Superstar Lenny Kravitz turns rock star designer at Paramount Bay, Miami’s hottest new luxury residential address.
In 2010, Paramount Bay was a forlorn symbol of a Florida condominium market that had taken a sharp plunge into a real estate abyss. A renewed commitment to cutting-edge design, however, has transformed it into a major success story.
Stalled out and foreclosed upon three years ago, it was an incomplete 47-story tower, with common areas that were nothing but raw and open spaces. Even its location in downtown Miami, east of I-95 and overlooking Biscayne Bay, was questioned at the time.
But Anthony Burns, senior vice president at iStar Financial, the lender, and Edgardo Defortuna, president and CEO of Fortune International, a real estate broker, would not be deterred.
They wanted to bring the iconic tower, designed by leading Miami based firm Arquitectonica, back to life. “Like any redevelopment,” says Burns, “there were existing conditions to overcome.”
“We had to position it in a way that the sales team could market it in the fastest way possible,” adds Defortuna.
So they started completely over—with a decision first to tackle its design challenges, inside and out—including its 25,000 square feet pool deck.
They sent out a request for proposals for the $20 million renovation, and waited. Five design firms responded, but one stood out head and shoulders above the others. And it wasn’t just because its front man was a rock star.
“Ultimately, we selected Kravitz Design because we were impressed with the company’s edgy style of design,” says Defortuna. “It offered what the building needed.”
“They’re world-renowned, and bring a public relations and marketing cache to the table,” adds Burns.
Lenny Kravitz has stamped his cool design aesthetic on every element
Indeed. Lenny Kravitz is a four-time Grammy award-winning master of soul, funk, hard rock, folk rock, and R&B.
He also heads up a sophisticated design firm with plum commissions for private residences in Paris and New York, as well as for the set of the syndicated Queen Latifah Show, based in Culver City, CA, and re-launched in September.
At Paramount Bay, Kravitz delivered an insightful set of design solutions based on environmental considerations.
“They were looking to create a unique living experience in Miami, something that was very different from the white palette typically found in South Florida,” he says. “We were inspired by the building itself, its location in Miami and its proximity to the Bay.”
Burns and Defortuna wanted to sell the building’s 346 units at a premium, since it’s sited directly on the water at 20th Street. Backed up to an urban corridor, its front entrance is pedestrian-friendly, with lush gardens that play up to its large scale. “You’re transported away from the city,” Burns says. “It’s an urban oasis located on Biscayne Bay.”
And it’s only a stone’s throw from Miami Beach, the Design District, Wynwood Arts District, and much of the city’s cultural epicenter along Biscayne Boulevard.
The project is one of the larger condominium buildings in Miami. Of its total of 700,000 square feet, 15,000 are reserved for commercial space and 20,000 more are common areas for residents.
Residential apartments range from 1,456 square feet for a single bedroom unit to 5,173 square feet of total living space for a penthouse.
Kravitz’s public spaces have a strong reliance on wood, brass, bronze, and marble finishes
Other on-site amenities include a beach club, private elevator foyers, swimming pools, a waterfront promenade, full-service spa and fitness center, as well as restaurants and retail shops.
Kravitz’s design assignment was to transform the public and outdoor spaces into something high-end but comfortable at the same time. “When you design with Kravitz, there’s a story to tell,” Burns says. “There’s no compromise–it’s all fit and finish in Miami.”
“I wanted the residents to feel a strong connection between the interior and exterior areas,” Kravitz adds. “To do this, we created an interactive plaza and brought the landscape into the lobby.”
When residents enter the property, they’re surrounded by tropical landscaping which creates an outdoor plaza, with a sheltered path leading to a porte-cochère. Two fountains are located at the center of the drive.
Kravitz says that he’s very much inspired by the architecture and design of Brazil, and he’s striving to prove the point at Paramount Bay.
Huge mahogany doors at the lobby entrance open up to a soaring, 30-foot-high lobby. There’s a strong reliance on wood, brass and bronze in the finish palettes, with some wall treatments in leather.
Inside, he placed a large marble concierge desk at the center of the lobby–to emphasize the service element–complementing the desk with stone terrazzo flooring and an intricate aluminum screening that borders the west wall. A live, tropical plantscape at the lobby’s north end blurs the line between indoor and outdoor.
“I think the biggest challenge was the vast amount of public space that there was to create,” says Kravitz. “I don’t like redundancy and with that amount of space, it was a huge challenge.”
A grand staircase anchors the lobby’s south end and leads to the mezzanine level. It’s crafted from Paonazzo marble, accented with American walnut, framed by smoky-gray glass, and then lined with a bronze handrail. Like the plantscape, seating is built into its marble base.
“The lobby was a disconnected space, and broken up,” says Defortuna. “Now there’s a breakfast space that opens up to the inside and outside, and the lobby spaces are almost an extension of your apartment.”
Further to the north, a garden room opens to another three-tier outdoor garden with private seating, as well as access to Paramount Bay’s commercial outposts, and ultimately to pedestrian sidewalks and Biscayne Bay.
“The architecture is not a generic look – it’s light-colored and uber – modern,” Burns says. “Kravitz is playing much more to a warm and edgy finish. There’s nothing like it in Miami.” An 8,000 square feet club room is sited to overlook Biscayne Bay. It’s mostly open space, but Kravitz broke it up in a number of niches for different uses. A 103-inch TV screen, almost the size of a movie theater screen, dominates one area, with comfortable seating for viewing.
Unit at Paramount Bay
Then there’s the kitchen. “It’s a show kitchen, but you can bring your own chef in and have a dinner party for 30,” Defortuna says. “You can partition it off for lunch or dinner with friends, without feeling like you’re in a huge space for 500 people to fill up.”
In essence, every public space in and around the three-acre site bears Kravitz’s fingerprint. “Each area we created has its own unique vibe, and they flow well from one to the other,” Kravitz says. “The building is very grand, but we were able to make it feel warm and inviting.”
It seems a winner all the way around. Defortuna, in particular, is pleased with the design. “It’s a project put together in a beautiful way,” he says. “The spaces are really comfortable, but there’s a coolness to them, to their layout, and to their look.”
But Burn has the ultimate metric: “There are 16 units left out of 347,” he says. “It’s an overwhelming success.”
With prices ranging from about $600,000 for a one-bedroom unit to $11,500,000 for a penthouse unit, that’s a long climb up from the South Florida real estate market of 2010 – and great design led the entire way.
Image Credits: Boone Speed.