Behind Jeff Greene’s towering plan to reinvent West Palm Beach

Jeff Greene
From the April magazine: The big short is getting a lot taller. Billionaire real estate mogul Jeff Greene made hundreds of millions of dollars betting against subprime mortgage-backed securities before the last financial crisis hit. He now owns more than 75 acres of prime land in West Palm Beach — a city poised for major growth — with plans to build several new high-rises there.
“People talk about disruption in various industries, like what Amazon is doing in retail,” the 61-year-old investor and developer told The Real Deal from his desk in a former post office on North County Road. “I think it’s very easy to disrupt West Palm Beach.”
Greene is now working to bring thousands of residential units, a hotel, a 30-story office building, a raft of retail space and even a new school to the South Florida city with more than 100,000 residents and plenty of affluence in and around it. [More]

Source: The Real Deal Miami

More of “Panama Papers” South Florida connection

South Beach
The world has already begun reeling from the “Panama Papers,” an investigation that’s blown the lid off how politicians and the ultra-wealthy hide their money using offshore companies.
More than 11 million documents were leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specialized in setting up secretive entities for the world’s affluent.
So far, power players like Iceland’s prime minister — who resigned Tuesday — and close friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin have been implicated. But a bevy of names tied to the U.S. have also been revealed, including some with connections to the Sunshine State.
Igor Olenicoff
Igor Olenicoff
Billionaire commercial real estate mogul Igor Olenicoff, who runs his company Olen Properties out of Lighthouse Point, was included in the data leak as a shareholder of Olen Oil Management Limited, according to the McClatchy Washington bureau. His wealth is valued by Forbes at $4.1 billion, making him the 162nd richest man in the U.S.
Olenicoff has a history of battling tax evasion lawsuits and even pleaded guilty to a federal tax felony in 2007, agreeing to pay $52 million to the IRS after his $200 million worth of offshore companies were revealed.
Some of his recent dealings in South Florida include the $44 million purchase of a garden-style apartment community in West Palm Beach. He bought that property in the name of a Florida corporation.
Dmitry Rybolovlev (Credit: Francknataf)
Dmitry Rybolovlev
Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who made his fortune investing in industries like fertilizer, captured global headlines last year when his $4.5 billion divorce with former wife Elena was touted as the world’s priciest-ever marital split.
The divorce became a game of hide-the-asset, and the recent “Panama Papers” leak shows the Russian billionaire used offshore companies to hide priceless art from Elena like paintings by Monet and Picasso, according to a report in the Art Newspaper.
Locally, he was outed as the true buyer behind the $95 million purchase of Donald Trump’s sprawling former six-acre estate in Palm Beach as part of the divorce proceedings. He’s now planning to raze the property’s insane 62,000-square-foot home, possibly to subdivide it into three new houses. He bought the home in the name of a Florida limited liability company.
He was known to be skittish over admitting he owned the home, at one point denying he had any stake in the property, according to a report in the Palm Beach Post.

Source: The Real Deal Miami


Bal Harbour Shops are uniting with celebrity trainer, Tracy Anderson, in support of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Anderson will personally guide guests through a workout session to ra…
Source: Ocean Drive

The Wrap: Key Biscayne mayor says Miami politicians lied about promised park, Miami tiger beetle claws into Miami Wilds theme park plan…and more

Miami Marine Stadium (credit: Rick Bravo)
1. Key Biscayne mayor says Miami politicians lied about promised park [Miami New Times]
2. Miami tiger beetle claws into Miami Wilds theme park plan [Miami Today]
3. Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson plans Overtown supper club [Miami Herald]
4. Another North End spec house exits the market in Palm Beach [Palm Beach Daily News]
— Sean Stewart-Muniz

