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Habitat Group plows ahead in Miami condo market

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By   – Senior Reporter, South Florida Business Journal

While some of Miami’s biggest condo developers have pumped the breaks, Habitat Group is moving full speed ahead with its Smart Brickell condo and lining up property for more projects.

Santiago Vanegas, CEO of the Miami-based developer, isn’t deterred by what some people are calling a market slowdown. This trained economist pays close attention to retail and market trends, and he believes Smart Brickell will be among the first projects delivered as the Miami condo market rebounds.

“We want to be the beginning wave of the next cycle,” Vanegas said. “We have alternative product, something different for the market.”

Habitat Group has become one of the most active developers in west Brickell and east Little Havana with four projects in the pipeline, and a fifth development site it owns. For Vanegas, it was truly a story of building from the ground up.

Vanegas studied economics in his native Colombia for five years and worked as an economist there before moving to Miami in 1998. Two years later, he landed a job with Edgardo Defortuna’s Fortune International Group, one of the largest condo brokers and developers in Miami. By 2005, Vanegas decided to step out on his own and form Habitat Group.

“I was very successful at Fortune and had a very good salary, but every night when I went to sleep I felt I could do a little bit more,” Vanegas said. “I felt I could make more projects on my own.”

He saw the new Miami 21 zoning code would greatly increase the density in West Brickell, so he decided to assemble property there, but first he needed to pool together some money. Vanegas said his biggest investors are the Roa family, which has agriculture and price farming interests in Colombia, and the Codovez family, which owns shrimp farms in Ecuador. He also personally invests in Habitat Group’s real estate funds.

For its first fund between 2005 and 2010, Habitat Group assembled about five acres in West Brickell. That was before the development of Brickell City Centre, so much of the activity in the neighborhood was centered around Brickell Avenue.

“Everybody wants to have the best location, and Brickell Avenue is just one of them,” Vanegas said. “Then you have the whole Brickell area. It’s a hospitality neighborhood.”

The company’s first project was Habitat One, which was originally conceived as a condo but quickly converted into a 25-unit rental in 2008. Vanegas realized the zoning allowed for short-term rentals, so he added furnishing to each unit and started operating Habitat One like a hotel via listings on vacation rental site HomeAway.

Habitat One’s income increased from $300,000 per year as apartments to $1 million per year in the first year as a vacation rental, he said. The building is now called Habitat Residences. Later, the company built a second phase with 55 units.

By 2012, Habitat Group sold much of its remaining property in west Brickell. Other developers have built projects such as Le Parc, Casa Brickell and the Atton Brickell Miami hotel on those properties, while Vanegas reinvested the proceeds in other deals.

Habitat Group acquired seven apartment buildings and two hotels in east Little Havana, the Jefferson Hotel and the Historic Miami River Hotel. All of them were renovated and later sold for a profit, Vanegas said.

“We started seeing the potential that Little Havana has,” Vanegas said. “Today, Calle Ocho is cool and full of tourists.”

For its third fund, Habitat Group has its biggest sellout target yet at $250 million, Vanegas said. It’s returned to the neighborhoods where it’s already experienced success.

Located at 229 to 243 S.W. 9th St., Smart Brickell is slated for three towers. The first two towers would each have 50 condos and 50 hotel rooms, while the third tower would have 70 condos and 50 hotel rooms. There would also be 30,000 square feet of retail.

Vanegas said the first tower is 100 percent pre-sold and should break ground in the first quarter. He recently launched sales on the second tower, asking $300,000 to $600,000 for units ranging from 558 to 1,117 square feet. The average price is around $600 per square foot.

While Habitat Group is marketing its condos, major Miami developers such as the Related Group and Melo Group are wrapping up their current condo projects and haven’t started sales for new ones. There’s been a slowdown in new condo sales for several years that has discouraged many developers from launching projects. The few condo projects that have started sales recently are targeting the luxury market, such as Aston Martin Residences and Una Residences.

