All posts by cindymize

Doing what you love, when you're good at it, makes everything else fall into place. I love real estate and I love making good, profitable deals. That's why I am a Realtor! Coming from the technology business, I am I intrinsically understand how to use the latest technology to serve my client base. But, I also understand how sometimes a hand-written note is just the thing someone needs to see. We are on the cusp of a new age, and I like to keep aert to both sides. Now. About me, personally. My husband and I live in Key Biscayne, Florida. He is from Argentina, I am from Georgia. Both of us are bi-lingual and bi-cultural. We are dog people! We truly LOVE the South Florida lifestyle. We have a boat and we fish, and take full advantage of living in a little piece of paradise. Community service has always been a part of my life and on Key Biscayne, it's no different. I love to get involved in the community and am a member and officer of a number of organizations. The American Legion Auxiliary is probably my most favorite. We help veterans and active duty military and their families. I am also a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of the Confederacy, The Key Biscayne Woman's Club and am active in local, state and national politics. Another of my passions is the Arthritis Foundation. Eight women and I have a team, A2A4A (America To Anywhere For Arthritis) and we run marathons all over the world to raise money to help the millions of Americans suffering with this disease. So far, we have raised over $200,000. When I have free time, you usually see me clomping around with my digital camera. Photography is my art and I relish the time I spend taking photos and looking at other people's work. And, I like to write. So. Here goes my blog!

Swire Properties CEO on Vision for Brickell CitiCentre

The Miami Herald

Swire Properties CEO shares vision for planned Brickell CitiCentre



Martin Cubbon, CEO of Swire Properties, in Miami during the June groundbreaking for Brickell CitiCentre, stands by a rendering of the massive mixed-use project coming to 701 S. Miami Ave.
Al Diaz / Miami Herald Staff
Martin Cubbon, CEO of Swire Properties, in Miami during the June groundbreaking for Brickell CitiCentre, stands by a rendering of the massive mixed-use project coming to 701 S. Miami Ave.
While U.S. companies see opportunity for investment in Asia, Swire Properties last year made its biggest financial commitment in Miami.

The decision to move forward on building Brickell CitiCentre, a $1.05 billion mixed-use project, is based on what Swire sees as the long-term potential for growth in this market.

“The best opportunity we’ve seen is here strangely, not in China,” said Martin Cubbon, chief executive of the Hong Kong-based Swire Properties. “This looked more attractive than the same analysis looked in big cities in China. But clearly there are plenty of others that don’t agree with me because they’ve been buying land in China, not in Miami.”

During 2008 and 2009, when others were pulling back on Miami as the financial and real estate meltdown hit, Swire Properties starting buying up land. Initially, the plan was to build condos. But as the size of the parcel grew so did the company’s ambitions.

“The chance to build something of real scale right downtown in the middle of a cosmopolitan American city is really rare,” Cubbon said. “Regardless of what’s happened in the market place, we couldn’t march into New York, LA or San Francisco and suddenly find nine acres of contiguous space right next to the main highway and the business district, within easy access of one of the best known tourist destinations. That’s very attractive.

“It may take us three or four years to piece all the elements together, but we will certainly do it. We’re not under any pressure from banks or investors.”

The Miami Herald sat down with Cubbon when he was in town in June for the Brickell CitiCentre groundbreaking. Here’s what he had to say:Q. What caught your interest in the Brickell area?

The Downtown Brickell area clearly began to change in 2009, 2010 and 2011. It became much more vibrant as more people began to stay and live in all the condos built in the last 10 years. It gave it a real buzz which I don’t think it had 10 or 15 years ago. It also created a need and the need was for high-quality shopping, entertainment and food and beverage. That had not really been built in a coherent, scalable way in the Downtown Brickell area in the past. That’s what we saw as the opportunity. We have the wherewithal to do it. Maybe we’re going to be proven wrong over the next five years. But we’re going to give it our best shot.Q. Did you look anywhere else in the U.S.?

