Business Spotlight: DDG’s McMillan pitching luxury south of Palm Beach

Don’t ask Joe McMillan how many units he’s sold at 3550 South Ocean. “We have not publicly released the number of signed contracts,” he says. What he will disclose is that the luxury condo project on the Palm Beach oceanfront has attracted a parade of well-heeled potential buyers since sales began in January.

“We’ve seen a very diverse and robust set of buyers,” McMillan says. “They seem to be a mix of some full-time residents in the area — some coming from Wellington that may have a large home or horse farm and want to move to a beach cottage — and buyers from the Northeast, some from Canada, Chicago and a smaller subset of international buyers.”

McMillan, the Chairman and CEO of DDG, intends to sell 30 units priced between $2.3 million and $6 million on the former site of the Palm Beach Oceanfront Inn, colloquially remembered as “The Hawaiian.” The new building could increase the town’s tax base by 30 percent.

To say that Palm Beach has never seen anything like the 3550 is a grand understatement that McMillan plans to exploit. “I think our units are priced well,’’ he says. “I think the main selling point of the building is the product itself. It is oceanfront, it has a very robust amenity package with private plunge pools on all the penthouses. Every unit has a view of the ocean with floor-toceiling windows, direct elevator access, a fitness center, two private parking spaces, gated security and 24-hour concierge. The amenities of the building are really what is selling the building.” The two- and three-bedroom units range from 2,500 to 3,400 square feet and are designed by architecture firms Kobi Karp of Miami and Garcia Stromberg of West Palm Beach.

McMillan believes a cyclical opportunity is working in his favor and justifies the 3550 pricing. Most of the construction along South Florida’s beaches is one or two generations old. Luxury buyers, he says, crave something new. “If you look at Palm Beach County and Palm Beach island in particular, there’s been very little new development of high-end luxury [condo] construction.

There’s pent-up demand because there’s been a dearth of new construction on the ocean for a very long time, and we are the beneficiaries of that. We are the first new condo development on Palm Beach island in almost 12 years.” McMillan says he expects to begin construction of the seven-story building before the end of June, with a completion target sometime late in 2018.

DDG came into the marketplace when developer Gary Cohen of Paragon Acquisition Group in Delray Beach, partnered with McMillan’s firm. McMillan, 45, founded DDG in 2009, and the company has developed dozens of residential and mixed-use projects in New York and California. An Army veteran, McMillan holds a bachelor’s degree in Commerce and Finance from the University of Virginia.

DDG has opened an office in Manalapan’s Plaza del Mar as part of its first venture into Florida. In reaching out to that diverse group of potential buyers, DDG is also benefiting from an unexpected political development — the election of President Donald Trump, whose Mar-a-Lago retreat is just 6 miles up the road. “I think that the fact that a sitting president chooses to call this place home is not lost on people, regardless of party affiliation, Republican or Democrat,” McMillan says. “I think there’s tremendous value in that.”