Tag Archives: Miami real estate

Tibor Hollo evicting Venezuelan Consulate

South Florida Business Journal

by Brian Bandell, Senior Reporter

Date: Friday, February 17, 2012, 1:47pm EST
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has directed his government to stop paying the rent on its Miami office.

It’s not often a landlord gets to evict a nation, but Tibor Hollo is doing just that to Venezuela and its consulate in Miami.

TWJ 1101 LLC, which owns the office building at 1101 Brickell Ave., filed an eviction lawsuit against the government of Venezuela, its economic development bank and its consulate office on Feb. 7. The building is owned by Florida East Coast Realty ,  led by Hollo, its president.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavezannounced in January that he would close its consulate in Miami after Livia Acosta Noguera, its Miami consul general, was expelled from the U.S. She was subject to an FBI investigation over allegations that she was involved in a potential cyber-attack on the U.S. government – news unveiled by Univision.

Hollo said the Venezuelan officials have cleared out of his building and he hasn’t been able to contact them.

“Since January they haven’t paid rent, so I want to evict them,” he said. “The office is there. Nobody is in the office. All the furniture is there, but they aren’t there. I want my money or my space back.”

Hollo noted that Banco Industrial de Venezuela, a state-owned bank, is current on its lease payments for another suite in that building.

Having a bank office in Miami helps Venezuelans in South Florida with some financial transactions, but the loss of its consulate makes it harder for them to get documentation such as passports.

Given the eviction lawsuit, it looks like a Venezuelan Consulate in Miami won’t be reopened anytime soon.

Miami CitiCentre’s Solution to Urban Parking….Innovative!

Swire’s deep freeze puts icing on mega-project CitiCentre

By Scott Blake     

Miami Today      February 9, 2012

    With its massive Brickell CitiCentre project, Hong Kong-based Swire Properties is bringing a different twist to downtown Miami development — underground parking — that also will involve a first for the city: groundwater freezing, a project official told Miami Today.
   “It’s never been done in Miami,” said Steve Krysowaty, president of CBP Construction Consultants in Miami.
   Currently, preparatory work is being done for the freezing around the perimeter of the site, he said.
   Using rods or tubes containing super-cold liquid nitrogen, groundwater freezing is needed while building a barrier to prevent more groundwater from entering the site. Eventually, the water will be defrosted and sucked out of the ground to make way for the complex’s foundation and two levels of underground parking, he said.
   Overall, plans call for a six-story shopping mall, two office towers, two condominium towers, a large hotel, and plethora of amenities such as restaurants, nightclubs, a movie theater and a bowling alley.
   Construction is expected to start before the end of the year with completion hopefully sometime in 2015, Mr. Krysowaty said.
   Project officials at Swire’s Miami office did not return calls for comment.
   Until now, developers have avoided going underground for parking in Miami because of the extensive groundwater here. Likewise, groundwater is spread throughout the CitiCentre site, Mr. Krysowaty said, adding that the complex’s foundation will be anchored to bedrock some 50 feet or so below the surface.
   The underground parking is necessary because Swire wants CitiCentre to be a “street level” development immediately accessible to both residents and visitors on the ground, according to people familiar with the project.
   That’s a unique feature in Miami, where large developments typically have multi-level parking garages on the bottom floors, with the featured development on top.
   In addition, pile testing has been done on the site to determine the ground’s capability in various spots to support the weight of the structures, Mr. Krysowaty said.
   The CitiCentre site involved in the freezing is divided by Miami Avenue and located primarily along Southeast Eighth and Seventh streets. The parcels are boxed in on the west by Southwest First Avenue and go just east of the Eighth Street Metromover Station.

