Louis Birdman, founder of Florida-based Louis Birdman Architect, has nearly three decades of experience in the real estate industry, having led over 70 residential projects in his home state, as well as in Las Vegas, Colorado and Texas.
Mr. Birdman is the co-developer of One Thousand Museum by Zaha Hadid Architects, a still-under-construction 62-story, ultra-luxury high-rise condo in Miami, with 83 half-floor and full-floor residences. When it’s complete—the slated opening is in the middle of 2018—it’s expected to be the centerpiece of Miami’s Museum Park.
Mr. Birdman is also the co-developer of The Diplomat Golf & Tennis Club, an iconic 130-acre, 1950s Resort in Hallandale Beach, Florida, that is currently being entitled for redevelopment. Redevelopment plans will include a redesign of the golf course, renovation of the existing 60-room hotel and club, plus planned construction of four new towers with a total 1,200 new hotel-condo units and residential condos.
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Mr. Birdman most recently launched a unique commercial condominium concept, AutoHouse, an auto-centric development and private, members-only social club in Miami with luxury storage and display for high-end and collectible vehicles.
We caught up with Mr. Birdman, chatting about why redevelopments are key for Miami, how new buyers are heading south and much more.
Mansion Global: Describe your dream property.
Louis Birdman: A water view, secluded and private.
MG: Do you have a real estate property that got away?
LB: Probably every property I ever looked at and didn’t buy.
MG: What does luxury mean to you?
LB: Luxury has more to do with level of service and amenities than it does with, say, design or finish. Levels of design and finish are more personal. What might be perceived as luxurious to one person may not be to another. But people tend to remember how service made them feel more than what something looks like.
MG: What area do you think is the next hub for luxury properties?
LB: There aren’t a lot of really good sites left for development in South Florida, especially for high-end development. There are sites but not a lot of good sites. The really good sites are either under development, been developed or have plans for development.
But what I think is going to start happening is luxury properties will be redeveloped in prime locations.
MG: What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market now?
LB: We’re seeing buyers from all over the world, not just Latin America, come to Miami. That has been the case in New York, but we’re seeing it now, too.
MG: Where are the best luxury homes in the world and why?
LB: Some of the best are in Miami Beach, Miami, Aspen, New York, Hamptons, Connecticut, Santa Barbara, San Diego, but I’d say the largest concentration is in New York, South Florida, and in pockets of California.
MG: What’s your favorite part of your home?
LB: The bedroom, where I can get away from everyone. It’s nice and dark and cold.
MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why?
LB: It’s a blend of Italian contemporary and Thai and Balinese style.
MG: What’s the most valuable thing in your home?
LB: Probably my cars.
MG: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?
LB: Having private spa spaces, whether in a home, or a building, is big. Some larger apartments even have saunas and massage rooms in the unit. Private theaters are popular, too. Security is important—either personnel or equipment.
In One Thousand Museum, we’re offering true bank-style vaults, so everything is very secure. We’re also putting a helipad at the top.
MG: What’s your best piece of real estate advice?
LB: Once you’ve acquired a property, and even if you’re not ready to develop, don’t unload. People tend to unload properties too prematurely. If we held onto everything that we sold early, we’d be better off now.
MG: What’s going on in the news that will have the biggest impact on the luxury real estate market?
LB: Changes in regulation are likely that would increase lending, and not just to developers, but to consumers too. Easier lending can help the luxury real estate market.
If taxes are lowered at a federal level, I’d imagine they’ll increase at the state level.
MG: What is the best area now for investing in luxury properties?
LB: Miami, off of the beach. On the beach it’s top-heavy.
MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?
LB: I would go for the new. It’s always nice to get something new that no one’s been in before. You also can take advantage of new trends in design, finishes and technology.
Sometimes in order to get things that are the latest and greatest in technology, you have to buy something new. Adding that into existing spaces can be hard.
MG: What area currently has the best resale value?
LB: Water views off of the beach.
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