No. We have a history here in Miami. We have been here a long time on Brickell Key. Our people understand the market. This couldn’t have happened anywhere else because we wouldn’t have had those eyes and ears on the ground looking at the opportunities. Sometimes I think it’s a little bit of serendipity how we got to where we are now. We wouldn’t have seen this opportunity had Steve Owens and his team not had a well-established office here. We wouldn’t have had the opportunity if land prices hadn’t corrected so sharply in 2008-2009. We wouldn’t have had this opportunity if we couldn’t have acquired enough space to do something that’s scalable. Scale is important when you’re talking about retail and entertainment.Q. Your company has built many similar mixed-use projects in Asia like Brickell CitiCentre. Why have you decided to shift from condo development to focus on this niche?

You can have some really good years building condos and you can have some lean years. We realized that was a highly volatile business all around the world. We wanted something that provided a more secure ongoing cash flow and rental stream. That’s when we started building industrial buildings, then office buildings and retail buildings. Then we began to combine them together. We have gone from being predominantly a residential developer to now owning or managing about 24 million square feet of commercial space.Q. In the U.S. many developers tend to have a short-term view, building projects and then flipping them. Why do you take the opposite approach?

Partially because we can. We’re a large company with a very strong balance sheet and we believe we add value because of this ongoing management and ownership. Having a long-term focus means we can approach management slightly differently. It’s what keeps tenants coming back to us and what keeps values of our properties up. In America we’re confident that we’ll be able to garner the right tenants who will want to be with us because they know that if Swire Properties designs and manages the project, we’re going to look after it long-term. That’s obviously good for their interests too. The simple example is Pacific Place, which has had a 25-year IRR of over 23 percent. It has been a fantastic investment. Q. What’s your vision for what impact these projects have on the redevelopment of the surrounding community?

It’s sort of like turning lead into gold. You’re basically pushing forward the boundary of something that is very valuable into something that is less valuable and that’s what generates the value. We would humbly submit that’s what we’re going to try to do with Brickell CitiCentre. We’re going to push the boundaries of what is currently the central business district a little bit further south and bring with it what we hope will be a transformation of values. This is not an overnight phenomenon. It will happen if we design well and we construct well, if we get the right tenants and if we manage them successfully. Q. How do you decide what goes in a mixed-use project like Brickell CitiCentre?

There is a real skill set in mixing the different uses: hotel, office, retail and condos. These things coming together, it’s not by a matter of accident. It’s really thinking about what the community and the area needs most, and ultimately what it will pay for. It’s not an overnight phenomenon. We’ve been thinking about the mix for Brickell CitiCentre over the course of the last 18 months. What’s going to maximize the value of that site? What is that community known for and what does it need? You can do a number of things when you’ve got nine acres, but not everything is going to work. You have to be responsive to the area. What do you think people need? Do they necessarily need another supermarket? Another department store?  . . . Brickell CitiCentre is going to have a strong entertainment and food and beverage bias. We think it’s going to be a bit trendy and chic, to attract the young people that broadly live in this community.

The project will have its own peculiar look and style that befits Miami. This is not Beijing or Hong Kong. One can’t glibly import something that works in Hong Kong and think it will work in Miami. That’s why if you look at all six of our centers, not one repeats the name. We don’t think this is about replicating a series of boxes and plopping them all over world. It’s about responding to the community and the locale. Q. Is this a sign of future U.S. expansion to come or is Asia still the company’s focus?

China and Hong Kong is still our home and the biggest portion of our asset base. My single biggest challenge right now is finding projects that I think make sense in the long-term. In Asia where we’ve dominated, there’s been a rapid escalation in value. Yes, there are still projects, but given the land costs and construction costs you have to look at whether these projects really make sense.Q. Would you consider doing more projects in Miami or South Florida?

We would consider doing more in Miami or South Florida. This project will give us critical mass that we’ve not had in Miami in forever. Once you put in place something of this size, people suddenly know Swire Properties. I think if we have success in Brickell CitiCentre, people will believe that we can do it again.Q. Why does an Asian company have a small outpost in Miami? How did it happen?

