Consider the yurt: Sam Zell’s outdoor home rental business luring investors

Consider the yurt: Sam Zell’s outdoor home rental business luring investors

Petite Retreats Yurts and Cabins and Sam Zell (Credit: Petite Retreats and EGI)

Sam Zell may be known for high-end apartments and skyscraper office spaces, but his outdoor rental business, which includes yurts, has been outperforming them both.

Stock for Chicago-based Equity Lifestyle Properties, Zell’s real estate investment trust for RV parks, mobile and manufactured multifamily homes, hit $95 this month. That’s a fatter investment return than Zell’s apartment and office management REITs, including Equity Residential, according to Crain’s.

Petite Retreats, which Zell spun off from Equity Lifestyle Properties last year, lists sites in nine states, including California, Florida and New York. The company rents out teepees, cabins, tiny mobile homes and yurts, starting as low as $52 per night.

Equity Lifestyle Properties owns more than 400 properties all over the country. Its revenue from RV parks shot up 7.6 percent this year, and its revenue from manufactured-home parks swelled by 4.6 percent.

This spring, Zell said he believes the country’s lightning-pace industrial development is starting to outpace demand.

In June, a series of vulgar comments about women got Zell removed as a keynote speaker from the Mizuho global REIT and real estate conference. [Crain’s] — Alex Nitkin 

America’s 10 most liveable cities, according to The Economist ranking

America’s 10 most liveable cities, according to The Economist ranking

(Credit: Pixabay)

Though American cities didn’t fare well in The Economist’s annual global ranking, there were a handful of stars.

Known as The Global Liveability Index, the publication’s ranking report is published every year based on a number of factors like education, healthcare, stability and infrastructure. In the 2018 report, only 10 U.S. cities made it into the top 50–and none of those cities made it into the world’s top 20, as CNBC reported.

But the ranking claimed America performed better than previous years due to a drop in “civil unrest.” Here are the U.S. cities that snagged a spot and their ranking out of the total of 140 cities surveyed. [CNBC]Erin Hudson

1. Honolulu, Hawaii (ranked No. 23)

(Credit: Pixabay)

2. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (ranked No. 32)

(Credit: Dllu/Wikimedia Commons)

3. Washington D.C. (ranked No. 37)

(Credit: Pixabay)

4. Minneapolis, Minnesota (ranked No. 39)

(Credit: Pixabay)

5. Boston, Massachusetts (ranked No. 42)

(Credit: Matthias Rosenkranz)

6. Chicago, Illinois (ranked No. 44- tie)

(Credit: Pixabay)

7. Miami, Florida (ranked No. 44- tie)

(Credit: Pixabay)

8. Seattle, Washington (ranked No. 46)

(Credit: Flickr Maëlick)

9. San Francisco, California (ranked No. 49)

(Credit: heyengel via Shutterstock)

10. Atlanta, Georgia (ranked No. 50)

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Developers compete to build on city-owned land near I-95 in Hollywood

Developers compete to build on city-owned land near I-95 in Hollywood

Rendering of 315-unit apartment building that Park Road Redevelopment LLC would build at 1600 S. Park Road in Hollywood (Credit: South Florida Business Journal)

Four developers are competing to win city approval to build on a 30.6-acre site just west of Interstate 95 in Hollywood.

The developers will present their proposed projects Wednesday to a city-designated selection committee, which will recommend one of the four projects to the city commission.

The developers proposed projects for 1600 South Park Road, now occupied by a public works facility of the city of Hollywood.

The costliest proposal in response to the city’s request for proposals came from ImmoCorp Ventures, a joint venture of ImmoCorp Capital and Azur Equities.

ImmoCorp Ventures would spend $250 million to build a 2.39 million-square-foot, mixed-use development called Hollywood Park. Immocorp Ventures’ proposed project would include 1,176 apartments, 112,160 square feet of retail space, 48,000 square feet of office space, 2,083 parking spaces and an adjacent sports complex spanning 12 acres.