Source: The Real Deal Miami

Here’s what you missed at The Real Deal’s Toronto event

Clockwise from top left: An attendee trying out Oculus Rift, Michael Wekerle, an exhibitor and The Real Deal’s South Florida real estate panel
From the New York website: Canadians are often sorry, but they won’t apologize for their sizable real estate bets: The country is one of the largest investors in the U.S. market, and The Real Deal’s first-ever event in Canada brought the biggest players from both countries together for a day of education, networking, and plenty of deals.
The event, held at the Sony Centre in Downtown Toronto on March 30, kicked off with an intimate Q&A with Michael Wekerle, legendary Canadian investor and star of “Dragon’s Den.” True to character, the “King of Bay Street” took the stage sporting a tan three-piece suit with a pocket square and yellow socks, and donned silver Ray-Bans which he never took off.
“I spend a lot of money on shoes and clothes now because I didn’t have it as a kid,” he told branding expert Tony Chapman, who asked the investor questions about his career, his comfort with risk and his real estate bets.
Removing “fear and greed” from the investing equation is paramount, Wekerle said. He spoke about his decision to cash out of his big 2008 bet on the South Florida housing market, explaining that his “exit formula is based on a 3x return.” South Florida is an area he remains bullish on, he said, noting that “you cannot replace beachfront. Location location location.”
Michael Wekerle and Tony Chapman
Between the panels, attendees checked out the latest projects being marketed by Related ISG, Douglas Elliman, ARX, Magic Development, Freed Development and Pemberton Group.
Next up was a discussion on South Florida real estate, which brought on stage some of the industry’s leading authorities on that market: Carlos Rosso of the Related Group; Dev Motwani of Merrimac Ventures; Gil Dezer of Dezer Development; Jay Parker of Douglas Elliman Florida; and Mark McLean of the Toronto Real Estate Board.
Moderated by TRD’s Editor-in-Chief Stuart Elliott, the panel focused on some of the latest trends in South Florida development and Canadian activity there. Elliman’s Parker said that despite the relatively weak loonie, Canadian buyers were still asserting themselves.
Mark McClean, Gil Dezer, Jay Parker, Carlos Rossi and Dev Motwani
“There have been more luxury buyers from Canada at 70 cents than ever before,” he said. Rosso said that though the market was healthy, developers were no longer pricing as exuberantly as they had been in 2014 and 2015.
“Today you can get much better deals than two years ago,” he said. Dezer said whetting Canadian appetites for South Florida real estate was simple: Target them in the winter months, and “show them a picture of a palm tree.”
Parker and McLean spoke of the need for South Florida brokers to work far more closely with their counterparts up north.
“We have never powerfully connected the broker community in South Florida to the community in Toronto, which is a missed opportunity,” Parker said. Because of high commission splits in Canada, it’s been tricky to collaborate in the past, but the effort was important so that both sides could establish trust.
“Wrong answer,” Dezer said. “They [Canadians] are going to buy anyway without you, so make sure you’re there.”
Attendees in discussion at The Real Deal’s Toronto event at the Sony Centre
The final panel discussed big-picture trends in the U.S. real estate market, with a focus on opportunities in New York and other gateway cities. JDS Development Group’s Michael Stern, who’s developing 11.5 million square feet between New York and Miami, talked about the extraordinarily high barriers to new condo development in New York, from unaffordable land to a spike in construction costs.
Sharif El-Gamal of Soho Properties, the developer behind 45 Park Place in Tribeca and the Dream Hotel in Times Square, said that “luxury has become a taboo word” in New York, but it was important to separate sentiment from the facts. “If you look at 2007-2008, we haven’t even come close to that supply” of luxury product in this cycle, he said.
Michael Stern, J.D. Parker, Sharif El-Gamal, Phil Soper, Rick Rush and moderator Hiten Samtani, discussing investments in residential and commercial markets in key U.S. cities
Rick Rush of Hodges Ward Elliott noted that despite a 30 percent growth in the supply of hotel rooms in New York, occupancy rates were still hovering around 85 percent. He addressed the Airbnb effect, saying that the short-term rental behemoth was, at most, pushing hotel occupancy rates in New York down by  just 1.5 percent and mostly affecting hotels offering lower price points. Other major hotel markets such as San Francisco, Miami and Los Angeles were also enjoying high occupancy rates, he said. And some emerging markets, such as Nashville, Austin and Denver, “are on fire,” he said, with “jobs following people instead of people following jobs.”
Phil Soper, CEO of Royal LePage, one of Canada’s oldest and largest brokerages, said that despite falling oil prices and the weakening Canadian currency, U.S. real estate remains a central component of Canadians’ investment strategies.
“Long-term, nothing has changed,” he said.
Amir Korangy introducing a Q&A with Dragon’s Den star, Michael Wekerle
J.D. Parker, director of the tri-state region at Marcus & Millichap, noted that Canadian institutional investors such as Ivanhoe Cambridge continue to grab headlines with big-ticket deals like the $5.3 billion acquisition of Stuyvesant Town, smaller Canadian players aren’t yet playing a role in the U.S. multifamily market. Fears of the headaches of rent regulation and the uncertainty of dealing with difficult tenants are a deterrent, he said.
Hiten Samtani, TRD’s managing web editor and the moderator of the panel, then asked a question about Donald Trump, and whether his divisive rhetoric would have an impact on foreign investment.
Attendees discuss Miami developments
El-Gamal, a Muslim developer whose 2010 plans for an Islamic center near the Ground Zero site thrust him into the national spotlight, said it was “embarrassing” that “such a divisive conversation” about race and identity was happening in 2016.
The Middle East remained a major investor in the U.S. real estate market, El-Gamal noted, telling the audience that he was disappointed that Trump had used his massive platform in such a manner.
Soper noted that Trump had talked about building a wall between the U.S. and Canada, which is by far the largest foreign real estate investor in New York. In that event, “we won’t bother coming anymore,” Soper said, to applause from the audience.
“I’m scouting for a second home in the event [Trump] wins,” Parker quipped. “[It] would be a good investment prior to him winning — which I don’t think it will happen.”

