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Brickell Magazine

Smarter Living

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A Colombian economist eager to rewrite modern metropolitan living, Habitat Group President & CEO Santiago Vanegas’ Smart Brickell condominium complex will further invigorate our already booming business district.

A former Fortune International Financial Manager and local market expert, when Founder & Principal Santiago Vanegas incepted the Habitat Group, he did it with one overriding conviction: That the complexes developed under his purview would be so much more than another set of blase hi-rises crowding our skyline. A prime example of his principle in motion?

Smart Brickell Condos, a powerful addition to our district equipped with a number of state-of-the-art features you have to see to believe. Utilizing a seamless combination of Smart Architecture efficiently using every square foot of space available, Smart Interior Design (featuring stunning designs of city-favorites Arquitectonica Interiors) and Smart Use leasing agreements that allow owners to manage and rent their property the way they want, Smart Brickell Condos aims to compose a condominium complex ideal for the population it serves;


Habitat Rising

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Text by Sandy Lindsey
Photos by Ximena Etchart
A strong team, unique projects and an innovative approach has helped Habitat Group fulfill its goal of providing exceptional real estate management services that sek to provide solid returns and a positive investment experience for their clients, resulting in satisfied customers confident that their objectives will be fulfilled.

Habitat Group’s story is similar to that of the typical American Dream. An immigrant who arrived in a new country with the vision of creating his own company started off with only a small project, then a small building. He then
realized that it was possible to continue growing while being able to generate new employment opportunities. “Having started with only very elementary foundations, I created a work team and expanded my property portfolio,” says Habitat Group President Santiago Vanegas. “Habitat Group survived the economical crisis of 2006 which was one of the most significant crisis in the world’s economy. We not only survived, but the company came out strengthened and with the expertise needed to continue thriving in the market.” Vanegas and his team like nothing better than to transform a property from “nothingness into a productive real estate gem.” They purchased the Historic Miami River Hotel when it appeared to be stuck in time, restored it and joined it with an additional property. A few months later, it had a high occupancy rate for its 75 rooms and a high ranking in its sector. Since then, it has increased the value of the area and has become one of the most important properties in their portfolio. Similarly, they transformed a condo building into a condo hotel in 2007. In doing so, they managed to save the property as well as the deposits of its initial buyers and the
capital of its investors. Today, it too is a highly valued and profitable property.
“Our projects are special and elaborate with superior quality, seeking to go above standard value,” he says. “We contribute in urban development, always seeking to strengthen and respect the cultural roots of each area.” Perfect examples of this are The Havana Club Hotel and the Historic Miami River Hotel restorations, which have been made in Little Havana. “We also plan projects with the district, which seek overall improvement of the localities and in turn increase property taxes for the city’s revenue that benefits the same communities.”
Habitat Group divides the style and design of its activities in two parts. One part is the 5 principal services they offer: development services, capital investments, realty, property management and hotel operations of personal projects and of third parties. The other part is the types of projects they carry out, such as boutique apartment hotels, modern technological concept offices and great valorization buildings. The company’s principal idea is to unite all of the areas of investment, such as its processes and development, under the same roof They are a small-medium sized company with flexibility in the market, as opposed to large companies that have a more rigid structure. “We have the ability of migrating between different products that real estate has to offer,” he explains. “We can step from new construction to hotel operations, to property management and commercial properties, among others, while offering horizontal and vertical movements in the market, which are not easily carried out by other companies. In doing so, we offer our expertise and experience in the diverse segments of real estate, accompanied by the varied services that may be needed in each operation.” To date, the company has an outstanding 15-year track record of more than a dozen successful transactions, giving individuals the confidence to invest and re-invest with them. “Our credibility is built on returns paid, returned capitals as well as successful transactions with diverse partners and investors,” says Vanegas. “Our reputation and our experience have generated confidence and credibility from our partners and resulted in their continued loyalty to our investment opportunities. Habitat Group’s main policy is to protect its investors’ capital over the company’s own capital.”
What’s more, their target is medium-sized transactions that aren’t “enormous” but rather compatible and accessible for a medium-sized Latin American family looking to invest. “Our sale prices are never at the extreme high so we’re always giving our buyers an upside, which is why our portfolio is fast in rotation, thanks to the attractive sales prices for our final clients,” he says. “An example is if the market is generating 5010 returns in rentability on rental buildings, we have the capacity of selling it at a 5.500 or Pro rentability for our potential buyers, generating our own utility previous to this. Added to this is the confidence our consumers feel due to our track record that reveals solidity and seriousness.”
The Habitat Group story is a tale of growth. They began as a development company that specialized in small and medium construction projects. These projects began to expand and evolve into new services due to the company’s adaptability. This in turn progressed the company into becoming a hotel-operating enterprise. “We stepped our way up from being a development company, to a property construction company, a property management company, and finally a hotel operator,” says Vanegas. “We continue to expand our business by adapting our needs to those of the market, seeing new opportunities in times of crisis and taking advantage of each step in our development. We use vision and market analysis to detect and carry-out successful transactions, and this has helped us branch out into additional services such as realty as well as property and capital management.”
Moving forward, their next focus is exploring the real estate market of West Brickell and Little Havana “We’re betting on the analysis of investments in East Little Havana as well as in the office market of the Brickell and Downtown areas,” affirms Vanegas. “Our aim is to take advantage of the supply deficit that the market is currently experiencing due to an over-demand for office spaces. ”
Vanegas concludes that real estate has higher operating returns than bond yields and inflation rates, and there’s appreciation of the asset over time. “Real estate investments are also superior because when you invest in real estate, you’re investing in a tangible good,” he says. “When you analyze and buy properly, the risk is very low and comparable to that of bonds.”
Habitat Group is located at 175 SW 7th St., Ste. 2201-2, Miami, FL 33130. For more information, call 786.5774394 or visit

