Why Branded Residences Are A Game-Changer For Developers, Brands And Buyers

A high rise glass building with a view of the ocean and a peninsula behind it.
The Cipriani Residences in Miami, Florida (ARQUITECTONICA)

Consider Miami’s branded Baccarat Residences: a 75-story undulating glass tower with 360 homes and penthouses featuring “enlightened design” along Miami’s “brilliant Brickell waterfront.” For the fortunate few, this is where “life forever sparkles.”

Baccarat’s shimmering marketing materials describe the project’s “rarefied aesthetics” along with concierge teams always at the ready, luxury limousine service and “custom scenting that captures the essence and energy of Miami.”

The tower, which is set to open in early 2028, will feature a jewel-box lobby hung with epic Baccarat chandeliers that seem to drizzle light.

The 250-year-old French maker of fine crystal is a new player in a real estate branding game dominated by Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis and other premium hotel brands. Such residences have “exploded in the last five years,” says architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia, whose Miami-based firm Arquitectonica is an industry leader in the branding field.

The firm has designed 47 branded residences worldwide, with 13 more in development. “These residences are designed to stand out from the crowd, to be special, to send a message that pairs with a luxury market,” Fort-Brescia says

A view of a tall building from the foot of it.

The Baccarat Residences in Miami, Florida. (ARQUITECTONICA)

Globally, there are about 700 branded residences, with nearly the same number in development, all scheduled to launch by 2030, according to industry research. A decade of rapid growth has seen such projects increase by more than 150%.

Restaurants and Haute Fashion Houses Enter the Market

Top-tier hotels are the logical market leaders in the branding stratagem because hoteliers are adept at offering elite integrated services. The Four Seasons Boston launched the modern concept in 1985, although the world’s first branded residence dates to 1927 when New York City’s Sherry-Netherland Hotel and apartments linked its fortunes to the popular restaurant Sherry’s.

Besides Baccarat, haute fashion houses are teaming with developers to create residences. Bulgari, known for its fine jewelry and watches, is building the Bulgari Lighthouse residences in Dubai, a mecca for residential branding.

Fendi, Armani and Cavalli have also entered the game, along with prestigious automotive brands Aston Martin, Porsche and Bentley.

Restaurant hospitality-branded projects are the latest to join—notably, the celebrated Cipriani brand, which in 1931 opened Harry’s Bar in Venice, attracting famous artists and actors. Four generations later, Arquitectonica has designed the Cipriani Residences Miami, an 80-story curved glass tower with nautical detailing that suggests the Italian Riviera. It’s slated to open in 2026.

“It’s a gastronomic angle,” says Fort-Brescia, who launched his firm in 1977 with his architect wife Laurinda Spear. “The service and the food in these restaurants are amazing. In residences, you feel like you’re arriving at an elegant restaurant that’s within your own home.”

A view of a uniquely designed building with lots of corners and angles.

The Fendi Chateau Residences in Miami Beach, Florida. (ROBIN HILL)

Non-hotel-branded residences, including those associated with restaurants, automobiles, fashion and jewelry, are expected to increase by 40% within seven years, comprising about 20% of the world’s branded residence stock.

Enduring Brand Loyalty Drives Purchases

Buyers are attracted to such projects by the prestige associated with elite brands. Indeed, lasting brand loyalty motivates buyers of such turnkey residences.

“For people who are fashion lovers, car lovers, and for those who want high levels of service, the famous brand has an implication of longevity and even permanence—it delivers status and a certain way of life,” Fort-Brescia says. His firm has designed universities, symphony halls, airports and numerous other structures in 59 countries.

Younger buyers are being courted by brands known for having a “vibe.” Arquitectonica designed the Standard Residences in midtown Miami, a first for the Standard Hotels brand. Described as “Miami’s coolest building” (it includes a karaoke bar, co-working spaces and a meditation studio), the 12-story property with 228 residences was 50% reserved within two weeks of launching in 2021.

All of the branded projects tout impeccable service, which is especially important for owners on vacation. Wellness and experiential amenities have “become the No. 1 factor for many,” Fort-Brescia says. “There must be amazing fitness centers, spas or at least spa services.”

A tall apartment building with open views of the pools and poolside tables.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. (ARQUITECTONICA)

“Homes in the Sky” Are Themed to Brand and Location

Branded homes are often massive and almost otherworldly in their aspirations.

