Real Estate News

Brian Pearl and Toll Brothers CEO Douglas C. Yearley Jr.

Global City Development sold a site near Florida International University to Toll Brothers, where both companies are planning to partner on building luxury student housing.

The homebuilder paid $19 million for the 1.72-acre property next to the former University Bridge Residences site. Global City CEO Brian Pearl said his firm will stay on as a co-developer.

The nearly 400,000-square-foot project calls for 293 units with 1,086 beds, Pearl added. It will be similar to the project next door. In September, Global City raised nearly $228 million in bond financing to complete that development, which was originally planned as student condos and later converted to rentals. Months earlier, the pedestrian bridge connecting FIU’s main campus to the project collapsed suddenly, killing six people.

Pearl cited the “massive amount” of demand for student housing near the university. Property records show his Collegiate City II LLC paid more than $9.9 million to assemble the development site for the Toll Brothers project. Construction is set to begin next summer and will be completed within two years after that, Pearl said.

In December, Toll Brothers said it raked in $7.14 billion in revenue for the year, but experienced a dip in new-home orders. The impact was most acute in California, which has been hurt by rising prices over the past few years and fewer foreign buyers, CEO Doug Yearley said during a fourth-quarter earnings call.

A spokesperson for Toll Brothers could not immediately be reached for comment.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the sale price. 

Square Station and Melo Group principals Martin and Carlos Melo

Melo Group just closed on a $142 million refinance for apartments in Miami’s Arts & Entertainment District.

Freddie Mac is providing the 10-year, fixed-rate loan. Berkadia’s Miami acted as the seller servicer, selling the mortgage to Freddie Mac, according to a press release. Peter Mekras of Aztec Group arranged the financing, which is interest-only during the term of the loan.

Melo completed Square Station, a two-tower, 710-unit apartment development at 1424 Northeast Miami Place, in June and it’s now 95 percent leased. The developer is also building Art Plaza, two 34-story buildings with 667 multifamily units at 58 Northeast 14th Street. Melo scored an $85 million construction loan from Ocean Bank for that project this past summer.

For the Square Station loan, Aztec said it obtained quotes from pension funds, financial and life insurance companies, banks, and Fannie and Freddie Mac. The firm said the financing is one of the largest single-asset permanent loans for multifamily in South Florida.

Melo broke ground on Square Station in 2016 with a $103 million loan from BB&T. The project includes about 20,000 square feet of commercial space. Earlier this year, Melo said rents range from $1,500 to $2,700 a month.

A hotel and residential project that could transform the landscape at Blue Lagoon near Miami International Airport got an initial seal of approval, despite objections from a neighboring condo association.

At a Miami planning and zoning hearing on Thursday, city commissioners approved on first reading a zoning change that would allow the Weiss Group to develop six buildings that would house 888 residential units, 294 hotel rooms and 1,412 parking spaces. Kobi Karp designed the project.

The zoning change would allow Weiss Group, which is headed by Caroline Weiss, to increase the height of some of the buildings from the maximum of 12 stories to 16 stories. Without the height increases, the developer would still have the right to develop a project totaling 1.6 million square feet under the current zoning designation, Weiss Group attorney Miguel Diaz de la Portilla told commissioners.

“It can be a another run-of-the-mill project with the same exact number of units and the same traffic, but [Weiss] is going through this effort and this process that has lasted close to two years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to the city and the professionals to have a legacy project,” Diaz de la Portilla said. “By right we can do the same exact density and intensity. The sole purpose of the request is simply to obtain three to four additional stories in height.”

The zoning change still requires final approval, which is often likely when the commission approves it on first reading.

If the city grants final approval, Weiss Group is offering to create 500 temporary jobs and 500 permanent jobs with preference given to residents in the surrounding neighborhoods, set aside 53 affordable housing units and 84 workforce housing units and make a $150,000 contribution for improvements at Antonio Maceo Park in Blue Lagoon.

Richard Ayalon, an attorney representing the association for the Blue Lagoon Condominiums at 5077 Northwest 7th Street, said the Weiss Group’s project would encroach on an easement that residents use to enter and exit the complex and create traffic gridlock.

“The reality is that when you add 888 more units and 294 hotel rooms you are going to have a heck of a lot of traffic,” Ayalon said. “It is about our easement. When that person stands here and says we are going to use it to pack it with 1,000-and-some cars a day, get the heck out of here. This project does not need to use our easement for ingress and egress.”

Commissioner Willy Gort, whose district includes the proposed project, directed Diaz de la Portilla and Ayalon to hammer out a compromise over the traffic concerns. “I think you have a lot things you can improve,” Gort said. “You have to sit down with them and find a solution.”

Clockwise from top left: Trump picks veep’s chief economist to lead Federal Housing Finance Agency, Michael Cohen gets three years in prison, the National Association of Realtors will no longer serve as UpstreamRE’s vendor, and Sears taps JLL to shop its stores amid its ongoing bankruptcy proceedings.

Trump picks Pence’s chief economist to lead Federal Housing Finance Agency
The Federal Housing Finance Agency is getting a new director. President Donald Trump plans to nominate Mark Calabria, chief economist for Vice President Mike Pence, to lead the agency after current head Melvin Watt departs at the beginning of 2019. Prior to taking his current job, Calabria was a senior aide on the Senate Banking Committee and a deputy assistant secretary for regulatory affairs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In the past, Calabria’s said that the Trump’s administration wants to put an end to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s conservatorship. [TRD]

Michael Cohen gets 3-year prison sentence after guilty pleas
Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen is heading to prison. Cohen received a three-year prison sentence Wednesday after pleading guilty to charges of tax evasion and illegal campaign contributions, among others. In late November, Cohen implicated the president in a hush-money scandal after pleading guilty to lying to Congress about a since-abandoned deal that purportedly sought to bring a Trump Tower to Moscow. Since Cohen’s legal troubles began to mount, he has shed many of his real estate assets, including stakes in a number of Manhattan apartment buildings. Cohen apologized for his actions in court Wednesday. [TRD]

Sears taps JLL to shop stores as it weighs bankruptcy options
Two months after Sears Holdings filed for bankruptcy protection, the beleaguered retail giant has tapped Jones Lang LaSalle to shop its portfolio of around 500 Sears and Kmart stores to prospective buyers, Bloomberg reported. Sears chairman Eddie Lampert has offered to buy the bankrupt company for $4.6 billion in an effort to keep it afloat, but if JLL is successful and the chain “is worth more dead than alive to its creditors,” the outlet reported that could “complicate” Lampert’s bid. Sears has already announced plans to close roughly 200 stores across the country. [TRD] 

National Association of Realtors will no longer serve as UpstreamRE’s vendor
The National Association of Realtors has parted ways with its data management platform. NAR committed $15 million to UpstreamRE as its vendor, but decided to sever ties because many of its members were frustrated with the delayed rollout of the platform, Inman first reported. “As I’ve said since the beginning of my tenure at CEO, we are not in the business of inventing at NAR; we’ve supported Upstream to the extent that makes sense for both our strategic missions and now it is time for them to step out on their own,” explained the trade association’s CEO Bob Goldberg. [TRD]

MAJOR MARKET HIGHLIGHTS

Brookfield completes $6.8B purchase of Forest City
There’s a new leader among commercial landlords in New York City. Brookfield Asset Management now claims to be the city’s largest in that space after closing on its $6.8 billion acquisition of Forest City Realty Trust. Brookfield officially completed the deal on Dec. 7, adding 4.8 million square feet of office space and more than 2,500 apartments to its portfolio in the process. Forest City, meanwhile, is no longer listed on the New York Stock Exchange, despite having said earlier this year that it would not accept any takeover offers. But the real estate investment trust reversed course after accepting the bid from Brookfield. [TRD]

Cinephile real estate developer Charles Cohen buys Landmark Theatres
The Landmark Theatres chain has a new owner in billionaire real estate developer Charles Cohen, the Los Angeles Times reported. Investors Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner sold all 52 theaters to the film aficionado for an undisclosed sum, according to the outlet. The Landmark chain has theaters in 27 different cities, including its flagship inside the Westside Pavilion in Los Angeles. News of the purchase comes several months after Amazon was rumored to be interested in buying Landmark, whose valuation has been estimated at $175 million. Ted Mundorff, president and CEO of the theater chain, told the Times that the sale was the “best scenario that you could ask for.” [TRD]

Some Miami luxury condos offer up flying car landings
A handful of homes in Miami are preparing for the future of transportation. Three luxury condos in the city, including the Paramount Miami Worldcenter, will be offering landing pads for flying cars, the New York Post reported. Ritz-Carlton Residences in Miami Beach will have a landing pad that personal transportation drones will be able to use, while the Miami-based One Thousand Museum residential high-rise will have a helipad on its roof. “These flying-car projects are real,” Miami condo developer Daniel Kodsi told the Post. “They are funded. NASA is involved. It’s not just science fiction anymore.” [TRD]

Walt Disney’s childhood home restored, set to become museum
The childhood home in Chicago of legendary animator and entrepreneur Walt Disney has been restored, Block Club Chicago first reported. Current owners Dina Benadon and Brent Young spent five years rehabilitating the two-story house, which was built by the Disneys in 1892. Walt Disney himself lived in the home until he was 4, the outlet reported. The property on Chicago’s North Side will become a museum now that the restoration is finished. It was rededicated during a ceremony that drew Mickey Mouse, as well as a member of Walt Disney’s family. [TRD]

Zillow Offers expands to California as iBuyer model takes off
Zillow is moving into Riverside County, California. The real estate marketplace plans to expand Zillow Offers, its direct-to-consumer home-buying program, to the county just west of Los Angeles. The expansion marks Zillow Offers’ first foray into California. The iBuying initiative launched as a pilot program in Las Vegas and Orlando in the spring of 2017. Since then, it has spread to Arizona, Colorado and Georgia, with future plans to expand to North Carolina and Texas. [TRD]

New zoning plan in Minneapolis aims to combat housing segregation
A new plan passed by the Minneapolis City Council will allow three-family homes to be built in neighborhoods where previous zoning only allowed single-family homes, Slate reported. The plan’s passage makes Minneapolis the first major city in the country to do away with single-family home zoning, which “has done as much as any [policy] to entrench segregation, high housing costs and sprawl as the American urban paradigm over the past century,” according to Slate. Mayor Jacob Frey told the outlet that many city residents weren’t able to live in certain neighborhoods because they didn’t have the resources to build large homes in them. [TRD]

Brickell City Centre and Carlos Mattos (Credit: Wikipedia)

Brickell City Centre won the initial green light to expand its footprint, creating two new mixed-use towers within a more than 100,000-square-foot annex to the $1.05 billion project.

The Miami City Commission on Thursday approved on first reading an amendment to Brickell City Centre’s special area plan that adds 15 properties owned by Colombian businessman Carlos Mattos, who is partnering with Brickell City Centre developer Swire Properties on the 104,287-square-foot expansion.

According to documents submitted to the city, Mattos and Swire want to build a 54-story building that would have 588 residential units, 84,009 square feet of commercial space and 832 parking spaces, as well as a 62-story tower with 384 residential units, 3,275 square feet of commercial space and 399 parking spaces. Among the sites is the former home of Tobacco Road, the famed watering hole that lasted 102 years before a wrecking ball claimed it in 2014.

Akerman attorney Neisen Kasdin, who represents Swire, told city commissioners the project will likely not break ground until the next cycle. “It is market-dependent of course because there will be for-sale units there,” Kasdin said. “We are probably looking at a two-to-three-year period.”

The proposed Brickell City Centre annex would also have 11,718 square feet of civic space and the joint venture partners have agreed to build a connection to the Miami Riverwalk, add lighting to the South Miami Avenue Bridge. They will also donate $1 million to the city to be used for renovating single-family houses owned by low-income individuals.

The 15 properties run between Southwest 5th and 7th streets along South Miami Avenue and total just over 2 acres. In 2012, Mattos’ Tobacco Road Property Holdings LLC paid a combined $15.44 million for the majority of the assemblage which consists of nine adjacent properties at 11, 21, 31, 37, 45 and 55 Southwest Seventh Street and 622, 626 and 640 South Miami Avenue in 2012. Swire affiliate BCC Road Improvement LLC paid $4.7 million for the roughly 15,000-square-foot corner piece at 602 South Miami Avenue in 2014.

The expansion still requires final approval, which is often likely once it has been approved on first reading.

Brickell City Centre’s first phase included two 390-unit condo towers, Reach and Rise; a 500,000-square-foot outdoor mall; an office building and a 40-story hotel, East, Miami.

Grand Peaks CEO Luke Simpson and Mangonia Residence Apartments (Credit: Grand Peak Properties, Apartments, and iStock)

Denver-based Grand Peaks Properties paid $21.4 million for a 252-unit affordable senior living facility in West Palm Beach.

A company tied to Hollywood real estate developer Scott Daiagi sold the Mangonia Residence Apartments at 2210 North Australian Avenue for nearly $85,000 per unit to GPAI Uptown 22 LLC.

Daiagi purchased the 8-acre property in 2013 for $4.1 million. The 82,500-square-foot complex was built in 1997. Apartment rents are subsidized by a low-income housing tax credit.

Grand Peaks was founded in 2003 and manages and invests in apartments throughout the country. It has $2 billion in current assets and owns 30 properties, according to its website.

West Palm Beach and South Florida as a whole have a limited amount of affordable housing, which has driven up demand and prices for the few available properties.

Master Brokers Forum celebrates 2018 at Metropica

The Gold Coast Master Brokers Forum celebrated the past year at the sales gallery for Joseph Kavana’s $1.5 billion Metropica project underway in Sunrise.

Master brokers donated more than 60 new, unwrapped toys and raised nearly $500 for the Pantry of Broward, an organization providing food and support services to low-income seniors in need, and to grandparents raising their grandchildren.

Coral Gables Trust Company hosts luncheon with real estate pros

The Coral Gables Trust Company hosted its ‘Dynamic Wealth Speaker Series’ luncheon at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove. The event featured real estate insiders such as Bill Meyersohn, Brigitte Nachtigall and Donna Abood.

CGTC is a privately held trust company with more than $1.4 billion in assets under management. The panel was moderated by Cristina Figarola, reporter for NBC Telemundo51.

Douglas Elliman releases Elliman Magazine at 1 Hotel & Homes

Douglas Elliman celebrated the release of its Winter 2019 Art Issue of Elliman Magazine at 1 Hotel & Homes in South Beach. The event took place during Art Basel Miami Beach and included guests like Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing New York and Los Angeles castmates Fredrik Eklund, Matt Altman, Josh Altman and Tracy Tutor.

The party was hosted by a number of Douglas Elliman execs including its chairman Howard M. Lorber.

