Condo Vultures St. Regis Bal Harbour Project Ramps Up New Condo Sales Effort

As the South Florida real estate market was crashing in 2008, the developers of the proposed St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort were launching construction of the three-tower condominium and hotel project with more than 500 units on a site that fronts the Atlantic Ocean.
Fast forward three years to the present. The complex’s developer is ramping up the sales campaign to identify buyers in anticipation of completing the project in the fourth quarter of 2011. The official grand opening is scheduled for January 2012.
Besides the Collins Avenue location on a nearly nine-acre, oceanfront site across from the Bal Harbour Shops, a cornerstone of the sales effort is the slightly reduced prices that start at $760 per square foot compared to more than $1,000 per square foot at the onset of construction, according marketing materials.
“Many people were skeptical when the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort construction began at the start of the real estate shakeout in early 2008,” said Carolyn Ross, a real estate sales associate with the licensed Florida brokerageCVR Realty™. “To the development group’s credit, they pushed ahead with the construction despite the condo world experiencing dramatic change all around them. As we look ahead to the project’s formal opening in 2012, many of the early skeptics are surely reconsidering their outlook.”
Bal Harbour is a ultra-wealthy village of 3,300 people located on a barrier island between Miami Beach and Sunny Isles Beach.
Bal Harbour is a destination for a lot of boat owners as the village is located on the south bank of the only inlet on the barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway between Miami Beach’s trendy neighborhood of South Beach and Fort Lauderdale.
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort is comprised of three 27-story towers with more than 500 condos, condo-hotels, fractional condos, and hotel rooms.
The North and South towers are slated to be traditional condominiums while the Center Tower is to be comprised of a St. Regis hotel that includes condo-hotel units, fractional residences, and traditional condominiums.
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort is to include four swimming pools, a 12,000-square-foot Remede spa, and signature restaurants.
In Bal Harbour proper, there are 194 condominium units on the resale market at an average price of $622 per square foot as of March 25, according to an analysis by CVR Realty™.
An additional 41 units – with an average asking price of $398 per square foot – are currently under contract waiting to transact, according to the analysis based on Florida Realtors association data.

Within the last six months, buyers have acquired 71 units at an average price of $383 per square foot in Bal Harbour, according to the analysis.

Residential market: a white-hot 1Q in Miami

The first quarter of 2011 might be Miami’s strongest three-month period since the housing bubble popped.

After the last six months of 2010 saw a cooling down after federal tax stimuli expired, inventory of both single-family homes and condominium units is falling dramatically.

“The market is ‘en fuego,'” meaning “on fire,” said Nelson Gonzalez, a senior vice president at Esslinger-Wooten Maxwell in Miami Beach. “I’m working seven days a week.”

Gonzalez said there was no comparison between the activity he saw in the first three months of 2010 and the same period this year.

“How do I compare a snail with a cheetah?” He said.

In the single-family market, for example, there were 3,348 closed deals in the first quarter, according to Miami MLS data provided to The Real Deal by the Keyes Company. That represents a nearly 9 percent increase over the same period in 2010, and a 173 percent jump over the first quarter of 2008.

“We’ve not only had a good, solid closing first quarter, but the second quarter will be outperforming any quarter we’ve seen in the last few years in units sales, because of what we’ve already seen that’s pending,” said Keyes CEO Mike Pappas.

The jump over the first quarter of 2010 was significant because it came without the help of federal tax stimuli, Pappas said. “Last year you were going up against the end of the stimulus tax credit. The volume we did in March was as big as any month since 2007.”

According to data from the Miami Association of Realtors, pending home sales (which include single-family homes and condos), jumped 18 percent last month compared to March 2010.

The activity hasn’t come without casualties, however. While volume has more than doubled since the time the bubble burst, prices are now down to about half of what they were, he said.

While the median sales price of a single-family home in Miami in the first quarter of 2008 was around $310,000, it’s now around $150,000.

In the city of Miami (as opposed to county-wide, which was the region covered in the rest of the data here), the median sales price was $199,600, according to the most recent 2011 numbers from, in the first quarter. That was a drop from a peak of $339,000 at the end of 2008.

Gonzalez said the activity he’d seen in Miami Beach’s high-end market was coming largely from buyers, typically end-users, afraid to miss the bottom.

“The people that had the money — and again, everything is all-cash — there’s not financing involved — are getting off the fence because they’re seeing that the bottom happened a year ago and don’t want to miss the boat at the bottom,” he said.

By Alexander Britell