Gil Dezer’s passion for cars was evident long before he launched plans for the Porsche Design Tower on Sunny Isles Beach. One clue: Dezer keeps a Porsche mounted on the wall of his condominium in Trump Palace, an earlier condo project that he developed.
His father Michael Dezer — who assembled a big portfolio of real estate in the Chelsea section of Manhattan before setting his sites on Miami — also is a motorhead. The elder Dezer has the Dezer Collection auto museum in North Miami, which rents space for parties and events. (“He’s certifiable,’’ said the son.)
So if anyone were going to build a 60-story, ultra-luxury oceanfront condominium as a monument to the über high-performance German brand, Gil Dezer was a prime candidate.
Why Sunny Isles Beach? His family acquired some 27 acres of oceanfront property, mostly old motels and mostly between 1996 and 2000, just as the fledgling city embraced favorable zoning for skyscrapers.
At 38, Dezer is developing his seventh luxury high-rise project at the Porsche Design Tower site at 18555 Collins Avenue. Completed works include the three-tower Trump Grande Ocean Resort and Residences and three skyscrapers at Trump Towers, all in Sunny Isles Beach. He is about to unveil another two-tower project in the neighborhood in cooperation with Jorge Pérez’s Related Group. Dezer sat down for an interview with the Miami Herald and then responded below to a list of emailed questions:
Q. What led you to do the Porsche Design Tower project?
Our first project in Miami was branded with Donald Trump and that brought us a tremendous amount of presence and helped put Sunny Isles Beach on the map.
Since we had tremendous success with Trump, we decided to go out and find other brands that bring a lot of value to real estate. I am a Porsche fanatic, so for me it was a natural fit to do a building with an automotive design brand.
Q. What was your first car and what do you drive today?
My first car was a Porsche 944, a 1988 model in 1992 when I got my license.
Since then, I have had several different Porsches, and today I own 12 Porsches as well as 17 other cars. It’s a sickness.”
Q. A plunge pool on the balcony of most units, private wine lockers in the building’s restaurant, racing car simulators, remote-controlled toilets, and a Vichy shower. Who lives like this? Who’s buying?
It’s for people who understand the difference. One needs to live it to understand it. [In person, Dezer added that the project has attracted at least 22 billionaires. “You don’t spend $5 million on a condo if you only have like $15 million. These are all people with at least $100 million.’’]
Q. Many luxury condo developers are seeking out “starchitects” to distinguish their projects. Why do you see branding as a better way to go?
The main difference is simple access. Although a starchitect charges about 20 percent to 30 percent more than a typical architect because of their ‘star’ status, ultimately, they need the business too, as that is what keeps their doors open.
With respect to the brand, in most cases I had to explain to these people why they should allow me to use their brand on my building.
For most of the brands, it’s a very out-of-the-box concept that some couldn’t get their arms around. But for the ones that did, we were able to convince them as to why we are the best partner to work with for real estate, therefore securing exclusive territories for these brands.