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Miami, home to the first luxury residential project branded by Aston Martin

After Porsche, Armani, Fendi and Missoni, it is now the turn of Aston Martin to brand a luxury condo project in South Florida. Aston Martin has partnered with wealthy Argentine developers (G and G Business Developments) on a 66-story condo tower called the Aston Martin Residences at the edge of the Miami River in downtown Miami.

The licensing deal marks the auto company’s first venture into real estate. A team from Aston Martin will design the building’s common areas and amenities, including lobbies, fitness centers and a spa.

“It’s not a brand-slapping exercise,” said Katia Bassi, a vice president at Aston Martin. The company wants to make its mark “in all the [cities] where it’s important to be, and Miami is one of those,” she said.

But Argentina’s Coto family, which paid a record $125 million two years ago for the vacant waterfront land next to the Epic Hotel, says it has enough horsepower to get the 390-unit project going.

Three factors will work in the tower’s favor, developer German Coto said at a press conference: A brand name with global appeal. A coveted location where the Miami River meets Biscayne Bay. And the Cotos themselves, who have pockets so deep they say they can afford to build the high rise without a construction loan.

“We need to give buyers a unique experience,” Coto said through a translator. “That’s why we thought about Aston Martin, because we’re talking about luxury, we’re talking about authenticity.”

Architects Luis Revuelta of Miami and Bodas-Miani-Anger of Argentina will design the project

The Miami River, once an industrial waterway popular with drug runners, is now teeming with development. New condo and restaurant projects are going up on both banks. Developers eager for waterfront land have been snatching up properties.

When the Cotos and a group of investors bought the small site at such a high price in 2014, the deal made national news. It is still believed to be the highest price paid per square foot for undeveloped land in South Florida. And it was paid for in cash.

The family, one of Argentina’s wealthiest, owes its fortune to a national chain of supermarkets in Argentina. Coto Supermercado says it has annual sales of roughly $3 billion and employs 25,000 workers. It is also developing mixed-use residential and commercial projects around new supermarkets.

The Cotos’ ability to finance the project using only their own capital and buyer deposits could prove crucial. Banks and private lenders are shying away from South Florida real estate projects as the luxury market tumbles.

In mainland Miami, average sales prices for luxury condos plummeted 29 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of 2016, according to a report from brokerage Douglas Elliman. The number of luxury condo sales fell by a quarter. And units languished on the market for an average of 129 days, compared to 52 days last year.

As a result of the slump, big local developers including the Related Group and Alan Faena, also of Argentina, have delayed or canceled planned condo projects. The competition from Aston Martin may also prove unwelcome news for the developers of One River Point, which is on the Miami River but further west.

The Cotos are following a tried-and-true model in recruiting a well-regarded luxury brand to provide design credibility and headlines.

Developers are building Porsche Design Tower and Residences by Armani/Casa in Sunny Isles Beach. Another team is developing Fendi Chateau Residences in Surfside. Doronin has enlisted the Italian fashion house of Missoni for his Edgewater tower. Two projects branded by Ritz-Carlton are also underway. And six Donald Trump-branded properties helped jump-start development in Sunny Isles before the housing bubble burst.

For Aston Martin, which is also designing yachts and, potentially, private planes, the Miami project may serve as a test drive. The company wants to work with developers in other real estate markets, too.

“If it’s an iconic place, with an iconic partner, with a brilliant architect, in the right location, why not?” said Marek Reichman, chief creative officer at Aston Martin. But don’t expect automobile-inspired amenities like car elevators and sky garages, which have helped market the Porsche project.

“Too obvious,” Reichman said. “It’s about high design. … We’re seeing a demand for our customers to have more than just the car. ”

 

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