A condo developer based in Miami is doubling down on Pompano Beach. Related Group is building a high-rise condo on the sand along North Ocean Boulevard, near 11th Street, while preparing to put up another one about two blocks south. Competitive pricing and the on-sand location are driving sales.
“You can’t get anything on the beach anymore, if you look at what you can buy directly on the sand,” says Related Group senior vice president Nicholas Pérez. In Fort Lauderdale, “everything ‘on the beach’ is really across the street from the beach,” and though Sunny Isles Beach has condos on the sand, the beach there is narrow, Pérez said. “Pompano has this beautiful, lush, and renourished beach with beautiful dunes,” he says, “and we’re still half price of what you can get in Fort Lauderdale and Sunny Isles, if not less than half.”
In September 2020, Related started pre-construction sales for Solemar, the 20-story condo now going up, and by March of this year the company had found buyers for 104 of the 105 units. Expected to open for occupancy in early 2023, Solemar is a success that led Related to buy a nearby property for its second Pompano condo, Casamar, a 119-unit development that was 30 percent sold in March.
“Solemar sold out around $850 per foot. At Casamar, we’re significantly higher than that,” Pérez says. Asking prices start at $2 million for units in the mid-section of Casamar and range up to $5 million for a unit on top of the 21-story development. “We think the value for Pompano is extremely fair when you compare it to other markets that are just down the street, and up the street, in Boca and Hillsboro,” he says. “That’s why we’ve had tremendous success, so far.”
Pricier land is one reason why Casamar condos are more expensive than Solemar condos. Related paid $6.2 million in 2011 to acquire a vacant beach site at 1116 N Ocean Blvd. for Solemar. But for the Casamar development, Related paid $30 million at the end of 2021 to buy out the owners of all 46 units at Beach Villas, a condominium built in 1978 at 900 N Ocean Blvd.
In addition, when Related hired a general contractor to build Solemar, pandemic-era stoppages in the construction material supply chain and increases in material costs had not fully emerged. Related, which hired Hollywood-based John Moriarty & Associates to build Solemar, has not yet hired a general contractor to build Casamar.
“Everything is relative,” Pérez says. “Land costs more, construction costs more, therefore the units are going to cost more.” He says strong demand for oceanfront condos also keeps prices lofty: “Where the market has gone, Casamar is a little more expensive than where we sold Solemar.”
After the Great Recession, Pompano Beach attracted little attention from condo developers for years. Related Group, for example, simply held onto its first Pompano parcel for nearly a decade while focusing on opportunities in other markets. But a turning point came in 2019, when the Sabbia Beach condo opened at 730 N Ocean Blvd. after the developers sold most of the 69 units in the 19-story building at prices averaging about $800 per square foot. The success of Sabbia Beach encouraged Related Group to launch its Solemar condo project on the long-held Pompano parcel at 1116 N Ocean Blvd.
Related Group is hardly alone in the Pompano market. Other developers also have beach condo projects in the Ocean Boulevard corridor north and south of Atlantic Avenue, where restaurants and retail stores have clustered around the renovated Pompano Beach Pier. Proximity to the pier area is a selling point that Related emphasizes in marketing Casamar. “Having that destination, really all walkable from Casamar in a 10-minute walk, has been a big driver,” says Pérez.
Prominent among Casamar’s competitors is a Ritz-Carlton branded condo development on the sandy side of South Ocean Boulevard. In September 2021, the developers paid $27.5 million for the development site at 1380 S Ocean Blvd. for Ritz-Carlton Residences, Pompano Beach, and began pre-construction sales this year.
“That is really our main competition,” Pérez said without elaboration.
Customers have reserved “more than 50 percent” of the 205 units planned for Ritz-Carlton Residences, including “some at prices over $15 million,” since developers Fortune International Group and Oak Capital launched pre-construction sales to the public in February, says Edgardo Defortuna, president and chief executive officer of Miami-based Fortune International. The two-building condo development is designed with a 32-story tower on the beach, where unit prices started at $3.5 million, and a 14-story building across the street, next to a marina on the Intracoastal, where unit prices started at $1 million. Construction may start by the end of 2022.
Defortuna said the customers reserving units at Ritz-Carlton Residences include Latin Americans and “the usual suspects” from such Northeastern cities as New York and Boston, as well as Californians and even some Europeans. “Pompano is becoming a very popular location,” he says. “People love the proximity to Fort Lauderdale and the airports. The city is also doing a great job in improving the overall amenities of Pompano and the restaurants and commercial spaces.”
Pérez expects the market to support Casamar, Ritz-Carlton Residences and other condo projects, because the Pompano market looks ready for takeoff. “I think Pompano has a lot of runway,” he says. “If I can find another project in Pompano, I’m going to do it.”