Ron Shuffield, president and CEO of EWM Realty International in South Florida, said that new condos proposed in Miami’s urban core are facing tough competition from resales with lower pricing. The building boom has resulted in many recently-completed condos being placed on the market by investors. As a result, Miami-Dade County has an 11-month supply of condos priced under $1 million, based on the current sales pace, Shuffield said.

Despite these challenges, Smart Brickell’s strategy of targeting investors at price points that make renting out the units feasible should ultimately succeed because of the rapidly-growing population in Miami, Shuffield said.

“We feel the market and we are trying to do this anti-cycle,” Vanegas said. “The last condo project of this cycle, Brickell Flatrion, will deliver next year. That is the only new supply for 2019, then the supply on Brickell will stop. If you want to have product ready for 2021, you have to start construction today.”

Vanegas hopes Smart Brickell will open at a time when it will have less competition from newly-completed condos. He designed the units as smaller and more efficient, with furnishings included, to make them more attractive to investors who plan to rent them.

Technology is a main focus at Smart Brickell, as the condos will include a Nest smart thermostat control, Lifx smart lighting controls, Alexa by Amazon and an iPad with each unit containing a special app for the building.

To give condo investors more options to make money, Smart Brickell will allow them to use their units as short-term rentals up to 24 times per year, or they could lease the condo back to the developer for a fixed rent. Habitat Group would then include those leased condos in its hotel pool.

The developer doesn’t plan to retain a national brand or a hospitality management company for the hotel. Habitat Group will manage the Smart Brickell hotel itself, Vanegas said. In fact, the 15-person company has established a hotel management division and it’s open to managing hotels for other property owners, he added.

Habitat Group’s other projects are:

East River Living, a 34-unit apartment building under construction at 39 N.W. 7th Ave. in Little Havana.

Millux, a 114-room hotel planed at 239 S.W. 12th Street in west Brickell. Vanegas said the name denotes a luxurious experience for millennials. It will be full of decorations that will inspire “Instagram moments,” he said.

A mixed-use project with 108 condos, 60 hotel rooms, and 12,000 square feet of retail in the early planning stages at 143 S.W. 9th Street in west Brickell.

The company also owns a vacant lot at 36 N.W. 7th Ave. in Little Havana. Vanegas said he plans 50 apartments there.

“We want to find a way to keep these assets and give Habitat the opportunity to operate those properties in the future,” Vanegas said.

https://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/news/2018/12/21/rej-habitat-group-plows-ahead-in-miami-condos.html?ana=e_mc_prem&s=newsletter&ed=2018-12-21&u=nExM5u6eTbqWklFN4pQ2vw0a04013a&t=1545404678&j=85669771

A Focus On Sustainability

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Since founding Habitat Group in 2005, Vanegas has sought to promote sustainable real estate development in South Florida’s investor hotspots, including West Brickell and, more recently, Little Havana. Before coming to Miami in 2000, he studied economics at Universidad del Rosario in Colombia. Through a strategy that focuses on density and functionality, Vanegas said he sees plenty of room for new construction in Little Havana that doesn’t detract from the neighborhood’s history, not to mention its affordability.

“There is an opportunity to create an affordable rental market in the city for the people who work in the city,” Vanegas said. “There are a lot of people who work downtown but can’t afford to live near downtown. We think it is possible to provide an option for them.”

Habitat’s previous work in East Little Havana includes the redevelopment of two hotels, the Jefferson Hotel and the Historic Miami River Hotel. Vanegas said he hopes to build on the success of those projects as it works to develop more commercial and residential spaces to support Miami’s growing urban economy.

“There is very little supply in downtown Miami for commercial real estate,” Vanegas said. “There are no hotels for sale and minimal multifamily supply. We are shifting our strategy to meet those needs over the next several years.”

Zoning restrictions are often cited among the primary obstacles for developers who want to focus on affordable housing in urban areas, and Miami is no exception. The pattern of development in Miami recently has emphasized downtown density, but this carries side effects. Traffic congestion is one of them, and Vanegas thinks this presents one of the easiest opportunities for zoning reform.

