Auberge on the beach
Jorge Pérez is making good on his proclamation in SFBW’s first cover story that he was ready to launch sales at the former Ireland’s Inn property in Fort Lauderdale.
Auberge Resorts Collections, known for properties such as Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley and Hotel Jerome in Aspen, will manage a new 171-unit beachfront condominium property on the Ireland’s site for Pérez’s Related Group, Fortune International and Fairwinds LLC. The project is expected to break ground in 2015 and open in 2017.
The 1,500- to 5,000-square-foot units will go for an average of $1,000 a square foot, which is cheap by South Beach standards but near the top of the market in Fort Lauderdale.
The average unit will be 2,800 square feet plus 1,500 square feet of terraces, said Carlos Rosso, president of Related’s condominium division.
Besides introducing the Auberge brand in South Florida, the 4.6-acre site is notable for being right on the sand while other new projects along State Road A1A, including Paramount and The Conrad, are on the west side of the highway. It’s also Auberge’s first project without a hotel component.
The Auberge Beach Residences and Spa in Fort Lauderdale will be like a self-contained resort with its ground level spa and two public restaurants – one on the ocean and one on State Road A1A. The signature restaurant will have an American bistro concept with a raw bar and the extensive wine list that is an Auberge trademark.
Pérez said at the project’s unveiling that he wanted a different brand for Related and his partners in Fort Lauderdale to compete with other projects in Miami Beach and Sunny Isles. He promised that it will “by far” be the most luxurious project in Broward County.
Pérez, whose name is on Miami’s new art museum, said two full-time art curators will work with New York-based interior design firm Meyer Davis to select the art collection for the project.
Architectural firm Nichols, Brosch, Wurst, Wolf & Associates will depart from the SoBe contemporary designs it is known for to do something that is more soft and organic, but still sophisticated and luxurious, according to the project’s press release.
Fortune President Edgardo DeFortuna said some high-end buyers like the scene in South Beach, but others want a more tranquil environment. He noted that Pérez often spends weekends at his penthouse on Hollywood’s beach.
Will Latin buyers come?
One question is how successful the developers will be in attracting Latin American buyers to Fort Lauderdale given their essential role in Miami-Dade’s condo boom.
Pérez talked about how the Hollywood/Hallandale area has been marketed as an extension of the Miami market and DeFortuna predicted that initial Latin America buyers in Fort Lauderdale will be followed by others. Pérez said he also expects a higher percentage of northeastern buyers compared with his projects further south.
The growing number of projects on or near Fort Lauderdale’s beach, which also include Riva, Privage and multiple projects by Ocean Land Development, are also attracting empty nest buyers from western Broward cities such as Weston. Adding to the boom is a $1 billion residential and mixed-use project being planned next to The Galleria Mall on Sunrise Boulevard, which is just west of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Paramount and the Ritz Carlton Residences are among the projects pushing the $1,000 mark in Fort Lauderdale while The Palms, built in 2001 just south of Ireland’s Inn, recently had units listed from $365 to $1,264 a square foot – the latter being a fully furnished penthouse with 20-foot ceilings in the main living area.
Rosso said the Auberge project will have half the number of units typically found on a site of its size.
The Ireland family, with patriarch Jack Ireland, played a key role in making sure the property was harmonious with the single-family neighborhood to the north. Many local residents backed their redevelopment efforts when preservationists unsuccessfully tried to argue that the original hotel building should be preserved as an example of Mid Century Modern (MiMo) architecture.
In reality, though, many much more architecturally significant MiMo projects had already been torn down on Fort Lauderdale’s beach and the hotel’s ground floor had an outdated layout. Damage from Hurricane Wilma dealt a serious blow to the hotel business, which was spread across multiple buildings.
The new project will be 12 feet above sea level and benefit from a 125-foot-deep beach renourishment project that will run for a quarter mile, said Fairwinds President and CEO Andy Mitchell, the husband of VP Executive Kathy Ireland Mitchell.
The Ireland’s Inn restaurant was a popular spot with locals and Andy Mitchell indicated that wouldn’t change. Auberge is the perfect brand, he says, since it will be “world class, but not pretentious.” ?