where, until recently, no one would have thought to build a luxury condo at all.


Yet, even as Eighty Seven Park seemed to stake out fresh territory, it could also be seen as just the latest—and most newsworthy—example of a trend stretching back almost 20 years. In 2004, when the Setai hotel and residences opened at Collins and 20th Street, skepticism was pronounced. “People said, ‘You guys are crazy!’ ” one former Setai executive told me. “ ‘There’s nothing there! You’re too far north!’ ” In 2009, Aby Rosen and David Edelstein, evidently undeterred, unveiled the W South Beach, at Collins and 22nd. Five years later, Ian Schrager’s Miami Beach Edition opened, north of 29th Street, to considerable fanfare. In 2015, Faena House (casa de Griffin) opened five blocks north of that, while Nobu Miami cut its ribbon in 2016 at around Collins and 45th. In 2017, the Surf Club, a private beach club founded in 1930 by Harvey Firestone, reopened under the auspices of the Four Seasons as an opulently reimagined condo-hotel a few blocks north of Eighty Seven Park.


This migration to the less-populated north and other undeveloped pockets has allowed developers to go big and build what buyers now desire: self-contained luxury properties where every amenity, from private marinas to world-class restaurants, is right at their doorstep. This isn’t to say, of course, that there’s no longer any top-flight development in South Beach. Buildings like 321 Ocean Drive, a 21-unit beachfront condo, and the Glass, which has ten residences, each occupying an entire floor, represent some of Miami’s most coveted properties. But both developments are now five years old. The Apogee, a perennial contender in the ultra-luxury market and where Miami Heat president Pat Riley has a home, was built in 2007. Where posh living is concerned, the biggest news in South Beach of late arguably isn’t a residence but a hotel: the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach, which reopened in January after a two-year, $90 million renovation that owes as much for inspiration to 1950s Art Deco style as to yacht design. Developable land in South Beach, particularly in South of Fifth—its most sought-after enclave—is now scarce. And this isn’t a This Old House kind of town. “Miami is always craving the new,” said Harvey Daniels, a vice president of development sales with One Sotheby’s International Realty. “South of Fifth just doesn’t offer that, unfortunately.”