Argentine seeks permits to turn former Sonesta Resort to luxury Key Biscayne condo enclave
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
The Argentine developer who acquired the site of the former Sonesta Beach Resort in Key Biscayne last year is in the permitting process to break ground on his luxury condominium project, which he plans to start by the second quarter of 2011.
The 10-acre oceanfront land at 350 Ocean Drive is to be the home of a four-building, 165-unit luxury residential resort community under the direction of Eduardo Costantini, president of Consultatio S.A., a Buenos Aires-based development firm that builds projects in Argentina and Uruguay.
This is the first project Mr. Costantini is to develop in the US and is on a highly-coveted oceanfront parcel, one of a few developable sites that remain on the exclusive island of Key Biscayne.
The firm has been working on fine-tuning the residences' design, the amenities to be offered and the overall project image, Mr. Costantini said via phone from Buenos Aires.
"We are hoping to have in 60 to 90 days the documentation to obtain the construction permits for the towers and start building in the first or second quarter," he said.
Jud Kurlancheek, the Village of Key Biscayne's director of building, planning and zoning, said the developer applied for a foundation permit in September to begin building a two-story parking garage.
He said the request is still being processed.
Consultatio is using its own equity to build the residential project, Mr. Costantini said, adding he hasn't taken out loans to finance it.
Under the entity Consultatio Key Biscayne, the development firm bought the site from Miami-based Fortune International Realty and Sonesta International Hotels Corp. of Boston in September 2009 for $78 million, according to Miami-Dade property records.
The land, which the county assessed this year at $66.6 million, once housed the Sonesta Beach Hotel, which was razed to make room for a new residential project.
"When we bought the land, we took into account that Key Biscayne didn't participate in the condo bubble," Mr. Constantini said. "This gives us the possibility to build a good project, as the last residential project [on the island] was built 10 years ago."
The 165 residences, to range from 2,000 to 5,500 square feet, are to be spread out in the four 14-floor towers. They include six penthouses of about 7,000 square feet each.
The units' prices are to range from $2 million to $7 million.
But Mr. Costantini estimated he doesn't plan to market the units until close to March, with an official launch planned for September.
The Argentine developer said he expects to use an in-house sales team to market the property as well as work with local realty firms to draw prospective buyers.
Mr. Costantini said he hopes to attract international buyers, particularly from Latin American countries like Argentina and Brazil, and reach out to local buyers, especially Key Biscayne's existing residential base.
"This project has required much courage [to build].… We are absorbing all the costs, since I'm building it on my own," he said. "But, at the same time, this is going to be an exclusive project, reasonably priced for its value based on current costs."