1900 98: Destin’s First Gulf Front Condo in Six Years
By Marcia Bradford, Condo Owner Magazine, February 1, 2014
For the first time in more than six years, a new condominium project is underway along Destin’s gulf coast. Permits have been approved and pre-construction units are now on the market for 1900 98, an ultra-luxury condo to be built on a 150-foot beachfront tract located along a stretch of Scenic Highway 98 coastline.
According to developer Ricky Rookis, owner of Rookis Investment Partners in Santa Rosa, Fla., a number of factors led to the decision to get moving on this project in 2013.
“We’ve owned the property for years and years and had a previous project planned for the site, which was approved about eight years ago,” he explained. “But as the economy took a downturn, we tabled the project and put the parcel up for sale. Then real estate began to rebound in this area and we decided to take the property off the market last year, realizing that it was a good time to come up with a new type of project for this prime piece of land.”
Rookis added that recent improvements in market conditions for beach-front condos in northwest Florida, characterized by steadily decreasing inventory and increasing prices per square foot, caused owners and investors “to take a hard look at putting the project out there.”
A launch party in October made the decision official and took it a step closer to reality, he said.
With three of the 16 units pre-sold, pre-construction prices for the remaining condo residences start at $1,475,000 for units on the lowest floor of living space and top out at $3,495,000 for the penthouse on the east side of the building.
A Fresh Approach
According to the project’s architect, Walton Chancey, owner of Gulf Coastal Development, Inc., based in Tampa, there was a strong sense among everyone involved in developing the property that a fresh, new approach was needed to set 1900 98 apart from the most recently built condos along Destin’s gulf coast, many of which were constructed in the 1990s and early 2000s.
“We took a contemporary approach to the design of the building, but we were careful not to make it too ultra-modern for this area of the gulf coast,” he said. “The style is best characterized as Mid-Century Modern and in many ways it is reminiscent of Miami Beach designs from the 1950s and 60s.”
Architectural drawings of the building bear this out, showing a very streamlined exterior, open interior floor plans and walls of windows that bring the outdoors inside.
Since Destin has always been a family destination, it was also important to include design elements that made the condos comfortable and familiar, as well as stylish, Chancey said. One approach toward this goal was to design the units with balconies that are 12-feet deep. (By contrast, the typical balcony depth of beach-front condos in the Destin area is six to eight feet.)
“When people come here to spend time, they want to be outside as much as possible,” Chancey pointed out. “The large decks will allow them to create outdoor living rooms and dining areas, effectively blending the insides and outsides of the units so that they mesh together.”
Each balcony will be equipped with a gas grill and other accessories to create “a true summer kitchen,” he pointed out.
Additionally, Chancey said, the building’s amenities will be “first-rate” and were designed to make the best use of the limited ground space of the parcel. Residents and guests will be able to enjoy a rooftop pool, Jacuzzi spa, fitness center and fire pit while also taking in the outstanding views of the surrounding area.
Pricing Reflects Quality
While the prices for these high-end units are above the average for condos in the area, both Chancy and Rookis said they believe the Destin-area market is ready for a project of this stature.
“From a design perspective, we made a conscious decision to have only 16 units, with two per floor and each one offering 270-degree views of the coast. Every detail will be of the highest quality with no corners cut,” Chancey said.
Rookis added that each of the regular units includes more than 2,600 square feet of air conditioned space, along with over 300 square feet of private balcony space, for a combined living area of about 2,950 square feet. Along with a large master bedroom, these units are designed with a second master bedroom and two additional bedrooms. If buyers prefer, the interior can include an office or home theatre space instead of the second master bedroom.
The two penthouse units each have two stories of living space, (more than 4,300 square feet of interior space), which allows for such options as a third master bedroom on the second floor, a loft area, larger dining and living areas, a fitness room and an office.
To ensure the highest quality, Rookis added, the developers chose Gilbane Inc., based in Providence, R.I. One of the largest privately held, family-owned real estate development and construction firms in the industry, Gilbane has a reputation for delivering projects on time, on budget, safely, and efficiently, he said.
“They have built approximately 20 condo projects in the last 10 years, all of which are excellent, with no liability concerns and no lawsuits,” Rookis said.
Rookis further pointed to interior construction design and details, which emphasize the clean lines of the Mid-Century Modern look. Conceived by Chancey Interior Design, based in Seagrove Beach and Tampa, (recently named one of Florida’s Top 10 Interior Decorating firms by Florida Architecture magazine), the interiors feature the latest high-end products. For example, custom cabinets in the kitchens and bathrooms will be by Pedini Italy. Other special touches include Cambria stone countertops and backsplash with honed white marble countertops on the island, Thermadore appliances and Kohler hardware. Porcelain limestone tiles will be used on all floor areas except the bedrooms, which will have woven carpets from the Ridgely Collection.
“Comparatively speaking, our prices per square foot are a little higher than everything around us, but it’s important to consider that our per-square-foot measurements are from inside wall to inside wall, whereas many condo properties on the market use the distance from outside wall to outside wall for determining square footage of a unit.”
The higher costs also reflect today’s higher construction costs, he added. “We believe buyers will be willing to pay a premium for getting a unit in the newest beachfront property in Destin – the only new property of this type in many years.”
Location is another factor adding to the value of 1900 98, Rookis asserted. “Not only will the condos occupy prime beach frontage along the Gulf of Mexico, with easy access to shopping, dining, recreation and various Destin attractions, but also the units on the east side of the building will enjoy completely open, unobstructed views as far as the eye can see.”
He added that there is no possibility of another structure being built to the east of the property because it is bordered by public land, including Henderson Beach State Park, on that side
“Therefore, the outstanding easterly views will be there forever,” Rookis said.
Beyond that, Chancey added, there are very few gulf-front sites left to build on in the Destin area. He estimates there are as few as two or three undeveloped sites. “Unless an older building is torn down, Destin’s gulf coast is built out. If a developer does tear down an older structure, the costs of units in the new buildings are likely to be higher than the costs for the residences in our project.”
Rookis said he expects construction to start the second or third quarter of 2014, depending on how fast the units sell. The units will be rental capable, but he expects most owners will use them as vacation homes.
He pointed out that the improving real estate market in northwest Florida is following a trend that started in the Miami area, which he said, “has been on fire for the last few years.” More recently, he said, there have been new high-end condo and other beachfront developments in the Sarasota area. Also, Clearwater Beach has six new condo projects in the works and projects are also underway in Naples.
14 resident 3 bedroom units (There are two floor plans available for these units)
2 top floor, two-story penthouse units (total of 16 units)
Gas grills on balconies
12 ft. deep balconies
Roof top pool, spa, fire pit and fitness center
Unobstructed coastline views to the east
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