Pedro Martin has moved from Greenberg Traurig to the steep and dizzying heights of the top of Miami’s development scene. The evolution of his projects has been mesmerizing to observe (from Nautica to Metropolis to Quantum to 900 Biscayne to 600 Biscayne to his proposed plans for the ten acre former Knight Ridder property). Certainly such a dramatic rise to preeminence is well deserved. It must have required long and hard planning, calculation, coordination, patience, fund raising, and a whole lot of guts. His rise to power, although dizzying and worrisome, is reflective of Miami’s dramatic rise to urban eminence; a fitting comparison. His rise is worrisome because a severe market downturn may sink developers like Mr. Martin, but Pedro has been around long enough, as an attorney at a prestigious law firm in the Real Estate field, to know that from the second he endeavored to become a developer the stakes would be higher than his buildings. Still, the status quo is all if not more than he ever dreamt of.
Importantly, Mr. Martin’s actions have been farsighted and well judged. His land acquisitions have been well chosen and geographically varied—until recently with the Terra Group focusing its development in and around downtown. His actions began in Miami Beach, along the intercoastal. They moved to Dadeland with his 2 phase Metropolis project, and then he leaped over to the Omni area just north of downtown. Around the same time Tibor Hollo, the original pioneer in the Omni/Venetia area, already had plans for his latest local project, the Opera Tower. Tibor had also built the Grand Hotel and Bay Parc Plaza tower in the neighborhood. Mr. Hollo didn’t just dominate the area, he basically was the area. Pedro Martin’s purchase of two plots of land on 1900 N. Bayshore Dr. along with the Houston based Finger Co. development of what was then the Village on Bayshore Drive (currently Cite) and BCOM’s 1800 Club would change Tibor’s dominance for good.
With the inception of Quantum on the Bay and ensuing success, the nearby Opera Tower, 1800 Club, and Village on Bayshore Drive projects, which were at the time planned for rental only, changed gears. It was realized that the market was for condos and all three quickly converted. Some investors initially stayed away from Terra’s Quantum because they feared an over supply of rental units in too small an area was not good. In theory, of course, the rental units would devalue what is an extraordinarily valuable neighborhood under the surface but apparently not valuable enough to deter such an obvious outcome; a preposterous idea and dead wrong as it turned out. Soon, Daniel Kodsi planned his Paramount on the Bay project just north of Cite and the neighborhood was in the limelight.
Pedro Martin’s Quantum on the Bay was the first condominium on the strip north of The Grand. He helped set the trend. The others followed. As Mr. Martin’s projects went up and the cash flowed in, he made moves. Serious moves. He acquired land on Biscayne Blvd. directly across from Bicentennial Park (the proposed Museum Park), and bought the Freedom Tower with plans for 600 Biscayne. As if that were not enough to satisfy his ambitions, he purchased the 10 acre Knight Ridder owned land directly next to the Performing Arts Center. Having donated a million dollars to the PAC, probably seemed like a good idea considering his 10 acre plot of land next door. Clearly, Mr. Martin knows exactly what he’s gotten himself into. He works with different architectural firms. His projects are aesthetically varied. They are, however, on the high end of high density. He pushes height restrictions to the limit and maximizes his land usage with a high volume of units per project (quantum, 900 Biscayne, and 600 Biscayne are all 500+ unit developments). Quantum, for example, on less than two acres of land, will house over 500 units in two towers. Tight spot.
Still his buildings will leave a clear fingerprint on Miami’s increasingly impressive skyline. His moves have been impressive even to his peers. His rise to power has been unparalleled. His land acquisitions have been brilliant. Martin is a top class developer, of that there can be little doubt. Buyers need not beware. Rather be aware of his next move.