COCOA BEACH, Fla. – An Orlando native who visited Space Coast beaches as a kid, Howie D of the Backstreet Boys has built and lived in oceanfront condominiums in Avon-by-the-Sea and Cape Canaveral since the 1990s.
News 6 news partner Florida Today reports the international music star has set his sights southward on one of Cocoa Beach’s highest-profile downtown properties. His development team hopes to break ground in September on The Surf, a $35 million luxury condo complex — featuring a second-floor swimming pool, spa and fire pit directly atop ground-level commercial space.
"Anything that’s new and fresh around here, I get excited about. We’re bringing a slice of Miami-South Beach. Cocoa Beach is a hidden gem to me. That’s why I relocated my family here, instead of Orlando," Howie D said.
“The fact that we decided to change the pool, from being on the beach side to the front side on A1A: I think that’s going to be a hot spot. I think everyone’s going to be looking up going, ‘I want to be up there,’ “ he said.
The Surf property is located on North Atlantic Avenue between Minutemen Causeway and North First Street, just north of Coconuts on the Beach and Beach Shack.
The 25-unit structure will rise from the long-vacant site of Ocean Dunes, a vacation rental complex that got battered by Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004. Crews demolished the damaged Ocean Dunes complex in 2005.
Prices range from $800,000 for a 1,770-square-foot unit with three bedrooms to $2.2 million for a 4,080-square-foot, four-bedroom penthouse, listed by Alyssa Boyd, broker-owner of Sand Dollar Realty of Brevard.
The Surf features two-car garages for every condo, oceanfront balconies with glass railings, floor-to-ceiling windows, 11-foot ceilings and a two-story lobby.
"The building is not just unique to Cocoa Beach, but it really is a one-of-a-kind for Brevard," said Christopher Burton, president of Christopher Burton Luxury Homes. He is the general contractor.
"You really do need to get down into Miami and Fort Lauderdale and Jupiter and places like that to find buildings that are designed like this. The building wasn’t designed for efficiency. It was really designed around lifestyle, and capturing the views," Burton said.
Howie Dorough and his brother John operate Dorough Brothers Development and Consulting, a Winter Park real estate firm — "it's become a second career," Howie Dorough said.
Their Space Coast projects include Flores Ocean Suites in Avon-by-the-Sea (15 units, completed July 2000), Flores del Mar in Cape Canaveral (33 units, completed June 2002), Flores de la Playa in Satellite Beach (18 units, completed October 2003) and Flores de la Costa in Avon-by-the-Sea (14 units, completed June 2019).
The Dorough brothers also built the 154-room Country Inn & Suites in Cape Canaveral, which opened in 2006. They are planning to build an adjacent 150-room Hyatt hotel, John Dorough said.
The Doroughs credited longtime Brevard real estate developer Charles Boyd, Alyssa's father, with putting The Surf project together behind the scenes the past four years. He died last month at age 72.
In July 2016, the Cocoa Beach City Commission approved a zoning variance allowing future construction 60 feet high at the old Ocean Dunes site, exceeding the 45-foot limit, said Randy Stevenson, director of development services.
However, a group of citizens filed an appeal in October 2016, seeking to overturn the variance. A three-judge panel rejected their appeal the following year, Stevenson said.
The Cocoa Beach City Commission unanimously approved a site plan for The Surf last October.
During that meeting, Commissioner Skip Williams said there was community confusion over whether the project would be located at the nearby former Bernard's Surf restaurant property — "it doesn't quite fit there," he said, drawing laughs. He said it looked like an excellent project.
“This is a project we’re very excited about. It is going to have a large impact on our (property tax collections) for the CRA — and if you look at the pictures, it’s going to be gorgeous,” Melissa Byron, Community Redevelopment Agency administrator, said this week.
The Backstreet Boys' last album, "DNA," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in February 2019. Last week, the vocal group postponed the North American leg of its world tour until June 2021 because of COVID-19. The schedule includes Florida concerts in Jacksonville, Tampa and West Palm Beach.
“We’ve had this second coming, with our Vegas residency that started about three years ago. And that, I think, really brought us back on the map. Along with the collaboration that we did with Florida-Georgia Line, 'God, Your Mama, And Me,' " Howie Dorough said during the May 5 episode of “Unapologetically Kate Chastain.”
Chastain, the former Melbourne Beach resident and star of Bravo’s “Below Deck," hosts the weekly talk show on Andy Cohen’s SiriusXM channel.
“We’ve just been very blessed that — I don’t know if it’s a ‘90s comeback, or hopefully a combination of doing a couple of right moves, little by little, (where) we’ve been able to bring ourselves back on the map again,” Dorough told Chastain.
Dorough serves on the board of directors of the King Center for the Performing Arts at Eastern Florida State College. During a May 8 video interview with Orlando Diocese officials, he labeled his musical career “a blessing.”
“As the Backstreet Boys, with having and sustaining a career for 27 years, I’m sure you can probably imagine: There’s ups and downs. And there’s trials and tribulations, even within our own group — always trying to find the faith and the strength to even stay together in the tough times, and to not just disband," Dorough said.
“A lot of artists don’t get that chance, or don’t have that faith, to be able to have what I call right now almost a second coming, with the success that we’ve had once again," he said.