Source: The Real Deal Miami

Norwich Partners tops out Aventura AC Hotel

Construction site of AC Hotel by Marriott in Aventura
Developer Norwich Partners just topped out its upcoming AC Hotel by Marriott in Aventura.
Construction of the nine-story hotel at 20805 Biscayne Boulevard began in June 2015, according to a news release from CBRE Project Management. Craft Construction, the project’s general contractor, held its topping-off celebration Friday after they finished the concrete pour for the hotel’s final floor.
The 233-room hotel is slated to be South Florida’s second-ever AC Hotel by Marriott when it opens in November of this year. Norwich, which has a development office in the city of Sanibel on Florida’s western coast, hired Zyscovich Architects to design the 192,514-square-foot structure.
Rendering of the planned AC Hotel in Aventura (Credit: Zyscovich Architects)
Norwich financed its project with a $35 million construction loan from Wells Fargo, which it inked in August. Besides its rooms, the hotel will feature two levels of integrated parking, a bar, gym, pool, amenities deck and breakfast room.
Nearby, the mixed-use Aventura ParkSquare development expects to break ground on its own 207-room Aloft hotel this month.
South Florida got its first AC Hotel at 2912 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach in June when developer Robert Finvarb opened his seven-story hotel with 150 rooms carrying the Marriott brand. AC is geared toward millennials, replacing typical features like room service with things like snack bars. — Sean Stewart-Muniz

Source: The Real Deal Miami

Civic leaders talk sea-level rise and SoFla businesses: panel

Flooding in Miami Beach
South Florida is ahead of the national curve when it comes to protecting against sea-level rise, according to a panel of civic leaders assembled Friday morning, but much more still needs to happen for the region to consider itself safe.
The eight-person panel, hosted by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce in the ballroom of downtown Miami’s Doubletree by Hilton hotel, spoke to a crowd of more than 100 local business leaders about the impacts of sea-level rise, and what action the community should take to protect itself for the future.
“The key challenge from the real estate perspective is we need to align all of our interests,” said panelist Quinn Eddins, director of research for CBRE’s Florida division. “Individually, developers and investors don’t have the incentive to act unilaterally.”
From the perspective of individual property owners, one major issue is the cost associated with protecting a building against surge waters, he said. If a buyer or builder were to factor in the cost of putting a structure on a 10-foot podium, Eddins said, they are likely to be outbid by competitors who keep their focus on the short term.
But while the cost might be prohibitive, concern has started brewing about the possible damages of rising tides. A flood map released in February by listing service E Miami Condos showed that if waters rise just two feet, more than three dozen existing condo buildings in both the mainland and Miami Beach would flood.
“The commercial real estate industry is starting to take climate change seriously,” he said. That concern comes into play when comparing Miami to other major U.S. metropolitan areas like New York or San Francisco, which compete for investment activity — and are all in the same boat when it comes to risk of water damage.
Miami Beach city officials have already started taking action to combat sea-level rise, according to Elizabeth Wheaton, director of the city’s Environment & Sustainability Department.
The city has started a $400 million program to raise street heights and install water pumps, especially in Sunset Harbour, one of the barrier island’s most flood-prone areas. The city has also passed a new standard that requires all new construction above 7,000 square feet to be Gold Leed Certified — or opt out via a fee, she said. The LEED Certification is a federal program that measures buildings on their resource efficiency and green footprint, with gold being the second-highest award.
And while climate change has yet to become a major discussion point for the day-to-day business of a real estate agent, that will likely change in the near future, said attendee Ron Shuffield, CEO of brokerage EWM.
His firm already briefs clientele about property elevations when relevant, and he said those briefings will beef up when the issue becomes more pressing. For now, clients — second home buyers in particular — don’t really ask about sea-level rise, he said.
“I’ve spoken to a number of developers and investors, and they say ‘Miami has a lot of characteristics we look for… but we have concerns about resilience,’” Eddins said. “It’s in all of our best interest to mitigate [flood risk].”