Neology Life hosts toy drive at Pier 19 Residences & Marina

Non-profit Amigos For Kids launched its annual holiday toy drive in partnership with Lissette Calderon’s Neology Life. The organization collects and delivers holiday gifts to disadvantaged children from various community programs throughout South Florida.

Basel by the River party at Pier 19 Residences & Marina

Pier 19 Residences & Marina also celebrated Miami Art Week with Basel by the River. The event featured artwork by local artists, including works by Carlos A. Navarro, Luis Olazabal, John Luis, and Maria Galli.

Artefacto hosts an Art Basel brunch

Paulo Bacchi, CEO of Brazilian furnishings brand Artefacto hosted an annual Miami Art Week brunch at the Aventura showroom. At the event, architects and interior designers gathered to experience Artefacto’s latest collaborations, which include partnerships with Brazilian designer Sergio Matos, as well as artists Jose Paulo, Mozart Guerra and RIZZA.

Sunbeam Properties hosts annual toy drive

Sunbeam Properties & Development hosted its annual toy drive, with members and community leaders dressing up as superheroes to collect toy donations.

Sunbeam Properties’ Miramar Park of Commerce is a 5-million-square-foot business park. Tenants include GE, Siemens, Tommy Hilfiger, Neiman Marcus and Spirit Airlines.

Chris Franciosa, Mauricio Umansky, Jared Ringel and 20900 NE 30th Avenue, Aventura (Credit: Ten-X Commercial)

The Agency is opening offices in Miami-Dade County and expanding its new development division.

The Beverly Hills-based brokerage expanded to South Florida in October with an office in Boca Raton, and is now targeting other key markets in the tri-county region with locations in Aventura and Coral Gables.

Chris Franciosa and Jared Ringel are leading the company’s South Florida expansion. The Agency is leasing about 1,000 square feet at 20900 Northeast 30th Avenue in Aventura, in addition to a four-office suite at 95 Merrick Way in Coral Gables, according to a spokesperson.

Howard Elfman is managing broker of the South Florida operation, and Oliver Ruiz was hired as strategic growth manager. The Dustin Fealy Group joined the brokerage and will be based in the Gables, according to a release.

The Agency Development Group is also representing three new construction projects: 353 Sunset in Fort Lauderdale, Aventura Village in Aventura and Bay Harbor One in Bay Harbor Islands. Gina de Varona heads the firm’s new development arm.

The brokerage has 25 offices in Brentwood, Calabasas, Danville, Malibu, Noe Valley, Venice, Orange County, Pacific Palisades, Palm Desert, Park City, Scottsdale, Sherman Oaks, Turks and Caicos, Los Cabos, Punta de Mita and elsewhere. It’s been on an expansion tear since it was founded by Mauricio Umansky, Billy Rose and Blair Chang in 2011.

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin (Credit: iStock)

Compass is launching a technology campus in Seattle geared toward building “real estate’s first-ever end-to-end platform,” and plans to hire at least 100 engineers.

The SoftBank-backed brokerage, which has been in expansion mode, announced the West Coast Product & Engineering Campus in a Facebook post this week, according to Geekwire. The move came about two weeks after Compass brought on former Microsoft and Amazon executive Joseph Sirosh as its new chief technology officer.

The firm’s Seattle office, at co-working space Industrious, will house company engineers. They will work on marketing technology, web and mobile, security, image and artificial intelligence, with a focus on enhancing Compass’ existing agent platform, Geekwire reported.

Compass, which has been expanding quickly across the country, also leased more space in downtown Seattle. It will end the year with 150 offices, after starting with 30. But next year, Compass plans to have 300 offices.

It raised $400 million from Softbank and Qatar Investment Authority in September, which valued the brokerage at $4.4 billion.

The Seattle campus is the company’s first tech hub outside its New York City headquarters. That means Compass is now knocking on the door of Redfin and Zillow, both based in Seattle. [Geekwire] — Katherine Kallergis 

Lazaro Milton and Baccarat Tower

UPDATED Dec. 14, 2:25 p.m.: An affiliate of L. Milton Construction just scored an $18 million construction loan to build an apartment complex near Magic City Casino.

L. Milton Construction secured the financing from Wells Fargo. The eight-story, 120-unit apartment building, called Monte Cassini Apartments, will be built on a 39,072-square-foot site at 3930 Northwest Seventh Street, county records show.

The 194,695-square-foot development will replace two apartment buildings and a parking lot. The developer filed plans for the project about a year ago and a notice of commencement earlier this month.

L. Milton Construction was founded by Lazaro Milton in 1964, according to the company’s website.

Just down the road, Magic City Casino has more than 80 slot machines and is one of the few casinos in Miami-Dade County.

A new Florida law now requires any future gambling facility not located on tribal land be approved by 60 percent of Florida voters. This would likely make it harder to build new casinos in the state, which could benefit existing casino owners as well as nearby property owners.

Correction: A previous version of the story misstated the name of the planned apartments.

(Credit: iStock)

New research sheds fresh light on one of the most frequently asked home-buying questions, especially for first-timers: With our annual income, what price house can we afford? Is there some handy rule-of-thumb?

Decades ago, a commonly quoted price-to-income guideline was that you can afford a house that costs roughly two times your gross annual household income. So back then, if you and your spouse or partner earned a combined $50,000 a year, you could likely afford a $100,000 house. In later decades, the ratio crept up to three times income, and even higher in some areas.

So what is it today? A study by housing researchers at the American Enterprise Institute’s Center on Housing Markets and Finance came up with some intriguing answers. They examined the incomes, home prices and square footage associated with the purchase transactions of 543,000 first timers during 2017. Stripped of individuals’ identities, the data came from the actual loan files of buyers who obtained mortgages from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Affairs (VA) and Rural Housing Services in the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. As a group, these agencies’ loans account for approximately 90 percent of all first-time home purchases.

What researchers Edward Pinto and Tobias Peter found is that there is no magic price-to-income rule-of-thumb for gauging affordability that fits everywhere, though the median ratio nationwide was 3.3. As with everything in real estate, location plays a crucial role; ratios in the study ranged from an affordably modest 2.3 to a hyper-expensive 5.0. The top 10 least-affordable markets had median buyer incomes that were 51 percent higher than those in the 10 most affordable areas.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with a 2.3 ratio, was the most affordable housing market for first-timers. It was followed closely by Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio (ratios of 2.4 and 2.6, respectively) and Oklahoma City (2.7). In metropolitan Chicago, the ratio was 2.9; in Miami 3.5; New York 3.6; Washington D.C. 3.8; and Boston 3.9. The least affordable markets, not surprisingly, were along the West Coast: San Diego, where the price-to-income ratio hit 4.5; San Francisco (4.6) and San Jose (5.0).

In metropolitan Washington D.C., first-timers bought houses or condos with a median price of $355,000. In the New York metro, the median was $365,000. In San Francisco, $560,000 and San Jose $650,000. Imagine having to save up your money to purchase your first home for more than a half million bucks, and the place you buy is a two-bedroom, 1,200-square-foot starter home — yikes!

How do first-timers manage to do it? One crucial element is that there are relatively generous financing options compared with previous decades: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac offer 3-percent-down options and have begun permitting applicants’ debt-to-income ratios (DTIs) to go as high as 50 percent. FHA offers first-timers not only low minimum down payments (3.5 percent) but exceptionally sympathetic treatment on credit issues and the mortgage industry’s highest DTIs — in excess of 50 percent. VA loans require no down payment whatsoever.

Paul Skeens, president of Colonial Mortgage Group in Waldorf, Maryland, says he’s watched pricing rules-of-thumb ratios in his market area push higher for a couple of decades — from three times income in the late 1980s to four times income at the height of the housing boom in 2006. But qualifying for a specific loan amount — which sets the upper limit on what you can buy — can’t really be reduced to a ratio, he says. It’s all about buyers’ individual circumstances. He sees applicants with good incomes and credit but who are carrying student-loan debts requiring hundreds of dollars a month in repayments. “Student debts are killing these guys,” he told me, because the payments knock applicants’ DTIs beyond what’s acceptable even under loosened guidelines. For debt-burdened individuals like these, there is no price-to-income ratio rule of thumb. They are out of the game.

Marty Soller, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker King Thompson in the Columbus, Ohio, area, sees the same problem holding back many would-be first-timers, complicated in some cases by child-care costs that can run “easily $1,000 a month per child.”

The takeaway here? Note that the new study focused on the ratios that buyers across the country actually experienced last year, which turned out to be a median 3.3 times income for the cost of their first home. Your own price limit, however, may well turn on issues directly related to you, especially the monthly debts you’re lugging around.

Las Vegas homes for sale (Credit: iStock)

In Los Angeles and San Francisco, many homebuyers are still facing a competitive bidding process. But other pockets of the country are facing a growing glut of unsold homes.

In markets like Las Vegas and Phoenix, home sales have significantly slowed in the last year, signaling a potential shift nationwide, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Existing home sales in Las Vegas, for example, have decreased nearly 12 percent in November compared to the year prior. That’s in spite of 23 percent of homes there getting price cuts, up from 11 percent a year earlier.

While discounted re-listings may be commonplace in expensive markets like L.A., they raise an alarm in more moderately-priced markets like Las Vegas or Tampa. Especially because many of these markets have yet to recover from the last recession.

Las Vegas was among the worst hit by the 2008 housing crash. The median home price there remains 7 percent below the previous peak of $315,000 more than a decade ago.

Still, the expectation is that any downturn won’t be nearly as bad as the last cycle, considering that buyers and lenders are more cautious than they previously were. Mortgage delinquencies nationwide also fell to their lowest level in 12 years in September, signaling a bit of good news for the housing market.

As for inventory, there are about 7,000 homes on the market in Las Vegas. There were more than 20,000 homes listed for sale during the latest crash. [WSJ] – Natalie Hoberman

The Gables Entrance and Carlos Mattos

A company tied to Colombian businessman Carlos Mattos just picked up a retail center on the northwest entrance of Miracle Mile for $16.4 million.

The Gables Entrance property at 2209 and 2235-2283 Southwest 37th Avenue in Miami features about 12,400 square feet of leasable space between two, single-story retail buildings. The deal breaks down to about $1,280 per square foot.

Coral Way Entrance LLC, led by Miguel Mouriz, is the seller. Records show the company paid $8.3 million for site in 2006.

The buying entity, Nisa Gables LLC, is led by Mattos’ children Nicolas and Isabelle, as well as attorney Richard G. Toledo who represents a number of the family’s real estate holding companies.

Mattos made his money with Hyundai Colombia Automotriz, a car import and distribution company he founded in his home country. His company Isanic Trading is teaming up with Swire Properties to co-develop a 72,000-square-foot plot of land in Brickell, planned to be an extension of Swire’s Brickell City Centre.

The Gables Entrance property hit the market in 2015 for an undisclosed amount. Michael T. Fay, John K. Crotty and Joshua Ladle of Avison Young had the listing.

Built in 1970, Gables Entrance was redeveloped in 2015. The 1.15-acre site is zoned for T6-8 O, which means the mixed-use site can be redeveloped up to eight stories. Current tenants include JP Morgan Chase and Co., Pei Wei and Chipotle.

Across the street, where Coral Way becomes Miracle Mile, the city recently completed a $24 million, streetscape reconstruction project that widened sidewalks and added new garden areas and public art. Initially slated to be completed in 2016, the delayed project’s heavy construction and road closures temporarily hurt pedestrian traffic, according to business owners.

Jeff Bezos and Long Island City (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)

Amazon caused a stir with its plan for two new campuses in Long Island City and Arlington — but don’t expect a quick move.

It will take several years, if not a decade, for the tech giant’s employees to shift into the new locations, the Wall Street Journal reported. Amazon said it plans to hire workers slowly and has told its Seattle employees that they won’t be required to relocate.

The company expects to have 700 employees in LIC next year and hit 25,000 by 2028, the report said. In Arlington, it will add 400 workers and reach half of its 25,000 target in seven years.

Amazon said it will remodel its temporary offices before workers can move in. It could take two years to break ground on the New York campus, and a little less for Arlington, due to site approvals and other pre-construction work.

Amazon’s move has already created a frenzy in LIC’s real estate market, with brokers reporting an uptick in condo deals and a flood of interest from buyers. With plenty of projects still in the pipeline, brokerages and developers are banking on the tech giant giving a boost to a neighborhood that’s already seen a development boom. [WSJ] — Meenal Vamburkar

From left: Steinmauer’s Julien Haccoun and Adrien Haccoun (Credit: iStock)

In November 2017, French investor Jean-Philippe Mango flew to Miami for a meeting with managers of Steinmauer Realty, a brokerage that was handling real estate investments on behalf of him and other French nationals.

During the pow-wow to discuss the pending sales of several properties Mango and his partners owned, he discovered a Pompano Beach condo his investment group bought in 2015 had been lost to foreclosure a year later, according to a recent lawsuit filed against the Bay Harbor Islands-based Steinmauer Realty, its related company Steinmauer Construction and its principals Adrian, David, Dominique, Julien and Sarah Haccoun. The family of real estate associates is also French.

Mango’s lawsuit alleges that Steinmauer Realty failed to find an existing mortgage on the property that was never paid and didn’t bother to get title insurance on it.

Before his trip to Miami, Mango claims, Julien Haccoun told him Steinmauer Realty sold the property in September 2017, but that the proceeds had been delayed because of Hurricane Irma.

Allegedly lying about the foreclosure is among the several shady shenanigans Mango claims the Haccouns pulled on him and his partners during the two-year period they managed his investment funds, the complaint states. Mango accuses the Haccouns of defrauding him and his partners for $8.3 million they invested in distressed condos and townhomes in South Florida.

Mango’s lawyer, Michael Nicoleau, did not respond to a request for comment, and Dorothy Negrin, the attorney representing the Haccouns and their companies declined comment. However, Adrien Haccoun dismissed Mangos’ lawsuit as frivolous.

“Mr. Mango is a well-seasoned investor,” Adrien Haccoun said. “He knows the risks and he made a lot of money on these deals. His funds have been successful and we have the documentation to back it up.”

According to the lawsuit, Mango attended a seminar hosted by the Haccouns in February 2015 in which they promoted that Steinmauer Realty and Steinmauer Construction specialized in acquiring, fixing up and settling any liens on distressed condos and townhomes that they subsequently put up for sale or for rent.

The Haccouns allegedly boasted that their firms provided integrated realty services that improved operational efficiency and reduced management expenses, as well as owned a proprietary investment software that provided them unique access to real-time data not accessible by lay real estate investors. The program also showed which properties they should bid on at foreclosure auctions that would produce the most profitable outcome, as well as whether to flip or rent the homes.

The Haccouns showed him a portfolio of 10 properties that provided an annual return of 25 percent and five other properties with a 22 percent annual returns, Mango claims.

“Because of the Haccoun’s French background and nationality, they benefited from a natural affinity with, and received trust from, French investors who could converse and transact with them in French,” the lawsuit states.

