Most developers in Miami’s Little River bet on retrofitting aging buildings into trendy dining and retail spots. But they stop short of ground-up residential construction.
Rock Soffer, Gaudi Castro and Jose Vizcarrondo aren’t most developers.
They want to build a market-rate apartment project on an acre at 123 and 137 Northeast 79th Street, Castro told The Real Deal.
The trio, through an affiliate, bought the vacant site from an entity tied to Tibor Hollo’s Florida East Coast Realty for $5.8 million, records show. The property last traded for $155,000 in 2000.
Soffer is of the Soffer real estate dynasty. He works for Turnberry Associates, led by Jackie Soffer, which co-owns Aventura Mall.
Castro, a partner at Native Construction in Miami, used to work for Jorge Pérez’s Related Group. Vizcarrondo is of Miami-based development firm Cade Capital Partners, which completed Riverview Tower apartments near the Miami River and the MB Station mixed-use multifamily building in Miami.
Soffer and Vizcarrondo are investing in the Little River project separately from their firms. Castro is investing through his recently launched Catalyst Projects.
While the developers are yet to hammer out a concrete proposal, the site allows for an up to 12-story, 154-unit apartment building, Castro said. The project can span up to 240,000 square feet.
They expect to submit a site plan to the city by year’s end, Castro said.
Little River has grown with offerings such as La Natural pizzeria, the Citadel food hall and other venues. This provides traction to now add multifamily, Castro said. Plus, the area is somewhat off the beaten path, meaning that even market-rate apartment rents will be a reprieve from those in prime neighborhoods such as Brickell, he added.
Among the few other new apartment projects planned in Little River is Adventurous Journeys (AJ) Capital Partners, MVW Partners and Dasha Zhukova’s Ray plan for roughly 270 units at 7301 and 7401 Northwest Miami Place, 60 and 70 Northwest 73rd Street.
The latest Little River deal marks another property sale by Florida East Coast Realty. As of June, the firm had entered into contract to sell 1.6 acres at 1505 Ponce De Leon Boulevard, as well as at 122 and 126 Menores Avenue, in Coral Gables. Buyer Location Ventures plans a condo project.
In April, FECR sold a waterfront property in Brickell to billionaire hedge funder Ken Griffin and his Citadel hedge fund for a record $363 million. FECR had planned a pair of supertalls on the 2.5 acres at 1201 Brickell Bay Drive.
Plans for the Little River apartment project come as South Florida’s rents have skyrocketed because of an influx of new residents. While the market showed signs of cooling earlier this fall, Hurricane Ian threw a wrench in the expected slowdown. Ian’s destruction could prompt seasonal residents who usually stay on the Gulf Coast to make a beeline for South Florida, again increasing demand and rents.