In the News from Panama

Miami Turning to Branded Projects Over ‘Starchitects’

A fundamental shift is taking place in Miami development, as developers are moving away from promoting their projects by partnering with major brands instead of using celebrity architects.

“In the latest crop of glossy towers, developers have largely abandoned architectural flair in favor of the commercially branded condo,” according to a recent report in the Commercial Observer, a respected trade magazine. “Tellingly, even the developers who previously worked with star architects don’t plan to do so again, at least not in the immediate future.”

The reason is simple: the brand adds more value. The starchitect-led developments weren’t necessarily failures, but “branded properties fared better financially,” according to data compiled by Miami property guru Peter Zalewski.

We see the same phenomenon in Panama City: buyers gravitate toward projects with respected names like Yoo and Fendi. Buyers can also match their lifestyle to a branded project, knowing the development includes attributes they appreciate. We can’t talk about it yet, but one of the world’s biggest and most distinctive brands is about to launch a residential project in Panama, and it will be big news.

In Miami, developers have been using both strategies —- hiring big-name architects, while others choosing brands.

“We got into this competition: brand versus starchitect,” Zalewski says. 

On several Miami projects, branded properties commanded prices 10% to 20% higher than similar properties, and cost less to build than the complicated architecture-driven developments. But, more than anything, the draw was the brand, which gave buyers confidence in the quality and lifestyle offered by the project

Buyers seem to prefer luxury brands that offer top-notch amenities and hospitality, Commercial Observer reporter Julia Echikson noted. In response, developers are linking with a wide array of brands, including everything from cars to restaurants.  

“We’re a consumer society where brand means everything,” Zalewski told the publication