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Elevate 2023: Day One Recap

Dec 04, 2023

Elevate is the exclusive event that explores the art of living in high-rise buildings. The event is underway with plenty of insight from the star-studded panel of speakers.

Day 1 of Elevate packed with insights on the luxury high-rise market 

Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zonda, led off with a breakdown of the current state of the market. She pointed out that there have been 11 short-term increases from the Fed. However, in the third quarter of GDP, signs show an acceleration of growth, with consumer spending up 2.33 percent. 

So, what fueled that spending? Americans are working through their savings and adding to debt. Prior to the pandemic, Americans possessed an average of 6.2 percent savings, compared to today, when their savings average 3.4 percent. Americans are not replenishing those savings.  

Housing is still trending downward since the Fed began raising rates — rates, affordability, consumer confidence and inventory are the main issues. 

The price difference between new and resale homes was 31 percent between 2010 and 2019 and 27 percent between 2015 to 2019. That amount has shrunk to four percent. 34 percent of home purchases were made with all cash, compared to 29 percent at this time, last year.  

Following Ali, Kimberly Byrum, managing principal, mulitifamily of Zonda Advisory, led the Decoding Today’s High-Rise Consumer panel. Speakers included David Diestel, CEO of FirstService Residential, Peggy Olin, CEO of OneWorld Properties, and Nelson Stabile, the principal and co-founder of Integra Projects.  

The panel spoke on the differences between the U.S. and the Miami market. Within Miami, the city is influenced by many factors. One year it can be the Brazilians reigning; another year it could be Columbia or Mexico. It depends on what’s happening with their respective countries and Miami benefits.  

David Diestel pointed out that luxury high-rises are always early adopters of new services and technology amenities.  Luxury high-rises are always about the four P’s: People, pets, packages, and parking.

Next up was the Executive Power Panel: Capitalizing on High-Rise Residential, hosted by Matt Slutsky, vice-president of Livabl. The speakers included Camilo Miguel, CEO and Founder of Mast Capital, Neil Vohrah, president of High Rise North America, Great Gulf, and Chris Drew, the senior managing director, and co-head of Miami Office of JLL Markets.

The panelists spoke about the differences in the market between locations such as Miami versus Toronto. Prices have been ranging from $3,500 to $4,000 per square foot in Miami, whereas in Toronto, the costs range from $1200 to $1800  per square foor. There’s been a slowdown in the velocity of sales, but prices are remaining stable in the United States. In Canada, the focus markets are changing from investors to end users.

The following panel was The Edge of Architecture: Boundary Pushing Projects. Paul Makovsky, the editor-in-chief of ARCHITECT, hosted Bernardo Fort-Brescia, the founding principal of Arquitectonica.

Bernardo spoke about sustainability driving about many projects in his portfolio. He said engineers are trying to be inclusive, but in certain markets, it can depend on what’s feasible and logical. Architecture is driven by the demands of the buyers, but also the need for architectural resiliency.

The final panel was South Florida Skylines: David Martin’s Vision for Transformative Urban Spaces. David, the CEO of Terra Group, was hosted by Makovsky. David Martin was awarded the inaugural Elevate Icon award prior to his panel, in recognition of his impact on the industry.

David believes that care is vital to the industry; caring about what the customers think leads his thought process. He develops a thesis around every project he creates, and believes that sustainability always needs to be considered, but sometimes compromises need to be made, due to testing or engineering knowledge.