Miami – The Most Luxurious City in America?
Miami’s Boldest Broker
We’ll forgive you for not immediately recognizing this 13,500-square-foot, eight-bedroom waterfront manse—better known as 252 Bal Bay Drive — which served as the backdrop for this month’s cover shoot. (The cover subject herself rightfully deserved your attention.) Located in Miami’s exclusive Bal Harbour Village, the Brazil-inspired pad is currently on the market for $36 million (252bbd.com).
“The home’s 70-foot glass pool is a design that’s never been done before. There’s also a gallery completely lit from natural light, which is special for art collectors,” says Oren Alexander, cofounder of the Alexander Team at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The 28-year-old Miami native, whose portfolio includes a record-breaking $47 million sale in South Florida, is considered one of the nation’s top luxury brokers under 30. “This house is classic,” says Alexander. “It will probably go down in history.”
Rolling In It: Miami’s Supercar Culture
“The supercar is what gives Miami its sex appeal,” says Elo, the British model-turned-auto aficionado who, like Elvis and Madonna, goes by first name only. Elo would know: He opened Miami Supercar Rooms — a combination high-end restaurant, automotive art gallery and nightclub in the city’s hip Wynwood District — in February. “The exuberant luxury lifestyle that Miami epitomizes and that many people strive for would not be complete without the supercar,” he explains. “It often comes before the penthouse condo and the exotic girlfriend as a sign that says ‘I’ve arrived’ — even if it was only rented that morning.”
Miami Supercar Rooms is the latest addition to the city’s burgeoning supercar culture, which includes one of the country’s top exotic auto customizers, the nation’s largest Lamborghini dealership and a new condo project expressly designed to house stylish rides. In March, the city played host to the Miami Beach Concours, an exhibition that gives local supercar connoisseurs a chance to show off their modern and vintage automotive treasures. The event— conceived by entrepreneur John Temerian, owner of downtown Miami’s Lou La Vie exotic rental agency—debuted last year to great fanfare. With so much competition on the street, and so many girls ogling the precious metal, it’s no surprise that customizing luxury cars is a lucrative enterprise here. Alex Vega’s 10,000-squarefoot Auto Firm has become a mecca for sports stars and other celebs looking to stand out from the crowd. Anyone with the cash can buy a Rolls or a Maybach, but with Vega’s help they can create something truly unique. Michael Jordan, who has a house in South Florida, has had Vega work on two Mercedes-Benzes, an Aston Martin and a Bentley. Mets outfielder Yoenis Céspedes commissioned Vega to customize half a dozen sets of wheels as well.
Many of the cars Vega customizes were originally purchased from Brett David, the wunderkind CEO of Prestige Imports, known for driving around town in a gold-wrapped Lamborghini Aventador. At the tender age of 26, David was already the nation’s largest Lambo dealer; he sold his first one to rapper Missy Elliott and never looked back. These days he also handles Pagani, the Italian builder of even-more-super supercars like the 730-horsepower Huayra, which delivers at about $1.8 million and makes even the wildest Lamborghini look a little tame. For nearly double the money, Pagani will build you a custom version.
East of Coral Gables, meanwhile, plans are afoot for Gables Auto Vault, a five-story condominium designed specifically for car collectors. But the collectors themselves won’t occupy the building; instead, the units—priced between $500,000 and $2 million—will house six to 20 vehicles each. Owners will be able to drive onto large freight elevators that open directly into their “car condos.” It almost one-ups the nearby residential Porsche Design Tower, where all glass lifts will take vehicles up to the apartment owners’ personal “garage in the sky.” It is perhaps an “only in Miami” amenity.
But as Elo notes, “the supercar today, and my own collection, is true ‘road art.’ It’s an automotive art piece that can be admired on the same level as a Picasso painting. It’s a vehicle that has a real wow factor, perceived as on another level and something out of the ordinary. It’s also the essential toy for the young bachelor or single entrepreneur. Miami is one of the world’s capitals of extravagance and luxury, and vanity is the essential ingredient that makes it so special.” We wouldn’t have it any other way.