Buyer’s Notes: Tall vs. Small

When considering a new condominium purchase, it is easy to get swayed in the direction of a high rise. You know, 30+ floor developments, because like the Jeffersons, you want to move up in to that deluxe apartment in the sky. The problem is that since you’re spending thousands of your hard earned dollars on this purchase, it is important to open your mind to all options. That means low rises have to be looked into.

There are certain unappealing perceived problems that low rises come with that are hard to ignore, for example, the loudness that accompanies being near street level. Drivers honk, sirens blare, city buses roar, and people chatter, especially in the city and beach. So, being high up in the air seems like a good idea. However, many low rise developers have risen to the challenge: hurricane impact resistant sound-proof glass. This high tech glass is not only quiet but as a safe as up-to-code shutter systems and is laid out elegantly in floor to ceiling form for most competitive loft projects. Low rise loft developments are no longer uncomfortably loud. Lack of privacy is another issue. Being close to the street means people might be able to look into your unit or see what you do on your terrace. For all you unruly folks, that means no lascivious or illegal activities can take place on your terrace. This issue is unavoidable and can only be remedied with tints or blinds. There are other problems, however. In a low rise, don’t expect on having a great view. This is hard to dispute in comparison to its high rise counterpart. Being 220 feet in the air tends to increase your chances of having a decent view. Being 45 feet above the ground poses a distinct disadvantage, but many low rise developments make up for their less than spectacular views by being ideally situated.

Location, after all, is the single most important factor in determining a property’s value. If you are well situated, an average city view will do just fine—especially if your building’s features are extraordinary and unit layout ingenious. Many low rise developments do just that; focus on both. As you would expect from a smaller scale project, there is a high degree of attention to detail; building materials, unit features and layouts, space concepts, technology, and building aesthetics. For a good example of this let us look at one South Beach low-rise development: West on Twelfth.

The Borges + Associates designed West on Twelfth low rise loft development has 29 units. The high-end low rise features a biometric finger print access system. Each unit features an interactive touch-screen panel that controls lighting, audio, surveillance, and climate control from anywhere in the world. This system is similar to the Related Group’s I.R.I.S. touch screen panel in 500 Brickell. The lobby is open air with 16 ft. high ceilings, translucent tinted glass panels shipped from England, and humidity absorbent stone floors. Standard units have 9’ 4’ft high ceilings. The penthouse has 18 ft. high ceilings. Penthouse units feature rooftop outdoor Roman tubs with independent gas grills. The master bathrooms are finished in marble and feature floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Furthermore, the unit kitchens feature state-of-the-art Sub-Zero and Bosch appliances. The building has the customary Zen garden and a unique rooftop pool. There is no concierge or valet on the property. The emphasis is on the unit furnishings and building features—no fluff. This also means that maintenance fees for the buyers will be more controllable. The project, as you would expect, is located exceptionally well—in the heart of South Beach within blocks of Lincoln Rd.

Low rises like Twelfth on West afford prospective buyers many details that high rise developments don’t. These features are unconventional and refreshing. High rise developers have a much higher construction cost and cannot afford to emphasize material quality as much as a lower density project—unless prices are hiked up significantly. Furthermore, a high rise development will usually have lower ceilings in order to accommodate a higher quantity of units. There is less control over maintenance hikes in high rises and association affairs tend to be much more complicated. For these reasons and more, low rises merit your attention.

The project is located on West Avenue and Twelfth Street on Miami Beach. Sales are being handled exclusively by Jeff Morr’s Majestic Group. Reservations just began. Prices start at $400k and go up to $700k.

Note: Touch screen and finger print access images are not actuals.

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2 Comments

Filed under BoB Articles, BoB Series: Buyer's Notes

2 responses to “Buyer’s Notes: Tall vs. Small

  1. I’m all for low-rise development … but truth is, noise is noise. The sound proof windows should help. I used to live on the the 9th floor of the corner of West & Lincoln … wasn’t until I moved to mid-beach that I realized my wind-up alarm clock was ticking and I thought that that place was quiet. Seriously. And when I lived on the 7th floor of 80th and Harding, people would ask me if I was answering the phone in Manhattan. That’s how loud it was: couldn’t talk on the phone! Anyway, it’s a drawback in SoBe and a trade off. You have the excitement of being in the thick of things, but no true privacy.

  2. I agree with you 100% Manola. It is clear though that developers of low rises are trying to mitigate the noise issue. The lack of privacy is my biggest problem. I’m a high rise guy. No doubt about it, but I have come to realize that high density towers are somewhat cookie cutter in their amenities and features. Many low rises emphasize building and unit details that high rises typically don’t. For that, they merit some credit.

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