Life at the top: Miami’s new towers

Telegraph UK

By Zoe Dare Hall

You may have worn their watches, wheeled their luggage and driven their cars. Now, you can live in a Porsche-designed residence as the Austria-based company known for extolling the design principles of functionality, purism and timelessness is making its first foray into residential property.

The Porsche Design Tower will be the tallest oceanfront tower in the US when the 57-storey black bullet of a building reaches completion in 2016. Of the 132 units, costing from $4.5m-$25m (£2.9m-£16m), 90 have so far sold off-plan with a combined value of $550m (£355.7m).

Porsche’s choice of location for its property development debut is Miami, one of the hottest destinations on the planet at present for high-end property. After being hit hard by the global crash, when house-builders effectively shut up shop in 2007 and the only sales were foreclosures or short sales, Miami has re-defined itself in the past two years, according to Knight Frank.

Now, though, the focus is a narrow one. “It’s all about Miami Beach,” says Edward de Mallet Morgan, a Knight Frank associate. Prices of top-end condominiums have risen by 5.9 per cent in the first six months of this year and sales volumes are up 20.6 per cent year-on-year, with wealthy South American, European and New Yorkers the main investors. “Increasingly, Miami is becoming a financial crossing point and centre for high-net-worth individuals as the wealth comes up from South America,” says de Mallet Morgan.

Among Miami’s fast-changing and ever more striking skyline, Porsche’s spherical contribution stands out from the crowd with its state-of-the-art garages with every apartment – not underground or at floor level, but directly outside your front door. A robotic arm transfers your car into a glass lift, while you sit back and enjoy the panoramic sea views.

Two abandoned hotels will become a new hotel and luxury retail complex, and the new-build Faena House will have properties ranging from $2.5m (£1.6m) to a $50m (£32m) penthouse – reported to be the most expensive property in Miami Beach.

“I wanted to bring to Miami a voice from the South and Miami Beach provides the right alchemy of historic buildings in need of redevelopment and a surrounding area rich in quality and ripe for new life,” says Faena, who is joined on the project by Foster & Partners and Pritzker Prize-winning designer Rem Koolhaas’ OMA.

“I am drawn to ambitious, legacy development that can change the way people live and think,” Faena adds.

He may have stiff competition. Some 17 years after launching the Delano, which helped to turn Miami Beach into a world-class tourist resort, the hotelier Ian Schrager is back in town. He has teamed up with the British minimalist architect John Pawson to design The Residences at The Miami Beach EDITION – a Fifties building that will house a hotel, next to a new 18-storey tower with 26 residences ranging from one bedroom apartments from $2.39m (£1.55m) to duplexes and triplexes.

The two penthouses have already sold to one buyer for a combined price of $34m – which, at $3,800 (£2,456) per square foot, makes it the most expensive residence ever sold in Florida, according to Knight Frank. Within four weeks of going on sale, half of the residences sold, with every sale representing a premium of more than 20 per cent above the existing Miami Beach market.

If it all sounds like another Miami bubble that will inflate until ready to pop, Knight Frank points out that this boom is not credit-financed: around three-quarters of non-distressed condo purchases are cash-funded and have been for two years.

“Miami’s current double-digit growth may not be sustainable long-term,” says Edward de Mallet Morgan, “but its recovery does have a very firm footing.”

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