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Pursuitist Interview: Louise Sunshine, Strategic Advisor to Fort Partners

Pursuitist Interview: Louise Sunshine, Strategic Advisor to Fort Partners

Louise M. Sunshine is a legend in the marketing of luxury real estate. Sunshine is the daughter of Elizabeth Pressman and Nelson Mintz, and a granddaughter of Bertha Pressman and Barney Pressman, the founder of Barneys New York. She was the Finance Chairwoman of the New York State Democratic Party during Hugh Carey’s governorship and also served as a Democratic National Committeewoman, a member of the state’s Job Development Authority, and Vice Chairman of the State Thruway Authority. During her time in government, she met Donald J. Trump. From 1973-1985, Sunshine was Executive Vice President of The Trump Organization and was instrumental in the development of The Grand Hyatt Hotel and Trump Tower NY; a limited partner of Trump Plaza NY; and was responsible for the acquisition of the Barbizon Plaza Hotel site in Manhattan and the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, FL.

Louise Sunshine established the Sunshine Group, Ltd. in 1986 with limited partner Jerry Speyer. Under her leadership, the Sunshine Group flourished and was nationally recognized for its outstanding record in predevelopment planning, marketing and sales of premier luxury residential and mixed-use developments
in major markets throughout the country. By 2000, the company reached over $8 billion in real estate sold. In 2002, she sold the Sunshine Group to NRT LLC, the largest residential real estate brokerage company in the United States.

Nationally recognized as a top real estate marketing expert, Louise Sunshine, President of LMS Consulting LLC, is currently the strategic advisor for Fort Partners overseeing the creation and development of both Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences at The Surf Club in Miami Beach and Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences in Fort Lauderdale. Sunshine has been integral in achieving record-breaking sales for both developments, leading Four Seasons Private Residences at The Surf Club to attain prices over $4,000/sf (and over $1 billion in inventory sold) and shattering records in Fort Lauderdale with prices over $2,000/sf.

You’ve had a long career in real estate. What projects stand out to you the most in your memory and why?
The two most recent developments that I’ve worked on with Fort Partners stand out for their impeccable design, immense sales success and transformation of the cities they reside in. Four Seasons Hotel and Residences at The Surf Club in Surfside — designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Richard Meier & Partners Architects — set sales records for Surfside. Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences Fort Lauderdale is the first five-star development in Broward County and is bringing a new level of luxury to this area for the first time.

What would you say is the most significant shift in luxury real estate in the wake of the financial crisis ten years ago?
People have become smarter buyers, especially when looking at new construction. Savvy investors want to see a developer’s track record and feel confident that the development will not only get built but will also have the features, amenities, and finishes that were promised.

Are the buyers for your Florida projects mostly coming from the Northeast? Are you seeing a lot of foreign buyers?
Four Seasons Fort Lauderdale buyers are Four Seasons devotees who love the unparalleled service and exceptional lifestyle of the brand. Prospective buyers need only visit Four Seasons at The Surf Club to understand the level of service and comprehensive luxury lifestyle that Four Seasons Fort Lauderdale will offer. Now well over 50-percent sold, the development has captivated buyers from all across the globe with its Four Seasons service and unprecedented five-star amenities.

Why are brand names such as Four Seasons so crucial to buyers now?
Luxury buyers recognize the importance of service and the ability to live a fully-serviced lifestyle. It’s not enough to have a fitness center or pool in your building, when you can live at a branded residence and have a lifestyle concierge who programs cooking classes in the private dining room downstairs and arranges your children’s playdates. Four Seasons is internationally renowned for its incredible service so it’s no surprise that buyers are drawn to the brand when looking for the best, most well-rounded lifestyle.

Technology has changed the way people interact with their homes. What smart home features are most important to you?
Technology is changing the way we do nearly everything. In real estate, especially, technology is creating a big shift, as buyers and residents can do everything from find a home online and see it using virtual reality technology, to outfitting their home with smart features that control their lighting, shades, music and more. Smart home features are another way of creating a full-service lifestyle because you can program your home to fit all your needs and give you the lifestyle that you want.

On the flip-side of technological advances in housing, branded residences provide a team of people who are responsible for learning your preferences and tailoring residential experiences to you. It’s personalization that people are truly after.

How important is a sense of community and culture in luxury real estate developments? Some buildings have a robust community with lectures, chef nights, etc. Do you see that as an ongoing trend? 
Many developers are incorporating programming that fosters a sense of community among residents because it provides that fully-serviced lifestyle that many luxury buyers are seeking. Creating this idyllic lifestyle where residents have culture and a sense of community within their building is a part of selling the dream life that people are after.

Four Seasons Fort Lauderdale understands this lifestyle and crafted a way for residents to live their best life doing what they love. Because Four Seasons Fort Lauderdale is the area’s first five-star development, residents deserve an amenity program just as curated, thoughtful and special as the development itself. Residents of Four Seasons Fort Lauderdale will have premier access to Fort Partners’ portfolio across South Florida and the Caribbean, including Four Seasons Hotel and Residences at The Surf Club, Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach and Norman’s Cay, an exclusive private island in the Bahamas. They’ll receive special courtesies such as preference on hotel stays and dining, and will also have access to private transportation options between the developments. Four Seasons Fort Lauderdale buyers are Four Seasons devotees who often prefer to stay and dine at Four Seasons properties across the globe, and this is a special way for residents to connect with other nearby Four Seasons destinations.