Mango and his partners set up six limited liability companies to make real estate investments in Florida that would be managed by the Haccouns. Initially, the relationship was running smoothly. When Mango received the first progress report from the Haccouns, it showed prospective returns of 24 percent for properties his funds purchased to flip, and it showed a 10 percent return rate on properties bought for rentals, the complaint states.

But by the time Mango received a sixth and final progress report, the investments had severely soured. “Many units that had been reported as profitable were suddenly reported as unprofitable,” the lawsuit claims. “More importantly were the reasons why the units were no longer profitable: Renovation costs spiked and resale price estimates plummeted.”

Tim Cook and the Texas State Capitol (Credit: iphonedigital via Flickr and Wikipedia)

Apple is planting its flag in Austin, with plans for a new $1 billion corporate campus.

The company said the move could eventually create 15,000 jobs at the 133-acre development, the Wall Street Journal reported. Apple already has two offices in the city — and will initially hire 5,000 workers.

The tech giant is also planning new offices in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City. It is poised to add more than 1,000 employees to each location. And, over the next three years, Apple said it will add hundreds of jobs in cities including New York, Boston and Portland, Oregon.

Earlier this year, Apple said it would invest $30 billion in capital spending in the U.S. over five years, the report said. The plan to create more than 20,000 jobs included a new campus and $10 billion toward data centers across the country.

Apple’s announcement follows Amazon’s selection of Long Island City and Arlington, Virginia for its two new campuses. The company has similarly touted job creation — and the news is expected to drive up property values and encourage further development.

In November, The Real Deal reported that venture capital-backed WeWork was close to buying a massive development site in Austin from Frank McCourt’s McCourt Global. [WSJ] — Meenal Vamburkar

Rendering of Bridge Point FLL Logistics Center and Kevin Carroll (Credit: Bridge Development Partners)

Bridge Development Partners secured the financing for another speculative industrial project in Fort Lauderdale.

The Chicago-based developer scored a $13.5 million construction loan to develop its Bridge Point FLL Logistics Center, which when complete will span two buildings and 174,129 square feet.

Wells Fargo provided the financing. CBRE’s Steve Roth advised on the deal, according to a statement. Bridge Development paid $5.65 million for the shuttered, 10.2-acre school site in June. The Broward County school board was the seller.

Bridge Point FLL Logistics Center will feature a 92,165-square-foot building and an 82,000-square-foot building. It will include 32-foot clear ceiling heights and rear-dock loading. CBRE’s Tom O’Loughlin and Larry Genet will handle leasing.

Bridge Development plans to complete the project by the third quarter of 2019. It’s located just north of I-595, across from Fort Lauderdale International Airport.

Later this month, the developer will complete another spec Fort Lauderdale industrial project spanning 221,542 square feet. Bridge Point Riverbend, at 201 Northwest 22nd Avenue, is being developed in partnership with Akard Street Partners, Banner Oak Capital Partners and Elion Partners.

The developer recently grabbed logistics company ShipMonk to ink a 170,447-square-foot, long-term lease at the building.

Bridge Development has nearly 2 million square feet of new industrial space underway in South Florida. In addition to the logistics center and Bridge Point Riverbend, current projects include Bridge Point Commerce Center in Miami Gardens, the company’s largest South Florida project to date with 2.1 million square feet; and Bridge Point Powerline, a 467,832-square-foot industrial park in Pompano Beach.

DJ Khaled and his Aventura home (Credit: Getty Images and Life Style Production Group for One Sotheby’s)

DJ Khaled’s ready to let go of the keys to his waterfront Aventura estate.

The DJ and record producer, whose real name is Khaled Mohamed Khaled, is listing his five-bedroom, 6,697-square-foot home on Island Estates Drive for nearly $8 million, according to Janet Ben Zvi of One Sotheby’s International Realty.

Khaled shoe collection (Credit: Life Style Production Group for One Sotheby’s)

He recently paid $21.75 million for a nearly 13,000-square-foot waterfront mansion on Pine Tree Drive in Miami Beach, a property that features a safe room, gazebo, home theater and a four-bedroom guest house.

Khaled’s home theater (Credit: Life Style Production Group for One Sotheby’s)

Records show he bought the Aventura property in 2014 for $3.84 million. The four-story estate, built in 2001, features 14-karat gold chandeliers with Swarovski crystals, a granite staircase, wine room, chef’s kitchen, pool and Jacuzzi. It also has a media room and a master suite with a walk-in closet, and a separate closet for Khaled’s shoes.

It sits on a roughly 25,000-square-foot lot on Island Estates, near Privé at Island Estates.

Khaled also owns real estate in California. He paid $9.9 million for a 10,700-square-foot mansion in Beverly Hills last year.

(Credit: iStock)

Citizens Property Insurance is planning to increase rates, yet again.

The state-backed insurance company’s board of governors approved a rate increase averaging 8.2 percent in across all of the company’s insurance lines, according to the Sun Sentinel. The rate hike would begin in September 2019.

South Florida homeowners will see some of the biggest rate increases in the state. Rates for homeowners insurance will increase 9.9 percent in Broward County, 9.4 percent in Miami-Dade and 7.0 percent in Palm Beach County, according to the Sun Sentinel.

The rate hike is due to the high costs from litigation that the insurance company is having to bear, according to Citizens. Citizens contends it is being excessively billed by plaintiffs lawsuits due to an issue called assignment of benefits.

Citizens is referred to as the insurer of last resort, providing an option to people who can’t get insurance elsewhere. Nearly a decade ago the number of policyholders neared 1.5 million. But the state sought to push people on to other private insurers to try to reduce the cost burden on the government. Citizens now has about 435,000 policies.

Citizens’ board of governors voted 8-1 for the rate increase, the Sun Sentinel reported. The rate hikes still need approval from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. [Sun Sentinel] — Keith Larsen

From left: Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, Aimco CEO Terry Considine and Park La Brea (Credit: Getty Images, Aimco, and Wikimedia Commons)

A legal tussle between Airbnb and Aimco over short-term rentals has ended with the two firms agreeing to dismiss all lawsuits between them.

The agreement “provides Aimco with the ability to control short-term rental activity” at its properties in line with its own policies, according to a joint statement by the firms, which was first reported by TechCrunch.

The home-sharing giant and apartment operator have battled it out since February 2017. Aimco, a Denver-based real estate investment trust, sued to hold Airbnb liable for tenants at its buildings renting out their units through the platform, which was in violation of their leases.

Aimco filed suits in California and in Florida. In California, it sued over activity at its Park La Brea complex in Los Angeles. It lost that case in January.

Its suit in Miami carried on, however. A judge ruled in July that Airbnb could be held liable for Aimco’s tenants’ activity on the platform.

The outcome of the lawsuits had widespread implications. Aimco is one of the country’s largest landlords with 184 properties across 22 states. The outcomes of the Florida suit would have set a precedent for future disputes between landlords and Airbnb.

It’s unclear if either party made any payments as part of the settlement, but it appears Aimco and Airbnb plan to turn over a new leaf.

“As part of the settlement, Aimco and Airbnb have agreed to meet to discuss opportunities in the multifamily housing market,” the joint statement said. [TechCrunch] – Dennis Lynch

Mira Flores Apartments and Greystar CEO Bob Faith

Greystar Real Estate Partners just paid $83.6 million for an apartment complex in Palm Beach Gardens apartment complex, property records show.

A joint venture between UBS Realty Investors and a real estate investment trust under the private equity firm TPG Capital sold the Mira Flores Apartments at 11900 Valencia Gardens Avenue. The 352-unit complex sold for about $237,500 per apartment.

Records show the 22-acre property last sold for $48.5 million in 2011. Built in 1996, the Mira Flores Apartments consists of six, two-story buildings with a community pool, playground, racquetball court and tennis court.

The apartment complex is just north of the Gardens Mall where a number of commercial properties recently sold. Just last week, a nearby office building anchored by Seacoast National Bank traded hands for $25.1 million.

Greystar, an active investor and developer of apartments in South Florida, is building a 25-story, 329-unit apartment tower with ground-floor retail in downtown Fort Lauderdale. In 2016, the company paid $89 million for the Astor Companies’ newly built InTown apartment complex in Little Havana.

Rendering of new project at 12747 South Jog Road

Big Rock Partners Senior Housing just paid $9 million for 15 acres of vacant land near Delray Beach with plans to launch a new senior housing development.

The sellers of the property at 12747 South Jog Road are long-time property owners and preservationists Theodore and Gertrude Winsberg. The deal breaks down to about $600,000 per acre.

A spokesperson for Big Rock Partners said the company plans to develop a $150 million luxury community with 185 independent-living residences, 50 assisted-living residences and 44 memory-care residences. Construction is slated to begin next summer. The developer plans to complete the project in 2021, according to a release.

Amenities will include a fitness center, pool, yoga studio, salon, library, game rooms and an auditorium with a theater.

Records show the company scored a $4.5 million loan from Vancouver-based Trez Capital Group to finance the purchase.

The property is near a nature center, which opened in 2005 thanks in part to the Winsberg family. The Winsbergs sold more than 100 acres to the county in 1999 for $2.9 million in order to preserve the land, known today as the Green Cay Nature Center & Wetlands.

Big Rock Partners develops and invests in luxury senior housing developments and assisted living communities throughout the United States. The Beverly Hills, California-based firm recently completed a 320-unit senior housing development near Lake Worth called Atria at Villages of Windsor, where monthly rents start at $4,000.

The company also recently completed the $83 million Windsor at Celebration near Orlando with 239 residences, and is developing a project in Kiawah Island in South Carolina.

From left: Daniel de la Vega and Michael Koval

One Sotheby’s International Realty brought on Michael Koval as the Miami-based brokerage’s chief operating officer, a new position for the company.

Koval, who spent nearly 15 years at Long & Foster Real Estate in the Washington, D.C. area, will focus on all operations, ensuring that any new technology is rolled out correctly and “has a very high agent adoption,” president Daniel de la Vega said.

One Sotheby’s has grown to 850 agents and 17 offices in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties. In October, it acquired Nestler Poletto Sotheby’s International Realty, a nearly 80-agent firm in Boca Raton and Delray Beach.

Koval was chief information officer of Long & Foster, which had more than 12,000 agents and 200 officers. He left in 2015 to work as a senior management adviser and consultant at Pixces Consulting Group in Rockville, Maryland.

Koval said he’ll also work with One Sotheby’s operations teams to improve agents’ “entire experience” with the company, including onboarding.

Earlier this year, One Sotheby’s branched out into lending. De la Vega partnered with Joel Eidelstein and Matthew Eidelstein to launch a new mortgage lending company called CapHouse Financial, based out of One Sotheby’s Miami Design District headquarters.

Newmark Group offices 125 Park Avenue and Barry Gosin (Credit: LoopNet)

Newmark Group CEO Barry Gosin bought $8 million worth of company shares this week, sending the stock price climbing nearly 7 percent Tuesday.

Gosin, who helped steer the company toward its initial public offering one year ago, bought slightly more than 890,000 shares in two transactions Monday and Tuesday at a weighted average of just over $9 per share, filings with the Securities Exchange Commissions show.

The purchase increased Gosin’s holdings in the company to 2.1 million shares, or about 1.5 percent of the firm’s 138.94 million outstanding shares.

Gosin could not be immediately reached for comment.

Newmark Group’s stock price rose following the news on Tuesday, climbing 6.7 percent to close at $9.13 per share. The price was still climbing as high as $9.66 per share by late Wednesday morning.

Still, the company has a long way to go in order to make up ground for a disappointing year. Its stock price is down more than 40 percent from its peak of $16.61 per share on Jan. 1. Newmark’s pricing in its December 2017 initial public offering was $14 per share.

Analysts said the stock had been weighed down by Newmark’s delayed spinoff from its parent company, BGC Partners, which it completed late last month.

Newmark isn’t the only firm seeing stock prices take a hit. Many public real estate firms a re watching their valuations slide, as private companies continue to land investments pushing their values ever-higher, a trend The Real Deal reported in its December cover story.

From left: Anna Kournikova, Enrique Iglesias and 4715 Bay Point Road, Miami (Credit: Getty Images, Realtor)

Enrique Iglesias and former tennis star Anna Kournikova are listing a Bay Point home in Miami for $4.85 million.

The 6,800-square-foot home at 4715 Bay Point Road was built in 2017 for Kournikova’s grandparents to use, but they decided the home was too big and decided to sell it, according to the Wall Street Journal. The house is in the same gated community that Kournikova and Iglesias live with their twins.

The couple purchased the property in 2015 for $1.8 million, records show.

The six-bedroom and six-and-half-bathroom home sits on about one-third of an acre. It has a swimming pool, a covered terrace and an outdoor kitchen, listing agent Gabriela Cardenal, of Mariana Martinez Real Estate Broker, told the Wall Street Journal.

Iglesias hired Brazilian home furnishings brand Artefacto to furnish the house. The furniture is for sale, but isn’t included in the asking price, the Journal reported. [WSJ] — Keith Larsen

President Trump at the White House Wednesday, where he signed an executive order establishing an Opportunity Zones council. Sen. Tim Scott is at right, at left is Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. (Getty Images)

For months, real estate investors and developers have been setting up multimillion-dollar Opportunity Zone funds, hoping to cash in on a federal program that offers tax incentives to investors who pour money into properties in designated low-income neighborhoods.

On Wednesday, President Trump signed an executive order to direct resources to state and local municipalities to improve basic conditions within the 8,700 designated Opportunity Zones. Businesses in the zones could also be eligible for some of these benefits.

The executive order created a task force to be led by U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson. It will consist of 13 different federal agencies. The president said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will also be part of the group.

The move is designed to help businesses and local and state governments in the zones receive federal funding and backing for community needs like infrastructure, crime prevention and small business lending, said Steve Glickman, who led the Economic Innovation Group. The organization was credited with helping create the Opportunity Zones program.

In a White House that was live streamed, attendees included South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott, who helped push the Opportunity Zone legislation forward; community leaders from Baltimore, where the president was supposed to hold the event until it was moved to Washington; and billionaire Bob Johnson, who founded the television network BET. Ivanka Trump also attended but did not speak.

Glickman said the executive order could also help small businesses within in the zones secure loans guaranteed by the federal government.

Many large investors have already started setting up funds to invest in Opportunity Zones, which was part of the president’s tax overhaul plan that passed late last year. The program allows developers or investors to delay and potentially forgo paying some capital gains taxes if they invest in an opportunity zone for at least 10 years. 

Firms like RXR Realty, Youngwoo & Associates and Normandy Real Estate have set up funds hoping to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to be used for Opportunity Zones investments.

Former White House communications director — briefly — Anthony Scaramucci and his SkyBridge Capital wants to raise a $3 billion Opportunity Zone fund with EJF Capital. SkyBridge and EJF Capital plan to structure the fund as a REIT.