Setai and Other Luxury South Beach Condos Headed to Foreclosure Auction

South Beach condo units set for auction

January 26, 2012 12:00PM

The Setai

A total of 48 condominium units in South Beach will be heading to auction in the next 30 days, with a number from high-profile projects like the Setai, Portofino and the Murano Grande, according to a report from Condo Vultures. The units hold a total of $14.5 million in final foreclosure judgements. A unit at the Setai is the highest-priced foreclosure judgment set for auction, at $2.5 million. The next-highest foreclosure judgment is on a unit at the Bentley Bay condo complex in South Beach. In December, a unit at the Setai sold for $21.5 million, one of the largest sales of 2011.  — Alexander Britell

South Florida’s Crisis in One Chart

The Miami Herald

South Florida’s real estate crisis in one chart

By DOUGLAS HANKS
dhanks@MiamiHerald.com

South Florida’s housing crash may be old news, but recent data offer some valuable perspective.The Federal Housing Finance Agency maintains appreciation indices for metropolitan areas, which are similar to the famous Case-Shiller index but more local. By stacking up Broward and Miami-Dade’s indices to the nation’s, the warning signs are hard to miss.

The chart anchors all three indices to the first quarter of 2000, so the numbers show appreciation since then. Real estate got out of hand across the country, with appreciation peaking nationally at 166 percent in 2007. But in Broward, values soared 272 percent. Miami-Dade did even better, up 283 percent.

It’s easy to see how quickly values collapsed, but the chart also points out something that tends to be overlooked amid the wreckage of real estate. Home values are still ahead of where they were in 2003.

But perhaps more surprising, local property has actually held its value better than the average home in the United States. According to the FHFA, the average U.S. home is worth about 40 percent more than it was at the start of 2000. In Broward, the average home is worth 49 percent more. In Miami-Dade, it’s 56 percent more valuable.

A sign of resiliency, or a hint that South Florida still has some dropping to do? We’ll probably find out this year.

The Miami Herald’s Economic Time Machine charts South Florida’s recovery from the Great Recession by comparing current conditions to levels set before the downturn.

The ETM crunches 60 local indicators to measure the economic activity, then finds when each indicator was at that level before the 2007-2009 recession. At the moment, the current economy most resembles where it was in June 2002. Visit miamiherald.com/economic-time-machine for updates and analysis of the latest economic data.

Loretta Cockrum builds for the future in Miami – Business Monday – MiamiHerald.com

Native Miamian Loretta Cockrum developed 600 Brickell at Brickell World Plaza, a building that features the latest in technology and a concept rooted in the stewardship of land.

LEED CERTIFICATION

600 Brickell is pre-certified Platinum under the LEED for Core & Shell rating system, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. Core & Shell covers base building elements such as the structure, envelope and building-level systems, like central heating, ventilating and air conditioning. The rating system recognizes the division between owner and tenant responsibility for certain elements of the building varies.

Pre-certification is a unique aspect of the LEED for Core & Shell rating system that gives formal recognition to a project for which the owner/developer has established a goal of achieving certification under LEED. It provides the core and shell owner/developer the opportunity to market to potential tenants and financiers the unique and valuable green features of a proposed building.

ICORDLE@MIAMIHERALD.COM

Equipped with the utmost in technology and environmental sustainability, 600 Brickell at Brickell World Plaza is the latest entrant to Miami’s financial district, soaring to 40 stories of glass and steel.

The lobby is lined in eucalyptus wood, the floors decked in marble. And set back from the street, it is skirted by a grand plaza, designed to be to Miami what Rockefeller Plaza is to New York.

Yet, beyond the modern office building’s exterior, its conceptual roots are firmly planted in Midwestern fields of corn, and Southern plantations of timberland.

600 Brickell at Brickell World Plaza, just completed, lies at that crossroads of the past and future — years in the making and designed to next-generation standards, but now mostly unoccupied, its destiny is still unknown.

The building was developed by native Miamian Loretta Cockrum, who grew up spending her summers at her family’s farms in Indiana and Illinois. It was there that she formed a love of the land.

Nearly 40 years ago, after working for the nation’s largest ranch management company, she started her own business, Foram Group, helping families run their farms.

HIGH RATING

Now, she views Brickell Avenue’s newest commercial real estate tower — the only one in Florida LEED pre-certified platinum, the highest green rating — as the natural progression of that stewardship of land.

