Driving the streets of Edgewater recently, Martin Melo eased the accelerator of his Porsche Panamera to point out large swaths of land his family-run firm has cobbled together for high-rise development in one of Miami’s most rapidly emerging neighborhoods.
“This four-block area is ours,” said his brother Carlos, whose Melo Group has seven condominium and apartment projects lined up in the area. “We bought [the lots] one by one. It’s hard work.”
The buzz of activity at Melo Group — headed by their father Jose Luis Melo, who moved from Buenos Aires in 2001 — comes as the transformation of Miami’s funky Edgewater district has shifted into high gear.
Developers have been snapping up parcels and keying up high-rise projects in the bayfront neighborhood. Land prices are soaring.
The revival of construction — which sputtered during the real-estate crash — is poised finally to remake the character of the once-blighted city neighborhood, which unofficially stretches from Northeast 17th Street north to the Julia Tuttle Causeway at 36th Street and from Biscayne Bay west to the railroad tracks. (Some draw the western line at Biscayne Boulevard.)
“Edgewater has become one of the hippest, most chic places to live, driven by its proximity to the Design District and Midtown. It’s a place people want to be,” said Jaret Turkell, a director with HFF, which recently brokered the sale of 4.5 acres of bayfront property to Jorge Pérez’s Related Group and a partner.
Miami-based Related paid $29 million for the prime site at Northeast 31st Street, land that sold in 2012 for $11.5 million. Related plans to erect a high-rise condominium on the spot, where plans to build in the last boom were scuttled.
Separately, Related broke ground a few weeks ago on Icon Bay, a luxury condominium at 428 NE 28th St. Related launched pre-sales of units last September and “is basically sold out,” said Carlos Rosso, president of condo development for Related.
Edgewater’s big draw, of course, is the bayfront.
Developers continue to bask in robust demand from foreigners willing to pony up 50 percent or more of the price for a pre-construction condominium near the water in South Florida.
Brickell and downtown, where the resurgence of condo construction began after the crash, are nearly built out. But Edgewater has land for projects that can provide spectacular views of Biscayne Bay at a lower price.
“We’re looking at a couple more deals in the area. We have sites under contract. The views of the water are something in really high demand. It’s something everyone wants and expects in Miami,” Rosso said.
Edgewater’s layout works well for high-rise condos, Rosso said. Running parallel to the bay is the major thoroughfare of Biscayne Boulevard with shops and restaurants. “It’s an attractive area,” he said. “It’s got good bones.”
Other developers have noticed. “There are probably a dozen groups that have multiple parcels they’ve assembled and a lot of single owners,” said Ryan Shaw, a senior associate with Marcus & Millichap, which has a listing at 28th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. “It’s starting to really heat up.’’