It’s another great serendipity story. The company grew very quickly in the ‘70s and ‘80s and we generated a lot of capital. The company was looking to diversify. Swire Group is a big Coca-Cola bottler and that gave us a relationship with Coca-Cola in Atlanta. It was a reference from Coca-Cola that made us come to Miami and also Hawaii. We looked at both markets and we invested in both markets. Hawaii operated for a number of years and we sold out. Here we kept on reinvesting.Q. Swire Properties recently went public in a nontraditional arrangement. Why did you decide to go this route?

We made the decision to go public in 2009 and tried to list in 2010. But we got to the point of the road show and it coincided with the first Greek crisis. We still could have done the deal but we would have had to sell the shares at more than a 25 percent discount to net asset value. The exising shareholders weren’t prepared to do that.

We moved on and chose to sell one of our assets, Festival Walk. We sold it in in August of last year. That raised $2.4 billion in U.S. dollars. That gave us the capital so we didn’t really need to go to the stock market at that time. Instead, we did something quite innovative, called a listing by way of introduction. We get a listing by way of distributing shares in the company to the existing shareholders in Swire Group. That means you weren’t looking to raise any money, but we get a listing. We don’t suffer the pain of selling our assets on the cheap. But we have a vehicle for the longer term. Should we need capital, we can now go to the markets and raise it.

© 2012 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.

Investment visas pump millions into Miami

Miami Today

October 1, 2012

By: Scott Blake

Investment visas pump millions into MiamiBy Scott Blake    The US governments Immigrant Investor Program — known as “green card via the red carpet” — is pumping millions of dollars into South Florida business ventures from wealthy foreign nationals willing to invest big money to secure a place in the US.   Those familiar with the EB-5 visa program say it has helped create some innovative projects in South Florida, including the University of Miamis Life Science & Technology Park in Miami.   And more projects — chosen for their potential for economic development and job creation — are in the works.   “Theyre not just buying a green card,” said Maralyn Leaf, a Miami attorney specializing in immigration law who has worked with EB-5 investors and business ventures. “This is a government program that brings in employment and doesnt use a penny of taxpayer money.”   The nationwide program provides permanent US residency for foreign nationals who invest $1 million — or at least $500,000 in “targeted employment areas” — in new businesses.   EB-5 was designed to help the economy through job creation and capital investment. The money from each investor is tied to creating or preserving at least 10 full-time jobs for US workers.   The program has spawned more than 20 so-called regional centers in Florida, including several in Greater Miami that have generated seed money for everything from new hotels and restaurants to bio-science and research startups.   The regional centers promote economic growth by garnering immigrant investors for new commercial enterprises. Foreign nationals also can bypass the centers and invest in standalone businesses.   Even local government wants to get into the action. Miami officials are seeking federal approval to create an EB-5 regional center at City Hall.   Perhaps Greater Miamis most successful regional center was a venture called Birchleaf Miami 31, which generated $20 million from 40 immigrant investors for development of the Life Science & Technology Park. The office and lab complex was designed to house medical research, biotech and science firms.   “Its a very good example of how the program can work,” said Ms. Leaf, who worked on the Birchleaf venture.   With Birchleaf, money from investors went to Wexford Science & Technology, the parks developer, in the form of a loan.    “These are millionaires and sophisticated businesspeople,” she said about the Birchleaf investors, adding that some have started their own businesses here since receiving visas through the program.   In addition, Ms. Leaf and Luciana Fischer, also a Miami attorney, are forming an EB-5 venture named Leaf Fischer Investment Group to garner immigrant investors for the development of a resort on Key Largo.    She said about a dozen foreign nationals are interested in investing in the proposal, called Fishermans Cove, which would include a marina, restaurant, retail shops and spa.   The Birchleaf project went without hitches, but that doesnt mean theres no financial risk for EB-5 investors.   “This is an enormously complex program,” Ms. Leaf said. “A lot of due diligence should be done, first by the regional centers and then by investors.”To read the entire issue of Miami Today online, subscribe to e -Miami Today, an exact digital replica of the printed edition.

via Investment visas pump millions into Miami.

 High-End Condos Back to High Prices


High-End High Times

by Rochelle Broder-Singer

Florida Trends

Posted 9/4/2012

Updated 21 hours ago

This South Beach condo recently sold for $25 million. In just the first six months of the year, 400 condos priced at $1 million or more sold.

