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Originally published Friday, February 22, 2013 at 8:01 PM

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Trophy property is hot in Miami

World’s mega rich are taking over Miami’s trophy estates.

The Miami Herald

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Pat Riley, president of basketball’s Miami Heat, sold his spectacular bay-front mansion in gated Gables Estates for $16.8 million last March.

The 12,856-square-foot Mediterranean-style dream house has a theater, wine cellar, library and a sprawling pool with waterfalls and an aqua bar.

But that’s all coming down.

Turns out the lure was the lot: a rare fingertip of prime land, nearly two acres, jutting into the turquoise waters of Biscayne Bay.

In December, the buyer — listed as an LLC represented by Miami attorney Mark Hasner — presented the city of Coral Gables, Fla., with plans to tear down the home, built in 1991, and erect an even grander estate along the 900 linear feet of bay front.

“Most people would move in and be perfectly happy, but clients are looking for perfection — really good stuff,” said Jorge Uribe, a senior vice president at One Sotheby’s International Realty, who wasn’t involved but sold an even bigger trophy property last year: a $39.4 million estate on Indian Creek Island in Miami Beach, dubbed “Miami’s Billionaire Bunker” by Forbes magazine.

“The trend in the last several years is a demand for very high-quality product. People are looking for really good locations, really good materials, and they’re willing to pay for it,” Uribe said.

Miami’s ultraluxury market is on fire. Prices for the fanciest single-family homes and condominiums have soared to levels never before seen in the area, fueled by strong foreign demand and renewed interest from New Yorkers and others in the Northeast.

With Miami’s global image burnished by Art Basel Miami Beach and the debut of other cultural and entertainment venues, the city is emerging as an even greater magnet for the world’s superrich.

In January, a penthouse at the Setai Resort & Residences on Miami Beach fetched $27 million, a new high for a Miami-Dade condominium.

“Every building we do business in is at its highest price of all time,” said Mark Zilbert, president of Zilbert International Realty, which represented the buyer in the Setai deal.

Last August, a sleek, new home built on spec sold for $47 million, a record high for a Miami-Dade residence. The buyer, whose identity has not been revealed, is Russian.

“People are realizing how valuable the bay waterfront is,” said Oren Alexander, co-founder of the Alexander Group at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, who co-listed the 3 Indian Creek property with The Jills team at Coldwell Banker and represented the buyer for the home. His father, Shlomy Alexander, developed the property with partner Felix Cohen.

Shlomy Alexander is working on two more extravagant spec homes, his son said. Plans envision a tropical modern-style project that fuses the indoors and outdoors — a concept popular in Brazil.

The bigger the better. One custom house Coastal is building in Hillsboro Beach, Fla., is set to be 60,000 square feet. That’s about the size of 50 two-bedroom apartments. “A beautiful big home,” Murphy said.

Coldwell Banker luxury super broker Jill Eber — who works with Jill Hertzberg as The Jills in marketing many of South Florida’s most exclusive homes — said teardowns are increasingly common.

“We just closed at the end of the year on a property at the tip of Sunset Island for $20 million,” said Eber, whose team had the listing for the record $47 million Indian Creek sale and closed on some $480 million in residential deals in 2012.

“Somebody bought it for $20 million and is tearing it down. It’s only about 46,000 square feet (of lot), but it’s got 200 feet on the open bay looking directly downtown.”

“People are asking more and more for contemporary, clean lines,” said Audrey Ross, senior vice president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell and a top-selling luxury Realtor who has sold many of Miami’s prime estates several times.

Wayne Boich Jr., the 37-year-old CEO of the Boich Group, a Columbus, Ohio-based coal business, bought three adjoining bay front properties in Miami Beach for $17.7 million last July and knocked down the homes to make way for a sleek, contemporary home bigger than all three.

A few blocks south of Boich is the jaw-dropping home of New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod recently had the spacious contemporary mansion listed with One Sotheby’s International Realty for $38 million but took it off the market and rented it out.

For many of the world’s one-percenters, a Miami mansion is a third, fourth or fifth home.

“It’s a discretionary purchase, almost 100 percent of the time,” said Ross. “Generally speaking, my business in the ultra high-end tracks the stock market one-to-one. I can watch the ticker and know if I’m going to be busy or not. Right now, the high end is flying.”