Iconic Florida hotspot turning the corner as plans emerge for 'Billionaire's Beach'

Kristen Altus

Paralleling Miami Beach’s turquoise, glassy waters and sunny coastline are the pastel-colored buildings with neon lights that make the skyline postcard perfect.

While the scene normally caters to tourists and locals enjoying the tropical, Art Deco culture and design, one New York-based developer is pouring billions into restoring, renovating and revitalizing three iconic mix-use properties in Miami.

"We bought multiple assets in Miami Beach to develop a true [component-based development]... really bringing a kind of excellence to Miami Beach between buildings Norman Foster-designed, to Peter Marino," SHVO Chairman and CEO Michael Shvo told FOX News Digital.

"It's not only building the Raleigh, which today is considered the premier residential and hotel property being developed on the beach, but also bringing the office buildings into the beach, which just truly don't exist today," he continued. "Definitely not at a quality that any company or any kind of Fortune 500 company would want to put their headquarters there."

Owning 75% of Miami Beach’s Class-A office, residence, hotel and retail space, SHVO is reportedly the largest active developer in the area today. Three of the firm’s under-construction projects – The Raleigh, The Alton and One Soundscape Park – aim to redefine the district as a sort of "Billionaire’s Beach" while preserving the Art Deco culture.

Michael Shvo on Miami Beach investments

Michael Shvo is investing $2 billion into restoring iconic Miami Beach buildings from the Art Deco era. (Fox News)

"All three buildings were designed by the same architect, Lawrence Murray Dixon. What we're doing is restoring all the buildings to the exact design that they were designed and built in the 40s," Shvo explained. "Over the years in Miami Beach, we've seen not only at the Raleigh but in most properties, additions that were made on buildings. So it could have been a building that was built in the 40s, and there was a 60s edition, 70s and 80s. What we're doing there is we're actually peeling back the onion."

"We're removing every layer off the building that was not built in the 40s with the original L. Murray Dixon design," the CEO added, "and restoring everything that was originally designed and not there today."

In its heyday, the Raleigh hotel was graced by the likes of Audrey Hepburn, and, more recently, stars such as Madonna, Lady Gaga and Anna Wintour. Shvo has acquired the iconic Art Deco building twice, as it faced a celebrity ownership battle in the years prior with figures like André Balazs and Tommy Hilfiger.

"I've been fairly obsessed with the Raleigh Hotel for over a decade now. I've lost the property twice," Shvo reflected. "I managed to buy the property from Tommy Hilfiger, subsequently also buy the two adjacent properties, to assemble three acres on the ocean. But I've been going to Miami for 15 years, and, as I said, there was one property I had my eyes on."

Restorations at the three Art Deco landmarks are going "full steam" ahead, the developer noted, while also spotlighting the Raleigh’s renovation as a "big undertaking" due to its historical significance.

"We have a long history of restoring super-prime real estate, with the idea that we always bring it back to the way [of] the original design. I'm purist in that sense," Shvo said, "I believe that when you restore historically important buildings, you have to be true to the original design. And if you're going to build anything new, build it separate and then have it be totally different."

As a response to history and art critics who may argue for the properties to be left alone, Shvo clarified his team’s objective to embody the buildings’ "original grandeur" for future residents and visitors to enjoy.

"Different owners did different things with the building, but nobody really made the financial commitment, not the business commitment, to restore these buildings to their true original design," Shvo pointed out. "And it's an expensive commitment. The Raleigh's a $1 billion project, and a big part of that cost is driven by the extensive renovation and restoration that we have to do in order to preserve the original Raleigh design."

Sales for residence space allegedly began in early December during Art Basel week at starting prices of $10 million. By mixing modern elegance with a flashback in time, Shvo hopes to attract "discerning" buyers with a taste for the "highest level" of service and design.

"The amount of millionaires that are moving to Miami Beach and obviously, billionaires, Jeff Bezos or Ken Griffin, have really moved the market. There is a tremendous amount of demand for top-of-the-market quality, the 1% of the 1%, and that's what we're appealing to," he said.

Florida and Miami-Dade County’s population boom wasn’t just a post-COVID "fad," with Shvo claiming Miami is "up to par" with destinations like New York City, San Francisco or Los Angeles in terms of living and vacationing.

"Miami has passed the tipping point," the CEO said. "The Art Deco district was always the center of luxury in Miami Beach… now you're seeing that luxury has all moved back and moving back to the Art Deco district… and I think we're going to continue seeing that. We're going to see the transformation of Miami Beach."

"We're going to see some of the less desirable hotels be transformed into true luxury, because the people are there. But I think, equally important, I expect that, over the next five years, Miami Beach is going to be a true place [where] people want to work," Shvo said.

"We're taking a very strong financial position behind my conviction… And my hope is that other developers will follow. And I hope that we've raised the bar for everybody, because together, we could make Miami Beach kind of the center of Florida."


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