High-end luxury homes all the rage in Miami
Property developer Gil Dezer owns 29 cars. And he plans to admire some of them from his couch in a swank Miami high-rise building, with the ocean in the background.
Yes, Dezer is planning to park the cars IN his apartment.
Miami's 60-floor Porsche Design Tower -- the first of its kind in the world -- has glass-enclosed elevators that bring sports cars up to the plush homes of their owners.
The residential skyscraper, which has 132 units and opened in March, is the latest of several super-luxury buildings dotting the Miami coastline.
But what if you don't own a Porsche?
"Why wouldn't you have a Porsche?" asked the 42-year-old Dezer, who developed the project at the request of the German automaker.
Of course, if you paid between $5.5 million and $33 million for your apartment, chances are you own a Porsche.
The tower, which was designed by the Sieger Suarez architectural firm, is located on Sunny Isles Beach, a barrier island off Miami.
The apartments include balcony pools, all with a glorious view of Miami Bay, high above the pristine sands.
But the building's signature feature is of course the three $40 million "Dezervators" -- named for the developer -- that lift the vehicles of the billionaire tenants into their living rooms.
"If you love your car and you see it as a piece of art ... this is the kind of place you're going to want," said Dezer, who also played a role in the rise of Trump Palace and Trump Royale on Sunny Isles.
"Instead of hanging your art on the wall, you have your art right behind your glass divider in your living room."
- How about a private island? -
Tennis courts, saunas, gyms -- those amenities are banal by Miami standards. In the southern Florida city's uber-luxurious market, "Dezervators" are the kind of thing needed to impress the super-rich.
From the balconies of Porsche Design Tower, you can see the twin 16-story towers of Prive, also designed by Sieger Suarez. The complex is located on a private island connected to the mainland by a members-only bridge.
How much will it cost? A cool $2-8 million.
At The Grove at Grand Bay, designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, two 20-story glass towers twist up into the sky with views over the waters of Coconut Grove.
The towers have rooftop pools -- and a pet spa.
- 'All about flash' -
"Generally if you're going to do anything wild and crazy, Miami's the place to do it," Dezer said. "This was a test bed for us, and the market here was always very good for new things."
Florida has a history of zany investments.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, clever developers seduced millionaires with exotic proposals to invest in the mosquito-ridden swamp area.
Some of the earliest Florida developments were made by people like oil and railway magnate Henry Flagler, and railroad millionaire Henry Plant.
They entered the Sunshine State's real estate and tourism market "by trying to attract as many of their fellow millionaires that they could," said Craig Pittman, author of "Oh, Florida!" a book about the state's eccentricities.
Since then, Miami has been defined by the flashy and ostentatious, people "who want to say, 'Yes, I have a lot of money, and look at all of my possessions'," Pittman told AFP.
He added: "Miami really is all about flash. The nickname is Magic City. You can't get much flashier than that."
A prime pop culture example is the 1983 movie "Scarface," starring Al Pacino as a Cuban immigrant who becomes a millionaire drug lord.
The film "was all about the ostentatious use of ill-gotten wealth, and what happens to you when you do that," Pittman said.
"People don't see that as a cautionary tale. They see that as something to emulate."
Miami's not-so-secret secret is that it is a safe haven for foreign investments -- sometimes shady foreign money.
In early May, federal police in Brazil launched a money laundering probe linked to the real estate market in Miami. The investigation was named "Operation Miami Connection."
- Safe investments -
More than half -- 54 percent -- of Miami foreign real estate buyers come from Latin America, according to the National Association of Realtors. Another 18 percent are Europeans and 13 percent Canadians.
A closer look at the figures show that Canadians were the top buyers of luxury apartments in 2016, followed by Venezuelans and Brazilians.
"When people feel like they want to put money into a secure investment, they think of the luxury apartment market in Miami and Miami Beach," said John Stuart, a professor at Florida International University's College of Architecture + The Arts.
The south Florida real estate market lost steam in 2016 due to the US presidential campaign, but experts predict it will stabilize this year.
"Pricing is adjusting to reflect more supply on the market," said Antoine Charvet, corporate communications director at Integra Realty Resources.
But for Dezer, the Miami luxury market is in a world of its own, immune to market ups and downs.
For Charvet, south Florida is "the French Riviera of the eastern United States, and Miami is Monaco."
© 2017 AFP