“It is the foundation of our sustainable commitment, because if you are managing farmland and timberland and you are not an incredible steward of that property, there is nothing that will deteriorate faster,” said Cockrum, whose company still manages 25,000 acres in South Carolina, Georgia and Colorado, for its clients. “So it applies to the building of a vertical building.

“Therefore, we didn’t wake up one morning and say this sounds like a cool idea, let’s build a LEED building.  . . .  This building is a culmination of all those years,” she added. “It just happened to get wrapped up in a vertical construction project.’’

Built at a cost of $310 million, including $180 million of equity, 600 Brickell at Brickell World Plaza is owned by a family originally from Malaysia, which has entrusted the preservation of its ample wealth to Foram Group, as its fiduciaries.

In fact, Cockrum created the tower as part of a 100-year strategic plan for the family, geared to be relevant 25 years from now, Cockrum said.

“You have to be building for a future,” she said. “I told them we are not going to be profitable in the beginning, and may not see a profit for 10 years,” she said. “They said do whatever you have to do.”

Cockum, who has represented the family for 35 years, first purchased the Brickell property in 1990. Over the next six years she assembled all the various parcels (in addition to the 85,000 square-foot building), including three outparcels between Brickell Avenue and the Metromover.

“My original plan,” she said, “was to hold it for 10 years and then build a significant building, a flagship for this family portfolio.”

Brickell was coming alive as a vibrant location, not just to work, but as a place to live and a destination to dine out.

“It was that energy and that ignition of life that would allow us to build something like this,” Cockrum said. “Otherwise, it’s just another stagnant office building.”

In 2006, Cockrum began the design and construction process and first applied for LEED silver status, a lower level than the current platinum. The former building on the site was torn down in late 2006, and she broke ground in April 2007.

But hindered by the recession and real estate market downturn, as well as competition from other new Class A buildings, she slowed construction. At the same time, she had her team of architects, engineers and builders take a fresh look at how to make the building stand out.

The end result is an office tower with 614,000 square feet of rentable space that qualified for platinum precertification, with all the latest eco-friendly and high-tech features.

Among them: the building uses “daylight harvesting,” within 15 feet of the perimeter of the building. There, sensors keep the light at levels considered optimum to decrease eye strain, and adjusts if it gets cloudy or as the sun trails, said Tracy L. Story, president of Foram Management and Leasing.

Additionally, the lights turn off completely when someone leaves the room.

The bathrooms are also equipped with automatic sensors to turn on and off the lights. They also have dual flush toilets and waterless urinals, Story said.

Water conservation is another key feature. Rainwater is collected and recirculated back up to cooling towers, with overflow directed to the irrigation system and to fountains on the plaza.

OPERATING COSTS

As a result, Story said, the building uses 30 percent less water than the average office building and offers an 18 percent savings on electricity, which add up to lower operating costs for tenants. In addition, the windows are impact-rated at 334 miles per hour, she said.

The building is directly connected to the NAP of the Americas in Miami, one of only eight Tier 4 Data Centers globally. And it has wireless Internet access throughout the building and on the plaza, among other high-tech offerings.

In earning its pre-certified platinum score, the highest level of certification, 600 Brickell achieved 45 out of 61 possible points, said Ashley Katz, spokeswoman for the U.S. Green Building Council, which develops and administers the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system.

Included in its credits, 600 Brickell achieved points in the category of innovation and design for sustainable sites, exemplary performance in energy and atmosphere, and exemplary performance in green housekeeping, Katz said.

WHAT’S MANDATORY

Tenants have the option of building out their spaces in accordance with LEED commercial interior requirements, though certain features such as daylight harvesting and recycling are mandatory, Story said. And Foram intends to apply for full platinum certification once a majority of the tenant build-outs are made.

“We believe the building can accommodate any forward-thinking company that can appreciate the benefits of LEED, the technology aspects of the property, the security aspects of the property, and wants the amenities and location this property offers,” she said.

