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Elevate 2023: Day Two Recap

Dec 06, 2023

Elevate is the exclusive event that explores the art of living in high-rise buildings. Here’s a summary of the second day of Elevate in Miami. 

Day 2 of Elevate dives into design, branded residences, and the “wow” factor of luxury high-rises 

Adam McAbee, the senior vice-president from Zonda Advisory, covered branded residences and their different types. The draw of these residences is the high level of service, amenities, finishes, privacy, bragging rights, and much more.

South Florida leads the Americas in branded residences, followed by Hawaii and New York. In the U.S., New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami hold the top spots for ultra-high-wealth individuals — the market specifically targeted for branded residences. Ritz Carlton leads the pack in the branded residence space, followed by Four Seasons.

Next up, Branded Residences Unveiled: The Fusion of Lifestyle, Celebrity and Prestige Brands with Michael Stern, the founder and CEO of JDS Development Group and Gil Dezer, the president of Dezer Development. This panel was moderated by Robin Dolch, the president and founder of Hundred Stories.

Gil Dezer was the first developer to create a fashion-branded residence with Armani/Casa. His aim is to match the product to the buyer. He believes in bringing the continuity of brand influence throughout his developments. He referenced music playing in a homeowner’s vehicle and having the same song continuing to play when they open the door and arrive home.

Michael wants to immerse customers into the world of Dolce and Gabbana, from fashion to fragrances. His building has an on-site tailor and is expanding into fully furnished suites with Dolce and Gabbana china. Both said that fashion designers have opinions down to the smallest details. Developers benefit from partnering with brands like these because of their incredible reach, recognition, and presence on social media.

The third panel of the morning was Vertical Oasis: Lauren Rottet’s Alchemy of Innovation and Elegance in High-Rise Architecture and Interiors. Lauren is the founding principal and president of Rottet Studio, and a winner of the inaugural Elevate Icon award for her contributions to the industry. This panel was hosted by Paul Makovsky, the editor-in-chief of ARCHITECT.

Lauren is based in five cities, Houston, NYC, LA, Denver, and Austin. She said developers need to know their audience when it comes to design philosophy.

Lauren finds it helpful to assign characters in her creative process and pictures her work as set design. It’s beneficial for her to picture the buyer in her head and envision their wants and needs in advance. Lauren’s design work is tied into the city where it resides – New York is more linear and urban, whereas a building in Miami would feature softer lines to reflect the low-key lifestyle.

The final panel of the morning was hosted by Antonia J.A. Hock, the CEO of Antonia J.A. Hock and associates. Her presentation on forecasting the future of luxury drove home the difference between luxury service and experience.

She offered an example of a restaurant outing that featured five-star service, but little originality. She then presented a version of an original meal with many personal touches via the chef and staff. The latter is the goal — the marketability of a true luxury experience that goes above and beyond creates lasting memories.

Leading into the afternoon, the sessions kicked off with A is for Access – The Latest Residential Amenities Go Well Beyond Gyms and Playrooms.

This panel was hosted once again by Robin Dolch and featured Abbie Newman, the president and chief business development office of LIVunLtd, Danielle Naftali, the executive vice-president of marketing and design for Naftali Group, Justin D’Adamo, head of new development for Compass Development Marketing Group, and Brandon Specketer, partner at COOKFOX architects.

Justin started the conversation by pointing out how the demands for amenities have changed post-pandemic. There’s been a major focus on health and wellness, as well as the need to work from home comfortably and efficiently. Abbie added that the desire to come home to a comfortable and relaxing space is non-negotiable.

Activating amenity spaces is key – nothing is truly passé, even amenities such as bowling alleys. Sometimes an amenity will be repurposed by residents and that’s a sign it needs to go — such was the case of a skate park in an example provided by Abbie.

Next came Hospitality at Home: Redefining the High-Rise Residential Experience. Kimberly Byrum was the moderator, and she hosted Brad Meltzer, the partner and president of Two Roads Development, Edgardo Defortuna, the president, CEO, and founder of Fortune International Group, and Michelle Schrank, the director for ICRAVE.

Brad said the order of development is key: Site selection comes first, then he must analyze the market, and finally decide which brand speaks to that site. Michelle pointed out that size goes beyond the actual unit into a seamless experience with the amenities, to expand the residence. A resident doesn’t need to use the office in their apartment — they can use the one in the common space because it’s likely better equipped.

Edgardo explained that the redefinition of the high-rise luxury experience now goes beyond singles and couples. People are living in luxury units for longer periods of time – they need space for their families and other needs.

Moderator Steve Ladurantaye, the vice-president of residential content for Zonda, hosted Kelly Velasco of national condo and strategy for Chase, as well as Christine Madrid, the west division builder director and senior loan officer for Movement Mortgage, for a discussion on Mortgage Trends for Luxury Condos.

The two discussed the importance of following agency guidelines and the difficulties that can arise in different situations, such as developers leaving a project and selling to another party. Kelly stressed that it’s necessary to be aware of the legalities so it can match the agency guidelines.

Christine said that international developers need to seek out local American experts early in the process with complete knowledge of the market to succeed. It cannot wait until closing when developers will be left with problems to fix.

Finally, the last panel was moderated by Matthew Slutsky and featured Simon S. Mass, founder and CEO of The Condo Store Group of Companies, Ed Carey, the founder and CEO of Audience Town, and Jay Parker, the CEO of brokerage, Florida region, for Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The trio discussed marketing and sales innovations in the luxury high-rise space.

All three broke down the luxury urban consumer into demographics, as well as their needs and wants. This audience is generally under 55 years of age, looking for a second home, and their occupation usually falls into the C-suite and management category. Jay pointed out that while many purchasers in this category are paying for homes with cash, Simon said that in Canada, specifically in Toronto, a lot of leverage is involved to purchase luxury homes.