Sunny Isles developers stockpile land, play (Donald) Trump card
By Sherri C. Ranta
A father-and-son team of New York City-based builders plan to more than double their Sunny Isles Beach holdings to 60 oceanfront acres in deals on eight different properties.
The company has an additional 33 acres under contract and 27 now in its portfolio, said Gil Dezer, president of the New York-based Dezer Development subsidiary.
He said he and father Michael have spent the past several years acquiring oceanfront land and older hotel properties in the 2.5-acre strip of Sunny Isles Beach in the northern section of Miami-Dade County. Their beachfront Collins Avenue properties include Dezerland Beach Resort & Spa, Driftwood Hotel, Monaco Resort, Thunderbird Hotel and the Golden Nugget.
The Dezers' plans for most of the properties are to demolish them to make way for high-rise construction.
"We can build more than $3 billion in development in the next 10 years," said Gil Dezer.
Dezer Development's first luxury oceanfront condominium project on an 11-acre site on Collins Avenue is making news across South Florida as the first Miami-Dade project affiliated with New York developer Donald J. Trump.
The Dezers signed a joint venture agreement with Mr. Trump in December to develop the $600 million, three-phase oceanfront project to be known as Trump Grande Ocean Resort & Residences.
The tract between 180th and 182nd streets, is one of the largest remaining parcels of prime, contiguous beachfront property available for development in the State of Florida, according to Dezer company officials.
Though he would not disclose specifics of the partnership, Gil Dezer said developers have access to Mr. Trump's designers, marketing and sales staff and other contacts, including a large pool of Trump buyers.
'It's a good deal for us and a good deal for them. Trump will help put Dezer on the map. He's enhanced our property in ways we would not think about," he said.
Florida Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Peter Cohn said the deal is good for the area, too, increasing Sunny Isles' name recognition among potential tourists and businesses.
"We've gotten requests for information about the project that we've forwarded to the developers," he said. "Development reduces taxes for everyone in the area and makes us able to afford more public services. I think it's wonderful for the area."
As for the future, Gil Dezer said the partners are taking it one deal at a time.
"We're committed to the three buildings we're doing now. The partnership has been better than any partnership we've ever been in," he said.
Gil said it took about three months to put together the deal with Mr. Trump.
"It was a short courtship from the beginning," he said.
Other Dezer projects on Sunny Isles Beach, he said, will be smaller and of a different caliber.
The Trump Grande Ocean Resort & Residences, to be built in three phase, will be the "crème de la crème" of Dezer's projects on Sunny Isles, he said.
The first phase of a 32-story, 372-unit condominium hotel is under construction and will be called Trump International Beach Resort and managed by Boston-based Sonesta International Hotels Corp. The building is scheduled for completion in September. A topping-off ceremony is planned this weekend.
The second phase, a 47-story, 267-unit luxury condo tower, will be called Trump Palace. Groundbreaking is scheduled for Feb. 9 and completion is expected by August 2003, officials said.
The third phase, still in planning stages and a mirror image of the first 47-story tower, will be called Trump Royale. Pre-construction sales are expected to begin in April.
The third tower was not a part of the original project but was added after the joint venture agreement was signed, Gil Dezer said.
Since Mr. Trump signed on, the cost of the entire project has increased about $250 million, Gil Dezer said. The increased cost includes $200 million for the addition of the third phase and another $50 million in design and interior changes based on Trump's standards.
For example, he said, about $2.5 million more will be spent on the hotel's furnishings - an additional $5,000 to $7,000 more per room. Ceiling heights will go up another foot to 10 feet in the condo tower, he said, increasing other elements, windows for example, another 11%.
"We're spending this gladly," he said.
From 70 to 80% of the units in the condo-hotel and residential tower are sold, Mr. Dezer said. Since the Trump organizations began selling units in their New York offices in early January, sales have increased another $5 million, he said.
Unit prices range from $380,000 to $1 million in the condo-hotel and from $510,000 to $5 million in the residential tower. The tower's lowest priced unit, at $380,000, is sold, he said.
Michael Dezer said the Trump association will draw buyers from the US and beyond.
"In Singapore and Hong Kong, they know Trump," he said.
The lobby of the condo-hotel, Michael Dezer said, will feature a two-story atrium and waterfall. The first five floors will feature offices, restaurants, public meeting rooms, a spa and a 6,000-square-foot ballroom with an ocean view, he said.
Originally drawn to South Florida to attend the University of Miami, Gil stayed here after graduation. In 1999, he and his father created Dezer Development to begin projects in South Florida.
A well-known Manhattan developer, Michael Dezer, said he knew Mr. Trump from working in New York.
The elder Dezer said he oversees oversees the company's New York holdings, including the Simon Dezer Building on Fifth Avenue, the Dezerland, the Chelsea Antiques Building, the Chelsea Design Center and the Chelsea Arts Forum.