Right now, new construction in Miami must meet a quota for parking space. To get that requirement reduced or eliminated, Vanegas said, developers have to petition city officials.

“It should be the opposite,” he said. “Developers should almost get a bonus for reducing their parking requirements.” That way, the city could crack down on traffic that clogs arterial roads surrounding downtown. Several of Habitat’s projects, including the ongoing Smart Brickell complex, are designed to make the most of relatively small land parcels by building up and fitting neatly into the surroundings.

“We have an amazing portfolio of real estate assets, and we have managed to bring them to market with very good timing,” Vanegas said. “Our strategy is to stay ahead of the next cycle.”

https://miamiagentmagazine.com/2019/01/07/cover-story-housing-economy/

Smart Brickell Gets Planning Approval, Applies For Construction Permit

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By  on January 17, 2019

Miami’s Office of Zoning has granted approval for the Smart Brickell project, according to a notice posted on the city’s website.

A phased vertical construction permit is listed as pending, city records show.

Demolition was underway as of November, with the demolition permit approved by the city in September.

Sales for the project’s  Tower 2 launched in November following sellout of the first tower. Groundbreaking is scheduled for Q4 2019.

Tower 2 is a 25-story tower that will include 50 hotel rooms and 50 condos. Units are being offered finished and furnished, with Airbnb or other short term rentals allowed up to 24 times annually.

Smart Brickell is planned to include three towers. Developer Habitat Group has several other projects planned in Brickell including Millux, with two hotels and 57 hotel rooms, and another mixed-use project.

Hernando Carrillo is the architect, with interiors by Arquitectonica. Cervera is handling sales.

 

https://www.thenextmiami.com/smart-brickell-gets-planning-approval-applies-for-construction-permit/

Enjoy the high life in these new towers that offer hotel rooms and condos

By | NEWS

Also in Miami, developer Habitat Group recently started demolition of two apartment buildings near the downtown to make way for three interconnected towers of homes and hotel rooms. Known as the Smart Brickell project, it is designed to have 150 hotel rooms and 170 condos, said Santiago Vanegas, founder, CEO and president of Habitat Group.

More amenities are usually offered at a hotel than in a standard condo, so combining the two gives residents the best of both worlds, Vanegas said.

“You could call the front desk to the hotel for room service from the coffee shop or the bar,” Vanegas said of the condo residents.

Vanegas said some buyers might be hesitant to buy in a condo or apartment building with a hotel component because they feel they can lose privacy to tourists who share the amenities. He said that concern is usually abated with private elevators, and security systems to ensure that the condos remain sealed off to hotel guests.

“They love it,” he said of the condo residents. “That’s the market. It’s an alternative.”His condos will start in the $300,000s.

https://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/fl-bz-hotel-condos-combo-trend-20181030-story.html

The Smartest Tower in Brickell

By | NEWS

After the successful sellout of Tower 1 and demolition underway, South-Florida based developer Habitat Groupannounces the launch of sales for Smart Brickell Tower 2, with sales led by Cervera Real Estate in Miami. Upon completion, Smart Brickell will feature three towers integrating smart use, smart design and smart technology.

After a successful sellout of Tower 1, the launch of Tower 2 adds more than 30,000 square feet of new inventory to the bustling West Brickell area with prices ranging from $300,000 to $600,000. Tower 2 is slated for groundbreaking in Q4 2019 and will be located in Brickell at 239 SW 9th Street.

“Smart Brickell is setting the tone for the kind of developments Miami needs. Buyers are looking for flexibility and ease of use from their properties and Smart Brickell offers just that. We are seeing that the rental restrictions in most condos are limiting for a lot buyers that want to have more options. After successfully selling out Tower 1, Smart Brickell is proof that Miami has demand for this kind of project,” said Alicia Cervera Lamadrid of Cervera Real Estate. “The development has been well received by buyers in both local and international markets.”

Sitting on the 1.23-acre development area, Tower 2 is a 25-story tower that will consist of 50 hotel rooms and 50 condos with one and two bedroom floor plans from 558 to 1,117 square feet. The building will follow the same design and amenities as Tower 1 and optimize space and size with fully finished and custom furnished units by renowned interior design firm Arquitectonica.

