As if the current development boom already didn’t feel like the pre-bust early 2000s, news that famed director Baz Luhrmann has joined the creative team of mid-Miami Beach’s Faena District development should be the clearest signal yet that the local real estate market is officially back to its over-the-top, celebrity-obsessed, high-end ways. What began with Argentinean developer Alan Faena’s plans to refurbish Miami Beach’s Saxony hotel has now turned into a full-on redevelopment of the area around it, including the recent purchase of the neighboring Versailles hotel.
The development will span from beach-to-bay along the 3400 block of Miami Beach. Famed architects Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster and the Roman and Williams firm are all onboard. Raymond Jungles will handle the landscaping.
In addition to condo and hotel space, there will also be retail, a car park, an arts center, and an arts-in-residence program. Because art is really important to Miami’s identity … especially when it’s used as a marketing tool for high-end developers (writes the man sitting inside Goldman Properties’ Wynwood Building).
To top that all off, Baz Luhrmann and his wife Catherine Martin have joined the creative team in undisclosed roles. He’s the director behind Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet and the recent 3D adaptation of Great Gatsby (not to mention his hit single “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen).” No word on exactly what the two will do.
The collection of high-profile names Faena has amassed is almost as impressive as the collection of real estate he’s assembled — which is probably the point.
But don’t get that excited about it. Unless you already live in one of those lavish condo buildings built during the ’00s, you probably won’t be able to afford to live here either.
Faena House is the epitome of all-inclusive, oceanfront resort living. With expansive living areas and deep balconies, and featuring only 68 residences designed by London’s acclaimed Foster + Partners, decadence has a new address. Starting from $6 million.
It’s the tower that could change a whole strip of Miami Beach — and it will make you instantly dissatisfied with your measly standard balcony.
New renderings of the 18-story Faena House tower, four exclusive to The Huffington Post, reveal even more details of the jaw-dropping residential centerpiece of four blocks that will eventually be known as Faena District Miami Beach. Underway on the waterfront at 3201 Collins Avenue, Faena House is designed by architects Foster + Partners to resemble “a towering ship at sea” — if that ship passed out in a really nice bed, dreaming of maximum amounts of light and space.
In fact, at least one penthouse has nearly as much terrace space as interior square footage. And each of the 47 residences are wrapped with wide aleros, as they are known in Argentina, with balconies functioning like hallways to connect the rooms from the outside. Glass is everywhere and all but uninterrupted, with plans calling for sliding glass doors — built to hurricane code, mind you — as astonishingly wide as 12.5 feet.
Earlier this year, the massive duplex penthouse at Faena House nearly matched a local listings record when it debuted with a $50 million price tag, just $5 million less than a whopper of a penthouse at the Mansions at Aqualina that comes with a cantilevered glass pool hanging off the 47th floor. (The most expensive condo sale so far is a $34 million penthouse at Ian Schrager’s half-constructed The Edition Residences, a few blocks south of Faena on Collins.)
Alan Faena, an Argentinian fashion designer-turned-developer, is building the tower as just the first phase of a neighborhood district he hopes will recreate the success he had with an unlikely warehouse area in Buenos Aires that now boasts some of the most expensive real estate in that city. Faena District Miami Beach will eventually build out 32nd and 35th streets between Indian Creek and the ocean with a luxury hotel, an arts center, an “architecturally important” parking complex (so hot right now!), a marina, and luxury retail space. (Fortunately, the existing historic Saxony Hotel at 32nd and Collins will be refurbished, not torn down.)
The flush, however, aren’t waiting for the rest of it: Faena announced last week that his tower is already 50 percent under contract after breaking ground in January. The scheduled completion date? Fall 2014.
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Faena House, Impressive 68 unit high luxury condo, featuring design by Norman Foster and located at the site of the former Saxony Hotel in Miami Beach.
Alan Faena, The Developer Behind The $550M Revival Of Miami’s Saxony Hotel to called Faena House.
The man behind one of Miami’s most ambitious real estate and architectural projects, the revival of the Saxony Hotel, finally opened up about the project. Alan Faena, the developer which counts with the support of billionaire Len Blavatnik, is set to revolutionize the Miami beachfront with the Faena Saxony, featuring the work of all-star architects Norman Foster and Rem Koolhaus.
The project has been surrounded by a shroud of mystery since day one, a mystery that characterizes Faena himself. “I’m working on one of the best projects in all of the Americas,” Faena told Forbes, “we are creating a whole district,” he added.
The $550 million project resembles what Faena did in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Puerto Madero, where he took a set of rundown buildings and created a thriving neighborhood that counts with some of the city’s most expensive and luxurious hotels and apartments. “We don’t just develop this, we also deliver product, service, we operate, and so we give this project soul,” explained Faena.
Official details regarding the whole project have been hard to come by, but plans and renderings have been leaked. Faena House will be a 19-story, 62,000 square feet residential tower designed by starchitect Norman Foster according to the Miami Herald’s Real Deal and Hotel Chatter. “Super-celebrity-architect of mystery” Rem Koolhaas will join the project building a structure that will contain a hotel and a ballroom, retail space and a robotic garage, according to Curbed. There will also be a 300-person theater, an “intimate cabaret” and a possible re-design of the beach boardwalk at the site of the former Saxony Hotel, which at one point was slated to become a Cipriani project.
“We are creating a neighborhood here, a five block district that will include the best residential building, […] a theatre, a cultural center, and a parking garage,” Faena confirmed. What differentiates Faena’s from other mega-projects going up in Miami is that this is “the first time something so spectacular comes from the South.” Miami, he said “is our door to the North,” to which he wants to bring “a concept that has never been offered here.” Faena, as Curbed put it, “as grand conductor of his architectural orchestra, will then have built a campus of architectural fantasias.”
The Argentine developer indeed has a thing for pomp and splendor. In Buenos Aires, he developed a whole district which includes one of the city’s most eccentric and highest rated hotels with everything with a pool bar featuring a giant crown fountain and a fully white restaurant with unicorn heads lining the walls. Faena has also built several residences and an impressive cultural center. Most of his projects carry his name.
Faena’s project also fits in the bigger story of a comeback in real estate across certain states, in many cases backed by foreigners. As my colleague Morgan Brenan reported, foreigners accounted for $82.5 billion, or 8.9% of total U.S. residential real estate spend from April 2011 to March 2012. And that is up 24% from a year ago, with five states taking the majority of that investment: Florida, California, Texas, Arizona, and New York.
Home prices, according to the Case-Shiller indexes, are still about 30% below their pre-crisis levels across the country. At the same time, hot-money flows into emerging markets have inflated real estate bubbles across many major global cities. While many Chinese and Russian buyers have been looking into New York, Miami is home to the Latin Americans, with Argentines, Brazilians, and Venezuelans leading the way.
While the recovery in housing can be seen in the incredible stock prices of major homebuilders like KB Home, Lennar, and Toll Brothers, the luxury sector is also booming. And Faena is looking to take advantage of this momentum. “Our project is international, it’s open to all, we are trying to bring a new concept, a culture [to Miami],” he says.
And he may be about to make it. While he didn’t disclose anything on sales, he did hint that they are going for the top of the market. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. Given what he’s done in the past, and the caliber of the people he’s brought on board, no one should expect anything less.