Is Miami-Dade County already experiencing another condo boom — this time strictly in the luxury market?

During the first half of the year, some 400 condos worth at least $1 million each sold in just the resale market alone, according to

That’s up 7.8% from the same time last year. Even more remarkably, the median per-square-foot price hit $699. Prices in the luxury market haven’t been near that number since 2007.

Eye-catching individual deals have accented the luxury boom, including the recent $25-million sale of a condo on South Beach and three sales of more than $10 million at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Residences.

Many buyers are foreign — from Latin America, Russia and Europe. For most, the units are investment properties or second homes.

“If I’m an investor, I can buy a new unit that was built during the boom … for a cheaper price than new construction,” says Peter Zalewski, principal of He notes that there are 10 condo towers already under construction east of I-95 from Miami to northern Palm Beach County. Developers have proposed another 35, including one in South Beach with prices at about $1,500 per square foot.

Cash is king, too. Although Zalewski doesn’t have updated statistics, he says that a year ago, a CondoVultures study found some 80% of the condo transactions in the county were all cash. Plus, he notes, “there’s typically about a 15% to 20% premium that someone is likely to pay if their offer is based on financing.”

January-June Luxury Condo Resales (Miami-Dade)

Year Units Sold % Change Median Price Per Sq. Ft. % Change
2007 343 19.9% $668 7.2%
2008 300 -12.5% $661 -1.0%
2009 178 -40.7% $599 -9.4%
2010 272 52.8% $593 -1.0%
2011 371 36.4% $640 7.9%
2012 400 7.8% $699 9.2%

Former Versace Home Lists for $125M

June 08, 2012 03:00PM

Casa Casuarina The late designer Gianni Versace’s former Miami Beach home Casa Casuarina is on the market asking $125 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. The 10-bedroom, 11-bathroom, 19,000-square-foot estate was purchased by Versace in 1992 for close to $10 million. The designer had made $33 million in renovations to the property, adding a 6,100-square-foot south wing, a 54-foot-long mosaic-tiled pool lined with 24-karat gold and a courtyard before he was murdered outside the house in 1997. The mansion, which is located at 1116 Ocean Drive in South Beach, has since been converted to a hotel and restaurant by Peter Loftin, a telecom entrepreneur. It is now called the Villa by Barton G. Loftin purchased the house in 2000 for $20 million. Jill Eber and Jill Hertzberg of Coldwell Banker are marketing the property. [WSJ]

Bulk Condo Rule Extended for 3 Years…

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – April 12, 2012 – In most cases, people who purchase condominium units from bulk buyers won’t be able to sue them if there are construction defects or other problems.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott last week signed a bill that extended the protections for investment groups that have bought multiple units in a building. That means the investors don’t have any more responsibility than other buyers in the building.

The measure went into effect July 1, 2010, and Scott extended it for three more years until July 2015.

The exemption for bulk buyers boosted sales of distressed condos, helping the housing market recover, proponents say. Critics insist the measure isn’t consumer-friendly and shouldn’t become law permanently.

Florida law used to consider a developer anyone who bought more than seven units in a building of 70 units or more. Those buyers were forced to assume the same legal and financial risks as developers who build condos.

The bill eliminated the title of developer for bulk buyers, giving investment groups more incentive to make deals for deeply discounted units.

While investors scooped up South Florida condos, “a lot of other areas in Florida are having problems in terms of absorbing unsold units,” said Marty Schwartz, a Miami lawyer and a co-sponsor of the bill.

Some investor groups have proposed making the bill’s protections permanent.

“I still think there’s a need for it, but only for a limited period of time,” said Donna DiMaggio Berger, a Broward County lawyer who represents condo associations statewide. “Why would we want to make it permanent when the (housing) market is no longer distressed?”

From late 2008 until September 2011, investor groups made more than 100 bulk deals for condos in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, according to, a Bal Harbour-based consulting firm. The total dollar value was nearly $3 billion.

