A NEW LUXURY DEVELOPMENT WILL BRING CHIC SOUTH FLORIDA STYLE AND A DREAM LIST OF AMENITIES TO THE JERSEY SHORE

BY JENNIFER VIKSE • PORTRAIT AND STAFF PHOTOS BY AMESSÉ PHOTOGRAPHY

For Mimi Feliciano, the development currently under construction near Long Branch’s Pier Village, South Beach at Long Branch, is not only professionally exciting, it’s also personal.

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Feliciano is a principal of FEM South Beach Urban Renewal, a family business that also includes her husband, Edwin, and two sons. For decades, she has run a successful commercial real estate business. Now she’s branching out, venturing into condominium development.

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But becoming a condo developer wasn’t always part of the plan, according to Feliciano, a Nutley native who has a second home in Long Branch. Because one of their sons wanted to get into development, she and her husband were keeping their eyes open, looking for a perfect opportunity.

Then they found a perfect small lot in Long Branch.

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We saw this little property, approved for 11 units. It had a cool style to it. It was edgy. We wanted to make it better, make it more interesting,” said Feliciano, who eventually was able to add additional properties to create a larger footprint.

“[This has] taken our real estate business in a totally different direction,” she explained. “It’s evolved, it’s so unique, it’s a boutique project. We fell into it because we have a home in Long Branch, and we just love it. We saw this property and went with it.”

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The project, which is slated for completion next summer, is being designed to appeal to the sophisticated high end buyer looking for an elegant beach lifestyle but who doesn’t want to have to fly to Miami to enjoy it. The mostly glass, ocean facing condominium complex will have eight stories, with 47 units from 1,352 to 3,382 square feet. Prices start at $1.3 million. It’s a very different look for a coastal community that seems to favor traditional styles for its homes.

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“We went to Miami to get inspired. We wanted beachy elegance. Miami has that. A lot of people have second homes there. That’s what I was looking for. The same services, same beach lifestyle, and the buildings were so beautiful in glass,” she said. On the trip, they visited about a dozen places and came back “so inspired.” They began incorporating resulting new ideas into their design, including expansive glass and private elevators.

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A larger project meant that the development could offer more amenities to its homeowners. When considering just what these services might be, Feliciano only needed to ask herself what she would want in her own home by the ocean. “Because I envision myself there, I ask, ‘What would I want… what would I need as a customer?’ I think I’m able to capture both. I’m very much a customer [on this project], and that helped creatively,” she said.

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The property will feature lush landscaping and windmill palm trees evocative of tropical Miami; a one of a kind lobby; concierge services; a saltwater infinity edge pool with a waterfall, a sand patio and raised sundecks; direct access to a beach area with cabanas; a high tech, 24/7 gym; a business conference center; an outdoor patio and common grill area; below ground parking; and other perks.

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Especially appealing are the four beautifully appointed, hotel style guest suites with private kitchenettes for owners’ guests, and a private dining room where chefs can prepare meals for residents and their guests with the option for takeout meals, avoiding what can be long waits at nearby restaurants. “I love to entertain my family and friends, and I love good food,” Feliciano explained. At the same time, she hates waiting at restaurants. “I don’t want to cook at the shore. So I said, ‘Let’s create a space there and create a full commercial kitchen with a chef a dining club.’”

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That dining club will seat 35 and serve different fare every weekend. “It’s convenient for people who don’t want to cook,” Feliciano said.

According to Feliciano, there has been overwhelmingly positive feedback on the amenity rich offering. In fact, she thinks this development could be a new market for those with the means. “I feel that it’s something new we’re starting they get it, they like having a guest suite for adult children or colleagues. You can entertain them.” And all without having to keep up a big house.

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The units are being designed by Interiors by Steven G, based near Miami. They will range from two to four bedrooms and will feature open floor plans, Wolf appliances, porcelain floors, floor to ceiling glass offering ocean views, and Italian cabinets. “We tried to find the best that we could,” Feliciano said, quickly adding, though, that the project is about more than high end amenities; it’s about being at the shore smelling it, feeling the sand between her toes, watching the tide coming in and going out.

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“It’s personal because I just enjoy the shore,” she said, noting that she used to come as a kid. Upon returning a few years ago, she wondered why she had ever stayed away. “I like walking near it, breathing in the air you get to choose where you live as you get older. I want to have this lifestyle…want to enjoy the shore. Long Branch is a lot of fun, too. It’s near Pier Village, Asbury Park it truly is a cool experience. Years ago, I never went to Long Branch. It wasn’t as developed as it is today. It has so much to offer now.”

While Feliciano and her husband have been working alongside each other for years, this project is a culmination of sorts, because they will be living here once it’s completed. “My husband is my partner. He is a licensed real estate broker. The moment he saw the location, he knew it was a winner.”

In addition to working side by side, the Felicianos are engaged in their Morris County community and have established the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship and the Feliciano School of Business, both at Montclair State University.

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She recalled one time in Long Branch when, sitting with her husband, drink in hand, he told her, “We need to do this more often.” Pretty soon, they will.

“We really believe in this project,” she said. “We’re excited to bring this vision to New Jersey.”

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