Source: The Real Deal Miami

Porsche Design Tower penthouse includes space for 11 cars

Renderings of Porsche Design Tower (Credit: Metrostudio) and its penthouse (Credit: Metrostudio and VIRTUAL Graphics & Animation Studio)
At Porsche Design Tower, an elevator for your luxury cars and an attached private garage may not be enough. So developer Gil Dezer is offering a new amenity aimed at car aficionados.
The penthouse, priced at $32.5 million, includes the option to store up to 11 cars – in a 3,000-square-foot car gallery (with city and ocean views) that’s connected to the four-story residence. 
Car gallery (Credit: VIRTUAL Graphics & Animation Studio). Click to enlarge.
Potential buyers have the option to use the car gallery to store seven cars on their own, or three with a living room, bar and billiard table. The 16,915-square-foot penthouse will have four bedroom-suites, 6.5 baths and two separate two-car garages.
Dezer Development broke ground on the building, at 18555 Collins Avenue in Sunny Isles Beach, in April 2013. The beachfront development offers a range of atypical amenities, including man caves and balcony plunge pools, as well as the “Dezervator,” a patented car elevator named after the tower’s developer. The elevator will hoist cars and residents up to any one of Porsche Design’s 132 condos. Check out a video of the “Dezervator” in action here.
Six units remain at the 60-story tower, which is expected to open by the end of this year. The developer is handling sales in-house, according to a spokesperson. It topped off in October.
Dezer showed off part of his luxury car and plane collection this week on CNBC’s “Secret Lives of the Super Rich.”

Source: The Real Deal Miami

PHOTOS: On the scene at Iris on the Bay’s grand opening

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The Spear Group and Braddock Financial held a ribbon cutting for Iris on the Bay, a new gated townhome community in North Beach.
The developers bought the 2-acre property in 2012 and recently opened the first phase of the 43 four-story townhome waterfront project. A majority of new owners are domestic buyers who were looking to upgrade to bigger homes, according to a press release. Sales for the second phase are underway and will break ground this spring.
Amenities at Iris on the Bay include terraces, private elevators an two-car garages. Beilinson & Gomez designed the development with interiors by Michael Wolk Design Associates and TUI Lifestyle, according to the release. Units range from 2,150 square feet to more than 2,500 square feet.
In March, the Miami Beach Design Review Board approved a waterfront condominium project that will fill in the last vacant parcel of land along Miami Beach’s Indian Creek Drive in North Beach. The developers are planning a 30-unit luxury condominium with views into Biscayne Bay, private boat docks and a baywalk with public access along a pristine stretch of Biscayne Bay.  – Katherine Kallergis

Source: The Real Deal Miami

Starwood mystified by Anbang withdrawal: report

From left: Starwood’s Thomas Mangas, the W Hotel and Anbang’s Wu Xiaohui
From the New York website: Wu Xiaohui could have at least taken Thomas Mangas out for dinner: Anbang Insurance Group reportedly withdrew its $14 billion bid for Starwood Hotels & Resorts by email and without explanation Thursday. 
The move caught Starwood by surprise because Anbang had already moved the money to buy the hotel company out of China and agreed to pay a large termination fee should Chinese regulators block the deal, according to an anonymous source cited by Bloomberg.
“It’s quite a surprise that they withdrew the offer,” Sigrid Zialcita, managing director of Asia-Pacific research at Cushman & Wakefield, told the news site. “They bit off more than they can chew.”
Anbang, known for its opaque ownership and aggressive expansion over the past two years, launched a bidding war for Starwood with an unsolicited $13.2 billion offer two weeks ago. Marriott had agreed to buy the rival hotel company last year, but the deal hasn’t closed yet.
Starwood accepted Anbang’s offer, but last week Marriott responded with a new bid worth $13.6 billion. On Monday, Anbang again raised its offer, this time to $14 billion, before withdrawing its bid Thursday.  [Bloomberg] — Konrad Putzier

Source: The Real Deal Miami