A New York developer who made headlines in Manhattan with plans to erect a super skyscraper is now planning to launch a very tall condominium on Brickell Avenue.
Kevin Maloney, founder and CEO of Property Markets Group, said the developer will start taking reservations next week for Echo Brickell, a luxury condominium at 1451 Brickell that will rise about 750 feet — or 60 stories — and include up to 250 units.
Maloney and Ryan Shear, managing partner of PMG in South Florida, held a focus group Thursday at International Sales Group, which will market the pre-construction project. They gathered some of Miami’s top real-estate brokers to sound out what the market wants in what would become the tallest residential building in Miami to date.
“The caché of this building is certainly the height and the view,” said Maloney, who separately expects to break ground in July on Echo Aventura, a 190-unit bayfront condo that launched sales last fall.
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Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott is handling the conceptual design of the Echo Brickell building, which will feature larger units than typically seen on Brickell. Penthouses will likely span more than 7,000 square feet.
With Miami’s latest condominium boom gaining steam, Maloney said competition was keen for the 1451 Brickell site, which sits on the east side of the avenue and currently houses the sales center for the Brickell House project. Newgard Development Group is building the 46-story Brickell House at 1330 Brickell Bay Drive a few blocks away.
PMG recently signed a contract to purchase the Echo Brickell land from an investor who holds it through a corporation, 1451 Brickell Inc.
“We like the site. There is a ton of stuff coming out in Brickell,” said Shear. “We will be able to tell buyers you have an unobstructed bay view.”
Shear said the site is zoned for 48 stories, but the developer can buy rights to build much taller under the Miami 21 zoning code. Maloney said the building will be thinner as a result and lose some of its efficiency, but the height — and views — will lend it more pizazz.
The tallest building in Miami is the Four Seasons Hotel at 1441 Brickell Avenue next to the Echo Brickell site. The Four Seasons, which was completed a decade ago, rises 64 floors and 789 feet, according to Emporis, a firm that provides data on buildings.
Southeast Financial Center ranks No. 2, and No. 3 is 900 Biscayne, currently the tallest residential building.
To be sure, records are made to be broken. Among other things, Tibor Hollo’s One Bayfront Plaza, approved years ago for 100 South Biscayne Boulevard, is planned for 1,010 feet, but the timing of that mixed-use project remains uncertain. The building now on the site is full of tenants.
PMG envisions Echo Brickell will have high ceilings — 10, 12 and 14 feet — with the more expensive, upper floor units getting the most spacious heights.
If all goes well, PMG expects to break ground in the first quarter of 2014.
Craig Studnicky, principal of ISG, which is in charge of pre-construction sales, expects the project will appeal particularly to affluent Latin American families.
Maloney, a tall and lean fellow who competes in triathlons and commutes between New York and Miami piloting his own plane, seems to have an affinity for tall and lean projects.
PMG is a partner with JDS Development in a project to build a tall, thin tower at 107 West 57th Street. along one of midtown Manhattan’s major east-west streets. The joint venture last year bought the Steinway piano building next door at 109 West 57th, and plans to use the air rights of that historic structure to go higher at the 107 location. Just how high is subject to negotiation.
“We are committed to keeping the Steinway building and the landlord committments,” said Maloney, whose firm has done scores of projects since it was founded in 1991. The developers, he added, want to keep the Steinway name on the building. The landmark structure includes an ornate rotunda that has served as an elegant showroom for Steinway pianos for decades.
At the Brickell site, PMG plans to feature a swimming pool that covers an entire floor about halfway up the building, with a gym and spa above it. The developers plan to offer various options for units, which will be move-in ready.
The Echo Brickell project comes as Miami’s downtown and Brickell area alone has some 23 other towers in various stages of planning and development, according to Peter Zalewski, principal of Condo Vultures. Eight buildings are under construction in the downtown and Brickell area.
But developers and Realtors insist that the market isn’t heading for another bubble because both the financing and the buyers are more solid than in the last go-round.
Maloney said there is little opportunity for flipping pre-construction contracts, a speculative practice that added froth to the last market. And buyers putting up hefty deposits aren’t apt to renege on deals like the investors who put down 20 percent did when the bottom fell out of the market last time.
PMG plans to employ the buyer-financed model that has recently defined the Miami condo market: Buyers will be required to deposit 20 percent of the purchase price at contract signing. Another 10 percent is due at groundbreaking; 10 percent more, when pool level is reached, and 10 percent when the building is topped off. The 50 percent balance is due at closing.
Shear said an appealing touch for buyers is the developer will pay interest on the deposits.