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New oceanfront condos and villas on island selling rapidly

STORY BY STEVEN M. THOMAS (Week of February 3, 2022)
Photo: New condos in Shores: Blue at 8050.

Trucks and bulldozers are rolling at Indigo, a much-anticipated condo and detached villa project adjacent to Tracking Station Park on Vero’s barrier island.

Developer Yane Zana broke ground on the 24-unit oceanfront community in January, ahead of schedule, and expects residents to begin moving in during the first quarter of 2023.

“We’ve already closed on the seven oceanfront villas, and we will be building them all at the same time,” said Zana.

“We’ll put all the pilings in at the same time, pour all the foundations and erect the shells simultaneously, which will be more efficient from a construction standpoint. We expect to have a master building permit from the county covering all seven in the next couple of weeks. We are down to final comments in that process.”

Zana originally planned 10 oceanfront villas, along with five oceanview villas and six oceanfront condos in a single building, but has now decided to build a second condo building in place of the three northmost villas.

He said high demand for new oceanfront condos was a factor in the decision, along with space limitations that would have constricted the pool areas of the three eliminated villas.

The 4-acre Indigo property narrows a bit to the north due to the slant of the coastline.

“The north three were getting clipped a little bit and my engineer looked at it and said another condo building, identical to the first one, will fit perfectly in that area. The condos are as big as the villas and there is tremendous demand for that product.”

The change allows Zana to build a six-unit condo in place of the three villas, increasing the project’s sellout value by more than $10 million to approximately $75 million.

“The original condo building has been sold out for months and the new one, which we still have to get approved by the city, is already 50 percent reserved,” Zana said.

Overall, Indigo is two-thirds sold out, according to Zana’s sales manager, ONE Sotheby’s agent Kristine Gabor. All that remains are the five oceanview villas that will be built along the south edge of the property and three condo units in the second building.

The remaining villas start at $2,395,000, up 20 percent from when the project was announced in early 2021. The Oceanfront villas sold for a million-plus more than that, with Zana raising the price $100,000 each time a unit sold in the sizzling hot Vero market.

The three remaining condo units are priced, pre-construction, at $3,295,000 to $3,595,000. They range in size from 3,100 to 3,500 square feet under air with 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, expansive terraces and resort-style swimming pools overlooking the ocean. The penthouses in the south condo tower went for approximately $4 million, close to $1,200 a square foot.

The 3-story oceanview villas include a 2-car garage, flex room and pool deck on the first floor; owner’s suite, guest bedroom and terrace on the second level; and living room, dining room, kitchen, guest bedroom and another expansive terrace on the third floor.

To top it off, there is a 23-foot by 26-foot rooftop terrace that takes in panoramic ocean and island views. The units have 2,800 square feet of air-conditioned space with 4,300 square feet total, including garage, patios and terraces. They come with 4.5 baths, 3 or 4 bedrooms, and luxury finishes and features shared by all the units in Indigo.

“I think the remaining villas and condos will sell out quickly once we start building them,” said Zana, who currently is negotiating the sale of one villa in a deal he expects to close in the next week or so.

He bases his prediction on an extreme lack of new oceanfront inventory on the barrier island and what Gabor calls an “extraordinary” level of buyer interest in Indigo and its sister project Blue at 8050 a few miles north on A1A, where Zana is building another 24 luxury oceanfront condos also listed with Gabor.

“Kristine gets as many as four or five inquires some days from people interested in purchasing at either Blue or Indigo, but there is only one condo left at Blue,” said Zana. “Everything else has been sold.”

And the deals are solid. Buyers initially reserve a unit with a refundable $50,000 deposit, but most of those reservations have been converted to contracts that require 20 percent down with progress payments at set stages of construction amounting to 40 percent in total, with 60 percent due at completion.

Gabor said buyers have come from Vero’s typical feeder markets in the Northeast, California and the Midwest for many of the usual reasons – the island’s great weather and charming atmosphere, prices lower than where they come from, and the opportunity to purchase new, finely-crafted luxury homes on the ocean from a developer with a great reputation.

