The Avenue: Somewhere on the Paris/Gables Border

A French-inspired hotel and residence is on its way to the Gables.

The project was going to be called Boutique, but that was before Oscar Roger spoke to his daughter, who was in Paris at the time. “I was in my conference room, talking to our partners to see about [calling it] Boutique because of all the beautiful boutiques here in Merrick Park. My daughter just happened to call, and they were in L’Avenue Restaurant and said, ‘Oh, no, call it L’Avenue.’”

The name — absent the French “L” — was an instant hit with the home team. The idea of giving Roger’s new building a French name was already in the DNA of the project. The eight-story condo-hotel on Le Jeune and San Lorenzo, across the street from Neiman Marcus in the Shops at Merrick Park, was designed from the start to look like an apartment building in Paris.

Inspiration for The Avenue came from Parisian apartment buildings.

“We’re doing a smaller block building typical of France or Europe,” says Roger, the president and CEO of Roger Development Group. “So, it’s going to be just 48 units, all very well appointed with total furnishings, plates, towels, everything. They come fully equipped.”

The reason why the units will come fully furnished, and by no less than celebrated interior designer Adriana Hoyos, is so they can provide a consistent experience for potential hotel guests. The concept for The Avenue as a condo-hotel is for owners to buy the units and then, when they are not staying there, put them in a pool of rooms for short-term rentals.

Oscar Roger Jr., who has worked at the family firm since 2013, says the idea is to provide consistency.

“If you come here this week, then come back a month later, you’re in a different unit, but you’ll still have that same experience,” he says. “Some [owners] could maybe decorate a little too personally or not enough, and you’ll have different experiences every time. That’s not good.”

The Avenue’s units will come fully furnished, with contemporary, high-quality interiors in the living area (left) and state of the art appliances and luxury finishes in the kitchen (right).

As a condo-hotel (designed by Gables-based Bermello Ajamil & Partners), The Avenue will also provide one of the few short-term rental facilities in the city. Coral Gables has long banned Airbnb, and short-term rentals of any kind are permitted only in a limited area around the Shops at Merrick Park. While buyers can live year-round in their apartments, the ability to lease for a few days — or a week, or a month — is an attractive proposition for investors who will pay from $730,000 to more than $1.3 million for units that are 600 to 1,200-square-feet.

Having such an option in Coral Gables will be a significant asset, says real estate broker Alina Meledina, who specializes in selling short-term rental units.

“Let’s say you might be going through renovations, or you get flooded and need to tear up your floors to repair them. What options do you have? [Right now,] you have to go outside the city and rent for two or three months. But what if you have kids in school here? The second big thing is that we all have families…. Why not buy a small apartment, so that whenever your family comes they can use it, and when they leave you can rent it.”

Founder Oscar Roger with his son, looking over a model of the site at Shops at Merrick Park (left).

The concept has proven so alluring that more than 70 percent of the units have been sold prior to the expected groundbreaking this fall, with completion scheduled for early 2025. “The majority of the people that are buying here are investor-based. A lot of them are international, but there are some locals too,” says Roger Jr. “There are some that are buying for their son or daughter to live there while they go to UM, and then [afterwards] they’ll also have a place.”

To make the building as French as possible, Roger Development has purchased parking spaces from the city in the nearby public parking facility. This allows them to avoid building on top of a “parking pedestal” and instead to create retail at street level — including a Parisian French bakery, a wine bar, a lady’s spa, and a women’s swimwear boutique. All the units will also have balconies, like most Parisian apartments. “We’re trying to make this building a true European joy, and I think that is what we have done,” says Roger Sr.

About the only thing missing is the Mansard roof — with its tilt-back enclosures where the artists of Paris traditionally kept their garret studios. “I wonder if the city would have gone for that,” says Roger Sr., “because everything here is very Mediterranean Spanish… But I think the architecture, with the curved corner, is [sufficiently] French-inspired.”

The other reason to hold off on a Mansard roof is that it would have made the rooftop pool almost impossible to install. The Avenue may be Paris-inspired, but this is South Florida, after all.

RELATED: Read how the principal of Gables-based Bermello Ajamil & Partners design his new home, right down to the most fanatical detail in “An Architect’s Dream Home.”