Park Road Redevelopment LLC would spend $71.1 million to build 315 apartments, a 40,000-square-foot grocery store, another 25,000 square feet of retail space, a gas station and 850 parking spaces. Park Road Redevelopment is a joint venture among Birdman Real Estate Development, Collarmele Partners and Meyers Real Estate Group.

Prologis, which owns more than 15 million square feet of industrial space in South Florida, would spend $45 million to build two warehouse distribution facilities with 335,000 square feet of space.

Bridge Development Partners, with capital partners Banner Oak Capital and Texas Teachers Retirement Services, would develop two buildings with 364,500 square feet of industrial space and 490 parking spaces at a cost of $43.7 million. [South Florida Business Journal] – Mike Seemuth

Status update: HUD accuses Facebook of discriminatory housing ads

Status update: HUD accuses Facebook of discriminatory housing ads

Anna María Farías, Mark Zuckerberg (Credit: Getty Images)

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is taking aim at Facebook, claiming the social networking website enables landlords and homeowners to discriminate against users.

HUD filed a complaint against Facebook on Friday, alleging that the social platform’s housing ads violate the Fair Housing Act. A major selling point of Facebook’s ads has been its ability to target specific users. That feature, however, allows landlords and others to exclude specific users from seeing the ads, according to the complaint.

HUD alleges that advertisers on Facebook can filter out viewers by race, gender, religion, familial status, disability and other qualities. For example, advertisers can avoid users who’ve indicated on Facebook an interest in “assistance dog,” “accessibility,” “deaf culture,” and “mobility scooter,” according to the complaint.

“The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination including those who might limit or deny housing options with a click of a mouse,” Anna María Farías, HUD’s assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, said in a statement. “When Facebook uses the vast amount of personal data it collects to help advertisers to discriminate, it’s the same as slamming the door in someone’s face.”

Back in March, fair housing groups filed a lawsuit in New York Federal Court with similar allegations against Facebook. Last year, following a report by ProPublica, the site pledged to take steps to prevent discriminatory ads.

“There is no place for discrimination on Facebook; it’s strictly prohibited in our policies. Over the past year we’ve strengthened our systems to further protect against misuse,” a spokesperson for Facebook said in a statement. “We’re aware of the statement of interest filed and will respond in court; and we’ll continue working directly with HUD to address their concerns.”

Qatari owner of St. Regis Bal Harbour scores $132M refi

Qatari owner of St. Regis Bal Harbour scores $132M refi

St. Regis Bal Harbour and Tarek M. El Sayed

Al Rayyan Tourism Investment Company just closed on a $132 million refinancing of the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort.

The Qatari owner secured the floating-rate loan from Mack Real Estate. The four-year deal has a one-year extension, according to a press release. HFF arranged the financing.

ARTIC paid $213 million for the St. Regis, at 9703 Collins Avenue, in 2014, a deal that broke down to more than $1 million per room. The 27-story luxury hotel includes 192 rooms and 24 condo-hotel units. It features a spa, two pools, a gym, business center, 11,200 square feet of meeting space and a 7,800-square-foot ballroom, and a handful of restaurants.

Qatar’s ruling Al Thani family controls ARTIC subsidiary Al Faisal Holdings. The firm also refinanced the 689-key Manhattan at Times Square hotel for $290 million and the 172-key St. Regis in Washington, D.C. for $81 million, bringing the total refinancing to $503 million, including the St. Regis.

In South Florida, the Qatari company also owns the W Miami, formerly known as the Viceroy Miami at 485 Brickell Avenue.  – Katherine Kallergis

Howard Lorber and real estate pals to raise money for Trump at Hamptons manse

Howard Lorber and real estate pals to raise money for Trump at Hamptons manse

Howard Lorber, Donald Trump, and Howard Lorber’s House in Southampton (Credit: Getty Images and Google Maps)

President Trump will head to his friend Howard Lorber‘s sprawling Southhampton residence on Friday for a re-election fundraiser, and more New York real estate moguls will follow him.