Copyright © 2012 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Paul Owers, Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

Where The Global, “1%” Live Right Now



Where the Global 1% Live Now

London, Hong Kong, and New York rank as the top three cities for the ultra-rich, according to the 2012 Wealth Report released by real estate firm Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank.

The report is based on detailed data on the number, distribution, and preferred locations of high net-worth individuals (defined as households with more than $100 million in assets). This is the globe-straddling capitalist over-class that Cynthia Freeland has dubbed the “new global elite,” or what the report itself labels the global economic “plutonomy” of the “richest 1%.”

There are now 63,000 households worldwide with $100 million or more in assets, up 29 percent since 2006 and projected to rise even higher in the future. The top ten current preferred locations for the ultra-rich are:

  1. London
  2. New York
  3. Hong Kong
  4. Paris
  5. Singapore
  6. Miami
  7. Geneva
  8. Shanghai
  9. Beijing
  10. Berlin

The report also asked respondents to predict the most important cities in 10 years. The projected key cities of 2022 include:

  1. London
  2. New York
  3. Beijing
  4. Shanghai
  5. Singapore
  6. Hong Kong
  7. Paris
  8. São Paulo
  9. Geneva
  10. Berlin

On this list, Beijing and Shanghai move up, displacing Paris (which falls from fourth to seventh) and Miami (which drops off the list completely), along with Hong Kong and Singapore. Sao Paulo, Brazil, moves onto the list in eighth place.

What’s behind these rankings? According to the report, the ultra-rich value cities that offer “personal safety and security” most, followed by “economic openness” and “social stability” which top “luxury housing” and “excellent educational opportunities.” As the report’s authors explain:

The most significant driving force of any city is its people. It is crucial to have a livable environment for increasingly mobile populations, and to attract a significant workforce. More than one-third of the people in New York and London are foreign-born. Despite their astonishing growth, Asian economic powerhouses fail to reach that level of cosmopolitan culture. New York or London will continue to top the indices, but only if they ensure their strong cultural offers are unmatched and maintain open immigration policies.

But the rise of global superstar cities also has a dark side. According to Barron‘s Richard Morais:

Anyone who has recently tried to make their way through the thronged pavements of Piccadilly in London knows there’s another, more important and less politically-correct answer for why certain cities in the West will remain top dogs. The reason is flight capital. The globe’s rich aren’t really moving to London or New York – they are fleeing their home countries and cities.

Any private banker will tell you, that as soon as a centa-millionaire in Moscow, Beijing or São Paolo makes their fortune, the first thing they do is figure out how they can ferret away large chunks of that wealth to countries that guarantee political and personal freedoms, have sound legal systems, a favorable tax environment, good security and good schools for their kids. Those last two items are not to be underestimated. When asked what was the most important factor drawing them to a city, 63% of the globe’s super-rich said “personal security” and 21% said “education.”

The rise of these protected enclaves is creating very real tensions between the very wealthy and more average city residents.

Just one example – high-end apartments and townhouses in London and New York regularly top $50 million, pricing locals out of the market. It’s no coincidence that London boiled over into riots last summer and that the Occupy movement was born on Wall Street.

There is a very real danger that such disruptions are a “feature, not a bug” of global cities. As the Financial Times wrote last summer:

Globalisation has made our great cities incalculably richer but also increasingly divided and unequal. More than youth, ethnicity or even race, London’s riots are about class and the growing divide between the classes. This dynamic is not unique to London but is at work in many of the world’s great capitals. Instead of reducing and flattening economic distinctions, globalisation has made them sharper.

We make a big mistake when we look out across the peaks of privilege from our eyries in London, New York, Tokyo and Mumbai, and tell ourselves that the playing field is level. Our world, and especially its cities, is now spiky and divided.

New Related condo would add 382 units to Brickell market

South Florida Business Journal by Oscar Pedro Musibay, Reporter

Date: Friday, March 16, 2012, 8:36am EDT
Interior rendition of 1100 Millecento Residences
The Related Group

A rendition of the interior for the 42-story, 382-unit 1100 Millecento Residences,which is planned for a site at 1100 S. Miami Ave.

