Miami real estate promoters target art patrons

The Miami Herald

by Martha Brannigan

Developers and real estate agents see a beautiful opportunity for marketing to the affluent crowds at Art Basel and satellite art fairs.

At the bustling Untitled art fair in a giant white tent rising from the sands of Miami Beach, the Palau corner has been drawing a steady stream of art patrons.

But Palau isn’t a painting, sculpture or installation. It is a new condominium planned for the Sunset Harbour neighborhood and developer Meir Srebernik is touting the project with renderings, sales brochures and floor plans on display alongside contemporary art from some 50 galleries.

“We’ve put a lot of attention to the design of the building,” said Srebernik, managing director of SMG Management LLC, which he founded with Stanley Gold, CEO of Shamrock Holdings, the investment vehicle of the Roy E. Disney family.

The Palau project at 20th Street and Sunset Drive has tapped Kobi Karp as architect for the mixed-use retail and residential glass building and Raymond Jungles for landscaping.

With Miami real estate back from the dead, condominium developers and real estate agents are riding the coattails of Art Basel and its satellite events to capitalize on the opportune gathering of a wide swath of affluent consumers from around the world.

Just three years ago, Miami was the poster child for the worst excesses of the real estate bubble: There was a historic glut of unsold new condos after buyers walked away from contracts during the housing meltdown. But most of that inventory has been absorbed sooner than anyone predicted with a major assist from cash-rich international buyers drawn to the cut-rate prices and the prospect of investing in a relative safe haven during global financial uncertainty.

A host of new luxury condominium projects are planned for South Florida, and developers and real estate agents are angling for position to tout their offerings during this week’s Art Basel and a myriad of satellite arts events.

With delicious, sunny days on display, Miami is in top form to seduce wealthy visitors into dreaming about a part-time residence. Those interested in luxury digs elsewhere are also being targeted.

A phalanx of luxury real estate agents from Christie’s International Real Estate affiliates in spots like Beverly Hills, Aspen, St. Barts and Hong Kong are flying in for the Art Miami fair that the high-end real estate brokerage is sponsoring.

“The synergy is absolutely perfect for us,” said Bonnie Sellers, CEO of Christie’s real estate arm, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the art auction giant. “Real estate is an asset of passion, an asset of lifestyle. The same people who like to buy art also buy luxury real estate.’’

“It’s one of those opportunities happening in Miami a couple times a year where you have all those high-end people in one place,’’ says Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell, the Miami affiliate of Christie’s, who suggested the sponsorship to Christie’s. “You have some of the wealthiest people in the world descending on Miami, collectors of contemporary art. Most of them have multiple homes.’’

On Thursday, Argentinian developers Sergio Grosskopf and his son Manuel Grosskopf of Chateau Group will hold a groundbreaking ceremony — timed to coincide with Art Basel — for Chateau Sunny Isles Beach, a luxury oceanfront condominium high-rise at 17475 Collins Avenue.

Pablo Atchugarry, a Uruguayan sculptor whose work will be displayed at the upscale project, is expected to attend, as is Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and other VIPs.

At the newly opened sales center for One Ocean, a luxury condo project that will feature extensive art works, developer Jorge Pérez, co-founder, chairman and CEO of The Related Group and a major art collector, will host an Art Basel event Friday for clients of UBS, the Swiss bank that is a sponsor of Art Basel. The project’s architect, Enrique Norten, will be on hand, and so will artists whose works will be incorporated into the project, including Eugenio Cuttica, Michele Oka Doner and José Bedia.

Pérez, whose name will appear on the Miami Art Museum in recognition of a $40 million gift, said pitching the new luxury condo project in the red-hot South of Fifth neighborhood during the expansive international art show is especially appropriate because the project was designed especially for art lovers.

Pérez, who plans to keep a One Ocean penthouse for himself, said he has focused on bringing “museum quality” art to the common areas of luxury condominiums for the past decade. “One Ocean is the culmination of that,” he said. “We have a number of local and international artists. Some are doing commissioned pieces for the project, and we will be purchasing other pieces.”

Last Friday night, partiers nibbled on foie gras crostini around an open bar at the Ironside Design Complex in Miami as the guest of honor, Italian architect and designer Piero Lissoni, mingled making small talk.

Lissoni is working on a luxury Miami Beach condominium project for developer Lionheart Capital, which hosted the event, serving dinner to a well dressed crowd with a giant screen in the background showing off renderings of the as-yet unnamed project. It is envisioned as a dramatic makeover of the old Miami Heart Institute at 4701 North Meridian Avenue, including both condominium units and single-family homes.

Lissoni promised to bring a “more European” touch to Miami than the typical condo project.

“We definitely think there is a tie-in between great real estate and great art and design,” said Ophir Sternberg, managing partner of Lionheart Capital. “That’s what we’re trying to marry.”

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