Other investors and developers are still waiting on the sidelines, looking for more specifics from the Treasury Department and the IRS before deploying capital. The first set of regulations was released in October, and the second set was expected to be released sometime this month.

Mark Calabria and Donald Trump (Credit: Cato Institute and Getty Images)

President Trump has tapped Mark Calabria to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Calabria, who currently serves as chief economist for Vice President Mike Pence, previously served as a senior aide on the Senate Banking Committee and as deputy assistant secretary for regulatory affairs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during President George W. Bush’s administration. He’s also held positions at National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors.

Trump announced Tuesday night that he planned to nominate Calabria after rumors began to surface that he was the president’s pick, according to Housing Wire. Calabria still awaits approval from the Senate.

Mel Watt, an Obama-era appointee and current head of the FHFA, is expected to leave office in January, when his five-year term expires.

Since the Democrats took control of the House in the midterm elections, President Trump is expected to take the reform of government sponsored-entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into his own hands. There are limitations to what the administration can do without Congress first passing legislation, but the FHFA can raise fees on lenders and just the size of loans companies can buy. That could impact states with higher property values like New York and California.

As Pence’s chief economist, Calabria said last year the administration was “committed” to ending Fannie and Freddie’s conservatorship.

“Mark Calabria possesses a unique combination of policy, regulatory and housing expertise, and his nomination to lead the FHFA is well deserved,” Dan Berger, National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions president and CEO, told Housing Wire. “In our numerous meetings with Mr. Calabria, it is clear he has a firm understanding of credit union issues and of the important role the GSEs play in their mission.” [Housing Wire] — Kathryn Brenzel

Anthony Scaramucci (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)

Anthony Scaramucci was still joking around with his partners when the microphones went live during a Tuesday afternoon conference call meant to draw in investors for his hedge fund SkyBridge Capital’s plan to raise a $3 billion Opportunity Zone fund.

Indistinct male voices cajoled one another: “Come on!” said one man. “If you can’t take it nobody can take it,” said another, as classical hold music played on. Then Scaramucci got down to business.

SkyBridge Captial and EJF Capital starting raising funds on Dec. 1 through a private entity known as SkyBridge-EJF Opportunity Zone Real Estate Investment Trust. The fund, SOZ REIT, has been soliciting capital from “a small batch” of clients and friends, Scaramucci said. Now, it’s “open to everybody” who wants in, he added.

SOZ REIT is the highest-profile entity to tap into the Opportunity Zone program using the structure of a REIT. The Opportunity Zones program, created as part of last year’s tax overhaul plan, offers tax deferrals and benefits to investors who park their money in assets located within designated low-income neighborhoods. There are more than 8,700 designated zones nationwide. Despite the interest the program has already stirred among developers and investors, final regulations have yet to be released.

On Tuesday’s conference call — which came a day before President Trump was scheduled to discuss Opportunity Zones at the White House — Scaramucci and the REIT’s sub-adviser, EJF Capital’s Manny Friedman, explained their decision to structure the fund as a REIT.

“I suspect our competitors … once they understand our structure … [will] start copying it,” Scaramucci said. He added they opted for the REIT structure in order to make investments across states and sectors with a variety of developers.

And it’s a feat that New York-based tax attorney Roger Lorence said is not easy.

That’s mostly because “REIT rules are not forgiving,” he said. Under the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s rules, SOZ REIT must be a “passive vehicle,” with at least 100 accredited investors but no more than 500. Any more than that and it would have to be a public company.

“I understand that combining the two sets of rules is a grand slam,” said Lorence. The tax incentives baked into the Opportunity Zones program, married with investor’s love for private REITs, should be a winning pair. But, he noted, because many questions are still outstanding about Opportunity Zone rules, combining the two from a legal standpoint is no “cake walk.”

“It will be interesting, no, it will be fascinating to see whether it can be pulled off,” he said.

Steve Glickman, who’s credited with creating the Opportunity Zones program and now runs a consultancy firm for investors, disagreed.

Pairing REITs and Opportunity Zones “should be totally doable,” he said. “There are a lot of synergies.”

However, because the entity is structured as a REIT, no more than five investors can own 50 percent of the company. Glickman said not many Opportunity Zone funds “have access to that class of investors.”

The hedge fund’s attempt to raise a $3 billion Opportunity Zone REIT comes as other funds have set a $500 million Opportunity Zones raise. Those funds have been among the largest initiated to date, and capital is being raised by real estate players “used to getting friends and family money,” Glickman said. “Reaching out to several thousand investors on a call like this is much different.”

It’s also different when Scaramucci is at the helm. The call on Tuesday afternoon was sprinkled with a taste of the exchanges that he became famous for during his brief stint as the White House Communications Director.

From left: Rendering of H3 Hollywood and Vivian Dimond

UPDATED, Dec. 12, 3 p.m.: The new owner of H3 Hollywood, a previously unfinished condo development, just closed on financing to complete the now-luxury apartment building.

Hollywood East LLC, led by broker Vivian Dimond and Cristina Pereyra Alvarez, closed on a $48.65 million construction loan from Trez Forman Capital Group for the unnamed 15-story, 247-unit building at 2165 Van Buren Street in Hollywood, according to a press release.

Dimond and a group of investors took over the project last year, settling with the buyers who had put down deposits at what was then H3 Hollywood, a 154-unit condo project being developed by Hollywood Station Investments. Hollywood Station Investments halted construction in the fall of 2016.

Its general contractor, who won the bid for the project at a foreclosure auction, sold the property in April 2017 to Dimond’s Hollywood East LLC. She said rents are expected to start at about $1,200 a month and the building will have one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

Dimond sold Avatar Real Estate Services, a residential real estate brokerage in early 2017 to Brown Harris Stevens and is now a principal and managing broker of Brown Harris Stevens Miami.

Trez Forman’s president and CEO Brett Forman arranged the financing for the Hollywood project, according to the release.

The previous owner built the shell for 13 of the 15 floors. The building will feature a pool deck on the fifth floor, nearly 4,800 square feet of ground-floor retail space and a 433-space parking garage. Kaufman Lynn Construction is expected to complete the building in less than 18 months.

The 1.68-acre property is next to a proposed Brightline station, according to the release. It’s also near Young Circle, where MG3 Development Group is planning Parc Place, a mixed-use project with 433 apartments, retail space and a parking garage.

Michael Cohen arrives with his family for his sentencing hearing at United States Federal Court (Credit: Getty Images)

President Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen, who most recently pleaded guilty to lying about his involvement in the deal to bring a Trump Tower to Russia, was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday. During the federal court hearing in New York, Cohen apologized for his role in what he called the president’s “dirty deeds.”

The sentencing is harsher than Cohen, who implicated the President in directing hush payments to two women that claimed to have had affairs with him, had hoped for. In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions, bank fraud and making false statements to Congress. But he sought less jail time by virtue of his assistance in other investigations. Last week, however, prosecutors wrote that Cohen had not been fully cooperative.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan launched an investigation into Cohen earlier this year, and raided his offices in April after a tip from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, who has been investigating the Trump campaign, focusing on potential collusion with Russian nationals during the 2016 presidential election.

Since then, President Trump has labelled Cohen a “weak person” and denied knowledge of the payments to women, before conceding that he did know about them. He last week dismissed them as “a simple private transaction.” Prosecutors have said Cohen “acted in coordination with and at the direction” of Trump, who is referred to as “Individual – 1” in court filings.

In the Special Counsel’s investigation, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his communications with a spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he emailed for help launching a Trump Tower project in Moscow. The project was later abandoned. [NYT] — David Jeans and Will Parker

 

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg

After pumping $15 million into UpstreamRE, the National Association of Realtors is ditching the data management platform.

The organization announced on Wednesday that it will no longer serve as Upstream’s vendor, Inman reported.

“As I’ve said since the beginning of my tenure as CEO, we are not in the business of inventing at NAR; we’ve supported Upstream to the extent that makes sense for both our strategic missions and now it is time for them step out on their own,” NAR CEO Bob Goldberg said in a statement.

NAR began committing money to Upstream in 2015, billing the portal as a single point of entry for residential listings nationwide. But members became frustrated with the delayed rollout of the platform as their dues continued to flow to Upstream with little progress. The task of building Upstream fell to Realtors Property Resource, a property database and NAR subsidiary. In August, NAR cut RPR’s staff by 10 percent.

Upstream plans to announce a new vendor in January. [Inman] — Kathryn Brenzel

215 W Alexander Palm Rd, Boca Raton (Credit: Realtor and iStock)

Toni Fitts, whose late husband John Fitts co-founded OLS Hotels and Resorts, just bought a waterfront home in Boca Raton for $5.28 million, property records show.

The 7,767-square-foot house at 215 West Alexander Palm Road sits just south of the Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club, where home sites range from $1.5 million and $15 million. The deal breaks down to about $680 per square foot.

John Fitts co-founded the hotel management company OLS Hotels and Resorts, previously Outrigger Lodging Services, in 1988 and served as its president and CEO until retiring in 2016. He passed away the same year.

Records show Michael A. McNeal sold the property as a trustee of a trust in his name. He was the founder, president and CEO of the software solutions company Emergin, which specializes in alarm management systems used in hospitals. The company was acquired by Royal Philips Electronics in 2007 for an undisclosed amount. That same year, Emergin made $18 million in sales, according to a press release.

The home was built in 2002 on a 15,000-square-foot lot along the Intracoastal Waterway. The two-story, six-bedroom house has been on-and-off the market since 2013, and once asked as much as $5.7 million.

Records show It previously sold for $5.25 million in 2007.

The property is near the upcoming Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Residences in downtown Boca Raton, built by Penn-Florida Companies.

From left: Irving Padron and Alejandro Abascal. (Credit: iStock)

Irving Padron, the license partner, president and managing broker of Engel & Völkers Miami, is being accused by a former business partner of welching on a $285,000 payment connected to his purchase of another brokerage, according to a recent lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. Alejandro Abascal sued Padron and his company Seamless Transactions II for breach of contract and unjust enrichment regarding nonpayment of the six-figure sum, which was the final installment in a deal to buy Abascal’s stake in Submarket Realty LLC.

In an emailed statement, Padron said he doesn’t comment on pending litigation and noted that Engel & Völkers is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. His attorney Brian Goodkind also declined comment. Abascal, a principal of Miami Avenue Realty, claimed Padron has been on a buying binge, acquiring other realty companies while leaving him hanging.

According to its website, Miami Avenue Realty’s off-market commercial listings include a vacant lot on Brickell Avenue, the Sorrento Villas hotel in Miami Beach and a Miami Lakes office building resembling the White House. The firm also markets Miami Beach mansions for sale. Abascal was also a founding partner of Engel & Völkers’ Miami office.

“I got tired of asking him to pay so I had to file this lawsuit,” Abascal said. “Submarket Realty is now under his control, but he hasn’t met his obligations yet.” Abascal also claimed that Padron has not paid an additional $215,000 to other ex-owners of Submarket Realty.

Earlier this week, Engel & Völkers Miami bought Select Realty Group, a boutique brokerage in Coconut Grove whose owner Magnus Jennemyr is joining Padron’s team. In July, Engel & Völkers Miami also secured rights to the Sunny Isles market that gave the franchisee control of Miami-Dade County.

Abascal’s lawsuit includes copies of agreements between Padron’s Seamless Transactions II and Abascal’s company One Limited Properties, which owned a 49 percent stake in Submarket Realty. The documents show Seamless agreed to buy One Limited’s interest for $1.7 million.

Seamless paid $1.1 million with the balance of $527,000 due on May 1, 2017. That amount includes Abascal’s $285,000. The complaint also states that One Limited gets a 15.2 percent stake in Submarket Realty and that Padron is personally on the hook if the balance is not paid.

La Trova, Michelle Bernstein, and Carlos Fausto Miranda

Café La Trova | Little Havana

Chef and restaurateur Michelle Bernstein is back with a new restaurant, Café La Trova, a modern Cuban concept in Little Havana.

Bernstein and bartender and mixologist Julio Cabrera plan to open the new bar and restaurant at 971 Southwest Eighth Street later this month in a 5,000-square-foot space. Carlos Fausto Miranda of Fausto Commercial Realty brokered the deal, along with Daniel Egipciaco of Sovereign Real Estate Group who partially represented the tenant.

Asking rents for the property started at $30 per square foot with annual increments, Miranda said. Café La Trova signed a 10-year lease at the building, he said.

Bernstein closed her Cena by Michy, previously known as Michy’s, restaurant in MiMo in 2016.

Copper Blues | CityPlace Doral

Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen signed a lease at Related Group’s CityPlace Doral. The restaurant is taking 6,000 square feet at the mixed-use development at 8300 Northwest 36th Street.

The Phoenix, Arizona-based restaurant group signed a 10-year lease with a five-year option to extend, according to a spokesperson. The Doral location marks the fifth for Copper Blues, and it will feature a garden bar, two copper bars and a stage for live entertainment.

Apizza Brooklyn | Miami

Apizza Brooklyn recently opened in the former Mario the Baker space at 5755 Bird Road in Miami. The 3,033-square-foot restaurant seats 80 and features a pizza bar, wine bar and wine cellar. It was designed by KoDA, a Miami Beach architecture and design firm.

The pizzeria, led by Jason Prussing, also has a location in Pinecrest.

Improv Comedy Club & Dinner Theater | CityPlace Doral

The Miami Improv Comedy Club & Dinner Theater is opening on Friday at CityPlace Doral. It’s leasing 10,000 square feet with a center stage, lounge and table seating for more than 400.

Maska | Midtown Miami

The Indian restaurant opening in the former Brasserie Azur space at the Shops at Midtown Miami has a new name: Maska. Rickshaw Hospitality Group and Michelin starred-chef Hermant Mathur are opening the 7,000-square-foot restaurant in January, according to a release.

Delicious Raw | Miami Beach

Juice bar Delicious Raw opened its sixth location and first in Miami, at Sunset Harbour in Miami Beach. The 1,500-square-foot restaurant includes a 600-square-foot outdoor patio at 1828 Bay Road. Delicious Raw serves superfood bowls, vegetable juices, smoothies and wellness shots.

In July, developer Scott Robins and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine sold a retail portfolio in Sunset Harbour for $68.75 million to real estate investment firm Asana Partners, but that deal did not include the Delicious Raw property.

Spencer Rascoff and Riverside, California, skyline

Zillow is expanding its direct-to-consumer home-buying program to Riverside County, making it the eighth market nationwide to see the platform — and the first in California.

Zillow Offers, formerly Instant Offers, lets sellers take an offer from the home-buying giant, which then flips the home after some renovations. The program will launch in the Inland Empire city early next year.

