Longtime South Florida developer Ron Krongold has, to put it mildly, seen some changes in the local condo market over the decades. So when he got hold of an Isle of Venice property, he did things in a way he wouldn’t have in years past.
“You need to put in a lot of square footage,” Krongold says. “People aren’t into really small rooms like they used to be. You force a bunch of smaller units onto a piece of property and maximize your number of units rather than maximize your space.”
The units in this new project, 160 Marina Bay, are almost 3,000 square feet with 500-square-foot balconies. “The building that was on the property when we bought it had 25 units. We tore down that building, and we’re building 16 units.
“These units are also from bay to downtown see-through units. Our units are on the Isle of Venice, and that island is the last island that has high-rise condominiums on it. In front of you are single-family homes to the east, so you can see over the homes to the ocean. It’s quite better than looking into somebody else’s condo. And if you’re looking west, you’re looking towards downtown Fort Lauderdale. You can walk to Las Olas Boulevard, downtown, or you can ride your bike 10 minutes and you’re on A1A, you’re on the beach.”
They’re building those units with something else no modern Fort Lauderdale condo development can do without.
“We have 16 units (and) 14 slips where you can get sizable boats in,” Krongold says. “Fort Lauderdale, as far as I’m concerned, is the boating community of the country.”
From this location, he notes, a boater can get out into the ocean without hitting a bridge. It’s dock to Bimini in 45 minutes. Not that you have to go anywhere.
“We’ve put water, electricity and WiFi to the boats,” Krongold says. Not going out? Watch a movie on the boat. It’s basically another room.
Elevators deposit people in each unit. Flexibility of that space is also something newer; there are no apartment-style hallways here.
“We had enough room to make an area where you get off the elevator in a foyer,” Krongold says. “The foyer is part of the unit; we made it into an area where you can put art, put a bench or whatever.” You can keep it closed, a kind of separate outer room, or open it into the rest of the unit, he says.
Gone is the old concierge – not practical for a 16-unit building, Krongold says. “The other difference is when you have a small building, 16 units, you couldn’t have a full-time concierge; it doesn’t make sense for the condo association. Here we have the availability because you can do it through the internet. In addition to that we put in the lobby these Amazon-type lockers, and they take deliveries.” Instead there’s a cyber concierge and a front-door key fob. (The elevators also won’t move without the key fob or a code.) Necessary now is the technology to open the door with your phone, turn up the air conditioning, basically control the condo. If you’re in New York and somebody is taking care of the place, or if you want to get it ready for your return, that’s now on your phone.
“Somebody 30 years ago would have said that’s science fiction,” Krongold says. “And now it’s real. That’s a dramatic change, OK, from 20 to 30 years ago.”