They include a contingent from South Florida who “want oceanfront luxury living without the congestion you see in Boca and Delray and Lauderdale,” according to Gabor, and one buyer from half a world away in Hawaii.

Besides the in-house leads Gabor and Zana follow up on together, with Gabor handling most of the sales process and Zana coming in to answer construction questions and consult on floorplan changes, other local agents have been bringing a steady stream of buyers, especially at Blue.

“The real estate community has embraced the projects,” said Zana. “Sorensen agents, Berkshire Hathaway agents and other Sotheby’s agents have brought buyers.”

“We’ve handled most of the sales at Indigo in-house so far, but Blue was about 50 percent co-brokered,” said Gabor.

“I sold the penthouse in Tower 3 at Blue,” said ONE Sotheby’s agent Karen Smith. “My clients are from Dana Point [California] and they had been wanting to move to Florida for a while.

“They wanted new construction on the ocean and loved everything about Blue, including the quality of construction, the amenities and Vero’s small-town feel. They looked for several months on the west coast of Florida and up and down the east coast before choosing Blue and Vero.”

Debbie Bell at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices sold two units at Blue, one to a buyer from north Florida “who wanted warmer weather,” and one to the buyer from Hawaii.

She said her buyers liked the condo floor plans and finishes, the size of the community pool and the price. Early buyers have done well as oceanfront values appreciated rapidly over the past year.

“Location, location,” she adds about the appeal of Blue at 8050. “You can’t beat it.”

That real estate mantra applies equally to Indigo, which has 520 linear feet of ocean frontage and is a short drive or bike ride away from Vero’s Central Beach shopping and dining district and even closer to The Village Shops in Indian River shores.

Gabor said there will be a few fulltime residents at Indigo and Blue but that most buyers are purchasing their units as vacation homes. “This is a second or third home for most of them.”

Brokers around town give Zana credit for bringing the right product to market at the right time. He broke ground on Blue in 2019 and is just starting on Indigo now, but has already sold 39 of 48 units, a blazing pace of sales for new development.

Zana, in turn, gives credit to several associates for much of his success with the projects, including Gabor, who he said has been “instrumental” in all the sales; well-known island builder and developer Vic Lombardi, who is partnering with Zana to build Indigo; and a silent partner who Zana said has been an essential part of the development and construction process.

“He wants to stay anonymous but none of this would have happened without him,” said Zana. “He has been involved in every aspect, from the financing to the sales and marketing strategy to the design, the renderings, and even the colors of the buildings. We talk on the phone almost every day.”

Zana said he is relieved to be nearly through the sales and development phases of the two projects so that he can concentrate on construction.

Lombardi, who Zana calls “a brilliant builder,” will build the villas at Indigo while Zana focuses his energy on the condominiums, which he has extensive experience building in Indian River and Brevard counties.

“Working on land deals, permitting, selling and construction all at once has been intense,” Zana said. “I am a bit tired. But in the next month or two I will be able to focus more or less exclusively on construction and I am very excited about that.

“Vic and I are really going to push hard to finish and deliver these homes for our buyers. These people don’t want to just sign contracts – they want to move in and begin to live their dreams. In the end, it isn’t all only about sales or the financial payoff at completion. It is about delivering a beautiful, finished product for our clients, and I really want that for them and me.”

“It is a great project, and I am excited about the opportunity to collaborate with Yane,” said Lombardi of the villas at Indigo. “Detached oceanfront at this price point doesn’t exist. It is something we have not seen before in this market.”

Zana said residents will be moving into condos at Blue by the end of the summer and into the villas at Indigo within 14 or 15 months. He expects Indigo to be complete by the end of 2023, with Blue wrapping up well before then.

Zana purchased the 4.7-acre Blue site in 2018, paying $6.7 million for the former grove land where several earlier developers planned and entitled projects that did not come to fruition. He bought the 4-acre Indigo property, which had been a marine laboratory, for $6 million in 2020.

His total land acquisition costs of $12.7 million are only about 10 percent of the expected combined sellout value of $125 million-plus, a ratio most developers would mortgage their souls to secure.