Among the amenities, on the building’s 14th floor, where Foram has its offices, is a rentable conference center with state-of-the-art video conference equipment, as well as a fitness center with more than two dozen Cybex machines

Outside, the grand plaza has lighted railings and fountains, and offers space for entertaining.

“The plaza is designed to integrate the community into the building, to enhance the live-work-play experience that is Brickell,” Story said.

600 Brickell at Brickell World Plaza’s official “coming out party,” scheduled for last weekend, celebrated the opening of the building, with the lighting of hundreds of thousands of colorful lights.

“We selected the first Saturday of December as the annual event because we really see this as something in the future that will be extremely significant for the holidays,” Cockrum said.

GETTING TENANTS

Soon, restaurants and possibly other service providers are expected to occupy the street-level retail space. Various bids are under consideration, Story said. Foram is leasing the 15,000 square feet of ground level space, plus the 14th and 15th floors, while Jones Lang LaSalle is now the broker for the rest of the building’s office space.

“We get six to eight calls a day,” Story said of the retail space. “And the key is to get the right mix for the building, so they feed off each other.”

As for the office space, besides Foram and its affiliate companies, so far just two tenants have leased space at 600 Brickell: Credit Agricole, which is leasing the entire 37th floor, and de la Peña Group, a Miami law firm, which is leasing about 3,000 square feet on the 17th floor.

De la Peña Group moved just a week ago, after spending 18 years on Brickell Key. The boutique litigation firm chose the new building for its location, efficiency of space and availability of conference rooms, and technological advantages, said Leoncio de la Peña, founder and managing partner of the de la Peña Group.

“The most important factor is connectivity,” he said. “The practice of law has changed dramatically and the type of law we practice has changed dramatically. We are 100 percent dependent on the Internet, and clearly the best building with the most secure, the most consistent and the fastest Internet is 600 Brickell, period.’’

Glenn H. Gregory, senior vice president for Jones Lang LaSalle , marketing and leasing agents for 600 Brickell at Brickell World Plaza, said the timing of the building, after deferring its entry into the market until now, should work to its advantage. For $42 to $46 a square foot, he said he will be marketing the “Class A tier one plus” office space to all South Florida businesses with leases expiring in the next five years. Other Class A competitive properties are in the $40 to $44 per square foot range, he said.

“The marketing program for 600 Brickell will cater to not only domestic tenants that have the need for the connectivity the building offers and sustainability,” Gregory said, “but we will test the market for the international tenant that might not have chosen Miami and may not be here today.”

MARKET RATES

In fact, the commercial real estate market in downtown Miami and on Brickell has stabilized, said Jon Blunk, senior director of Cushman & Wakefield, who is based in the firm’s Miami office.

“Rates have hit bottom,” he said, “and hopefully are slowly on their way back.”

Still, it’s a difficult climate in which to convince tenants to move and pay the costs of relocating, and it could be a long haul to lease all the space at 600 Brickell, Blunk said.

“It’s the most expensive building probably built in downtown Miami and Brickell, so it has the most amenities,” he said. “It should command the highest rents — in the low to mid $40s.”

Yet, Cockrum is counting on seeing the space leased.

“By this time next year if we are not significantly rented, and/or committed to rent, I will be disappointed,” she said, “because I will feel that what we have provided and what we’ve done and what we’re offering maybe wasn’t that special.  . . .  It’s very risky to be this cutting edge.”

Cockrum, 74, is a third-generation Miamiam. Her grandparents came here in 1923, settling in Coral Gables.

After studying dental hygiene at her mother’s request, she worked for six months as a dental hygienist in Atlanta. Later, Cockrum spent five years in the Atlanta office of Oppenheimer Industries, which she said was the largest ranch management company in the United States, with 5 million acres under management.

“I was running an agricultural management company — we managed farms and timberland,” she said. “I bought the crops, I sold the corn, I did the financial statements. I helped families manage family farm operations.”

