People in Glass Houses

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Nancy Heslin   Editor

One Monte-Carlo

The ultra-elite are dropping $250 000 a month to live in Monte Carlo’s newest neighborhood. Here’s why.

What do the ultra-rich value most? Perhaps not family or health as much as … dirt. A 2018 report on “Luxury Real Estate: What Matters Most To Today’s Global Elite” said that globally, for UNHWIs, “35% believe real estate is the most obvious signifier of wealth. Europeans are most likely (44%) to see a home as a determiner of wealth.”

Proof of prosperity couldn’t be made clearer than in Monaco, the priciest place on the planet when it comes to being either a property owner—$1 million will buy you 16 square meters—or a renter. At One Monte-Carlo, the new 60,000-square-meter mega- modern neighborhood in Casino Square, rent runs as high as $250,000 a month.

For Daniel Lambrecht, director of real estate for Société des Bains de Mer (SBM), the company flipping the bill for the One development, increasing demand for ultra-high-end property in the Principality can be put down to one consideration: security.
“Men want to move their younger wives and children to Monaco, which is very safe,” explains the industrial engineer. “New builds now include fewer studios but more 4- or 5-bedroom units to accommodate families.”

According to IMSEE, Monaco statistics, transactions involving properties of four or more bedrooms boomed from 2013 to 2016 but slowed in 2017 with less units of this size available. That being said, 2017 saw the highest recorded number of sales since 2006, 50 apartments, from studios to 4 bedrooms, sold for a total of €228.9 million. Brits, Swiss, Scandinavians, and Russians—some of them newcomers to the country—mostly make up the 53% of renters who have signed a minimum lease of two years (and, in one case, nine years) to live at One Monte-Carlo.

The scale of residential luxury and enhanced lifestyle is unprecedented, even for Monaco, which has 19,534 housing units.

One Monte-Carlo has particular cachet. It was designed by British architect Sir Richard Rogers—recipient of the Gold Medal 2019 by the American Institute of Architects for his “lasting influence and significant contributions” to the field, and whose work includes the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Three World Trade Center skyscraper in New York—and Monaco architect Alexandre Giraldi (Odeon Tower, 26 Carré d’or).

The complex consists of seven contemporary buildings with glass façades that maximize natural light.

In the heart of Monte Carlo’s hottest neighborhood is Promenade Princesse Charlène, the region’s most prestigious pedestrian walkway accessing 23 luxury boutiques and Marcel Ravin’s new Mada One restaurant, where Mada Champagne High Tea is served from 3 to 5:30 pm.

The six residential buildings offer 37 unfurnished and for-rent only apartments on floors 5 to 13. This includes six 800-square-meter duplex or triplex penthouses, with private rooftop pools and up to 6 bedrooms. Talk about King-of-the-Casino: unobstructed views of Casino Square extend to the azure sea and terracotta roof tops dotting its coastline, on a clear day, seen as far as the Italian coast.

From the acropolis on down to Versailles, luxury architecture displays its extravagance in skilled craftsmanship. Giraldi points to the subtle single-pattern parquet floors, exquisite marble bathrooms and large carved marble arches that enhance the vision of the designers. Overall, Lambrecht describes the vibe at One Monte-Carlo as “serenity.” The tripled-glazed windows play a part in that tranquility.

But One’s tour de force is its 5-star Butler Service. Apart from the usual 24/7 concierge, valet, laundry and housekeeping services, One gives residents access to breakfast and room service at the Hôtel de Paris, plus a wine selection of the 350,000 bottles from the hotel’s legendary cellar.

Tenants will also be given annual memberships to the Thermes Marins swimming pool and gym (€4,000/pp) and so no family member is excluded, a dog walking service is also part of the deal.

“We had one tenant request 23 parking spots,” says Lambrecht, which is slightly more than the four or five places assigned to each resident.
“Monaco is becoming a hub for antique car collectors.”

