By the time the entitlements had been approved in 2006 for a two-tower luxury complex on the intracoastal waterway in North Miami Beach, Fla., the economy was starting to falter. The foundation and three stories of steel framing were in place for the development’s north tower when the developer lost the project in a foreclosure. For five years, construction was at a standstill and the lot overrun with weeds, until affiliates of The Plaza Group in North Miami Beach and The DevStar Group in Miami, in partnership with iStar Financial, came to the rescue and acquired the 14-acre, U-shaped site, in 2011. They named the complex Marina Palms.
Because approvals had taken so long, the developers didn’t want to revisit the zoning process and left in place plans for the separate, 25-story-high structures with low-rise attached parking garages. But they made one significant switch, deciding to go more upscale after recognizing the demand from domestic and foreign buyers seeking more luxurious residences.
Working with Slattery & Associates, Architects, Planners in Boca Raton, the team focused on the site’s location next to parkland and Maule Lake, envisioning a marina that could offer private boat access between the buildings. “It would be the first yacht club–condominium in Dade County in 20 years,” says Plaza president Neil Fairman.
To take advantage of unparalleled views, the developers upgraded the buildings with enlarged windows tinted blue; aluminum-and-glass balcony rails with a similar tint, instead of the original wrought iron; energy-saving ventilation; and glass-enclosed lobbies.
“You can see the water from 50% of each building,” says Steven Gurowitz, whose Pompano Beach firm, Interiors from Steven G, designed the interiors. The amenities were enhanced in each building, with separate spaces provided for teens and toddlers, fitness centers facing the lake, news cafés, clubrooms, and infinity pools.
In between the buildings, garages, and marina, drought-tolerant landscaping with a lush, tropical look of big leaves and colorful flowers was planted by West Palm Beach landscape architect Wayne Villavasco.
While ocean views may be sought in Miami and other east Florida coast cities, the developers here understood they had a different type of trophy project. “Units on the ocean usually come with a [doubled] price tag, yet serious boaters can’t head out from those locations [the way] they can from our waterway site,” Fairman says. The marina was designed to accommodate boats as long as 100 feet. The slips are expensive, however—priced at $7,500 a linear foot.
The overall results have wowed many observers, including the mayor of the 5.3-square-mile city that lies 30 minutes north of the much larger Miami. “It’s a different product than we’ve had [in the past], with views of the lake and so many boats,” says Mayor George Vallejo.
Gurowitz designed Marina Palms’ furnishings to reflect a contemporary, luxe ambience with a “loungey feeling,” he says. Sales director Michael Internoscia compares the mood to being at a Ritz-Carlton or other five-star resort. For a unified look for the condos, the same high-end cabinets and top appliances were selected throughout, but owners can choose the flooring, lighting, and millwork.
The units—some of which are two-story townhomes—range from two-bedrooms measuring 1,600 square feet and costing $800,000 to 4,300-square-foot, four-bedrooms for $5.2 million.
The concept has worked, with all the units at the north tower, which was completed last November, having already sold out. To date, only 40 of 234 units remain unsold in the south tower, which is expected to be done by year’s end.