It was a case of necessity, she said. Her husband had become ill, and she knew she would have to support her children, who were in their early teens at the time.

“I hadn’t worked for 14 years, so I got this job and it was something I was passionate about and it’s something I am still passionate about,” said Cockrum, who continues to run the agricultural arm of her company today.

It was in Atlanta, shortly before she launched Foram as an agricultural management company, that she met the Malaysian family that now owns 600 Brickell. In fact, Foram stands for Farm or Ranch Management.

“I started it in ’78 in Atlanta on my dining room table,” she recalls. “Like most women in the 1970s who were starting a business, it was very unusual.”

In 1986, she moved Foram’s headquarters to Miami.

“It was circling back to my roots, because my grandfather was in the real estate business at the time of George Merrick, in Broward and in Miami-Dade,” she said. “It’s pretty much in my DNA.”

Foram operates as a wealth manager, investing solely in real estate. Today, Foram has 26 employees and represents three families as clients. All are foreign, and each is very private and does not want their identities disclosed, she said. In all, the company manages hundreds of millions of dollars of real estate in Colorado, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, including agricultural land.

“I develop properties, but I’m not a developer. To me that is a dirty word,” Cockrum said. “I am building real estate portfolios for families, but only a part of what I do is develop a property, if it is appropriate for a particular portfolio.  . . .  What I do is build value in real estate, and if that means I build a building on a property we already own, that is what I do.”

Over the past 15 years, she said Foram has purchased for its portfolios close to 1 million square feet of office buildings in Florida, including Miami.

“I love the city, I feel very attached to it, it’s very much a part of what I want to leave behind better than I found it,” Cockrum said. “And I really think that has a great deal to do with why 600 Brickell is what it is. . . .  The plaza — the city really needs something of that significance to make it a special place.”




Residential market: a white-hot 1Q in Miami

The first quarter of 2011 might be Miami’s strongest three-month period since the housing bubble popped.

After the last six months of 2010 saw a cooling down after federal tax stimuli expired, inventory of both single-family homes and condominium units is falling dramatically.

“The market is ‘en fuego,'” meaning “on fire,” said Nelson Gonzalez, a senior vice president at Esslinger-Wooten Maxwell in Miami Beach. “I’m working seven days a week.”

Gonzalez said there was no comparison between the activity he saw in the first three months of 2010 and the same period this year.

“How do I compare a snail with a cheetah?” He said.

In the single-family market, for example, there were 3,348 closed deals in the first quarter, according to Miami MLS data provided to The Real Deal by the Keyes Company. That represents a nearly 9 percent increase over the same period in 2010, and a 173 percent jump over the first quarter of 2008.

“We’ve not only had a good, solid closing first quarter, but the second quarter will be outperforming any quarter we’ve seen in the last few years in units sales, because of what we’ve already seen that’s pending,” said Keyes CEO Mike Pappas.

The jump over the first quarter of 2010 was significant because it came without the help of federal tax stimuli, Pappas said. “Last year you were going up against the end of the stimulus tax credit. The volume we did in March was as big as any month since 2007.”

According to data from the Miami Association of Realtors, pending home sales (which include single-family homes and condos), jumped 18 percent last month compared to March 2010.

The activity hasn’t come without casualties, however. While volume has more than doubled since the time the bubble burst, prices are now down to about half of what they were, he said.

While the median sales price of a single-family home in Miami in the first quarter of 2008 was around $310,000, it’s now around $150,000.

In the city of Miami (as opposed to county-wide, which was the region covered in the rest of the data here), the median sales price was $199,600, according to the most recent 2011 numbers from Zillow.com, in the first quarter. That was a drop from a peak of $339,000 at the end of 2008.

Gonzalez said the activity he’d seen in Miami Beach’s high-end market was coming largely from buyers, typically end-users, afraid to miss the bottom.

“The people that had the money — and again, everything is all-cash — there’s not financing involved — are getting off the fence because they’re seeing that the bottom happened a year ago and don’t want to miss the boat at the bottom,” he said.

By Alexander Britell