Lorber, whose Vector Group owns Manhattan-based brokerage Douglas Elliman and development firm New Valley, will host a luncheon for the Trump Victory fund, a joint fundraising committee of the Republican Party and the Trump campaign.

According to a person familiar with the fundraiser who spoke to The Real Deal on the condition of anonymity, joining Lorber and Trump for the occasion will be developer Steve Witkoff and commercial property investor Stanley Chera. Chera and his wife Freida have given $514,000 to the fund to date, while Witkoff has donated $294,400, Federal Election Commission records show.

Lorber has personally donated at least $235,000 to the committee since 2016.

Another top donor to the fund, Red Apple Group CEO John Castmatidis, told TRD he would be missing the event but would send his two adult children, Andrea Catsimatidis and John Catsimatidis, Jr. in his place. Catsimatidis, whose family has given at least $200,000 to the joint committee since the 2016 election, said he assumed that many other real estate donors would be present. John Jr. made his own donation to the fund in 2017.

Other real estate investors who have given six-figure sums to Trump Victory include Tom Barrack, Steve Roth, Richard Lefrak, Peter Kalikow and Joseph Cayre. New York, Los Angeles and South Florida real estate businessmen accounted for roughly 20 percent of the fund’s donation haul in 2017, TRD reported earlier this year.

While the joint fund serves to rally support for the president, campaign finance rules dictate that most of the funds go not directly to the Trump campaign but to the Republican Party, a portion of which can then be spent on other candidates nationwide.

A representative for Lorber declined to comment. The Friday luncheon was first reported by Bloomberg.

Prologis sells Tamarac warehouse to New York Life affiliate

Prologis sells Tamarac warehouse to New York Life affiliate

9439 West Commercial Boulevard and New York Life Real Estate Investors’ Brian Seaman

Prologis just sold a warehouse in Tamarac for $25.72 million.

The 285,600-square-foot warehouse at 9439 West Commercial Boulevard traded hands for about $90 per square foot. The buyer is a company tied to New York Life Investments, which operates as the investment management arm of the U.S. insurer New York Life Insurance Company.

The distribution center was originally owned by KTR Capital Partners, which paid $13.5 million for the property in 2006, records show. KTR was acquired by Prologis and Norway’s sovereign wealth fund in 2015 for $5.9 billion. 

The industrial site features 122,000 square feet of warehouse space with office space on the second level. Tenants include Ferguson Plumbing and Kitchen Craft. Other features include dock doors, drive-in doors, overhead cranes, an outside storage area and signage on Commercial Boulevard.

NYL Investments manages about $245 billion for its parent company New York Life Insurance and select strategic partners, according to its website. The insurance company is also a major commercial real estate lender. 

Prologis, meanwhile, has been busy selling off its collection of industrial properties. In December it sold a portfolio of properties in Broward and Palm Beach counties to Chicago-based Equity Office for more than $110 million. 

The Ultimate Way to Travel for the Miami Jetsetter

The Ultimate Way to Travel for the Miami Jetsetter

Pernod Ricard and JetSmarter are embarking on a one-of-a-kind exclusive partnership—one that’s perfectly fit for the Miami jet-setter looking to travel out east to New York for the…

Stalking horse bidder to buy planned Fort Lauderdale Beach hotel

Stalking horse bidder to buy planned Fort Lauderdale Beach hotel

The incomplete Las Olas Ocean Resort on Seabreeze Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale

A failed Fort Lauderdale Beach hotel project is closer to being sold to a Magna Hospitality Group affiliate for $39.1 million after a previously scheduled auction in August was cancelled.

The auction was nixed after the planned 12-story, 136-room Las Olas Ocean Resort at 550 Seabreeze Boulevard failed to receive any qualified bids except for one from a stalking horse bidder, MHF Properties VI LLC, an affiliate of Magna Hospitality Group.

Glenn Moses of Genevese Joblove & Battista, who represents the project’s development group, 550 SeaBreeze LLC, said the group is now seeking bankruptcy court approval for the sale on Friday and expects a closing by the end of August.

