Developer decides he may give banking a try
By Marilyn Bowden
Developer Michael Baumann, whose latest project is a condo tower at the site of the former 1800 Club, says his company, BCOM Inc., has expanded its financial services and may be opening its own bank.
"We started our own lending fund," he said, "and will probably start our own bank in the next 24 months."
BCOM's new business plan evolved out of its long-term relationship with pension funds and other investment groups with which it has partnered in development ventures, Mr. Baumann said.
Partnerships with investor groups free BCOM from the presales commitments required for construction loans from banks, he said.
For example, BCOM's current project near downtown Miami, The 1800 Club, broke ground two months ago without presales, Mr. Baumann said, though there are now reservations for almost 80% of the units.
At 18th Street and North Bayshore Drive in the emerging Miami Arts District, the 41-story condo is rising on the former site of one of the city's most popular watering holes, he said, where locals could rub shoulders with athletes and celebrities from JFK to Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, Dustin Hoffman to Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton. It closed shortly before BCOM purchased it in 2001.
"It was one of the historical landmarks of the city of Miami," Mr. Baumann said. "We kept the name because of its bright history."
The building's design won the architectural firm of Bermello, Ajamil & Partners a Society of American Registered Architects award, he said, for best mixed-use high-rise design in the country.
It features 469 one-, two- and three-bedroom residences of 800-4,700 square feet, priced from just under $200,000 to $2 million.
The size and price point are "exactly what the public is looking for," said Edgardo Defortuna, president of Fortune International, which is marketing the project.
"Even though we've done no advertising yet and the sales center hasn't been built," he said, "it has been very well received, especially by our network of foreign brokers but also by the local community."
Mr. Defortuna said he is moving to contract on about 50% of the units.
Amenities include a 10th-story pool deck and feng shui garden overlooking Biscayne Bay, a fitness center, yoga-aerobics studio, billiards and events room and two-story recreational floor that includes a bayfront verandah.
An 11,000-square-foot restaurant space, which does not yet have an operator under contract, includes a 6,000-square-foot deck overlooking the bay.
There's 24-hour security and concierge, Mr. Baumann said, and parking in the attached 10-story garage.
Residences feature hurricane-resistant, floor-to-ceiling windows, large balconies, textured ceilings, granite kitchen countertops, marble flooring in the bathrooms, full-size washers and dryers, double walk-in closets and 270-degree views of the bay and the city.