The Latest Cool Amenity? A Name Brand. How About Porsche?
The market for branded luxury condos is growing, including fashion houses and luxury carmakers, especially in Miami. In some buildings, a car elevator will lift you to your own parking spot.
Chart a 10-mile path down the Miami coast, and the options for luxury shopping are endless. But from Fendi to Missoni to Porsche to Bentley, the branded products many shoppers are buying aren’t items you can take home. They are homes.
Branded real estate is surging: The market for name-brand luxury condominium units is projected to grow 12 percent each year between now and 2026, according to a report from the global real estate consultants, Knight Frank. Like blue jean makers and handbag designers, developers have long understood the power of a label, and today in nearly every major city, homeowners can shop for residences from well-known hospitality brands like Four Seasons, Aman, and Ritz-Carlton. Now more surprising brands are getting in on the trend, with purveyors of both luxury cars and couture looking to condos for their next frontier.
In Sunny Isles Beach, a sleepy, resort-heavy city within Miami-Dade County, the towers with boldfaced names include a Porsche Design Tower, Residences by Armani Casa, and the forthcoming Bentley Residences, which by 2026 will stretch toward the sky with an exterior of recessed glass in Bentley’s signature diamond-in-diamond quilted design, instantly recognizable to devotees of the British automaker.
At Miami’s Residences by Armani Casa, Giorgio Armani himself designed the tapestries, and textiles and hand-selected the furnishings.
Mr. Dezer’s father, Michael Dezer, is the founder of Dezer Development, the South Florida-based real estate giant that owns nine towers on nearly 30 oceanfront acres of Miami. He is also a fervid car collector, with at least 1,800 vehicles — many of them housed in a privately owned museum. The younger Mr. Dezer, whose own 32-car collection is significantly more modest, joined the company nearly three decades ago, ready to take his place at the altar of a church that prayed to two gods: real estate and automobiles.
While Armani is slightly out of their comfort zone, auto-branded buildings made sense for the company. The Dezers are also well versed in branded real estate. Gil Dezer was the first developer to license Donald Trump’s name, and Dezer Development eventually built six Trump-branded towers. He’s open in his support for the former president and even held his 2007 wedding ceremony at Mar-a-Lago. But in the early 2010s, the company shifted gears, announcing a licensing agreement with Porsche — the company’s first.
Mr. Dezer knew that for the project to be a success, he’d have to think outside of the box.
“Porsche doesn’t exactly correlate with real estate,” Mr. Dezer said.
The building, which broke ground in 2014 and opened in 2017, has the same sleek, souped-up masculine energy of the car shows Mr. Dezer frequented as a child with his father. There is no dedicated pedestrian access. Visitors arrive beneath a graphite-hued archway bearing the words “Porsche Design” in the automaker’s trademark 911 Porsche font. They can park and enter the airy lobby done up in the same bronze, red and black of Porsche’s logo, or continue in their vehicles into the building’s patented car elevator, called the Dezervator, which whisks both cars and drivers up 60 stories to units with sky-high garages.
That elevator — which deposits cars behind a glass wall in front of each unit — is “a highlight” of the building, said Stefan Buescher, the chief executive of Porsche Lifestyle Group, in a statement. "It was a natural continuation to transfer our unique design principles to the world of real estate,” he said.
Mr. Dezer spent $480 million to build the Porsche Design Tower, where 132 units run between $4 and $32 million. Ten percent of his outlay, he estimates, was on the production of the Dezervator alone. He calls it money well spent.
“I initially did it because I thought, ‘How cool would it be to have your Porsche or your Lamborghini or Bugatti in your living room?’” he said. “But what really happened is people starting buying units for the privacy. Because if you live in a condo, especially if you’re famous, the most annoying thing is driving through the front entrance or dealing with the valet. We avoided that.”
Brand recognition sealed the deal for Juan Pablo Verdiquio, 46, a Miami-based real estate developer who moved into a three-bedroom unit in the Porsche Design Tower in 2017. He now counts Lionel Messi, as well as Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz, among his neighbors. As someone who owns a few Porsche cars — he drives a Taycan; his wife prefers a Panamera Turbo — he felt this condo purchase came with a preapproved stamp of quality in Miami’s crowded market.
“There are thousands of new apartments built each year here, so going with a brand I knew felt like a way to preserve the long-term value,” said Mr. Verdiquio. “From a financial sense, I really liked that it was branded with Porsche.”
Carlos Rosso, a luxury Miami developer, said that home buyers are increasingly embracing logic like Mr. Verdiquio when buying real estate, elevating the power of legacy brands that cross over into the residential space.
“We are all in the same market for buyers, and we are all trying to differentiate our products,” he said. “Every residential building needs to tell a story, and branding is a way to not have to explain what a building is all about. You’re associating yourself with a brand that’s already familiar.”
As the head of Rosso Development, Mr. Rosso is currently focused on The Standard Residences, Midtown Miami, a 12-story condominium tower looking to lure buyers by tapping the unabashedly rakish vibe of the Standard Hotels, perhaps best known for their West Hollywood iteration, where lithe, spray-tanned models lounged in a plexiglass box behind the front desk.
In 2014, Mr. Rosso also partnered with Mr. Dezer on Residences by Armani Casa, a 56-story condo tower just a stone’s throw from the Porsche Design Tower. The building opened in December 2019. Giorgio Armani himself designed the tapestries, textiles and hand-selected the furnishings, and the result is an extreme yin to Porsche’s yang. Whereas the Porsche Design Tower has a millionaire-meets-man-cave vibe, all sharp edges and bold primary hues, Residences by Armani Casa is feminine and lush, with muted floral wallpaper and curved furnishings in taupe and gold.
Now Mr. Dezer is turning his attention to Bentley Residences Miami, scheduled to break ground later this year on the site of Miami’s Thunderbird Motel, which was built in the 1950s and was demolished in June. The 62-story oceanfront building, he said, will take the amenities offered in the Porsche Design Tower and supercharge them: There will be four Dezervator elevators, garages that can house three or four cars and private outdoor swimming pools attached to each of the 216 units. Ocean-view residences will also have outdoor showers. Common spaces will include a Macallan Whisky Bar, a restaurant by Todd English, and a cigar lounge. Units are priced between $5.5 million and $35 million.
“People are looking for something unique,” said Ian Reisner, vice president of Dezer Development. “There’s not a million Porsches up and down the block — there’s only one. Now we’re going to do even better with Bentley.”
For serious car collectors looking to translate horsepower to housing, Miami offers other options. In downtown Miami, the 391-unit Aston Martin Residences, currently under construction and scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, is nearly completely sold out.
All of these developments said Clelia Warburg Peters, managing partner of Era Ventures, a tech-based real estate venture fund, are name-brand playgrounds for the wealthy, and we should expect to see more of them as the housing market remains tight.
“We’re living in a new Gilded Age and there’s a lot of rich people,” she said. “Previously, the primary way to differentiate high-end assets was with location. But there are only so many truly prime locations.”
Developers, she said, shouldn’t be surprised if more nontraditional brands try to inch their way into the residential real estate space in the near future, as well.
“I don’t think anyone wants to live in the Coca-Cola building,” Ms. Peters said. “But would I be surprised if Restoration Hardware brought out their own line of homes? Absolutely not. This is one of the most significant areas of growth in the real estate industry.”