The Night Kings: The Men Behind South Beach’s Hottest Nightclubs

Michael Capponi ||| Capponi Group Luxury Properties, Glass, The Victor Hotel, and Mansion
“Comeback Kid”

HL What brought you to Miami?
MC I moved here from Belgium in 1979 with my mother and father. My dad owned some stores in The Shops at Mayfair.

HL What made you get into the nightlife industry, and how has it evolved or changed since then?
MC It wasn’t until about 1992 that actual nightclubs opened up here, so we were doing travel parties before the club owners got there. They were kind of forced to deal with us because we were here first. People always say that South Beach isn’t the same; my answer to that is, Ibiza isn’t the same, St. Tropez isn’t the same, and the Hamptons aren’t the same. Things progress and they evolve, period. .

HL Who was your first mentor and how did he or she influence you?
MC I think John Turchin – he opened up nightclubs. He had one of the most successful clubs in the late 80s, Club Nu. He went on to start a construction company and build luxury homes, sort of like what I’m doing now.

HL How do you feel your club has contributed to the real estate boom? What positive effect do you think the club/nightlife scene here has had on growth in the market, and why?
MC The early modeling agencies did a bunch of shoots here. Because of those beautiful girls in town, we threw some amazing parties, then some celebrities came, then the place got hot. When the money moved in, the real estate market boomed. I argued at a commission meeting when the Mayor was saying that the people don’t come to Miami Beach because of the nightlife; they come because of the sun and the sand. So I said, How come our tourist dollars are four times greater than the tourist dollars in Fort Lauderdale? They’ve got the same sun, the same sand; it’s not any colder there.

HL How do you keep your club at the top of its game when there are so many coming and going on a regular basis?
MC I have a very clear idea of my market and what I want it to be.

HL Do you think people are willing to pay more for luxury real estate to be in the midst of the action?
MC An analogy that anyone can understand would be, if you looked at the meatpacking district [in New York] six years ago, it was a bunch of warehouses. Today it’s more expensive than SoHo. Why? Because it’s a hot area; there are nightclubs. There are only nightclubs, a couple of stores and every trendy restaurant in New York City is there right now. Try to buy some real estate there; it’s going to cost a fortune.

HL What was your most memorable real estate deal?
MC Ten Museum Park will always be the one I will be most grateful for, [along with] Chad Oppenheim, Gregg Covin and everyone that brought me into that. It’s topped off, all the windows are in, and I’m doing a party there in December. I’m very proud of that; that was my big break.

HL Where do you live?
MC Sunset Island.

HL What is your proudest achievement?
MC Getting off drugs, staying off drugs and helping people get off drugs.

HL What’s your favorite condo development?
MC I think Aqua is really cool and unique; they did a really good job on that. Of course, Jorge Perez with his Apogee,; that looks pretty incredible.

HL What’s your favorite residential neighborhood?
MC I personally prefer the Sunset Islands because they’re closest to the Beach. It’s two minutes from Lincoln Road; I’m four minutes from the nightclubs.

HL What’s your forecast for real estate in the next two to three years?
MC There are about 850 homes on the water in Miami Beach, and I believe that there will always be 850 wealthy people that don’t care about interest rates or an adjusted condo market. I don’t think it’s going to be that affected. I think the condo market will at some point adjust itself.

HL What about your forecast for the nightlife scene for the next two to three years?
MC I was just in New York for a weekend, and all the people I went with said nothing compares to Miami. There’s something about Miami; the energy that we have here in the clubs you just can’t compare to L.A. or New York.

HL Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
MC Hopefully developing a little resort somewhere that I can get to by boat. That would be my dream. I don’t know if I’d want to go into the strict hotel business, but probably a spa/trendy resort – Club Med done by the modern Ian Schrager in the year 2015. As the Delano was when it first got here, but on an island in the Caribbean.