Reporter – South Florida Business Journal

If The Related Group    builds its second new condominium in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood, 1100 Millecento Residences will add 382 units to the market. That would be nearly double the size of the 192-unit MyBrickell, another condo it will begin building in the same neighborhood in the coming days.

The 42-story 1100 Millecento Residences is planned for a site at 1100 S. Miami Ave.

The architecture is inspired by internationally known architect Carlos Ott, who designed the Jade Beach, Jade Ocean and Artech buildings.

The interiors are being done by Italian design firm Pininfarina    , which has worked with international brands includingFerrari    . This marks the first time the brand has applied its designs to a residential building, Related said.

Marlins Stadium Parking Rules Upset Neighbors


Residents furious over new Marlins stadium parking rules

Furious Little Havana residents living in the shadow of new Marlins ballpark learned many would lose their on-street parking on game days.



Residents near the new Marlins ballpark unleashed their fury and frustration on the city and its major-league club Thursday evening, saying a newly unveiled parking plan for the neighborhood will make their lives miserable.

The plan sets aside a few blocks near the ballpark where area residents can park. But it bans residential parking on many more stretches — to accommodate baseball fans coming to watch a game.

People who live on those banned blocks will have to find somewhere else to park on the 81 times a year — mostly night games — when the Marlins play at home.

Francisco Ferra Rosa, a day laborer who lives in 1500 block of Northwest Third Street, is one of those who will have to relocate his car on game nights.

Already, he said, he has gotten two tickets for parking in front of his home. One was for $28 and he couldn’t pay it. Now, with late fees, it’s $47. He met with a Miami Parking Authority representative before Thursday’s presentation to plead his case.

“I make $8 per hour,” he said. “I can’t afford this.”

With less than three weeks before the new stadium’s first regular season game, parking — or the lack of it — remains the biggest headache facing the neighborhood and the Marlins.

Thursday’s town hall meeting was intended to soothe neighborhood concerns, although it may have done the opposite. It was held in one of the gleaming new parking garages along the ballpark’s perimeter and drew a crowd of about 200 residents. When the team is in town, those garages are off-limits to those residents, unless they buy a ticket to the game.

Mercedes San Miguel, 48, lives in a green zone, meaning parking will be allowed by cars with city-issued decals. But she works late into the evening and fears that by then all of the available parking will be taken.

“I’m very worried about having to walk blocks alone,” San Miguel said. “And those aren’t safe blocks.”

Elio Diaz, a 48-year-old construction worker, has no driver’s license and no car to park, but is upset nonetheless. His father, a California resident, comes for extended visits each year and brings along his automobile.

“What’s he going do with his car?” Diaz asked. “He should get a spot.”

The recipient of their ire on Thursday was Rolando Tapanes, director of planning and development for the Miami Parking Authority.

When residents asked questions — usually in Spanish, and on stadium-related grievances that sometimes extended far beyond parking — Tapanes generally either didn’t have an answer or lacked the authority to provide one.

“We’re asking the residents to make a sacrifice,” MPA Director Art Noriega explained before the meeting. “We can’t leave them parking on some of those streets. The logjam we’ll have on these streets, people won’t be able to get to the games.”

Some of those in attendance Thursday came waving freshly issued tickets they received either from police or the parking authority for parking where they have always parked — on their own block.

After it was over, the residents were anything but soothed.

Adela Otero, 57, declared: “We’re still without parking, without solutions, without anything. I don’t know why the city had us come here.”

But Xochitl Perez, 52, was more sympathetic.

“Thank you for listening to everyone’s frustrations,” she said to Tapanes after the meeting.. “I realize that you came here just to deal with the parking issue. It just seems like the Marlins are laughing at us. It’s not you guys. It’s not the city. It’s the Marlins — the ones who have been benefiting from all our tax dollars.”

Meanwhile, another important piece of stadium parking news emerged Thursday, courtesy of the ballclub. On Wednesday, the team began widely selling single-game parking passes to Marlins Park’s garages and surrounding lots — after saying for months they would be reserved for season-ticket holders, players, staff and members of the media.