Unit owners will be able to rent out their condos up to 24 times a year using popular home sharing applications and programs such as Airbnb or participate in an optional two-year, fixed annual leaseback program that ensures two years rent at a fixed rate.

Smart Brickell gives residents and guests the opportunity to experience integrated technology and amenities specifically designed to spark interaction and efficiency, acting as a gateway to Smart Living in the City. The condo residences will be equipped with Smart Wi-Fi enabled features to compliment the look and feel of futuristic living. These Smart Tech features will include Nest, home and personal assistant Alexa by Amazon, Bosch appliances, Lifx lighting features, a mobile concierge, electric parking spaces and more.

The building itself will also adhere to LEED certified regulations, the most widely used green building rating system in the world. The certification process ensures healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. Highlights of the project include a stunning amenity deck with a landscaped recreational area and expansive terrace, two resort-style pools with a lap are and sun deck, a sky fitness center, an organic café on the ground level, a spa and fully equipped fitness center, a rooftop lounge bar and a fully equipped business center. Designed by well-known architect Hernando Carrillo with concept and branding by world-renowned firm, Gensler, Smart Brickell is slated for completion in 2022. 

“It is very exciting to see the momentum this second sales launch is bringing to the project,” said Santiago Vanegas, founder, CEO and president of Habitat Group. “Smart Brickell will be the only development of its kind in the area. Local and international buyers are recognizing how this type of project will enhance their lifestyles.”

In addition to Smart Brickell, Habitat Group has several Miami projects in the pipeline. The developer will soon launch Millux, a project with two hotels and 57 hotel rooms and is also finalizing details on a mixed-use hotel and residential project with 12,000 square feet of retail space. Both projects will be located between two and three blocks from Smart Brickell. The developer is also soon to launch a multi-family building which will be delivered in the first quarter of 2020 in East Little Havana.

https://mmm-live.myshopify.com/blogs/mmm-miami/events-in-miami-miami-art-week-at-brickell-city-centre

This week in Miami Real Estate

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Habitat Group is launching sales of the second tower at Smart Brickell, a condo, hotel and rental complex. The three-building project sold out the first tower, split between 50 hotel rooms and 50 condos. The developers plan to break ground on the next 25-story building in March 2019. Sales from the condo closed out around $19 million for the first tower and the estimated second, also split 50/50 like the first, is $19.5 million. Prices for units range from $300,000 to $600,000. Developer Santiago Vanegas said about 70 percent of buyers are investors and 30 percent are end users. Amenities will include a terrace, resort-style pools, a fitness center, a ground-floor café, a rooftop lounge bar and business center. Architects Hernando Carillo and Gensler are designing the project and Arquitectonica is designing fully finished units. Inside, apartments will feature smart home features, Bosch appliances and more.

https://miamiagentmagazine.com/2018/12/07/week-miami-management-hires-average-homeowner-age/

Smart Brickell Tower 2 Launches in Miami

By | NEWS

Several months since our last update, and progress at the future site of Habitat Group‘s three-tower Smart Brickell development in Miami has reached a major milestone, as Tower 2 enters into sales. With demolition crews still hard at work prepping the site, and Tower 1 already sold out, the well-situated, mixed-use development in the heart of the city is proving a hot spot for buyers.

The 25-storey Tower 2 will be comprised of 50 hotel rooms and 50 residential suites, the latter to range in size from 558-1,117 square feet, with a mix of one- and two-bedroom units. Representative of 30,000 square feet of new condo inventory, Tower 2 will be a sizeable addition to Miami’s bustling West Brickell neighbourhood.

Located at 239 SW 9th Street, adjacent to the I-95, and just a couple of blocks west of Brickell Village, Brickell Station, and the many shops, restaurants, and bars that populate the area, Smart Brickell will place residents and hotel guests within easy walking distance to all the city has to offer. Close as well to the Atlantic Ocean and Downtown Miami, Smart Brickell will be a top destination for those looking for a quick commute and a healthy, urban lifestyle.