Zillow is among many companies getting in on the large-scale home-flipping game, also called the iBuyer model. Redfin, Zillow’s rival, has also launched an iBuyer program called Redfin Now, including in Riverside. Opendoor, a startup built around the concept, is also active in Riverside. There are numerous other startups that have formed around the industry.

Such iBuying programs are meant to appeal to sellers who need or want to move their homes quickly for cash. Sellers choose their own closing date after accepting an offer, and Zillow arranges a complimentary home inspection before closing.

Zillow piloted the program in Las Vegas and Orlando in May 2017 and has steadily expanded it to markets around the country. Riverside is the first Southern California city to see the program. It’s also operational in Phoenix, Arizona; Atlanta, Georgia; and Denver, Colorado. Zillow plans to launch in North Carolina and Houston, Texas, before it goes live in Riverside.

The program has ramped up in recent months. In the third quarter of 2018, Zillow purchased 168 homes and brought in $11 million in revenue after selling 36 of them.

The company hires a local brokerage to represent it in the deals. If a seller declines Zillow’s offer, it will refer those customers over to partner brokerages that advertise through Zillow’s Premier Agent program.

Land next to City Furniture in Tamarac and Malcolm Butters

A joint venture led by Butters Construction & Development just bought a 22.35-acre development site in Tamarac for $15 million with plans to develop two industrial properties.

The seller, Advance Business Associates, is led by City Furniture CEO Keith Koenig. The vacant land sits just north of the furniture retailer’s 840,380-square-foot headquarters at 6701 Hiatus Road, east of Sawgrass Expressway.

Records show the joint venture, Tamarac Industrial Venture LLC, scored a $26 million construction loan from BB&T. Butters partnered with an institutional capital partner to acquire the land to build two warehouse and distribution facilities, according to a press release.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Chris Metzger, Richard F. Etner Jr., Christopher Thomson and Matthew G. McAllister represented the seller.

City Furniture is a privately owned retailer that was founded in 1971 by Keith Koenig’s brother, Kevin Koenig. It sells home furnishings, mattresses, and home accents.

Butters Construction is an investor, developer and contractor that mainly operates in South Florida. In 2016 it sold a Boca Raton development site where Geo Group, a for-profit operator of prisons, built its corporate headquarters.

The latest industrial development adds to a growing list of developments in the pipeline for Broward, as land availability continues to shrink and rents continue to rise. According a third quarter Cushman & Wakefield report, Broward’s industrial vacancy rate hit an all-time low of 3.1 percent.

Brian Rosen and the Towers at West End (Credit: Accesso Partners)

Real estate investor Accesso Partners bought a suburban Minneapolis office complex for $115.5 million from a fund managed by New York-based DRA Advisors.

Hallandale Beach, Florida-based Accesso added the 500,000-square-foot Towers at West End in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, to its nationwide portfolio of office properties.

The firm also owns the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis, which includes the 57-story IDS Tower and the seven-story Crystal Court retail complex.

The two-building Towers at West End complex sits just outside Minneapolis along Interstate 394 in the West End submarket. The two nine-story buildings at 1550 and 1600 Utica Avenue are 84 percent occupied, Accesso said.

MoneyGram Payment System is the largest tenant at 97,000-square-feet, followed by Concur Technologies at 69,000 square feet and Magenic Technologies at 57,000 square feet.

Brian Rosen, chief investment officer for Accesso — which owns a handful of properties in Chicago — said the complex gives the firm a presence in the suburbs of the Twin Cities and is near downtown Minneapolis.

Starwood provided a $94 million acquisition loan, with a potential for an additional $5 million in financing to fund leasing commissions, tenant incentives and other expenses related to the deal.

The company’s portfolio includes 78 office properties covering 15 million square feet. Rosen said Accesso typically targets markets with population and job growth potential. The firm prefers bigger properties and then recruits investors to join them in a joint venture where the investor provides equity and Accesso stays on to operate the properties.

Accesso is looking for an investor to provide 70 percent equity in Towers at West End, Rosen said. The firm is negotiating with “several groups,” he said.

CBRE’s Ryan Watts brokered the Towers at West End deal for DRA and Susan Hill of HFF advised Accesso in the financing.

CBRE’s Samantha Shimak is joining Accesso Services as property manager for the complex, where JLL’s Jon Dahl will provide leasing services.

Taurus International CEO and 16175 NW 49th Ave, Hialeah

Gun manufacturer Taurus International just sold a warehouse in Miami Gardens for $12.2 million to a company tied to the home appliance wholesaler Kalorik.

Taurus International sold the 120,739-square-foot facility at 16175 Northwest 49th Avenue for about $100 per square foot, property records show. The buyer, Sunway Holdings, is managed by David Murad, who is a principal of the home appliance wholesaler, Kalorik. Sunway Holdings financed the purchase with a $9.7 million loan from Citibank.

Taurus specializes in making pistols, rifles and revolvers and is an affiliate of a publicly traded company based in Brazil called Taurus Armas S.A.

Taurus bought the 6.2-acre property through bankruptcy in 2012 for $2.4 million.

Buyers are increasingly seeking out industrial properties in Miami-Dade County as land and developable sites become more scarce. Over the past five years, average prices per square foot for warehouse buildings in South Florida have increased by 65 percent, according to Colliers International South Florida.

(Credit: iStock)

Mortgage delinquencies across the U.S. in September fell to their lowest levels in 12 years, at a time when the housing market from coast to coast continues to show signs of cooling. Experts attributed it in part to an improved labor market.

Nationally, mortgages that were in some stages of delinquency fell to 4.4 percent in September, from 5 percent over the same period last year, according to a new report by CoreLogic. The figures were the latest available. One note of caution, according to the report, was the trend in high loan-to-value lending that was going on, which could lead to defaults if the economy turns sour.

In Miami, delinquencies of more than 30 days experienced the sharpest falloff, dipping to 6.1 percent from 9.6 percent last year. But that can be attributed in large part to hurricane-related events. Last year, Miami and Houston saw a spike in homeowners missing their payments because of storm-related costs.

In New York City, delinquencies dropped in September to 6 percent, from 6.9 percent the year before.

Chicago’s rate fell to 4.7 percent from 5.2 percent and in Los Angeles, delinquencies continued to creep down. They dropped to 2.7 percent, from 2.9 percent.

The data from CoreLogic signals at least some good news for the broader U.S. housing market, where recent reports have shown that home prices and sales have slowed from last year. Some homebuilders have also said they are expecting fewer new home deliveries in 2019.

“Outside of areas affected by natural disasters, serious delinquency and foreclosure rates have declined steadily across the nation as the labor market has improved and home prices have risen,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic.

The rate for early-stage delinquencies nationwide — defined as 30 to 59 days past due — was 2.2 percent in September, down from 2.4 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile, the foreclosure inventory rate — which measures the share of mortgages in some stage of the foreclosure process — was 0.5 percent in September, down 0.1 percent since September 2017.

CoreLogic’s report paints a far different picture from an analysis in July by Attom Data Solutions. That study showed 96 of 219 metropolitan areas — or 44 percent — posted year-over-year increases in foreclosure starts in July.

The two reports show the differences revealed in the U.S. housing and mortgage market when looking at one-month snapshots.

While CoreLogic’s most recent report shows an improving picture when it comes to the mortgage market, its CEO sounded a caution about related factors, including high loan-to-value and debt-to-income lending.

Martell said this kind of lending “heightens the risk of a significant upturn in loan default if the economy slips into recession or home prices decline.”

Oleander House and Freshwater Group’s Freddy Sayegh

Freshwater Group is under contract to pay $12.1 million for the Oleander Park apartment building and units at the Oleander House condominium in Little Havana, Freshwater partner Joseph Sayegh confirmed.

The Brooklyn-based real estate investment firm would pay roughly $7.6 million for condo units at the Oleander House at 406 Northwest 22nd Avenue, giving Freshwater control of 42 out of the 52 units. The building features one- and two-bedroom condos that average 860 square feet.

Records show it was built in 2007 by a company tied to developer Marcelo Herskovitz. According to Sayegh, the units were previously rented out.

The 25-unit Oleander Park apartment building at 1970 Northwest Seventh Street is under contract to trade for $4.5 million. The six-story building was built in 2009 by La Vereditta VII LLC, which is also led by Herskovitz.

Aztec Group’s Peter Mekras is representing both sides of the deal. He declined to comment.

Freshwater is led by Alfred Sayegh and Solomon Gadeh as well as Joseph Sayegh. In the past year, the company has acquired 500 multifamily units in Miami-Dade County, Joseph Sayegh said, including properties in North Miami Beach and Hialeah.

Over the summer, Freshwater bought a portfolio of adjacent multifamily buildings in Miami Beach for $5.6 million.

Parkway Plaza in El Cajon, California and Barry Sternlicht (Credit: Forbes)

The Israeli bond price of Starwood Capital Group’s debt on a portfolio of U.S. shopping centers has plummeted 42 percent since the bonds were offered in March, leading the firm to consider buying back the bonds.

The Tel Aviv bond market offers cheaper financing at better rates than in the U.S. While Israeli bonds issued by other real estate firms in the U.S. trade at yields between 2.8 percent and 5.9 percent, Starwood’s yield on the mall debt surged to 23.6 percent.

A Starwood unit raised about $244 million, or 910 million shekels, to refinance the portfolio of seven malls in March, according to the Wall Street Journal. The combined net operating income of the shopping centers fell 4.8 percent between January and September of this year, which Starwood attributed to rent cuts dealt to tenants to maintain occupancy.

The portfolio also includes five Sears stores, two of which are owned by Sears Holdings Corp. Sears filed for bankruptcy in October.

A Starwood spokesperson told the Journal that the Miami Beach and Greenwich, Connecticut-based firm is reviewing taking a buying position in the bonds, but that “any consideration of investing into these bonds requires a careful review of our fiduciary duties and additional approvals.” [WSJ] – Katherine Kallergis

731 Lexington Avenue (Credit: Vornado)

More than a dozen executives at Bloomberg L.P., Turner Construction and their subcontracting companies are accused of running a scheme that overcharged Bloomberg for renovation work by tens of millions of dollars.

Anthony Guzzone, the former global head of construction at Bloomberg, and two former Turner executives are expected to be indicted Tuesday on fraud, theft and bribery charges, the New York Times reported. As part of the scheme, company executives and subcontractors allegedly agreed to inflate contracts and pocket proceeds for work that wasn’t actually performed. The alleged pay-to-play scheme involved interior renovation work at Bloomberg’s offices, including its headquarters at 731 Lexington Avenue.

Turner and Bloomberg aren’t facing any charges and have said that the scheme was the result of “rogue” employees acting on their own.

In October 2017, state officials and investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office raided the offices of Turner and Bloomberg. After the raids, Guzzone and top executives in Turner’s interior construction division — Ronald Olson and Vito Negro — were fired.

“Mr. Guzzone has had an unblemished life and a distinguished career,” his attorney, Alex Spiro, told the Times. “We will fight any allegation against him.”

In July, Javier Paulino, a former Bloomberg facilities manager, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes and stealing more than $1 million from the company by overcharging for interior work, which is a $9.4 billion industry in New York. He’s now cooperating with authorities.

Guzzone allegedly had a close relationship with the owners of New Jersey-based contractor Litespeed Electric, who are expected to surrender to authorities on Tuesday. [NYT] — Kathryn Brenzel 

(Credit: iStock)

The city of Miami is trying to pressure the Florida Department of Transportation into completing the long-delayed West Flagler Street construction project by the end of this year.

FDOT was supposed to complete the $45 million project, which called for replacing an aging water main, rebuilding sidewalks, adding a bike lane and upgrading drainage to 12 blocks, in late 2017. Construction began in 2016.

The city is now suing FDOT, but the lawsuit does not name Pinnacle Consulting, which the state hired to oversee the contractor, Russell Engineering. The general construction is also not named in the suit.

More than a year ago, businesses along Flagler Street were reporting losses of up to 60 percent, and Mayor Francis Suarez called the project “a small business killer,” according to the Miami Herald.

Similar projects in Coral Gables and Miami also faced setbacks in recent years, including the delayed streetscape improvements of Miracle Mile and Giralda Avenue in the Gables.

FDOT said that “unforeseen conditions and utility work” delayed the Flagler project and that crews are working to complete construction before the end of the year. [Miami Herald] – Katherine Kallergis 

Sears CEO Eddie Lampert and a Sears store (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)

Sears Holdings hired JLL to market about 500 Sears and Kmart stores in the United States, two months after filing for bankruptcy protection. The brokerage is already drawing interest from potential buyers in major markets while Sears still considers a takeover bid from its chairman.

Bids have come in from retailers, mall owners and others interested in potentially adaptive reuses of the stores, sources told Bloomberg.

Strong interest from suitors — which Bloomberg said include Burlington Stores, At Home, Dick’s Sporting Goods and U-Haul — could complicate Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert’s $4.6 billion bid to buy the entire chain and keep it open.

Sears said it would close another 142 stores around the end of the year. Despite efforts to cut costs by shuttering hundreds of locations, the Chicago-based retailer has lost more than $11 billion since 2011. In the last two years alone, it closed more than 725 Sears and Kmart stores nationwide.

JLL is entertaining proposals for Sears Holdings stores through Dec. 28, and the sale of some of the locations could bolster Lampert’s efforts to avoid a full liquidation of the chain, giving the century-old company money to keep it running during the bankruptcy process. [Bloomberg] — 
John O’Brien

 

UPDATED, Dec. 12, 11:25 a.m.: Miami-Dade experienced a boost in condo sales last week.

The county recorded 143 closings for a total of $71.9 million, up from the previous week’s 132 closings for $39.8 million. Condos last week sold for an average price of about $503,000 or about $317 per square foot.

The priciest deal was located in the country’s richest zip code, Fisher Island, where residents reportedly earn $2.5 million on average a year.

Unit 7064 at the recently competed Palazzo Del Sol condominium traded for $9.4 million. Dora Puig represented both sides of the deal. The deal for the four-bedroom, 4,956-square-foot unit breaks down to $1,896 per square foot.

The next priciest deal was at Murano Grande at Portofino in South Beach. Unit 2604 sold for $3.85 million after more than a year on the market. It marks the highest sale ever recorded in the building on a per-square-foot basis, listing agent Cyril Bijaoui said. Joseph Schafer brought the buyer.

Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 sales from Dec. 2 to Dec. 8. Click on the map for more information:

Most expensive

Palazzo Del Sol, Miami Beach | #7064 | 87 days on market | $9.4M | $1,896 psf | Listing agent: Dora Puig | Buyer’s agent: Dora Puig

Least expensive

Akoya, Miami Beach | #4003 | 200 days on market | $1.55M | $880 psf | Listing agent: Amorette Robertson | Buyer’s agent: Cristina Brennan

Most days on market

Murano At Portofino, Miami Beach | #2604 | 457 days on market | $3.85M | $1,758 psf | Listing agent: Cyril Bijaoui | Buyer’s agent: Joseph Schafer

Fewest days on market

Murano Grande, Miami Beach | #1906 | 81 days on market | $2.5M | $1,235 psf | Listing agents: Bill Hernandez and Bryan Sereny | Buyer’s agent: Vincent Pinto

Brian Kingston of Brookfield and David LaRue of Forest City with 1 MetroTech Center in Brooklyn

Nearly 100 years after the company was founded as a family-owned lumber business, Forest City Realty Trust — owner of millions of square feet of real estate across the country — has once again gone private.

