"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Monday, May 23, 2005

If not the top, it's getting damn close.

Salsa Dancers and Stunt Men? Must Be a Miami Condo Project - New York Times:

"MIAMI, May 22 - In the last month alone, you could salsa with dancers in fringed hot pants at Aqua, hear a drag queen D.J. at Cynergi or watch stunt men ricochet off a trampoline at Soleil.

Nightclubs? No. Carnival acts? Not quite.

These were launch parties for condominium projects, one of the stranger forms of nightlife in a city obsessed with real estate. Alcohol and music were abundant, but so were sales agents and brochures with statements like, 'It is the impeccable aesthetic of textures and calming shades - limestone and blue marble - that further distinguish these voluminous spaces.'

Deep-pocketed developers, forced to be ever more creative in the pursuit of buyers for condos still years from being built, pay for these lavish affairs - another take on the 'froth' in the housing market that Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman, described last week. Though the parties emulate the club scene, most take place in hastily erected sales centers or parking lots near the future construction site. Guests encounter model kitchens and scan price lists while sampling mojitos and tuna tartare.

'Everyone needs to one-up each other more and more with these things,' said Jorge Luis Garcia, a real estate agent attending a party for Vitri, an unbuilt project in South Beach where prices start above $600,000. 'The food's got to be better, the lighting's got to be better, the D.J.'s got to be really good. The new norm is the quarter-million-dollar party.'

No expense is spared because the stakes are high: about 70,000 condo units are planned, under construction or newly finished in Miami proper, home to fewer than 400,000 people. Builders need early deposits to get construction loans, so they work hard to entice the buyers they covet - image-conscious people, many from Latin America and Europe, with money to burn on a second home, a speculative investment or a status symbol."

Follow up to the Fortune piece (below)

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