With “Smart” in the name, it is little wonder that the development will be equipped with a great deal of technological innovation, including Nest, Alexa, and Bosch- and Lifx-branded in-suite tech. All three towers will share a full range of amenities, including a fitness centre, two pools, and an outdoor terrace. Set for completion by 2022, Smart Brickell will be a fine addition to the neighbourhood.

SkyriseCities will be sure to return to this project as progress continues. For more information, check out the associated Database file and Forum thread, and as always, feel free to join the conversation in the comments section below.

 

https://skyrisecities.com/news/2018/11/smart-brickell-tower-2-launches-miami

Habitat Group launches second phase of Brickell condo project

By | NEWS

Habitat Group is launching sales of the second tower at Smart Brickell, a condo-hotel complex with flexible short-term rental options.

The three-building project sold out the first tower, with 50 hotel rooms and 50 condos, and is planning on breaking ground on the 25-story building in March, developer Santiago Vanegas said. The condo sellout is about $19 million for the first tower and the estimated sellout for the second building, also with 50 hotel rooms and 50 condo units, is $19.5 million.

Smart Brickell is priced lower than most new developments in the neighborhood, with units ranging in price from $300,000 to $600,000. Vanegas said about 70 percent of the buyers in the first building are investors and 30 percent are end users.

The project offers owners the ability to rent their units out 24 times a year, or about twice a month. “We are seeing that the rental restrictions in most condos are limiting for a lot buyers that want to have more options,” Alicia Cervera Lamadrid of Cervera Real Estate said in a release. Cervera is handling sales of the condos, which range from 558 square feet to 1,117 square feet.

Buyers can also participate in a two-year, fixed annual leaseback program. Other developments are also beginning to offer looser rental restrictions, like YotelPad in downtown Miami.

Habitat Group expects to break ground on the second building later next year, between six and nine months of beginning construction on the first tower. The 1.23-acre project will also include a third building, similar to the first two.

Smart Brickell will feature an amenity deck with a terrace, resort-style pools, a fitness center, cafe on the ground floor, rooftop lounge bar and business center. Architect Hernando Carrillo and Gensler are designing the project, and Arquitectonica is designing the fully finished units. The apartments will include smart home features, Bosch appliances and more.

 

https://therealdeal.com/miami/2018/11/29/habitat-group-launches-second-phase-of-brickell-condo-project/

Miami Multifamily Catering To Every Interest Under South Florida Sun

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Tech-savvy Miamians will have a home at Smart Brickell when the Habitat Development property welcomes first occupants in 2020. Billed as a “smart integration of technology, modern design and unique usage” and encompassing three towers, the property at 175 SW 7th Street in the West Brickell neighborhood will offer fully-furnished residences that owners will be urged to rent using integrated technology and apps like Airbnb. Units will feature Nest and Echo smart home devices, and the development’s concierge app will enable residents to use smart phones to request services from their domiciles.

Read more below:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffsteele/2018/11/30/miami-multifamily-catering-to-every-interest-under-south-florida-sun/#352ee924154e

Demolition Underway At Smart Brickell Site, Groundbreaking Expected Q1 2019

By | NEWS

Habitat Group has announced that they have sold out the first of three towers proposed at Smart Brickell, and started demolition at the site.

Two apartment buildings currently on the site are being demolished to make way for the first tower, the developer said.

Materials from the duplexes on the site now being demolished will be recycled for use in the new tower, as part of the developer’s focus on sustainability and environmental responsibility. LEED certification will also be obtained.

Groundbreaking is now expected in the first quarter of 2019, with completion in 2020.

Habitat has several other projects in the works in Brickell. They include an unnamed mixed-use hotel, residential, and retail project, one block from Smart Brickell. Habitat is also planning to develop Millux,  which will include two hotels with 57 hotel rooms each three blocks away from Smart Brickell.

 

Read the full article below:

https://www.thenextmiami.com/demolition-underway-at-smart-brickell-site-groundbreaking-expected-1q-2019/