Russian property mogul Vladislav Doronin flew to Milan earlier this year to wrap up his deal with Italian fashion house Missoni. The company, he believed, was partnering with him on one of his first U.S. developments.
But once he arrived, Mr. Doronin realized he had been mistaken. Missoni family members bluntly told him they made no commitment. What’s more, he had only a couple of hours to convince them to join him on his $350 million luxury condo project in Miami.
After six hours of eating, toasting and intense negotiations, the family came around. Missoni agreed to lend its name to Mr. Doronin’s latest project and design the interiors and common areas.
“We are good friends now,” he said during an interview this month at his 71st floor apartment in Manhattan’s Time Warner Center.
The 53-year-old Russian billionaire is going to need those persuasion skills as his new U.S. property company, OKO Group, launches three luxury condo projects. He is building in South Florida, an oversupplied market that has started to soften after years of cheap financing and soaring prices. The number of Miami Beach condo transactions in the fourth quarter was down 20% from the year earlier, according to appraisal firm Miller Samuel Inc.
A strong U.S. dollar in recent years has cut the buying power of Russian, Latin American and European investors, whose purchases had helped to prop up prices in Miami and other major U.S. cities. Volatile U.S. stock markets, meanwhile, have made locals wary of making big purchases. Many Miami developers have put on hold or canceled more than half a dozen projects planned when markets were rising.
“You need to deliver good product, sophisticated product, and you will be different,” Mr. Doronin said.
All told, OKO will spend $1 billion to acquire land and develop the three Miami projects. “I am spending bucks,” Mr. Doronin said.
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