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Front Page » Top Stories » Prices For Key Biscayne Residences Continue To Escalate

Prices For Key Biscayne Residences Continue To Escalate

Written by on September 9, 2004

By Sherri C. Ranta
Real estate values on Key Biscayne continue to appreciate as condo prices escalate and modest single-family homes built in the 1950s hit the $700,000 mark.

Prices for original ranch-style homes built by the Mackle brothers have appreciated about $100,000 in the past year. Buyers purchase the old homes, demolish them and build high-end homes, said Barbara Lamar, real estate agent with Esslinger Wooten Maxwell.

Worth more for their land, the homes, built as affordable housing for World War II veterans, gradually have been demolished since the rebuilding trend began in the mid-1990s. Just three years ago, the homes and their lots were selling in the $300,000s.

Ms. Lamar said she paid about $720,000 for a 7,500-square-foot Mackle home this year. Similar lots last year sold in the $620,000s. She said she plans to build a 3,200-square-foot, $1.6 million home on the lot.

Prices vary according to location on Key Biscayne. A teardown property on a canal, she said, sells for about $2.5 million. Depending on the street, Ms. Lamar said, the price could go to $3 million.

The rebuilding trend caught the attention of The New York Times in August. Fortune International Realty President Edgardo Defortuna plans to build a five-bedroom, 14,681-square-foot home at 500 Bay Lane, the site of President Richard M. Nixon’s Winter White House, the Times said. The two-story structure, built in 1952, was demolished in July.

Ms. Lamar said land values are affecting the population mix. She said the island eventually will be full of people who have money to support the lifestyle.

Condominium prices are expected to continue to appreciate, she said, because land is not available for new projects.

Inventory is low as people from South America, Europe and Miami buy second homes on the key. Smaller units are popular, Ms. Lamar said, because of low maintenance fees.

"They may have a glut of new construction in downtown and Brickell, but in Key Biscayne, there’s nowhere else to grow," she said.

Condominiums available for resale in the Ocean Club, an 11-building project completed in summer 2002, are at record lows, said Christopher J. Blackman, vice president of Ocean Club Development.

"There’s not very much to sell. As developers, we’re out," he said. "It’s purely a resell market. There are about 30 units for sale out of 800."

At one time, inventory stood at 20 units, he said.

Prices have increased about 30% over the past year, Mr. Blackman said. A two-bedroom, 2,200-square-foot unit with ocean views is going for about $1 million. The smaller units with no views start around $600,000.

"Obviously the market is good," Mr. Blackman said. "On top of that, there’s very little for sale."