Brookfield Asset Management officially closed on its $6.8 billion purchase of the real estate investment trust on Friday. In New York City, Brookfield will be taking over 4.8 million square feet of office space from Forest City, and more than 2,500 apartments. Forest City was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange at the close of business on Friday.

Last Wednesday, Ric Clark, senior managing partner of Brookfield Asset Management and chairman of Brookfield Property Group, announced that the sale was expected to close by the end of the week. The deal, he said, makes Brookfield the city’s largest commercial landlord, with 26.1 million square feet under management. According to data from Crain’s, the next biggest commercial landlords are RXR Realty at 24.6 million square feet under management, SL Green Realty at 23.9 million square feet, Vornado Realty Trust at 23.5 million square feet and Tishman Speyer at 18.3 million square feet.

Over the last two years, Forest City has undergone a series of major changes. Since becoming a real estate investment trust in January 2016, the company began moving away from ground-up development. Forest City’s board also further decreased control of the company by the Ratners, the family that founded the company in the 1920s. Earlier this year, the REIT sold all but 5 percent of its remaining interest in the megadevelopment, Pacific Park, to partner Greenland USA. After announcing in March that the company had decided against selling itself, Forest City did a 180 and accepted a new bid from Brookfield, valued at $11.4 billion when taking debt into account.

Albert Milo, Jorge Pérez and 800 Northwest 13th Avenue, Miami. (Credit: Getty Images and Apartments)

Companies tied to the Related Group recently filed plans for three new affordable housing buildings in Little Havana.

Related’s The Gallery at River Parc LLC submitted plans to the city of Miami’s building department for a 150-unit building at 750 Northwest 13th Avenue and its Brisas del Rio Apartments is planning a 168-unit building at 800 Northwest 13th Avenue. The property is currently home to the Haley Sofge Towers, a 475-unit apartment building owned by the Miami-Dade Housing Authority.

The estimated cost for both buildings is $48.8 million, according to the permit application.

In a separate application, Related’s affordable housing arm, Related Urban, filed plans for a new 112-unit, 35,000-square-foot apartment development on the same site as Smathers Plaza, a recently completed senior housing development at 1025 Southwest 30th Avenue.

The second phase, called the Gallery at Smathers Plaza, would cost about $7 million. Related Urban was seeking up to $1.925 million in HOME and AHTF funds to build the project, public records show.

A spokesperson for Related and Related Urban said it’s too early to comment on plans for the Smathers Plaza project.

Earlier this year, the Miami Urban Development Review Board approved the second residential phase of Liberty Square Rising, an ambitious redevelopment project by Related Urban that will replace Liberty Square, a 753-unit apartment complex that opened 81 years ago and is home to roughly 600 low income residents.

More than a year ago, the Miami Herald reported that Related Urban was part of an an expanding probe by the U.S. Attorney’s Office into South Florida’s affordable housing industry. Federal authorities were reportedly looking into whether the company pocketed money from boosting construction costs on a senior housing project in Miami’s Shenandoah neighborhood. Related disputed the assertion that it was the focus of the investigation.

CityPlace in West Palm Beach (Credit: Stephen K. Hill) (Inset: Stephen Ross, Related Cos. founder and CEO)

West Palm Beach’s CityPlace is suing its lender, Credit Suisse Commercial Mortgage, after it alleges the lender tried to halt its refinancing of a $150 million loan.

CityPlace Retail, an affiliate of the Related Companies, said if it can’t refinance the loan, it could lead to a foreclosure, according to a lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court on Friday, the Palm Beach Post reported. On Tuesday, the $150 million loan is set to reach maturity.

The lawsuit also could prevent CityPlace from buying the land underneath the 698,472-square-foot property from the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency.

CityPlace is now seeking a judge’s order to force its lender to go forward with the refinancing’s closing and the land purchase, according to the Palm Beach Post.

CityPlace is claiming the issue is with the appraisal for the loan. CityPlace Retail alleges Credit Suisse Commercial Mortgage is not accepting CityPlace’s appraiser, the Palm Beach Post reported.

In 2011, CityPlace was previously hit with a foreclosure action, but Related was able to negotiate an extension on the loan and keep the property. In 2016, Trepp, a commercial research company, showed that CityPlace’s two loans from commercial-mortgage backed securities were in default.  [Palm Beach Post]  — Keith Larsen

Craig Menin

Delray Beach developer Craig Menin paid $31 million for a piece of East Atlantic Avenue, property records show.

Menin’s Rosebud 110 LLC bought the 48,800-square-foot retail and office building at 110 East Atlantic Avenue from a company tied to RMS Properties, a Schaumburg, Illinois-based property management firm. Menin financed the deal with a $26.5 million loan from BankUnited.

The property last sold for $8.5 million in 2014, according to records, and was recently renovated.

The building sits on nearly half an acre of land about seven blocks west of the Intracoastal Waterway. It features two restaurants, 40,000 square feet of Class A office space, 132 underground parking spaces and a new lobby, according to Menin Development’s website. Rocco’s Tacos is leasing the ground floor retail space.

Earlier this year, Menin Development sold the PGA Plaza in Palm Beach Gardens for $88 million.

The company is also planning to open Delray City Market, a mixed-use building just south of Atlantic Avenue in downtown Delray Beach, early next year. The 120,000-square-foot development will include a 30,000-square-foot food hall, a parking garage and event space.

Late last month, controversial developer Harold “Sonny” Van Arnem emerged as a new bidder in the contentious West Atlantic mixed-use project proposed for the city’s 600 to 800 block.

From left: Toys “R” Us Plantation store and Benderson Development’s Randy Benderson

Benderson Development Co. just bought a Toys “R” Us store in Plantation, marking the group’s fifth Toys “R” Us purchase in South Florida.

The University Park, Florida-based private development group purchased the property at 8101 West Broward Boulevard for $7.8 million, property records show.

The sale comes just a few months after a company affiliated with PGA TOUR Superstore paid $7.6 million for the 2.8-acre retail site. PGA TOUR Superstore is a golf store chain with locations throughout the United States. The company plans to open the Plantation store in winter 2019, according to its website, signaling that Benderson Development is likely leasing the store to back to the golf retailer.

Benderson has been on a buying spree of former Toys “R” Us stores. This month, the company purchased a Toys “R” Us for $8.5 million in Doral , a Toys “R” Us in Boynton Beach for $9 million and one in Palm Beach Gardens for $6.5 million.

The firm also previously acquired a former Toys “R” Us store in North Miami Beach for $1.5 million.

In July, Toys “R” Us announced it brought on New York-based Raider Hill Advisors to help sell off 284 stores, distribution centers and other properties across the country. The toy retailer announced earlier this year that it would shutter all of its stores after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy about a year ago. At the time it had $5 billion in long-term debt and $400 million due in 2018.

Toys “R” Us owned about a third of its 735 locations.

(Credit: iStock)

In a plan approved Friday, Minneapolis reportedly became the first city to officially undertake the “most ambitious upzoning” plan in the country.

Known as Minneapolis 2040, the plan effectively ends exclusive single-family housing zoning, which has long been a tool for maintaining segregated communities and school districts, according to Slate.

The plan now allows city planners to grant permits for three-family homes throughout the city, as well as the construction of multifamily housing stock near public transit and the lifting of parking minimums for newly-built homes.

It was initially released back in March and encountered resistance from some local residents. One such group tried to sue to stop the plan’s approval on the grounds of an environmental review. [Slate]–Erin Hudson

1515 San Remo Avenue and J. Wesley Rogers

Masoud Shojaee’s Shoma Group just sold a site in Coral Gables to Landmark Properties, a student housing developer, for $30 million.

Shoma sold the site at 1515 San Remo Avenue and 1500 Venera Avenue to Standard at Coral Gables LLC, an affiliate of Athens, Georgia-based Landmark, according to property records.

Shoma paid a combined $15.2 million to buy out the 47 condo unit owners of the Villa San Remo building in 2017 and $5.65 million for the Venera Avenue property in 2013. The developer planned to build a $36 million residential and retail project on the assemblage, which is within walking distance of the Shops at Sunset Place and about a mile away from the University of Miami.

Landmark will likely build off-campus housing on the property. The firm owns eight student housing complexes in Florida, either completed or under construction, including the Standard at Gainesville, a 430-unit, 1,200-bed luxury apartment complex near the University of Florida. Landmark could not immediately be reached for comment.

Rafael Fermoselle of Eleven Trust Real Estate and Marcus Christensen of Thornbury Capital brokered the deal.

Shoma proposed building 172 apartments, 33,000 square feet of retail space, 378 parking spaces, a community kitchen, fitness center and a rooftop pool on the site.

On the day it sold the Gables assemblage, Shoma’s MAS San Remo Coral Gables LLC paid $2.55 million for the parking lot at 1537 San Remo Avenue. It plans to build a five-story office building on that site, which the Coral Gables Board of Architects approved plans for in October.

The board also approved the nine-story, mixed-use residential and commercial development planned for 1515 San Remo Avenue and 1500 Venera Avenue, city documents show. The project was designed by Bermello Ajamil & Partners.

In August, South Miami voters approved a change to the commission’s unanimous vote requirement for land use and development regulations in the city’s downtown to a four-fifths majority – which means that a lone commissioner would no longer be able to kill commercial, industrial and mixed-use projects near the South Miami Metrorail Station. The owners of the Shops at Sunset Place, Federal Realty Investment Trust, Comras Company and Grass River Property, originally proposed knocking down parts of the mall and adding two apartment buildings with 400 units and a 200-room hotel and retail on the ground floor connecting both.

Lightstone’s CEO David Lichtenstein, and a rendering of the Moxy hotel in South Beach

Lightstone just scored $73 million in financing to develop its Washington Avenue hotel in South Beach.

The New York-based real estate investment company secured the financing from Canyon Partners Real Estate and CapitalSource. The funds will be used to build the first Moxy-branded hotel in Florida, a seven-story, 202-key hotel at 915 Washington Avenue.

The financing package includes a $55 million senior loan from CapitalSource and an $18 million preferred equity investment from Canyon, according to a press release.

Moxy is a millennial-focused brand from Marriott. The 78,000-square-foot hotel will have an outdoor courtyard along with a restaurant and all-day bar, a 72-foot pool and a fitness center.

David Lichtenstein’s Lightstone Group paid $29 million for three aging storefronts in May 2016 to develop the hotel. The group bought the properties from Crescent Heights developer Russell Galbut and longtime Washington Avenue landlord and businessman, Saul Gross.

Galbut gained approval from the city earlier that year to build a seven-story hotel on the site. At the time, some members of the historic preservation board expressed concerns about preserving the original three structures, which were built in 1936 and 1942.

Nearby, at 601 to 685 Washington Avenue, Imperial’s Michael Fascitelli and Eric Birnbaum are building a 300-key hotel. The hotel is also planned to be seven stories tall. – Keith Larsen

(Illustration by Chris Koehler)

It was summer 2017 when Bob Goldberg ascended the stage at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. With Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” playing in the background, Goldberg was introduced as the new “boss” of real estate’s most powerful trade association.

The lifelong Springsteen fan — he’s seen the Boss in concert nearly 200 times — clutched a red electric guitar and seemed to signal the beginning of a new era at the 110-year-old National Association of Realtors as he pledged to “knock down the ivory tower façade of NAR.”

But doing so hasn’t been easy for the 23-year NAR veteran, who headed marketing and business development before succeeding longtime CEO Dale Stinton.

With 1.3 million members spread across 1,300 local associations, NAR is a lobbying powerhouse. But it’s facing something of an existential challenge: how to embrace the technology that is rapidly changing the brokerage business without rendering agents obsolete.

Its efforts to do so — through a wholly owned venture fund as well as a multimillion-dollar listings portal — have generated sharp criticism from its own members.

Rob Hahn, founder of real estate consulting firm 7DS Associates, said most of NAR’s members join not because they value its services, but because it gives them access to local multiple listing services.

“The vast majority of people that are ostensibly members are just buying MLS access,” he said. “That creates a lot of animosity among brokers.”

And for all the talk of shattering ivory towers, NAR recently secured city approval to sink $45 million into its Chicago headquarters at 430 North Michigan Avenue — where plans call for adding 18,000 square feet of office space and a 25-seat glass-encased boardroom. The group plans to finance most of the project through its existing budget, but will also use $6 million from a dues increase this past May.

Amid questions over what members are getting for their money, the association is still paying the price for one of its biggest blunders.

That misstep dates back to the 1990s, when NAR licensed the listings portal Realtor.com — which it controlled — to California-based Move Inc. for $9 million a year. In theory, Realtor.com could have gone head to head with Zillow if it had focused on consumers, insiders said. Instead, critics said, NAR handcuffed Realtor’s growth by limiting the kinds of searches and data available. Today, Zillow has more than 175 million average monthly users, compared to Realtor’s 63 million.

“The story is that NAR stifled Move, and that’s why Zillow won,” said the CEO of a data startup, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity for fear of alienating NAR members. “With 1 million-plus Realtors and a great platform, Realtor.com should have beat Zillow.”

While there are those who believe the fight for digital listings is over, Goldberg isn’t one of them. In 2014, News Corporation famously bought Move for $950 million, and it has since boldly gone after Zillow’s market share. And NAR’s licensing agreement remains in place.

At his guitar-strumming introduction last year, Goldberg promised technology that could change the industry for the better.

“If we resist change, it is futile,” he said at the time. “The status quo is not an option.”

NAR’s tech play

NAR was a different kind of disrupter when it was founded in 1908 in Chicago by 120 “real estate men of America.” The group formed to exert their “combined influence” on the industry — which in 1916 included trademarking the name Realtor.

Since 2004, the organization — which also occupies a wedge-shaped, glass building a stone’s throw from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. — has spent $440 million lobbying on issues like tax reform, flood insurance and reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to protect 30-year fixed rate mortgages.

This year has been no different on the lobbying front. During 2018’s first half, NAR spent $27.3 million on federal lobbying, second only to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which shelled out $43.7 million.

“Not to be glib, but there are homeowners in every congressional district and the Realtors frequently work to inform and mobilize them, which gives the Realtors a powerful base across the country,” said Michael Beckel, policy analyst at the Washington, D.C.-based Issue One, a nonprofit that aims to reduce the influence of money in politics. “It’s safe to say NAR is one of the big dogs.”