The four penthouses at the Ritz-Carlton Residences on Florida’s Sunny Isles Beach step down from a 649-foot curvilinear tower. They start at 6,000 square feet and top out at nearly 10,000 square feet. The penthouses’ 4,000-square-foot terraces include pools, gardens and summer kitchens. The four homes were pre-sold before the property’s opening in 2020, with the first selling for $26 million, Fort-Brescia says.

Interior designers must closely tailor the decor to both the brand and its location. The Ritz-Carlton Residences in Sunny Isles, for example, has a nautical feel, with sumptuous interiors designed by Florentine architect Michele Bönan. Miami’s Porsche Design Tower includes a practical amenity: the Dezervator, an elevator that transports homeowners and their autos (presumably Porsches) from ground level to their residences.

Branded Residences Deliver Premiums

Fort-Brescia believes branded residences are a triple win: The brand benefits from exposure and enhanced prestige, the developer scores with premium prices, and owners can profit from an investment with a higher resale value, given favorable markets.

“As investors, homeowners perceive that a branded residence adds a certain sense of security and value,” he says, adding that the properties can fetch lucrative rental fees. “And for developers, they seek a certain safety net—a sophisticated and prestigious address that can deliver a higher price.”

A tall glass building with a view of the water behind it.

Mr. C Residences in Miami, Florida. (ARQUITECTONICA)

Fort-Brescia estimates premiums for such homes to be about 25%, based on industry talk. Surveys have found that it’s higher, with the overall global premium averaging 30%. Research breaks out that average, tying it to location. Residences in global cities bring in a 24% premium and in resort locations 32%. Emerging cities top out at 52%.

“Speed of sales and price” are principal factors developers track when initiating projects, Fort-Brescia says. “The acceleration of sales is important because the sooner you do your pre-sales, the faster you’re ready to finance and build.”

“The pre-sales for phase one of the St.-Regis Residences in Sunny Isles will total about a billion dollars,” he adds. “And they’re big deposits, about 50%. These are expensive projects.” Both the Baccarat and St.-Regis Residences are designed by Arquitectonica.

Buyers gravitate to branded residential centers such as Miami and Dubai because the metropolises offer a variety of housing choices, as well as the thrill of being in a hub of luxury living.

Two tall buildings standing next to each other in front of a Florida sunset.

The St. Regis Residences in Sunny Isles, Florida. (ARQUITECTONICA)

South Florida has 42 branded projects. Dubai has 51 projects, with that number set to double by 2030. North America hosts one-third of such residences.

Arquitectonica has designed 19 branded towers in Miami, with six projects in development. “This is where it all got invented,” the architect says.

New Markets Emerge

Developers are eyeing emerging markets that can fetch top premiums. For the first time, Arquitectonica has projects in Vietnam, “one of the hottest spots in Asia” for the branding model, Fort-Brescia says.

“The country is rising from a baseline that allows for a lot of growth––there are many newly wealthy people that desire such homes,” he says. Aspirational locations that entice tourists, with Miami and Dubai topping the list, make for optimal target locales. Add high demand for residences and scant stock, and developers and the brands they court trust they have a winner.

Other burgeoning markets for the model include Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Mexico, along with the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, with the latter region set to double its 23 projects by 2030.

“Europe somehow is not as common for branded residences,” Fort-Brescia says. “Just now, we have an inkling of a project in Europe, which would be our first. And for the first time, we received a call for a new branded residence in São Paulo. So yes, it’s starting to percolate to other locations.”

A series of tall buildings along the Florida waterfront.

The Edition Residences in Miami, Florida. (ARQUITECTONICA)

Residential Towers as Art Objects

Arquitectonica knows that its buildings must be considered art objects, especially by buyers.

“It has to be unique, it has to send a message,” Fort-Brescia says. “The Baccarat towers are almost like a glass chandelier, right? Like they’re dripping. The lobby, the building—you feel Baccarat.”

Among Fort-Brescia’s more arresting structures: the twin 62-story towers he designed for the St. Regis Residences in Sunny Isles, reminiscent of extraterrestrial spacecraft in the 2016 sci-fi film Arrival.

“The St. Regis towers are very distinctive from very far away,” Fort-Brescia says. “And look at the west side—all solar panels. So the building has a clear sustainable message, also important in today’s world.”

Author

R Daniel Foster’s articles and essays have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Esquire, Cosmopolitan and on National Public Radio.

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