David Martin received the inaugural Elevate Icon award in Miami on December 4 for cultivating unique spaces that seamlessly integrate art, community, and sustainability. Martin was a speaker at Elevate — an exclusive event from December 4-6 for the biggest names in the luxury high-rise market.
As the CEO of Terra Group, a Miami-based development company, Martin possesses a portfolio of more than five million square feet of residential and commercial real estate valued at more than $8 billion. The firm is active across all major real estate asset classes, including multifamily apartments, luxury condominium and single-family residences, retail and office space, hotels, and industrial properties.
Martin shared his insights into Terra Group’s mindset that has redefined South Florida’s skyline with Paul Makovsky, the editor-in-chief of ARCHITECT magazine.
Doing right by South Florida communities
“We develop a thesis around every project we do,” Martin said. “It takes place in every neighborhood that we’re focused on, and we need to adapt to changes in the community or changes with legislation. We try to think about how our projects can be a catalyst for improving the neighborhood and how we can do right by the community.”
“When we look at South Florida, our company is heavily focused in Dade and Broward counties, as well as Palm Beach. That gives a bit of a different perspective. It allows us to take data and intelligence we’ve garnered in the industrial space and apply it to our retail projects or vice versa. We can also apply it to our offices and residential buildings. We are competitive, thoughtful, and care a lot about our work.”
Sustainability as a competitive edge
Makovsky then asked Martin if using sustainability as a competitive edge in his business was possible.
“I think so,” Martin said. “But it goes a bit deeper. We have many challenges in our communities, from affordable housing, economic resiliency, water management, pollution control, and so on.”
“We’re looking to design things that have less impact. For instance, we’re looking at geothermal solutions. It’s something that’s been used in other regions, and we want to work on it. We’re always looking to think sustainably, but we must make certain sacrifices or compromises, and we try to factor that into all our decisions.”
Makovsky then asked if geothermal inclusion came down to a question of cost. “There’s a question of engineering knowledge,” Martin said. “Sometimes it’s a question of testing. It’s risky and difficult to corner, whether it’s the regulatory or the energy side, and you can’t compromise on the engineering front. At the end of the day, we’re looking at a cost-benefit analysis when it comes to sustainability. And my goal is to find a way of hacking capitalism to solve these things.”