But starting in 2008, NAR also began investing heavily in tech startups through its wholly owned subsidiary Second Century Ventures.

Such funds are extremely rare for trade organizations, according to analysts, largely because the investments could easily lead to conflicts of interest. This past May, for instance, the American Heart Association’s announcement of a $30 million VC fund sparked criticism from prominent cardiologists for that very reason.

Second Century Ventures’ initial $20 million war chest came from the membership association in the form of a line of credit. Since then, SCV has taken its returns and reinvested the money in other startups, said David Garland, a general partner at SCV since 2016. “This was never dues” money, he said.

With a median investment of $3.3 million, SCV has made 38 investments to date, showing a preference for seed- and early-stage companies, according to a dossier from research firm PitchBook. “Anything we believe can keep the Realtor at the center of the transaction and also yield a very sizable return,” Garland said.

But Second Century has kept a relatively low profile among other real estate-focused funds like MetaProp, Fifth Wall, Camber Creek and Moderne Ventures.

Competitors say that’s because it’s exclusively focused on residential real estate and tends to favor investments that can generate solid returns with less flash.

“Because they are not invested in any of the products that could be a threat to the residential community — listing aggregation platforms or anything that’s a disintermediator — they also haven’t had many big wins,” said Clelia Peters, a co-founder of MetaProp and president of Warburg Realty in New York.

In addition, sources said, at times the fund has moved slowly or been stymied by bureaucratic holdups.

“There were investments I couldn’t make along the way,” said Constance Freedman, who was SCV’s general partner until she left to found Moderne Ventures in 2015. “At the end of the day, they are a trade association, so I understand the criticism.”

Startups that have sought out SCV as an investor, however, count the affiliation with NAR as an asset.

Andrew Flachner, CEO of the data platform RealScout, said for him it was simply about the numbers: “NAR has access to 1.3 million Realtors.”

At NAR’s annual conference in Boston early last month, its executives hinted that SCV could launch another fund. But this one could use money raised directly from members. Addressing several thousand in the audience, NAR Treasurer Tom Riley said SCV — like NAR itself — was getting a major “revamp.” 

“Every single subsidiary, every single rock, every single structure of the organization for the past year and a half, we dug deep,” he said. SCV’s revamp is “going to be amazing,” he promised.

Questionable investments

But the blurry line between NAR and its portfolio companies has attracted criticism.

For example, along with the California Association of Realtors, NAR jointly owns a company called zipLogix — which provides digital transaction services. CAR separately has proprietary transaction forms that it gives its members as a benefit, which it allows zipLogix to license. Some have taken issue with that practice. Zillow, for example, sued, calling it anti-competitive.

Meanwhile, Second Century’s investment in DocuSign, another tech firm, erupted into public criticism this year after NAR proposed a dues hike for 2019. (Despite resistance from members, the board approved the increase.)

“It appears that prior NAR leadership invested $20 million of member money into Second Century Ventures, which stands to generate an estimated windfall of $100 million with the pending DocuSign IPO,” said Kenya Burrell-VanWormer, head of the Houston Association of Realtors, in an April statement. “But it appears that windfall may not benefit the members. Does this make any sense to anyone?”

 

In a scathing op-ed published by Inman, Jim Harrison, president and CEO of MLS Listings in the San Francisco Bay Area, accused NAR’s top ranks of pocketing the DocuSign earnings.

“Efforts by industry leaders, media and real estate entities to unearth information on how these funds will be accounted for or used, have been met without transparency or accountability,” he wrote in May. “They have been shrouded in secrecy.”

NAR’s board fired back, calling Harrison’s characterization replete with “falsehoods, misrepresentations and misinformation.”

At NAR’s midyear conference in Washington, D.C., Goldberg detailed where that money went. He said Second Century invested $5 million in DocuSign in 2009 and made $43.8 million after selling 28 percent of its shares post-IPO. Of that money, it returned $20 million to NAR. Goldberg did not say what happened to the remaining $23.8 million, but the trade group has said in the past that it reinvests its profits. Goldberg and Stinton declined requests for comment for this story, as did other NAR representatives.

Despite dissent within NAR’s ranks, some 20,000 members attended the association’s Boston conference — where leader said a planned dues hike in 2020 was off the table. The hike, they said, was unnecessary because of savings from budget cuts, a staff reorganization and a surge in membership.

“If you add it all up, it’s a substantial savings, which totally turned the tide on our financial operations,” said NAR’s Riley.

Outgoing NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall — who received a standing ovation at the event when she officially handed off the job to successor John Smaby — said the organization remains as vital as ever.

“With the changes in the industry, a lot of members are questioning where they go with their own businesses,” she said. “That’s the role that NAR continues to play — to ensure Realtors are essential to the transaction. Knowing that NAR is behind you is very powerful.” 

To symbolize the leadership transition, she handed Smaby a crystal gavel, cautioning that it cannot be used to silence the crowd: “If you hit too hard, it’s going to chip.”

‘The horse has left the barn’

One of NAR’s most ambitious projects in recent memory — not to mention one of its most controversial — has been the creation of UpstreamRE, a single point of entry for residential listings nationwide. Plastered across its homepage are the words: “Streamline and take control of your data and your future.”

But today, a sense of powerlessness remains.

Introduced in 2015, the portal was billed as a way to make data more efficient and accurate by having each MLS enter listings directly. It also gives brokers and MLSs greater control over listings at a time when many see digital platforms like Zillow as a serious threat.

“There’s a common analogy that the horse has left the barn,” said Alex Lange, president and CEO of Upstream, describing the feeling among brokers that they’re no longer in control of their listings. “I say, what responsible ranch hand lets the horse go?”

Early on, NAR earmarked $6 million for Upstream. It was expected to go “full  throttle” by 2016. But a year later it was still puttering along and got another $9 million boost from NAR.

Not surprisingly, members voiced frustration as they watched their dues being spent with little to show for it, several said.

“This is members’ money,” Cindy Hamann, then-chair of the Houston Association of Realtors, told Inman in 2017.

John Mosey, president of NorthstarMLS in Minnesota and Wisconsin, said NAR made statements about Upstream “to the effect that they’re on track and achieved great progress.” But Mosey — whose MLS was selected as a pilot market for Upstream three years ago — said the opposite was true.

“To my knowledge, no one in our market is using it,” he said.

NAR isn’t alone in its attempt to catch up to its digital rivals.

For years, major New York City brokers resisted calls for a local MLS — inadvertently paving the way for StreetEasy to gain massive market share. It was only last year, when the Zillow-owned portal rolled out a series of fees, that the industry scrambled to syndicate listings through the Real Estate Board of New York.

But Upstream has also drawn scrutiny for how its rollout has been handled. The job of building it fell to Realtors Property Resource, a property database and NAR subsidiary.

Upstream’s Lange, who took over in 2016, acknowledged that while the work is complex, Realtors Property had taken “entirely too long to build this.” But, he said, because Realtors Property was “building it for me for free, I kind of have to go with it.”

Under Goldberg’s leadership, NAR has responded to the Upstream delay. In February, it directed Realtors Property to pull the plug on a project that would provide back-end technology for small and midsized MLSs. And in August, NAR slashed 10 percent of Realtors Property staff.

But it’s still not clear that Upstream has member buy-in — or that it ever did.

In a survey last year by the Council of Multiple Listing Services, more than half of MLSs said they weren’t sure if they would participate in Upstream, and 13 percent had “no interest” in participating.

Last year, former NAR Chief Executive Stinton blamed the MLSs. He said they hadn’t fully participated because they were unhappy that Upstream would control the listings.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” Stinton said. “Politics, and that’s my polite word.”

Even outside the MLS world, there remains an underlying skepticism about whether Upstream is a good idea.

Last summer, eXp Realty’s chief product and technology officer, Scott Petronis, expressed concern about having a “single point of failure” if Upstream consolidates control in one place.

And then there’s Zillow, which has a vested interest in ensuring that Upstream doesn’t succeed, given that its own lifeblood is the listings data that Upstream wants to control.

The listings giant —which has been Upstream’s fiercest critic — told federal regulators in July it was “greatly concerned” that Upstream could potentially cause “erosion of equitable access to listings data.”

The critique was part of a seven-page letter submitted to the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Justice in response to a June workshop on competition in real estate.

Zillow wrote that “members of Upstream’s board have repeatedly commented in public settings and in written communications that one goal of Upstream is to allow brokers to restrict data distribution to online portals.”

Yet regulators didn’t mention Upstream during the workshop itself.

Hahn, of 7DS Associates, finds that omission curious. “To have a national repository of some sort that was going to control access to listing data — that sounds like a big fat target for the DOJ and FTC,” he said.

Upstream’s governance prevents the company from making a profit, as does NAR’s. Once Upstream goes live in a market, it charges the MLS or brokers who enter data a fee. It can use those fees to cover operational costs. It’s also supposed to repay NAR’s initial funding; the first payment of $7.6 million is due in January.

Lange said that as of May, Upstream had commitments to cover a revenue target of $250,000 a month. But not all of those who have committed to participate are live.

“It’s not a 1, 2, 3, turn on,” Lange said. “Right now, it feels like a big Tetris puzzle. But it’s doable, and it’s happening.”

In the meantime, NAR and Upstream are facing competition from some of the very MLSs they are looking to serve.

In September, five MLSs — in Arizona, Wisconsin, Silicon Valley, Oregon and Utah — launched MLS Aligned, a platform that manages and distributes shared data.

“With 650 MLSs, we have a big industry,” said Chris Carrillo, president and CEO of MetroMLS in Wisconsin, referring to the number of MLS portals nationwide. “There’s plenty of room under this big tent to support different initiatives.”

But as projects like MLS Aligned and others launch, they may make Upstream somewhat irrelevant, Hahn said. Still, given how much money NAR has already invested, abandoning it also doesn’t make sense.

“It’s hard not to lose face if you just back away now,” he said. “Yet there isn’t a face-saving option that’s available.”

Clayton Degiacinto, executive director of Axonic Properties, and Viera of Palm Beaches. (Credit: iStock)

New York real estate investment firm Axonic Properties just bought a 300-unit apartment complex in West Palm Beach for $48.5 million, about 25 percent more than its last sale price in 2016.

Axonic Properties bought Viera of the Palm Beaches at 4860 Sand Stone Lane for about $162,000 per unit. The seller is a joint venture between investment firms Angelo Gordon and McDowell Properties, according to a press release.

Tal Frydman, Yoav Yuhjtman, and Nicholas Perrone of Berkadia’s South Florida office represented both sides of the deal, according to the release. Berkadia also arranged $35.8 million in financing for the buyer.

Axonic Properties, led by its executive director Clayton Degiacinto and its managing principal Jonathan Shechtman, has purchased about 4,000 apartment units in Florida since 2012.

Angelo Gordon and McDowell Properties’ joint venture bought the 14-acre property in 2016 for $36.4 million. The same Berkadia investment sales team also brokered that sale.

The apartments were built in 1986 and include one- and two-bedroom units. Amenities include a clubhouse, fitness center, swimming pool, tennis courts, barbecue area, lounge area, dog park, and trails for jogging, biking, and hiking.

Institutional investors have increasingly sought out multifamily properties in Palm Beach County, Broward County and areas outside of Miami’s urban core, as there is limited land left for development. Investors also project that these areas will become more populated as housing becomes more expensive.

In October, Ram Realty Advisors and Kolter Urban sold a 20-story apartment complex in downtown West Palm Beach to AvalonBay Communities for $103 million.

From left: Magnus Jennemyr and Irving Padron. (Credit: iStock)

Engel & Völkers Miami acquired Select Realty Group, a boutique brokerage in Coconut Grove.

Owner and broker Magnus Jennemyr is joining Engel & Völkers along with two agents. He closed $250 million in sales volume over the past five years, a spokesperson said. Jennemyr is also bringing with him more than $30 million in listings.

Engel & Völkers Miami has been expanding quickly throughout Florida over the past year. In July, it secured the rights to the Sunny Isles market, giving the franchisee control of Miami-Dade County.

Compass also continues to grow throughout South Florida. The Pam and Toni Team, comprised of Pam Thomes, Toni Valentino and Teri Jacobsen, left Keller Williams to lead Compass’ new office in Boca Raton. The team is bringing with it more than $20 million of listings.

The Barkin-Gilman Group joined Compass’ Las Olas office, where they will oversee a group of 10 employees. The group’s sales volume totaled more than $100 million over the past three years, according to a release.

Michael Hinton joined Apex Capital Realty as a senior associate of investment sales. Hinton was previously director of commercial real estate at Weichert Realtors Best Beach Realtors.

Brewster Kump is now with Illustrated Properties, working out of its Jupiter West office. Kump and his wife, Cindy Spee, a real estate marketing specialist, is joining Illustrated with him. He focuses on sales ranging between $500,000 and more than $10 million in Palm Beach and Martin counties. Kump was previously with Waterfront Properties and Club Communities.

Thor Equities Group promoted Colin Bahor to director of acquisitions. Thor is expanding throughout Mexico and in major European cities, as well as in U.S. markets like San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Miami, according to a release.

Isabel Godoy joined Brown Harris Stevens Miami as its new marketing coordinator. She’ll coordinate sales and marketing strategies for condos, single-family homes and commercial properties for BHS Miami.

Adolfo Palacios was promoted to vice president of investments for Marcus & Millichap in Miami. Palacios was previously a senior associate.

Eric Savir is now a senior associate at One Real Estate Investment. He was previously a senior analyst at Berkadia Commercial Mortgage in Boca Raton, where he underwrote and led the closings for commercial real estate loans totaling $4.2 billion over the past three years.

Rose Harris returned to EWM Realty International after starting her career there. In the past, she has worked at Douglas Elliman’s Coconut Grove office and at One Sotheby’s International Realty. The Rose Harris Group has averaged about $40 million in sales volume annually, according to a release.

Andrew Becerra left Michael Light’s group at Douglas Elliman to join Kurz Real Estate. Kurz, a former Elliman director of luxury sales, launched his brokerage in 2016 and now has more than 100 agents.

Anthony Fasano, a former Miami Dolphins player, joined Whitaker Realty P.A. to lead the brokerage’s commercial division.

BBT Center in Sunrise

Broward County hired CallisonRTKL to design the phased, mixed-use master plan for the redevelopment of the county’s 140-acre BB&T Center property in Sunrise.

The Coral Gables office of CallisonRTKL will design office, residential and hotel properties, plus entertainment venues and a limited amount of retail space.

“The result is expected to be a live-work-play anchor community in western Broward County, just as Fort Lauderdale is an anchor community for eastern Broward County,” according to a county press release.

The redevelopment would replace much of the surface-parking space around the BB&T Center, a popular destination for large-scale entertainment events and the home of the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers.

After the master plan is completed, Broward County plans to enter into a public-private partnership to redevelop the BB&T Center property.

