MIAMI—Office condos are the new black in Miami.Florida East Coast Realty just announced it wouldsell office units at 2020 Ponce. That news about five weeksafter Newgard Development announced it wasbringing office condos back to the urban core at One Flagler.

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GlobeSt.com caught up with Harvey Hernandez,chairman and managing director for Newgard, to gethis take on why his firm is taking the leap from residential condosto office condos, who he's targeting with One Flagler, and more inpart one of this exclusive interview. Be sure to come back to thisafternoon's Miami edition for part two.

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GlobeSt.com: With two successful residentialprojects under Newgard's belt, BrickellHouse and Centro, why didyou decide to enter the office market now?

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Hernandez: There is no doubt that demand forluxury condos in Miami among international buyers is high. Werecognized that these buyers—especially those from LatinAmerica—are also used to owning office andcommercial properties in their own countries but have not had manyopportunities to own those types of properties in Miami.

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With this in mind, we joined forces withMidgard to convert the historic One Flaglerbuilding into a boutique office condo and bring a new product tomarket. We're seeing success thus far.

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GlobeSt.com: Who is the target buyer for officecondo, and how do you market to them?

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Hernandez: Our target remains the internationalbuyer pool, with Latin Americans topping the list. We're presentingOne Flagler as an opportunity to own a piece of Downtown Miami'soffice market at prices well below replacementcost.

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And because we're selling pre-leased space, the buyer will makean immediate return versus in the pre-construction residential realestate market, where buyers have to put down much more cash to makean investment on a property that will not be completed for anothertwo or three years.

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Those are some key differences of investing in an officecondo development like One Flagler versus pre-constructionluxury condos. Overall, the office condo model is a soundalternative investment in a downtown district that's in highdemand. Once buyers understand that, it is an easy sell.

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GlobeSt.com: In residential real estate, developersteam up with “celebrity designers” for more appeal and offerhigh-end amenities. How does One Flagler stand out to buyers with akeen eye for design?

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Hernandez: One Flagler has the unique benefitof having been designed by famed architect MorrisLapidus in 1952. A true “starchitect,” Lapidus is bestknown for designing Lincoln Road and for his Miami Beach resort-style hotels—the Fontainebleau, the Eden Roc, and the Bal HarbourSheraton—all synonymous with the glamour of Miami Beach in the50s.

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His dramatic sweeping lines and iconic design elements can alsobe seen in One Flagler. The exterior façade has been carefullypreserved while the interior has been thoughtfully reimagined andwill be rebuilt to meet the need of today's fast-paced businessworld. Although Lapidus is not alive today to tell us more abouthis inspiration for the design of One Flagler, his strong legacyand worldwide appeal speaks for itself.

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