Rendering Paramount Fort Lauderdale Beach
Rendering Paramount Fort Lauderdale Beach ()

Developers of the first Fort Lauderdale beach development in 10 years to offer condominiums without a hotel component say their project offers all the perks of a resort—just without the actual resort.

And they’re building it with equity financing and reduced reliance on buyer deposits.

Art Falcone and Nitin Motwani, developers of the proposed Miami Worldcenter, have teamed with Boca Raton-based Royal Palm Communities CEO Daniel Kodsi on Paramount Fort Lauderdale Beach, an 18-story condo tower planned on the site of the old Howard Johnson Hotel.

Under relaxed zoning rules that decoupled hotel and condos, the group is demolishing the hotel and replacing it with a 95-unit luxury development at 700 N. Atlantic Blvd. Falcone’s Encore Housing Opportunity Fund is a fund manager that invests in residential real estate. And Motwani’s family has no debt on the 2-acre parcel after paying $20 million last April as the backup bidder in a bankruptcy auction. Kodsi, who launched the Paramount brand of luxury condos in South Florida with Paramount Bay in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood, plans to expand the brand with properties across the region.

The group is marketing the Fort Lauderdale property as a value proposition for buyers who want to be near South Florida’s entertainment and financial centers without the high costs of Miami-Dade County. The developers are requiring 30 percent deposits on the Fort Lauderdale project in a market north of Miami, where buyers often help developers finance early-stage construction by paying deposits of up to 80 percent.

“Most of the sales in Miami are driven by foreigners who have plenty of cash,” said Jeff Morr, CEO of Miami Beach-based Majestic Properties. “Because there are not as many foreign buyers in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale has not experienced the 50-70 percent deposit situation.”

Paramount’s buyers will pay 10 percent at reservation, another 10 percent for the contract conversion within three months and make a final payment at the groundbreaking set for the fourth quarter. Construction is expected to last 18 months, and condos are slated for occupancy by the end of 2016.

“It’s not a deposit-funded project, which is great to see,” said marketer Peggy Fucci, president and CEO of OneWorld Properties. “It shows a lot of strength from the group, and it’s a great way to revitalize the Florida market.”

Starting AT $1 Million

Marketers say buyer reaction has been quick and positive in the week since sales started, with 10 percent of the units reserved in a matter of days. Prices start at around $1 million and will range up to $5 million for penthouses. Units are 1,934 to 3,493 square feet.

“We’re seeing extremely strong interest in the project from a sales standpoint as well as from potential lenders,” Motwani said.

The group wouldn’t disclose the cost of the project, but its sales projections are around $200 million.

So far, about 70 percent of Paramount’s clients are second-home buyers with seven-figure incomes, business ties to Broward County and private planes at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, Fucci said.

“No one is going to be buying at Paramount unless they have a good security blanket,” she said.

To attract these buyers, Paramount Fort Lauderdale Beach offers a “luxury attaché” or concierge service that starts during the sales process—customizing units, helping with relocation—and continues after occupancy. The property’s close to The Atlantic, Hilton and W hotels with multiple options for dining and nightlife. There also are resort-style amenities including 10-foot ceilings, guest suites, poolside restaurant, wine room, clubhouse, gym and private dining room.

The project would bring new life to the former hotel site, where multiple development plans have lagged since Hurricane Wilma damaged the property in 2005. Fort Lauderdale-based Transacta Prive Development wanted to build a $340 million development, for instance, but plans fizzled after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Crews are at work on an eight-week demolition focused on protecting the historic Bonnet House Museum & Gardens next door to the site. An implosion is set for Feb. 23.

“We are excited to usher in a new era in Fort Lauderdale Beach with the introduction of Paramount,” said Falcone, CEO of Falcone Group LLC. “Paramount will be … a driving force in redefining Fort Lauderdale Beach living.”