💰Millionaire Must-Haves

A college campus, a third mansion, and a rural religious community

Happy Friday Highest & Best! And welcome to the new subscribers who’ve arrived through my story in the NY Post last weekend, which I'll cite from below. This week brings a lineup of things that wealthy people are paying for in Florida.

Here’s the playlist:

🌴 A new religious Jewish community of 1,300 homes— backed by Chinese investors

🎓 Wealthy Floridians luring Vanderbilt University to West Palm Beach

💰 Amazon’s Jeff Bezos buys a third Florida mansion

📈 Ultra-luxury condo listings are surging — yet still selling briskly.

Let’s get to it!

Rural Glades County— a New Jewish Hub, Financed by China

Lakefront Estates, a planned Jewish community in rural FL (Photo: Rise Architecture)

Glades County is one of Florida’s sparsest locales, a rural expanse with 12,000 residents, two firefighters and no major grocery store.

It’s there that developers are planning a religious Jewish community of 1,300 homes — the next Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but on Lake Okeechobee.

The novel project, with two synagogues and a pair of religious schools, is getting an assist from an improbable source: financiers from China and India, whose investment could mean a quick ticket to a US visa.

It’s one of many rural projects benefiting from a rewrite of a sometimes controversial cash-for-immigration program known as EB-5.

The 34-year-old “EB-5” grants US permanent-resident status to wealthy foreigners who put money into business ventures that create American jobs.

And while previous investors beelined towards glitzy urban real-estate projects, the new rules, approved in 2022, are trying to steer investment to the countryside.

Two thousand EB-5 visas are now set aside each year for investors who sink $800,000 into US rural locations. That creates a fast lane to American residency for them and their family— and an even faster one for Chinese and Indian nationals, who can leapfrog past the lengthy visa backlogs for their countries.

Lakefront Estates — the rural Florida project designed to appeal to observant Jewish families priced out of upstate New York and Williamsburg — is seeking to raise at least $100 million of EB-5 funding from wealthy overseas investors towards its $600 million construction cost.

The community, for which promotional videos on YouTube are in Yiddish, is open to all buyers, regardless of religious background, and offers homes that start below $500,000.

Fore more details, see my NY Post story: “How canny foreigners are investing their way into a green card”

Vanderbilt University…In West Palm Beach?

Vanderbilt University in Nashville

Palm Beach’s wealthiest residents want a major university in their area. So they’re raising $300 million to lure one in.

Billionaire developer Stephen Ross held a private reception at his Palm Beach mansion this week, gathering high society donors to meet with Vanderbilt University Chancellor Daniel Diermeier, Bloomberg News reported.

The goal: secure enough funds to kickstart the development of a West Palm Beach campus for the Nashville-based Vanderbilt.

The result: $100 million of secured commitments so far, Bloomberg said.

The donations are contingent on certain conditions, among them: finding a site for the campus, which would offer graduate programs in business and computing.

Ross, who hosted the event, is chairman and founder of New York-based developer Related Cos.— which also happens to be the largest owner of commercial real estate in downtown West Palm Beach.

The play for Vanderbilt is the latest in Related’s efforts to capitalize on the wealth migration into the region, referred to by some as “Wall Street South.”

Related has at least three office buildings planned or under construction in West Palm Beach and is also selling uber-luxury Manhattan-stye condos at South Flagler House, where unit prices started at $5.9 million.

(See details here).

Catch up on recent Highest & Best issues:

A Third Miami Mansion for Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos

Know how it is when you’re tearing down two mansions and need a place to live in the meantime?

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos can relate.

Bezos agreed to pay $90 million for a six-bedroom home on Miami’s exclusive Indian Creek island, Bloomberg News reported this week. It’s his third residence in the posh, water-fringed community known as the “Billionaire Bunker,” where neighbors include Ivanka Trump, Tom Brady and investor Carl Icahn.

Bezos previously bought two mansions on the island for a combined $147 million — but he’s tearing those down. So he’s acquiring this third residence, in an off-market deal, to use as a crash pad in the interim, Bloomberg reported.

The world’s third-richest person, Bezos announced in November that he’s moving to Miami after living nearly 30 years in Seattle. In February he sold $8.5 billion worth of Amazon shares in his first stock sale since 2021.

Florida has no state income tax nor a tax on capital gains, which means that Bezos likely saved over $600 million by selling shares as a Florida resident, rather than one from Washington State.

That’s enough to buy a few more Miami mansions.

Jeff Bezos bought a third Miami home at 28 Indian Creek Island Road

28 Indian Creek Island Road (Google maps)

Luxury Condo Listings Are Proliferating — Yet Selling Fast

This Delray Beach condo was listed for $13.99 million in March (Corcoran Group)

South Florida’s condo sellers are throwing record numbers of high-priced properties onto the market. You’d expect that to slow sales a bit. But…nope.

Luxury condos In Miami and Palm Beach Counties are selling at more than double their four-year average, according to a report this week by appraiser Miller Samuel and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

Some details and stats:

🌴 Palm Beach County 

  • 23 condos priced at $5 million or higher were listed for sale last month. That’s the second-highest amount for any month on record, according to Johnathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel. (The record, by the way, was in February, with 24 such listings).

  • Five condo listings priced at $5 million-plus found buyers in March. That’s more than three times the monthly sales average for the past four years.

  • .”The increase in inventory is spurring more contract activity, instead of a lower level of activity,” Miller said in an interview.


🌴 Miami-Dade County

  • 26 condos priced at $5 million or higher went into contract in March— the most for any month in two years, Miller said.

  • It’s more than double the number of such condos that typically sell each month: the monthly average is 11.7.

  • There were 52 new condos on the market priced at $5 million-plus in March. That’s 30% more than usually get listed each month, based on the 4-year average.

  • Still, at the current pace of sales, it would take just 1.7 months to sell all that pricey inventory— which is over half the time it’s taken on average since 2019, Miller said.

📈 Here’s one condo seller’s attempt to test the market. This Palm Beach three-bedroom was purchased last April for $8.5 million, according to Zillow. The new owner relisted it for sale last month at $9.3 million— a 9.4% markup in less than a year.

That’s it for today!

Like what you’re reading? Forward Highest & Best to a friend.

Or directly to your inbox by subscribing here: https://highest-and-best.beehiiv.com/subscribe

Follow me on Twitter @OshratCarmiel

Join the conversation

or to participate.