Boom Goes Bust (Again)

"They didn’t even know it was a piece. They thought it was a real estate poster."

Boom Goes Bust (Again)
Filed under: News

For sale: land, permits, and plans for Onyx 2, a failed 50-story, 125-unit condo project by the bay on NE 28th Street. For good measure, the owners will throw in the dilapidated sales center at no extra charge.

Originally conceived to augment sister project Onyx on the Bay (665 NE 25th St.), Onyx 2 was going to be Miami's tallest residential building. At the height of the local luxury condo frenzy, Onyx 2's sales center served as a party rendezvous for the rich and fabulous, including an Ocean Drive fete featuring everyone's favorite inebriated celebrity, Tara Reid.

One-bedroom lofts started at $300,000. Seven figures bought you a four-bedroom sky palace. Construction was supposed to begin this past January, thanks to political high roller and Onyx developer Willy Bermello. But it seems Willy's grease wasn't enough to attract investors and buyers. Whether that's the case, Bermello won't say. He did not return a message left with his secretary.

Today Onyx 2 is an abandoned 1.2-acre construction lot. Homeless people are squatting inside the empty office trailer near the seawall. Most of the wood planks used to build the deck around the sales center's perimeter have been yanked (perhaps by enterprising crack fiends, who can sell the wood to nearby construction sites).

But there must be some sucker out there willing to bail out Bermello and his partners at GGM Development. If you're interested in buying, call Realtor Edie Laquer — or E-Money, as she is known to clients — for details. Francisco Alvarado


Drinking for a Living
Filed under: Flotsam

Tiberio Lobo-Navia is a fresh-faced, exceedingly polite 23-year-old. He certainly doesn't fit the image of a tequilier, an expert in the potent agave liquor that most Americans perceive as the quickest route to inebriation. At the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, in his capacity as the only tequilier in the Southeast, he sets out to educate the masses, procure new and high-end bottles from Mexico, and alter the public's impression of the potent cactus-based alcohol.

Lobo-Navia's tequila journey began as a teenager, traveling with his parents through Mexico. "My family and I used to go every summer and Christmas to Cancun and Mexico City, and that's where I got my taste for it," he says. "My first experience wasn't very uh ... enjoyable," he says with a laugh. "I don't think anyone's first experience with tequila is fun. That's my job, to get people away from that mentality." Lobo-Navia blames tequila's intimidating reputation on poor-quality imports and the "shooter" mentality. "The 100 percent agave stuff, the more premium blends are much nicer to you the next day," he explains. "As far as educating my guests is concerned, I discourage them from shooting. But I simply try to guide them; I'm not trying to tell anyone the way they should drink it." For the record, Lobo-Navia serves his tequila in a snifter, and offers chasers of grapefruit juice or Coca-Cola for the timorous.

Gourmands who are interested in learning more about Mexican spirits can meet Lobo-Navia at Tequila Thursdays, an informal poolside party that offers complimentary chef samplers, appetizers, live music, and drinks at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne's Cantina Beach restaurant. Even better are Agave Sundays, wherein a three-course tequila-paired dinner costs $70 a person and includes chorizo flautas, chipotle-grilled snapper fillet, and dulce de leche ice cream lollipops, all accompanied by snifters of the intoxicating elixir. "We have the largest 100 percent agave collection in South Florida," he boasts.

Lobo-Navia doesn't deny having one of the most enjoyable jobs in Miami. Sometimes you can even find him drinking at work. "With guests, on occasion I will taste the tequila. Not a full drink — I just show them how it's done. It's part of my job. It's very hard," he laughs. — Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik


The "Deal" with the Banner
Filed under: News

Was it true? All the hubbub about razing the Miami Herald's waterfront headquarters and putting up condo towers?

Sure, Herald poobahs have said there are no plans to move, and the city has rejected a bid to rezone the bayfront property for high-rises. But there's a lot of money floating around — at about $200 million, a deal in the works for land surrounding the site could be one of the most lucrative real estate transactions in South Florida history — and things tend to change overnight around here.

And then there's that photograph.

You know, the one on a 40-by-60-foot mesh banner hanging from the building's east side — a gorgeous view of the water, the Venetian Causeway, and Miami Beach beyond. "You could have this view for the right price," the image seems to say to Miamians bombarded with real estate come-ons.

The photographic banner, taken by Miami artist Bert Rodriguez, was installed as part of a $15,000 art commission by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs. It went up November 1 and will come down February 1. Rodriguez snapped the shot from a central office in the building, hoping to give MacArthur Causeway drivers and apartment dwellers across the way a kind of mirror. He swears he wasn't thinking about real estate when he proposed the project. "I've gotten that from a few people," he said. "They didn't even know it was a piece. They thought it was a real estate poster."

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