The developer who bought the site of the Surfside apartment collapse faces a public relations test and a flurry of town approvals as it moves forward with plans to build a beachfront luxury apartment on the site where 98 people died two years ago.

Damac Properties, led by Hussain Sajwani, hopes to build a 12-story, 57-unit boutique condominium designed by Zaha Hadid Architects on the site of the Champlain Towers South collapse in June 2021. This is the company’s first real estate project in the United States.

Damac expects to launch the sale of what it calls the “most luxurious project” Surfside has ever built, later this year or sometime next year, the developer said in a statement.

Rendering of the project (rendering via Zaha Hadid Architects)
Rendering of the project (rendering via Zaha Hadid Architects)
Rendering of the project (rendering via Zaha Hadid Architects)
Rendering of the project (rendering via Zaha Hadid Architects)

An affiliate of the firm submitted two designs for the development, one year after it bought the 1.8-acre property at 8777 Collins Avenue for $120 million, and two years after it collapsed.

Experts say the stigma attached to living in a building built as the final resting place of nearly 100 people is expected to affect the project’s buyer profile and sales success. Damac may draw on its source of buyers in the Middle East as well as foreign buyers from other countries.

“[Sajwani] Will market to people from his area, and those people will buy there,” said an agent, who asked not to be named. “I don’t think he can easily sell to this part of the world. ”

Realtors predict the crash will hit sales — but only to a degree.

“My guess is that people who aren’t familiar with the area, maybe from other countries, might not have the same emotional connection to the site as someone from South Florida,” said Andres Asion, broker and owner of Miami Real . real estate group.

Attorney David Harbor agrees. “There’s always been a demand for waterfront,” he said. “The stigma of out-of-towners decreases over time.”

Pricing Strategy

broker told real deal They predict that developers will try to sell these condos at prices above $3,000 per square foot.

Damac hasn’t released pricing for the apartments, but the firm is proposing a 381,522-square-foot building. It paid about $315 per square foot for the land, based on the size of the proposed project. Excluding amenities and the lobby, DAMAC paid about $374 per buildable square foot.

Proposed blueprints show the building could include an underground garage, which would be significantly more expensive to build than above-ground parking or a separate car park. The building also required a resident lounge, swimming pool and cabanas.

Asion refers to Eighty Seven Park as a comparable property. Apartment buildings located within the Miami Beach city limits, immediately south of Champlain Towers South, traded for an average of about $3,000 per square foot last year, Asion said, citing data from the Multiple Listing Service.

Filing of the DAMAC project

The proposed Damac project has up to six apartments per floor, with unit sizes ranging from 4,000 to 15,000 square feet. If Damac sells units at a mixed price of $3,000 per square foot, that could mean prices in the $12 million to $45 million range, though smaller units on lower floors could sell for less.

“I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they set a record,” said real estate attorney Joe Hernandez.

The current record per square foot in Miami-Dade County is held by Pat Riley’s sale of his condo at Four Seasons Residences in Surfside, which transacted last May for nearly $100 per square foot. $5,800 per square foot.

Agent Mark Zilbert, who owns his firm Zilbert, said Zaha Hadid Architects’ seaside building would “attract big money”. The late Hadid designed just one major project in Miami, the non-waterfront One Thousand Museum apartment complex in downtown Miami.

If Damac does focus on marketing to foreign buyers, it would violate recently approved state laws that bar Chinese buyers and restrict real estate purchases by nationals of Iran, Russia, Venezuela and several other countries.

“If you’re an apartment developer and you’re targeting the global affluent, that might limit your audience somewhat,” said Bilzin Sumberg’s Hernandez.

local partner

Despite the sensitivities surrounding the site’s history, Damac doesn’t expect to have trouble assembling a South Florida team to pitch and work on the project, experts said.

“Our job as agents is to show buyers all the properties and let them make a decision,” said Mike Pappas, principal of The Keyes Company.

Damac has been in talks with several “leading agencies” in South Florida about marketing the project, Niall McLoughlin, Damac’s senior vice president of international communications, said in an email. None of the top sales and marketing firms discuss their involvement, if at all.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices EWM Realty “would consider” the opportunity, said company principal Ron Shuffield, but declined to say whether Damac had contacted it. “We talk to a lot of people every day about the future of our town.”

Local companies are already consulting on the project. According to Damac’s application to Surfside, Hollywood-based ODP Architects is a licensed architect, North Miami-based Savino & Miller Design Studio is a landscape consultant, and Coral Gables-based Ocean Consulting is a coastal construction consultant.

Surfside Approved

Surfside Mayor Shlomo Danzinger said the project approval process could be completed by the end of the year. He added that Damac representatives had informal discussions with Surfside administrators to understand what the site would allow before submitting the formal application.

Next, the project will go before three town councils. First, a design review committee made up of urban planners and other administrators will give a formal say. A planning and zoning committee made up of residents will then review the project, making recommendations to the town council. If the planning committee votes against the project, its decision must be based on alleged irregularities or legal precedent.

The board “can’t really reject a project because they don’t like it emotionally,” Danzinger said.

In the final step, the project will be approved by the town commissioner.

Danzinger said Damac’s discussions with the town will also focus on the impact fees it will pay to Surfside, as well as its contributions to town projects such as the Collins Avenue water main project, which aims to provide more water to households along the street . While donations are voluntary, most developers tend to donate to projects.

The filing of official project planning documents comes as families of some of the victims of the collapse are still pushing for a memorial to be erected at the site. The town has designated a portion of 88th Street north of the Champlain site as a memorial.

Damac also reiterated that the town declared a memorial on 88th Street.

However, erecting a memorial on the property that actually collapsed could compromise the success of the Damac project, Haber said.

“We have to partly use New York City and World Trade Center as an example — it’s a huge tragedy,” Harper acknowledged the difference between the two. “The monument itself, plus the museum, removes any stigma.”

Either way, the site shouldn’t be left undeveloped, Asion says.

“I think it’s also good for the closures, the damage that’s been done, the progress that’s been made on the site,” he said.

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