A former hotel property in Naples, Fla. is being converted into a $71.67 million luxury residential condo building. The beachfront hotel's former owner, Vanderbilt Beach Associates, originally marketed the property at 11000 Gulf Shore Drive to hotel investors. But Chicago-based Cohen Financial, which Vanderbilt hired to sell the Naples property two years ago, believed that condo converters would be willing to pay the most for the 147 guest-room property.

“We worked with the client to enhance the property value,” explains Rick Tannenbaum, managing director at Cohen Financial. Tannenbaum spent months working with local zoning officials and tax attorneys to set the stage for the sale.

The Naples beachfront is subject to strict zoning laws, which makes development a challenge. But this barrier to entry bodes well for conversion projects, Tannenbaum says, because it limits additional development in the area.

In July, Cohen sold the property to locally based Signature Properties for nearly $72 million. Signature could develop up to 72 condo units on the site. The deal is one of many in recent months involving condo converters who have bought waterfront hotels and apartment buildings. Tannenbaum says that the sale set a record price for waterfront land in Florida's Collier County.