“When you invest in real estate, you’re investing in a tangible good and when you analyze and buy properly, the risk is very low.”


Encounters w/ Habitat Group

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Brickell Magazine
Historic Miami River Hotel & Fridge Art Miami hosted a colorful Art Basel bash with Habitat Group. — Photos by Korey Davis

1. Bobby & Gaby Berrido, Gloria Floret, Miguel Made
2. Andres Roa, Natalie Garcia 3. Hernan Posada, George Dufonier 4. Lady Arenas, Angel Perez 5. Tatiana Piedrahita, Will Lara, Lina Solorzano

Success Real Estate

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Habitat Miami is a short-term rental apartment complex located in Brickell. They offer the benefit of staying at a home away from home, featuring, among other things, fully functional Italian kitchens. Currently, they’re offering apartments from 1-3 bedrooms that are perfect fro small or large families, and even for those individuals who travel for business or pleasure.

For Santiago Vanegas Motto of Habitat Developments, the greatest success of 2011 didn’t take place in the office.

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Habitat Development, LLC 305.505.4672
For Santiago Vanegas Motto of Habitat Developments, the greatest success of 2011 didn’t take place in the office.
“Principally, it’s having been able to coordinate an equilibrium between enjoying time with my family and with my team at work,” he says. Not that Vanegas Motta hasn’t enjoyed plenty of work-related accomplishments in recent years, including an award from the City of Miami Beach for “Best Renovation”. “The secret is to enjoy what you do,” he says. At the company’s latest development, Habitat Miami, Vanegas Motto has gone beyond traditional property sales, additionally offering both long­term and short-term rentals. It’s a strategy he recommends to those trying to make decisions about their property. “Real estate is a long-term investment,” he says. “Always analyze ‘Plan B’ — which is not a sale. Keep it and rent toy’
Words to Live By: “Security and health for my family.”
Inside Scoop: Buyers: “Think about the long­term view — which in this climate might mean trying to rent it fast!”
Inside Scoop: Sellers: “Take some time to think about what you’ll do with the money you make when you sell.”
Predictions for 2012: “The inventory is going to be reduced — and when supply gets low, expect prices to go up.”

