Miami developer David Martin, president of Terra, brings a less is more approach to real estate. With a focus on design, responsible planning and superior quality, his newest ultra-luxe residential high-rise, Eighty Seven Park, is rising at the intersection of parkland and the Atlantic Ocean. With stunning architecture by Renzo Piano, this instant landmark is leading the transformation of North Beach.

By Beth Weitzman

You grew up in Coconut Grove, attended undergrad and grad school at the University of Florida in Gainesville, and then returned to Miami. What is it about the city that drew you back and keeps you living here?

I was born in Coconut Grove and my company is based in the neighborhood, so the area’s resurgence as a residential, business and lifestyle destination is personal to me. The Grove is one of the few authentically urban, walkable districts in Miami, and that’s a big reason why we’re so heavily invested there. As a Miami native, it’s very rewarding to be able to help shape our city’s future in a positive way and watch my kids grow up in the same city I did.

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Did you develop any mantras early on in your career that you still live by today?

Less is more. We find that we can create more value for our residents, tenants and communities by prioritizing design and responsible planning principles over density.

Why do you think people from all over the globe are drawn to the city?

There’s simply no place like Miami. It’s a cultural melting pot filled with authenticity, beauty and community.

How do you describe your development philosophy? Have your views on real estate development changed over the years?

We believe responsible development can improve neighborhoods over the long term, so we look for places where we can unlock value and meet demand for a specific type of product, be it residential or commercial. We’re doing this in Coconut Grove, North Beach, Weston and Pembroke Pines. I’m extremely hands on with all of our projects. I collaborate with our architects and designers early in the development process. I engage members of the community on a daily basis. I get to know our residents on a personal level.

Why now for North Beach?

Terra is extremely conscious of where, how and what we develop. We’re always looking for neighborhoods with high barriers to entry that lend themselves to uncovering inefficiency, filling a market void or delivering a concept that’s never been executed. We are collaborating with the architects at Renzo Piano Building Workshop, the planners and landscape designers at West 8 and the interior designers at RDA1 to create a project that will be an anchor for the larger North Beach neighborhood, an area that has mostly sat untouched for decades. The site is set directly on the sand and bounded by a 35-acre public park, so it’s a quiet piece of property compared to what many people expect to find in Miami Beach. We think North Beach is poised for a transformation over the next few years, especially given its location midway between South Beach and Bal Harbour.

What does the development of Eighty Seven Park mean for the community and preserving its natural beauty?

Terra is working with some of the top architects from South Florida and around the world, and in every instance we are planning projects and creating designs that complement our surroundings. For example, Renzo Piano is creating a master plan for our Eighty Seven Park project which will add new public green space and expanded beach access for the neighborhood. Our plans call for a low-density high-rise that will appeal to residents who value exquisite design, the outdoors and life on the water. We’ve committed $10 million to the city to overhaul North Shore Open Space Park in tandem with a master plan created by West 8. Once finished, it will be one of the premier public parks in the country.

How does it feel to not only be responsible for changing the look of a neighborhood, but also to have the power to significantly impact its prosperity, value and desirability?

It’s a responsibility that I take very seriously. Ultimately, I’m working towards leaving a legacy. I want my kids, when they walk around, to be proud that their dad had a positive impact on their community.

For readers unfamiliar with the area, what are some of the biggest draws of living in this part of Miami Beach?

Just minutes from Bal Harbour shopping, Surfside and Miami’s most exclusive district, Indian Creek, residents will be centered in a serene seaside environment within a peaceful park location, even receiving a coveted “key to the park.”

Let’s talk about scale, density and environmental impact. How do you decide the number of units in a building such as Eight Seven Park, where you could have put more than 200 units but opted for 66? And what went into the decision to place the building on one acre and create a two-acre private park on the north side of the building?

Every neighborhood has a different characteristic. You want to try to work in that DNA rather than impose a preconceived idea. North Beach is about intimate, boutique experiences, so this project called for us to echo that same ethos.

Would you say selecting the team, from architect to interior designer, is equally important as having a prime location on which to build?

The team is just as important, if not more than, the blueprint for the project. This location was an undiscovered gem, and it takes the right mix of people to effectively work together and unlock hidden value.

You’ve tapped Isabel and Ruben Toledo to create gorgeous illustrative art campaigns, marketing materials and uniforms for the building staff. How long have you known the Toledos and what inspired this collaboration?

The Toledos have been close friends of our family for years. The collaboration helps me convey to Terra’s customers and clients that we’re not only working with great architects, but that good design is all-encompassing.

What gives Eighty Seven Park a sense of place in Miami?

Eighty Seven Park finds itself placed in a quiet spot, nestled between the sea and the shore. Furthering its sense of place, every interior and exterior element of the project embraces its Miami environment and brings the outdoors inside.

In the very crowded South Florida real estate market, what does this building offer residents that others don’t? 

Eighty Seven Park offers a 35-acre park on the ocean. How many cities can offer that, connected to an urban grid? In our real estate market, the answer is none. Eighty Seven Park is more than a building. It’s a landmark for Miami Beach.

You and your wife Christy are known for giving back so much to the community. Can you share with us some organizations near and dear to you both?

Philanthropy is a big part of our lives. We value shaping a safer, healthier, more culturally engaged Miami for our children. Some organizations that are close to our hearts include Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, American Cancer Society, Vizcaya Museums and Gardens, and The Wolfsonian-Florida International University. terragroup.com; eightysevenpark.com