“There were some spots left over, and we’ve opened them up to everyone,” said Marlins spokeswoman Carolina Perrina de Diego.

The Marlins are charging $15 per spot — a 50 percent bump over what they’re paying the city, which owns the parking garages — and are offering space on-property for every home game, except their nationally televised season-opener against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 4.

Canyon Ranch Miami Beach Selling Quickly

Northeast, Latin American buyers drive 55 condo sales at Canyon Ranch in 2012

March 12, 2012 12:00PM

Canyon Ranch Living

Miami Beach’s Canyon Ranch Living has closed on 55 properties in 2012, following a total of 150 sales in 2011. About 90 percent of those residents are from the Northeast and Latin America, according to Michael Sadov, real estate sales director at the 580-unit property. The central and south towers at the property have sold out, along with half of the units at Canyon Ranch’s North Tower. “There are not that many new residences remaining in the North Tower,” he said. Last year, a wave of Canadian buyers contributed in large part to sales at the property. — Alexander Britell

Six Questions for Jorge Perez

MIAMI-The Related Group is reentering the development market this month after four years of sitting on the sidelines. Related Group CEO Jorge Perez will break ground on MyBrickell, a new condo project in Downtown Miami.

Perez led the evolution of downtown nearly a decade ago, from a business and financial hub to a 24-hour city filled with nightlife, condos, restaurants and culture. Now, he’s preparing for the next wave of construction with the first groundbreaking in the district, post crash. caught up with Perez to talk about why now is the right time to break ground and what he will do differently this time around. Perez also discusses his strategy for the next wave of development. Related has more than 20 new projects in condos, market rate apartments and affordable housing. What signs do you see the time is right to move out so aggressively?

Perez: Out of the 20 jobs, more than 70% are affordable and market rate rentals. The market for both these segments in South Florida is extremely strong. Our affordable jobs are at 100% occupancy and there is an immense need in this sector. On the market rate rental side, South Florida occupancies are over 95% and rents have risen considerably over the last few years. We expect this trend to continue and feel that the multifamily rental market will be very strong over the next decade. What will you do differently this time around as you resume condo construction in downtown Miami?

Perez: We are requiring much more cash upfront for all our new condo developments.  In the two jobs that have already been launched, we are requiring 40% of the total purchase price at construction start and the balance to be paid over the construction period. The high equity requirements should eliminate all speculation, which was the main factor in the collapse of the housing market in 2008 and 2009. I’ve heard you say you will focus on high performance, value-driven properties in the next wave of new construction. Can you explain that?

Perez: Our new projects in the Brickell market are characterized by high ultra modern, cutting-edge design both in the outside architecture and interior of the units. For MyBrickell, for example,Arquitectonica will be designing the exterior and Karim Rashid will be in charge of the interiors. Similarly in Millecento, Carlos Ott will design the exterior and famed Italian designer Pinifarina, will be in charge of the interiors.

We are doing this at extremely affordable pricing with sales at Millecento starting at $350 per square foot, a price that can be achieved only because we were able to buy the land during the recession and construction prices are still at very reasonable levels. As the market improves, both land and construction will go up and these prices will be impossible to recreate. What is your financial formula to weed out speculators and assure demand is solid for your new condo projects?

Perez: By requiring our buyers to put over 40% equity in their purchases, we will be weeding out all speculators. We have three types of buyers: those that want to live there full-time; those that want a second home in Miami and; those that are buying, particularly in the Brickell/Downtown area to rent their apartments and keep until the real estate market improves. What do you see as the biggest challenges in this new round of condo development in Miami?

Perez: The desire of international buyers to purchase in Miami has created a mini-boom, increasing land values to almost the prices realized during the top of the market. Additionally, as more developers announce jobs, construction pricing will also increase. These factors translate into higher prices which could dampened the interest in the market. Are you concerned about overbuilding?

Perez: Real estate is an imperfect market where people don’t have full knowledge of what others are doing. As a response to these perceived new demands, there could be new supply that exceeds these demands, as has happened repeatedly in the past. We are hoping that we have learned the lessons of the past and that developments are not started until real buyers, with substantial equity, have committed to the jobs.

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