And for peace of mind, three underground levels of secured parking, closed reception areas, and plenty of security cameras (this is Monaco, after all) around the property.

The seventh building, a 9-storey oval business conference and event center, relies on solar energy and boasts a 2-ton freight elevator to facilitate cars during launches. To date, Family Offices and law firms have been confirmed as leasing office spaces by floor. But Lambrecht also points out that the 300-square-meter floor area could be divided in half to allow for non-traditional coworking spaces. The state-of-the art amenities will give Monaco a competitive edge over Cannes and Barcelona in the business tourism market.

Lambrecht arrived in Monaco in 2003 for the construction of Monte-Carlo Bay (which opened in 2006) in Larvotto. In 2009, he oversaw the renovation of the port-facing Balmoral Hotel on Avenue de la Costa, which is associated with the Hotel Hermitage and introduced the Butler Service to Monaco. But neither of these projects compares with the One development—either during or post-construction.

With 1,080 workers on site to manage (1,500 if you count the Hotel de Paris renovation), Lambrecht had logistical challenges over the five-year construction of One Monte-Carlo, including the Propertyimpossibility of deliveries in a mostly car-free Casino Square. To accommodate the development’s 35,000-square-meter underground, which includes three levels of private parking, his team had to drill down 38 meters. Aside from protecting the world’s largest wine collection, there was the risk of hitting a grotte. Prior to July 1, 1866, Monte Carlo was known as the Plateau des Spélugues (Plateau of caves).

One’s 37 rental apartments range from 60sqm to 800sqm, including three-storey penthouses with up to 6 bedrooms and private pools, with interiors designed by Bruno Moinard and Claire Betaille of 4BI & Associates in Paris.

Between the opening of its casino in 1861 and the elimination of personal income tax on residents since 1870, Monte Carlo has seduced the world’s elite to live (nearly 60% of all real estate sales in 2017 took place in Monte-Carlo and La Rousse) and play. The new One Monte-Carlo district, which makes up 3% of Monaco’s 2,020 square meters, will be the glass bubble within the glass bubble.

And SBM is banking on the tree-lined Promenade Princesse Charlène, a pedestrian walkway, which connects the new buildings to avenue de Beaux-Arts and the entrance of the Hotel of Paris, to be the artery of daily life in the Principality. And why not? It’s an easy stroll for shopping along the Rivera’s most exclusive Promenade, going to work at the “oval office” or a vernissage at the new cultural center, or hanging out at Mada One, a café-bistro-pastry shop by Michelin-starred chef Marcel Ravin (Monte Carlo Bay) that turns “ready-to-eat” into chic snacking.
The total luxury experience is completed by 30% of additional green space accessible to the public, mixing Mediterranean and exotic vegetation, designed by renowned landscaper Jean Mus (Grimaldi Forum, Polygone Riviera).

The €600,000 urban planning project—which began in 2009 and includes the renovation of the Hotel de Paris, One Monte-Carlo’s 7 buildings, and car parks—will be delivered on schedule (February 22) and on budget. “SBM expects to recuperate their investment soon,” insists Lambrecht.

And why not? In the fiscal year ending March 31, publicly traded SBM saw its revenue climb to €474.6 million, up 3.4% from a year earlier. Monaco has a stake in the new development’s success, as well. The state holds 64.21% of the shares of SBM, which manages and owns 4 casinos and 4 hotels, the Monte Carlo Opera, 33 restaurants plus clubs and bars, including Jimmy’z—where a mineral water costs €28. One Monte-Carlo is one more plum in the Principality’s portfolio.

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Nancy Heslin   Editor

Nancy (Wilson) Heslin is an established journalist and lifestyle writer.  She has been the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Monaco magazine (bimonthly in English) , since the magazine's 2nd issue . Launched in November 2018, Forbes Monaco is part of the Forbes family, with its 7 million readers and 71 million monthly website visitors worldwide.