10 Insiders Making Miami Real Estate

BY Riki Altman-Yee & Luis R. Rigual | February 8, 2017 | Feature Features

The real estate industry as a whole may be cooling off, but condo living in Miami is as hot as ever thanks to interest from no-nonsense buyers and visionary players who up the ante at every turn.
Sonia Figueroa believes the biggest challenges facing real estate have more to do with city logistics than anything else.


It’s good to come in first! According to, that’s where the South Florida market (Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach) ranks when it comes to global buyers searching for properties in the United States on its site. International appeal is right!

Before joining the Related Group in 1998, Sonia Figueroa worked with the Miami-Dade County Planning Department and the City of Miami’s Community Development office, so it’s fair to say she literally knows our town’s ins and outs quite well. With insight gleaned as the senior vice president of condominium development for one of the country’s largest real estate conglomerates, Figueroa gave us a peek inside Related’s crystal ball.

Everybody wants to know about location. What part of town do you see as the smartest investment for buyers right now? East Edgewater is a prime waterfront area with the best luxury product at the most attractive pricing. What’s the most ambitious and exclusive project Related is currently working on? Without a doubt, Paraiso District, which is made up of four high-rise towers all under construction in an 11-acre waterfront master-planned community. Designed by Arquitectonica, all the residences have uninterrupted views of the water. The grounds and the bayside park are the product of Swiss landscape architect Enzo Enea. The bespoke interiors by Italian architect Piero Lissoni will exhibit a curated art collection and include entertainment areas. And to top it all off, the development will feature a private beach club and boat slips with a bayside restaurant by chef Michael Schwartz, who happens to be a James Beard Award winner. In recent years, Related has focused on north Miami-Dade and Broward. What area of Miami is next on your sights? We’re very keen on Wynwood, with two new developments in the works. People keep talking about a real estate cooldown, but what do you see as a more pressing issue for developers? Transportation infrastructure needs to catch up to the demand that is being created by our housing and commercial developments. We need to address ways to move people around large metropolitan areas without increasing traffic density and demand for parking. Beyond that, what do you think the future holds for our city? There’s no script for Miami; this is a city with unique potential. Related has been invested in Miami as a major player for the last 35 years, and we will continue to bet on its future.

At the Miami office of Stantec, architects Jonathan and Rachel Cardello are determined to give Miami structures with soul and purpose.
As principal of the Miami office of Stantec, one of the world’s top design and architecture firms, Jonathan Cardello says he takes his contributions very seriously: “Our responsibility to the public is incredibly important, from the quality of sidewalks to how people interact with our buildings.” Cardello and his wife (and fellow architect), Rachel, arrived in Miami just over a decade ago, pioneering an architecture and design practice, ADD, which soon caught Stantec’s attention. Now that the entities have joined, the firm has 130 employees who have worked on a multitude of projects. Currently on their plate is ZOM’s massive 44-story Luma at Miami Worldcenter, the 438-unit Solitair Brickell and 1111 Brickell Bay Drive. Next year, look for Stantec’s stamp in the Design District in everything from stores to (perhaps) a hotel. “As a whole, Miami has a lot of interesting neighborhoods,” says Cardello. “The question is: How can we connect them to provide richness? As we design, context in community is at the forefront of our minds.”

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