Inside the Mind of Visionary Real Estate Mogul Gil Dezer

Inside the Mind of Visionary Real Estate Mogul Gil Dezer

Gil Dezer, the president of Dezer Development, has an impressive bio with credits that boast the fact that he is one of the youngest developers of luxury high-rise residential and condo-hotel properties in the United States. He has been a driving force behind shaping the value of the South Florida real estate industry through the introduction of brand partnerships and licensing agreements.

His collaborations have included working with the Germany-based Porsche Design Group to expand the luxury automobile's reach into the residential real estate market. He has also worked with real estate mogul, and former president, Donald Trump to lead the Trump Organization's first venture into South Florida's real estate market. Innovative and visionary have been some of the words to describe Dezer's career thus far, but who is the real Gil Dezer? Resident Magazine sat down with the real estate visionary to dig deeper and gain insight into the mind of the real estate mogul.

Resident: Tell us more about your recent collaboration with Related Group and how you were able to negotiate your current project.

G. Dezer: All these deals have their own stories of where they come from. We have a partnership, and we help them out tremendously. Now we are in Hillsboro, I was going for 25 stories and Hillsboro didn't want it, so I got 10 stories. We were allowed 3 [stories] initially but I came to them and shocked them. I was hoping to get to 15 or 20 but they were not budging. So
I spent a few years on it and I had to keep going. I bought that property in 3 days. It is 6 acres on the ocean and 6 acres on the Intercostal, it is one of the best pieces of land in all of South Florida. I saw it online on Google Earth and I said, I'm buying it. We didn't do any due diligence on it, I knew I was getting a good price on it. We shot first and asked questions later. That's where our ability comes in; most people don't do that, nobody does that. Nobody shuts up and steps up to the plate. Everyone wants to understand What's involved? What Zoning was it? I bought it, it took us 2 and a half years of negotiating with the city and finally we got something.

Resident: Would you say that being successful means that you don't have to sit around and wait?

G. Dezer: There are all these real estate experts who say that if it doesn't dot all of the I's, cross all of the T's, or fit into a box, I can't do it.

Resident: Would you say that's what makes you different? The fact that you work on adrenaline or energy?

G. Dezer: Well…I saw it, I bought it for $30 million dollars. It's 12 acres, it's on the ocean. That's 2 and a half million dollars an acre on the ocean, stop. How much are you really going to think about it?

Resident: What are the current prices of the properties on the ocean?

G. Dezer: It's 50 to 60 million dollars an acre for properties on the ocean because they are allowed to have high rises. If they allowed high rises [on the Hillsboro project] I would have created value on the land, you know. That $30 million I paid would have been $100 million.

Resident: Does Hillsboro have the land around it that gives you the ability to build high rises?

G. Dezer: No, that's it. You have to start buying out condos here. They are all little condos out there and you have to buy them one by one. That's the only way to [be able to build high rises].

Resident: Are you developing properties anywhere else? We know that Sunny Isles has been your baby. That's where so many of your properties are located. They are obviously awesome.

G. Dezer: I have the Intracoastal Mall which is going to be enormous in and of itself. We are redesigning the whole thing and moving all of the tenants into the first phase of the project. We are digging out a canal, you are going to go on your boat to go to restaurants on the waterfront. We will have townhouses…it's like we're building a whole city. We are doing this as fast as possible.

Resident: What about a boardwalk? Has that been discussed?

G. Dezer: Of course it has, yeah. I was actually the one who shot it down.
Resident: Really? Why?

G. Dezer: There is a sea turtle ordinance and the sea turtles don't allow you to have lights on the beach. If you do a boardwalk without lights it becomes a homeless issue. And then you have to require bathrooms which people move in. It's a problem, boardwalks are ideally great but if you are going to open them to the public you can't keep people out. That's why I said no way, shut it down. If we were going to do one, we would do a crushed shell boardwalk, not one made
of boards, as long as there are no lights. Imagine a park in New York City without light, what do you think is going to happen? We tore down a piece of property on the beach and we had homeless issues every single day.

Resident: Tell us about the Bentley Residences in Sunny Isles.

G. Dezer: I started this and people are copying me. The problem is people aren't copying me properly, they are just putting a name on the building, like Aston Martin. We are doing so many different things that our brand identified with Bentley. The glass for starters had to pass hurricane codes, so we built a mockup of this glass because we had to throw stuff at it, test it, and all of that fun stuff. The glass facets in and out and it really gives a diamond look without
being cheesy. Nobody else could do this. I told the guy that I am paying for product approval which means that I won the design, I don't want to see this anywhere else in Miami or anywhere in the world for that matter. You will never see this glass in another building, that's just one thing.

