okan tower_miami_downtown-miami_okan-tower_image_100148755_acad_

In downtown Miami, where commuters dash to make trains, college students study for degrees and accused criminals are brought to justice, a developer from Istanbul is gearing up to break ground on a 70-story, 890-foot tower that will stake a claim as the state’s highest skyscraper.

Billionaire businessman Bekir Okan envisions a mixed-use high-rise whose residents and visitors can swim in a pool on the 70th floor, relax in a Turkish bath, and stay overnight in a Hilton-branded hotel. Located at 555 North Miami Ave., west of Biscayne Boulevard and northwest of Miami-Dade College, the project carries a $300 million price tag — fully financed by Okan himself, his company says.

The project is designed to contain 153 residential condo units, 236 condo-hotel units, a 294-room full service hotel and 90,000 square feet of office and meeting room space. The entire 66th floor will be devoted to a restaurant.

In a nod to Miami’s reputation as a place for experimental architectural design, the building’s silhouette will take the shape of a tulip, the national flower of Turkey. The proposed structure would rise slightly north of the main federal courthouse — which takes the shape of a cruise ship.

“We are going to be the tallest in Miami,” said architect Robert Behar, whose firm, Behar Font & Partners, designed the building. “We are going to be among the tallest south of New York. In Miami for certain.”

The building would slightly edge out the recently opened 868-foot Panorama Tower on Brickell Avenue in Miami, which eclipsed the nearby Four Seasons Tower, which stands at 789 feet.

Behar, who said he has grandparents who immigrated from Turkey to the U.S. in 1910, said he wanted to create a design that would reflect his client’s cultural roots.

“I started looking for a traditional symbolic reference I could incorporate into the building without being so literal,” Behar said. “The tulip was the most powerful graphic I could use … leaving a lasting impression on the skyline.”

As with Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, the new Brightline commuter rail service entered the conversation as a partial inspiration for planting a project of this size in Miami’s downtown, once known as a moribund area plagued by false starts and failed projects. The site of the now demolished Miami Arena, original home of the Miami Heat and Florida Panthers, is a short walking distance from the Okan Tower construction site.

“To be able to get to Orlando and Tampa from here is fantastic,” Behar said of Brightline’s future expansion plans. “I didn’t think it was going to happen in my lifetime.”

Kasim Badak, who heads Okan’s business operations in the U.S., said Okan’s interest in developing a project grew as he periodically visited Miami over the last 20 years. His youngest son attended the University of Miami.

“He loves Miami and the diversity of the people,” Badak said.

Okan was out of the country and unavailable for comment for this article. But Badak said Okan has decades of experience operating businesses in Turkey and two Central Asian states — Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. The tower is his first U.S. real estate project. He founded his Okan Group of companies in 1972 and operates a university bearing his name in Istanbul. Three years ago, he opened a campus in Dania Beach that caters to business students.

During Okan’s visits to Miami, Badak said, he took stock of the city’s surging growth and “wanted to be part of the investment community in South Florida.”

“He told me to look for land in downtown Miami,” Badak recalled, “and last year, the company paid more than $18 million for a development site near Central Baptist Church. He said he is going to do a magnificent building. He wants it to be one of the trademarks of the city of Miami. Last week, the company was in the process of selecting a general contractor and negotiating a franchise agreement with Hilton.”

Okan wants to break ground in the late fall of this year and aims to complete the project in 2022. Badak said “close to 25 people” have put down deposits on units. The company operates a sales gallery on North Miami Avenue as well as one in Istanbul. In May, the company introduced the project at a launch party that drew more than 1,000 people at the Perez Art Museum Miami.

“Miami is a good place,” Badak said. “People come from South America and Europe, Africa and the Far East. There is a great potential here for everybody.”


Source: SunSentinel

Billionaire Turkish developer Bekir Okan is launching plans for a $300 million, 70-story hotel and condo tower in downtown Miami.

Okan Tower will have a 294-room Hilton-branded hotel, 236 condo-hotel units, 153 condos, 64,000 square feet of Class A office space and a restaurant on the 67th floor. Okan Group just unveiled the project at an event at its 3,000-square-foot sales gallery in Istanbul.

“We felt it would be most strategic to start there,” said Daniel de la Vega of One Sotheby’s International Realty.

The developer will officially launch sales in Miami when the sales gallery opens Thursday at 542 North Miami Avenue.

“Construction is expected to begin later this year,” de la Vega said.

One Sotheby’s will handle residential sales of the building planned for 555 North Miami Avenue. Prices will start at $318,500 and range from 447 square feet to 1,245 square feet. Jerry Sanchez is the director of sales.

“The four duplex penthouses will range from 1,872 square feet to 2,142 square feet and from $1.9 million to $2.4 million,” de la Vega said.

Okan is targeting foreign investors for the residential units, and will build the tower with its own equity.

“Despite the slowdown in luxury condo sales, I am confident the units are priced competitively,” de la Vega said

And the developer is hoping that the tower will appeal to international investors “looking for value opportunities” who are out-priced by the glut of luxury condos on the market in Miami, founder Bekir Okan wrote in an email.

Competing projects downtown include YotelPad and Smart Brickell. Aria Development is developing the Yotel-branded tower, a 31-story building planned for 227 Northeast Second Avenue with prices ranging from $260,000 to $450,000 and units averaging 580 square feet. Smart Brickell will have condos priced from the low $300,000s to about $600,000, and sizes from 558 square feet to 1,117 square feet.

Amenities at Okan Tower will include a sky pool on the 70th floor, a Hammam spa, health and fitness center, outdoor lounge, a kids’ playroom, gourmet kitchen, movie theater, wine cellar and a cigar room, according to a press release. Behar Font & Partners designed the tower.

Okan Group was founded in 1972 by Bekir Okan, who has a home in Miami, where two of his children attended college, he said. His firm owns the Istanbul-based Okan University, which opened a campus in Dania Beach in 2015, and has invested in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Okan Tower will be the first real estate development in the United States for the company.

Property records show Miami 6th Street LLC, an Okan affiliate paid $18.1 million for the 36,000-square-foot development site in Miami, near the historic Central Baptist Church in 2017.


Source: The Real Deal