550 Seabreeze Development LLC purchased the property in 2003, property records show.

The group sought EB-5 investment, a federal program in which foreign investors can invest $500,000 into certain projects in exchange for U.S. residency, to finance the project. It raised at least $30 million from 60 EB-5 investors through December 2015.

In January, Bancorp Bank filed a foreclosure suit against 550 Seabreeze Development LLC and Jaw of 515 Seabreeze LLC, alleging default on a mortgage with an unpaid principal balance of $36.9 million.  Last month, the development group filed a motion in bankruptcy court to establish procedures for the sale and auction of the property, scheduled for Aug. 15.

In addition to a foreclosure lawsuit, the development group’s principals Ray Parello, Ken Bernstein, Jack Kessler and Eugene Kessler face another lawsuit from 21 EB-5 investors who allege they were misled into investing in the project.

In July, the hotel project secured a stalking horse bidder for $38.6 million by an affiliate of Magna Hospitality Group, which was then increased to o $39.1 million. If the court approves the sale, the buyer would be able to close on the property free and clear of any liens and claims on the property.

Why a $12M resort developer reinvented himself as a tiny home builder

Why a $12M resort developer reinvented himself as a tiny home builder

Randy Jones. (Credit: Incredible Tiny Homes)

Tiny homes have been heralded as one approach to affordable housing, but as zoning rules and various regulations have wrapped the housing model in red tape, the small homes have seemed less and less like a viable option.

But for Randy Jones, the founder of building company Incredible Tiny Homes, the troubled market represents an opportunity so obvious it’s basically a “no brainer.”

Jones, 58, got into the business after losing everything in Great Recession. At the time of the crash, he’d been a contractor for more than 20 years and was about a decade into developing a 170-acre parcel in Tennessee into a resort called Brother’s Cove, valued at about $12 million in 2007.

Jones ended up having to walk away from the property after trying every which way to cut a deal.

“It was a $12 million resort and I lost everything. I walked out with nothing and had to live in a friend’s camper,” he said.

While working various jobs as a contractor based out of Morristown, TN, Jones’ partner and long-time colleague Amanda showed him a Facebook post of a tiny home built by Tumbleweed Tiny Homes, a company that got started back in 1999, and the concept struck a chord.

“[Tiny homes] were selling for $60,000,” he recalled “Well, here in Tennessee, you can buy an entire house for $60,000 so I knew I could build a home and make a profit.” Currently, the median listing price in the state according to Zillow is $244,900.

Jones saved lumber scraps from his next couple of jobs and, after working out an arrangement with a local warehouse owner to clean the property in exchange for work space, Jones began building his first tiny home and, in 2015, he listed it for $25,000 on

“I called it ‘American Freedom’ and it exploded,” he recalled. “I took 10 orders that weekend. Nobody in the United States is selling anything for that value for $20-$25,000.”

Three years later, Jones’ price for a standard tiny home remains the same while market prices have risen. In December 2016, CNBC reported the median price of a tiny home was nearly $120,000.

“The entire [tiny home] market is over-inflated,” Jones said, explaining the mark-up he feels most builders put on their homes. “It’s just like the mentality of 2008 and before that–it’s the mentality of greed in this country and it’s competition… but I’m stepping ten years ahead of everyone in the business by chopping my prices now.”

Jones’ company employs about 30 people and constructs and sells about 80 homes per year. He claims construction costs are $7,000 per home and the company is in the process of building a new work space on a 32-acre lot that will serve as both their new warehouse and a community for people living in tiny homes to park. Jones anticipates about 150 homes will eventually fit on the property.

He also offers significant discounts to the tune of thousands of dollars for buyers willing to spend six days in the company warehouse finishing the construction themselves. (“That in and of itself is a story,” he added. “You would not believe the drama.”)

“My goal is of course to completely destroy the competition, but in a gentlemanly way,” he explained. “The people who come to me are like me–people who’ve lost everything, that are hurtin’ and there’s a real reward in knowing that you’re giving someone home.”