Resident: Tell us about the Bentley's first-of-its-kind automobile elevator lift system – the Dezervator which allows owners to park their vehicles in 'sky garages' directly next to their units.

G. Dezer: The way you drive into the building is very different. We have some celebrities; we have some serious people in that building and we have to protect them. The car elevators are outside the lobby, you drive up around the car elevators, and you drive underneath the tower. The building is sitting on top of you so there is no sharing and you are in a climatized space, that's another game-changer.

Resident: It's obviously similar to Porsche.

G. Dezer: It's similar but different. Another thing we are doing is Florida Rooms, an indoor-outdoor space. Lastly, the killer of this project is the floor plan. The floor plans of the units themselves are the best floor plans you have ever seen. Every single apartment allows you to walk out onto your balcony and have a view of the pool and the ocean in one shot. In the living space, you have a 2,000-square-foot living room. I'm putting warming on the floor because the
marble is cold and we have a warming drawer for towels. If you want to enjoy nature, you open up the door and go to an outdoor shower.

Resident: You're creating a home.

G. Dezer: It's a home in the sky with a four-car garage on every single level.

Resident: So the starting price is $4 million?

G. Dezer: The majority of the units on the west side are between $4 and $5 million, and the majority of the homes on the east side are between $5 and $ 7 million. The units on the ocean side are 6,000 square feet and the units on the backside are 5,200 square feet.

Resident: Who are your competitors?

G. Dezer: We're all competing for the buyer in the five to $7 million price point. But there's nothing like this. My competitors next door at Acqualina have a 45-minute wait to get your car, so that's exactly why people want to be able to call an elevator, go down in their car and not sit there waiting. That's why you can't compete. Anybody who's ever lived in a high-rise building before, that's my customer, because they understand the headaches that happen in these typical buildings and we don't have that. They understand that with COVID the swimming pool in the building was shut down.

Resident: Have you reached out to any other brands?

G. Dezer: I've spoken to every single brand, you can't mention one that I haven't spoken to. They each have their own motivations with their own goals. The brand has to match the buyer. For instance, Ferrari is an aspirational brand. It's one of the top five brands in the world next to Coca Cola and Apple, but it's an aspirational brand meaning the guy who buys a Ferrari shirt at the store and Aventura mall doesn't own the car. He aspires to be a Formula One racecar driver. Although the car itself is cool and sick and beautiful, the brand itself doesn't like to go deep down into where Bentley is. Bentley is old money, old school. My father's father had a Bentley.

We're not looking for that new crypto guy who just made five bucks yesterday on NFT's. We get to that everyday millionaire, but we have some billionaire status up there in the building. For a lot of people this is their second home, third home, fifth home. And there are a lot of New Yorkers. What happened during the pandemic was crazy. Everybody came down, started renting. They're paying upwards of $40,000 or $50,000 a month for these units. And 11 of the 30 renters turned into buyers last year which was good for us. When you do it right everyone is happy. We have the happiest group of people in the building. We did a great job.

Resident: What does the future look like?

G. Dezer: We're building rentals right now in Orlando, and we have around 375 units. My father is doing something in Ft. Meyers.

Resident: Let me ask you a personal question. Is there a lady in your life?

G. Dezer: I have a new girlfriend as of two to three months.

Resident: What are some of your favorite restaurants in the Miami area?

G. Dezer: Carbone.

Resident: Are there any hobbies that you have gotten into?

G. Dezer: Boating. During the pandemic, I was working from home on the boat. I took my big boat out. We were gone for eight weeks. I went all around up the East Coast and went up the west coast of Florida just because there was a lockdown at home.

Resident: What about travel?

G. Dezer: I was in Ibiza In August, and was just in the Maldives for New Year's with my girlfriend.

Resident: Tell us more about tech.

G. Dezer: The entire building is run by an app. If you want to get your car an app sends you a countdown to your car. I actually started my own app company and we started an app for hotel services.

Bentley Residences is a 749-foot, 216-unit tower planned for 18401 Collins Avenue. It will mark the first Bentley-branded residential building in the world. The property has more than 60 stories and follows Dezer's 2016 delivery of Porsche Design Tower. Bentley Residences will sit on a 3.6-acre property and will be designed by Sieger Suarez Architects. The property will feature a gym, pool, spa, theater, bar, restaurant and lounge, cabanas and landscaped gardens.

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