Modern Life

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Part condominium, part hotel,Habitat Miami gives new meaning to the term “home away from
home” with lavish apartments ranging from 800-
1,200 sq. ft. that make one wonder why they’d ever
book at a conventional hotel again
Sophisticated Miami is a city that has it all: world-class shopping, fine dining, stellar entertainment, unparalleled nightlife, stunning beaches and, of course, a vibrant international business presence in the Brickell area that
attracts people from around the globe. This results in a wide variety of visitors to our popular city with equally diverse needs and wishes when it comes to what are the best accommodations for both the short- and long-term stay. One alternative to the traditional mainstream luxury hotel is Habitat Miami, which aptly bills itself as “Close to everything while feeling for from it all — a natural way of urban living.”
“We offer spacious apartments with modern decoration at an affordable price,” says Maria Beatriz Elks, Owner It GM. “Our goal is to offer a different alternative to clients when they are traveling for business or pleasure. We are another option — a personalized condo/apartment in the Brickell area. We have all the amenities that a regular hotel doesn’t have, like a fully equipped kitchen, washer/dryer, etc. This is especially important if you’re traveling with children. We also offer full concierge services that are unique. This includes pick­up and drop-off at airports and ports, groceries and more.” Additionally, each apartment features a private terrace with panoramic city views. The complex also features a spacious rooftop sundeck with plush chaise lounges and a handy barbecue zone, as well as a well-equipped fitness facility. “The Habitat Miami concept is to offer short-term, luxurious fully furnished rental apartments that allow you to feel at home in Brickell,” adds Patricia Campos, Head of Operations Et Logistics Department. “It’s an excellent solution for realtor’s clients, international executives, families and vacations. Additionally, it enhances Miami living for local residents by offering an apartment where they can stay if they are remodeling their home and also an alternative for their out-of-town visitors.”
What makes the Habitat Miami story even more interesting is that the project was not originally built for its present use. “Habitat Miami was a condo-for-sale building, but due to the economy, sales were not at their best, banks increased their demands, and sales weren’t closing,” explains Maria Laura Navas, Head of the Accounting It Administration Department. “So the President of Habitat Development, LLC, Santiago Vanegas, who is currently managing Habitat Miami, began to furnish apartments for friends and family to stay at. Seeing as this concept was profitable we began to furnish all the apartments and search for clients outside of our circle of friends and family.”
Despite the continuing economic downturn, Habitat Miami continues to thrive with an impressive 950/D occupancy rate since mid-2010. The reason is simple according to Patricia Campos: “People choose Habitat Miami because we offer luxury apartments that are comfortable and affordable. The styles we carry through the apartments are modern and well-appointed.” Amongst their notable features, the apartments offer fashionable Italian kitchens boasting top-notch appliances. The one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments feature high-end finishes and state-of-the-art amenities throughout the entire property, with easy-access private covered parking available.
“It’s a home away from home. A product that thoroughly satisfies the need of the client,” adds Maria Laura Navas. Though the spacious apartments — which range up to a very impressive 3-bedroom/2-bath 1,226 sq. ft. completely furnished residence boasting a king-sized bed and 2 queen-sized beds — make one feel about as far away as they can get from a by-comparison-cramped hotel room, the units
Among the notable features within the apartment offerings at Habitat Ram are high-end furnishings and state-of-the-art amenities throughout the property
feature all the amenities one would expect of a luxury hotel including flat panel televisions, high-speed internet access, cable/satellite television, pay movies, designer toiletries, bathrobes, full housekeeping and turndown service of the premium bedding. Hypo-allergenic bedding, cribs and rollaway beds are also available.
Location is another factor. The property is less than one mile from Miami’s Financial District, and Miami Beach and all the fun of South Beach are about a 15-minute drive, with Miami International Airport about 10 miles away. The property’s central location makes it not only convenient to Brickell businesses, but to the Miami Convention Center, the Port of Miami, art and history museums, Vizcaya, Coconut Grove and more. It’s easy access to 1-95 makes it a well-situated spot from which to go exploring south to The Florida Keys or north to Fort Lauderdale and The Palm Beaches. All this adds up to a response that is global. “We receive many reservations from South America and Europe, with the greatest numbers coming specifically from Argentina and France,” reports Campos. This continued success has led to significant expansion plans. What’s more, Habitat Miami is constantly trying to develop according to demand. They are continually trying to add new services such as property management and development to cater to their clients’ needs. As such, Habitat II is in the works to expand inventory by building a second tower of an additional 33 fully furnished apartments right across from Habitat I. The new tower is scheduled for Winter 2012 along with more amenities in the form of a business center, cafeteria and Jacuzzi.
“Our overall goal is to constantly expand our products and improve our services,” adds Campos. “We make services that cater to the needs of our clients a major priority in all that we do.” In addition to the deep and personal commitment of the design team to give guests the exclusiveness they deserve,
Habitat Miami’s central location in Brickell means that the property is just a short distance from just about every South Florida attraction and destination plus, the views are amazingl
this family-owned and operated business has an equally important commitment to the surrounding subtropical environment by being eco-friendly.
If there’s one thing the entire team at Habitat Miami would like to see readers take away from this article it is that there are alternative solutions such as Habitat Miami in existence to fulfill a variety of living needs — and you can rest assured the best is yet to camel
For more information on Habitat Miami and to inquire about their upcoming Ownership Program, call 305.859.7745 or visit