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9 questions with Miami real estate developer Gil Dezer – Axios

Gil Dezer wears a suit and points a laser pointer at a model of a glittering condominium tower.

Gil Dezer points out details on a model of the Bentley Residences luxury tower. Photo: Deirdra Funcheon

Miami real estate developer Gil Dezer spoke to Axios about Bentley Residences and his perspective on developing in Miami.

💡 On how the Bentley tower came to be: Volkswagen bought Porsche while the Porsche Design Tower was under construction, and Volkswagen executives came to the opening party, Dezer said.

  • “Volkswagen owns Lamborghini, Bentley, Ducati,” Dezer said. “So when we met … we were like, ‘Hey, we did Porsche. We don’t want to do another one. But what other brands have you got?’ And so we locked up all their luxury brands.”

On the price: “With everything that’s been happening the last couple of years as far as inflation goes and pricing, replacement cost, the cost of labor, cost of materials, the smart money is saying, ‘What can I buy today that I take delivery of four years from now?’ Because what’s going to cost the same in four years?” Dezer asked.

  • “A $7 million unit, when the building is going to be ready, it could be a $10 million to $12 million unit, which is typically what happens in Miami… [A unit at Porsche Design Tower that originally cost $9 million] sold for $16 and a half (million) last week.” Maintenance fees are $1.30 a square foot.

🤔 On whether a DoorDasher could ride the Dezervator for a delivery: “The DoorDash guy’s gotta give it to security, and security comes up.”

⚙️ On a potential Dezervator breakdown: “That was my greatest fear” when building the Porsche building, Dezer said. He arranged for a lead elevator engineer to live near the tower, but luckily Dezer has needed him only twice.

⚡️ On the coming electric cars: “When we did the Porsche elevator, we designed for a 6,000-pound car with an 8,000-pound load [additional weight for passengers and cargo]. Here we’re trying to increase that to 10 [because electric cars are heavy due to batteries]. … There’s a new Hummer — that thing is electric, 9,500 pounds.” (9,043 to be exact.)

🏗 On developing after the Champlain Towers collapse: “Insurance rates have gone through the roof. … It’s called the OCIPowner control insurance program [which covers things like workers’ compensation and liability during construction]. Where we used to pay $5 million to $6 million a building, they quoted us now 25.”

On Hurricane Ian: “It’s going to have an effect on the labor pool, because they’ve got to go rebuild that whole mess up there.”

  • Dezer had expected that rising interest rates would prompt some apartment developers to cancel planned projects as costs got too high, thus freeing up construction workers he could then hire. “But then the hurricane hit. It’s the yin and yang of the world. So, you can’t catch a break, and unfortunately we’ve got to bite the bullet and see where we go.”

On future environmental risk: “We designed these buildings for a 100-year storm. … If a big tidal wave came, it would push [away a back wall] and go underneath the tower.”

  • The foundation and apartments would be fine. “If it was really a problem, [banks] wouldn’t be making mortgages. That’s the real story,” Dezer said.

On his favorite car: “That’s like choosing your favorite kid! … I have a Bugatti Chiron.”

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