In spring, the county plans to issue a request for proposals from companies that want to serve as the arena property’s master real estate developer.

CallisonRTKL has designed such shopping and entertainment destinations as LA Live in Los Angeles and the O2 district in London.

The Baltmore-based architecture, planning and design firm created the look of the Mandarin Oriental Miami hotel and Brickell World Plaza at 600 Brickell Avenue, the first high-rise office building in Florida with a LEED Platinum certification.

CallisonRTKL’s South Florida projects include two under construction, Plaza Coral Gables and Hilton Miami/Dadeland, and the renovation of Corporate Center at 110 East Broward Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. – Mike Seemuth

A company linked to Miami Lakes-based Silva Construction Group plans to build a four-story condominium in Lauderdale Lakes.

Casa Lake LLC, managed by Adelino Agostinho of Silva Construction, plans to build the condominium on the southeast corner of Northwest 37th Terrace and Northwest 21st Street in Lauderdale Lakes.

Casa Lake bought the 2.56-acre development site last January for $800,000 and has proposed a rezoning that would allow the company to build 62 for-sale condo units on the site, located just east of State Road 7/U.S. Highway 441.

Margin Architectural Group is working with Casa Lake to design the development, which would have 22,688 square feet of residential space and 3,496 square feet of space for such amenities as a clubhouse, swimming pool and gym. [South Florida Business Journal]Mike Seemuth

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People shopping for a home to buy are most likely to search online during a work day, according to Redfin.

The Seattle-based national brokerage firm found that Friday at 10 a.m. is the peak time of the week for search activity on its website.

The least popular time of week to search the Redfin site is Wednesday at 9 p.m.

Redfin’s report shows that search activity on its website is generally heaviest on weekday mornings and afternoons and lightest on weekday evenings and weekends.

“One possible explanation is the popularity of weekends for hitting the pavement and touring homes in person, rather than through a computer or smart phone screen,” according to Redfin’s report on search activity. [Inman.com]Mike Seemuth

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Driven by more than just listings and commissions, Realtors donate above-average amounts of time and money to charity, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The NAR reported that 82 percent of Realtors give money to charity, compared to 56.6 percent of all Americans.

The national association’s Community Aid and Real Estate Report is based on survey responses from more than 4,000 NAR members who are general members at-large, broker-owners and MLS (multiple-listing service) association executives.

According to the report, 81 percent of broker-owners and 90 percent of MLS executives have donated time or money to a community organization.

Seventy-seven percent of broker-owners and 85 percent MLS executives said they volunteered an average of 10 hours each month, and 66 percent of NAR members at-large said they volunteered a monthly average of eight hours. The average for all American is 6.1 hours.

The median annual charitable donations were $1,950 among broker-owners and $1,250 among MLS executives.

The NAR also reported that 89 percent of MLS executives and staff said they have held a community fund=raiser in the last year, and 54 percent said they have held three or more.

The survey results also found that 80 percent of broker-owners encourage their agents to volunteer, and 64 percent of at-large NAR members said their brokerage firms encourage them to volunteer. [Inman.com]Mike Seemuth

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Housing markets in coastal cities have been the hottest in recent years, but Trulia predicts that the top markets in 2019 will be inland cities where homes are more affordable.

San Francisco-based Trulia, a provider of online guides for home buyers and renters, predicts that these will be the five best housing markets next year:

1. Colorado Springs, Colorado

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2. Grand Rapids, Michigan

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3. Jacksonville, Florida

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4. Bakersfield, California

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5. Austin, Texas

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Trulia based its rankings of the best housing markets in 2019 on measures that include employment growth, residential vacancy rates, the percentage of the local population under age 35 and the potential for young adults to become first-time home buyers.

The firm also based ranked cities higher if they show more inbound than outbound searches for homes, indicating that people who want to remain in those cities outnumber those who want to relocate.

Trulia also predicted that 2019 will be a year of moderation for the overall U.S. housing market.

Home sales are likely to decelerate in 2019 as owners hesitate to list properties for sale at lower prices than they could have commanded in recent years.

“After several years of breakneck appreciation following the end of the housing recession, the latter half of 2018 may have marked a turning point and the beginning of a return to more normalcy and balance in the market,” according to Trulia. [HousingWire.com]Mike Seemuth

Ben Carson (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)

The Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded nearly 80 groups with $23 million to investigate housing discrimination.

The funds are being provided through HUD’s Private Enforcement Initiative program, which awards grant money to organizations that “conduct intake, testing, investigation and litigation of fair housing complaints under the Fair Housing Act,” according to the agency’s website. This year, two New York City-based organizations each received $300,000 each in funding: Fair Housing Justice Center and Brooklyn Legal Services. HUD provided $1.8 million statewide.

Last year, HUD awarded $30.35 million through PEI.

In February, President Trump proposed cutting HUD’s budget by $8.8 billion. The cuts didn’t make it into the Senate appropriation bill for 2019, but that legislation has yet to be reconciled with the House of Representatives’ version. This week, Trump approved a stopgap spending bill extending the government shutdown deadline to December 21. — Kathryn Brenzel

From left: Mike Meldman, George Clooney and Rande Gerber at the Casamigos House of Friends Dinner on June 8, 2018 in Hollywood, California (Credit: Getty)

George Clooney’s birthday golf trips ended up working out very well for real estate tycoon Mike Meldman.

Clooney and his friends would often celebrate his birthday at projects owned by Meldman’s Discovery Land Company, which is how the two initially met, according to Business Insider. Meldman eventually became one of Clooney’s friends himself, and they wound up as business partners in the tequila industry.

That venture worked out well for Meldman as well, as he, Clooney and their partner Rande Gerber sold their tequila company Casamigos to Diageo last year for $1 billion. At the time of the sale, Clooney said the partners would continue to be involved in the company.

Meldman’s Discovery Land Company owns 23 properties catering to CEOs, athletes and presidents. The developments include amenities like golf courses, restaurants and bars, and people need to buy land on the property and build a home if they want to become a member.

Discovery claims to consistently sell $1 billion in real estate a year and remains Meldman’s main focus. The company is based in Arizona and launched its first east coast property last year called Silo Ridge in Armenia, New York. [Business Insider] – Eddie Small

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Multifamily investors looking for places to put their cash may want to consider workforce housing.

The market — which is rental communities for low- to median-income workers — has outperformed the broader multifamily market, according to a new CBRE report cited by HousingWire. The segment has gotten a boost from low vacancy rates and above-average rent growth, and, because a small supply of workforce housing has been built in the last decade, there’s opportunity for both renovating the existing supply and building new housing.

Over the last five years, the segment has seen nearly $375 billion in investment — more than 51 percent of the total for all multifamily classes. Heading into next year, limited alternative options and supply will keep demand sustained, the report said. Nearly all markets are benefiting, but Orlando and Las Vegas are leading the pack, with 7 percent workforce housing rent growth in the last year.

About 13.5 million households live in workforce housing, according to the report. Most residents are “renters by necessity” due to reasons like paying off debt or not having the financial means to own a home.

Still, affordability remains a risk — as rents rise faster than wages. The report noted that 35 percent of workforce renter households were “rent burdened,” meaning rent payments were 30 percent of more of their incomes. That’s up from 21 percent of households in 2006. [HousingWire] — Meenal Vamburkar

Rendering of ONE St. Petersburg

Some pre-construction buyers are flipping units at a sold-out, 41-story condominium in downtown St. Petersburg.

West Palm Beach-based Kolter Group, the developer, sold all 253 units before finishing the condo building, called ONE St. Petersburg, which is still under construction.

Located a block from the city’s waterfront, ONE St. Petersburg is part of a $200 million mixed-use development announced four years ago that includes a Hyatt Place hotel.

As many as 30 marked-up units at ONE ST. Petersburg soon may be listed for sale by investors trying to flip them, Peggy Naruns, a Realtor with a listing at ONE, told the Tampa Bay Times.

For example, a three-bedroom, three and a half-bathroom unit is back on the market with an asking price of $1.929 million – $723,000 more than the owners paid.

The Times reported that flipped units so far include one that the seller sold for almost $900,000 after buying it for $657,400, and another that originally cost $511,200 and sold for $702,000. [Tampa Bay Times] – Mike Seemuth

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Many artists use their work to convey messages about climate change, especially during Art Basel, the annual exhibition event in the Miami area that attracts art creators and collectors from around the world.

But this year, the most compelling climate-change works on display during Art Basel, a four-day event that ends Sunday, have come not from New Yorkers or foreign nationals but Miami-area artists.

South of the main venues of Art Basel in Miami and Miami Beach, for example, the Hibiscus Gallery in Pinecrest is exhibiting 100 blue-and-white watercolor paintings made with melted Antarctic ice. The artist, Xavier Cortada of Miami, will name 60 of the 100 paintings after coasts exposed to sea level rise.

Cortada also has created “Elevation Drive,” a public art project that comprises murals showing the elevation above sea level at four intersections on a segment of Killian Drive in Pinecrest. He invited home owners in the area to use his mural images as yard signs showing that their properties are above sea level.

(Credit: Xavier Cortada)Russian-born photographer and Miami Beach resident Anastasia Samoylova is displaying an exhibit called “Flood Zone,” more than 100 photos juxtaposing the Miami area’s self-promotion as a tourist destination with threats to the area from climate change. Samoylova is displaying “Flood Zone” at ArtCenter, her studio on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, during Art Basel.

Local artist Linda Cheung has a mural in Wynwood that shows possible outcomes of Miami’s response to climate change when viewed with an augmented-reality (AR) software application. The mural shows construction cranes a Xanax pill, the drug for treating anxiety.

But when viewed through an AR app, Cheung’s mural turns into a three-dimensional image that prompts the viewer to choose “no change” or “be the change.” Choosing “be the change” will transform the image to a verdant and sustainable utopia and “no change” will produce a flooded dystopia.

Misrael Soto again is putting up Miami Beach street signs that he deployed during Art Basel last year. One sign with a single word, “stakes,” is positioned near a floodwater pump in Miami Beach and intended to draw attention to what is at risk as the city responds to climate change.

In November, Soto completed an exhibit called “Sand” in partnership with the government of Miami Beach. In the city’s Collins Park area, speakers ranging from poets and historians to city officials made public presentations on climate change in an arena that Soto built with sandbags. Soto told the Miami Herald he did not want the Sand project to coincide with Art Basel because it was aimed the local community, not the international art community. [Miami Herald]Mike Seemuth

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A migration study by LendingTree shows that 12.1 percent of American homebuyers who move to a different state choose one in the South.

Most Americans who relocate to a different state choose one that borders the state where they previously lived, the study shows, but those who move farther are likely to head for a southern state.

Florida is the most popular destination among homebuyers who relocated from 15 of the 50 states.

LendingTree drew the data for its migration study from two million requests for purchase money mortgage loans that applicants filed on its website this year.

Homebuyers in Texas were most likely to relocate within their state, according to LendingTree, which found that 93.4 percent of purchase mortgage requests by Texans were for properties within the Lone Star State.

Alaskan homebuyers were least likely relocate within the state. Only 75.2 percent of purchase mortgage requests in Alaska came from homebuyers who wanted to move to a new address within the state, LendingTree reported.

In a separate migration study, Redfin found that more homebuyers are moving from coastal areas to inland areas with more affordable housing as mortgage interest rates rise.

“With rates no longer near historic lows, buyers are increasingly cost-conscious, seeking more affordable homes in low-tax states in the South and the middle of the country,” Redfin’s chief economist Daryl Fairweather said. [HousingWire.com]Mike Seemuth

Chris “Birdman” Andersen (Source: Wikipedia)

UPDATED, Dec. 10, 9:25 a.m.: Former Miami Heat player Chris “Birdman” Andersen listed two nests at a Miami condominium for sale for a total of $1 million.

He listed a couple of two-bedroom, two-bathroom units at Marinablue, a 57-story, Arquitectonica-designed condominium within walking distance of American Airlines Arena, where Andersen played for the Heat from 2013 to 2016.

He is asking $525,000 for a 1,198-square-foot condo on the 34th floor of Marinablue (Unit 3405) and $475,000 for a 1,208-square-foot condo on the 16th floor (Unit 1604).

Built in 2008, Marinablue is at 888 Biscayne Boulevard.

Marcelo Steinmander, an agent of brokerage firm EWM, has the listings for Andersen’s condos.

 

Chris Andersen’s view from Unit 1604 at Bluemarina

Andersen – known for his Mohawk haircut and brightly colored tattoos on his neck, chest, arms and legs – was a player for the National Basketball Association’s Memphis Grizzlies and the Cleveland Cavaliers after his tenure with the Heat.

In early 2017, the Cavaliers traded him to the Charlotte Hornets after he suffered a season-ending knee injury in December 2016, and the Hornets waived Andersen, who is now 40 years old. – Mike Seemuth

An earlier version of this story named the wrong unit number at MarinaBlue. 

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As the development of personal transportation drones advances, landing pads are emerging as the latest must-have amenity at condominiums for the wealthiest buyers.

For example, three luxury condos will feature flying-car landing pads in Miami, where the 1 percent would be able to travel by air while the other 99 percent are stuck in the city’s notorious traffic congestion.

“These flying-car projects are the real deal,” Dan Kodsi, a Miami condo developer and recreational pilot, told the New York Post. “They are funded. NASA is involved. It’s not just science fiction anymore.”

Kodsi is chief executive officer of the company behind Paramount Miami Worldcenter, a 60-story condominium that will open next year in downtown Miami with a rooftop dock where personal transportation drones developed by Uber and Airbus would operate.

An oceanfront condominium development scheduled to open next year, Ritz-Carlton Residences in Miami Beach will feature a landing pad on a large boat, designed mainly for residents with private jets but suitable for personal transportation drones when they become available.

One Thousand Museum, a 62-story condominium in Miami that is nearly complete, will open with a rooftop helipad that doubles as an observation deck overlooking Biscayne Bay.

But condo prices at these three developments ensure that flying cars would be available to only the most privileged passengers. Condo prices range as high as $11 million at Paramount Miami Worldcenter, $20 million at One Thousand Museum and $40 million at Ritz-Carlton Residences in Miami Beach. [Inman.com]Mike Seemuth

One Thousand Museum is months away from opening and The Real Deal got an inside look.

Construction on the 62-story luxury condominium building is expected to wrap up by March 2019. Housing 83 units, the building is 82 percent sold, according to the building’s sales director, Harvey Daniels of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty.

The development team, which includes Louis Birdman, Gregg Covin, Todd Michael Glaser, Kevin Venger, Gilberto Bomeny and Regalia Group, estimates the project’s sellout to be $600 million. There are 15 units still available, Daniels said. The smallest residences in the building span half a floor.

Check out the photo slideshow above to see how the project is shaping up in its final months of construction.

Walt Disney (Credit: Getty, Walt Disney Birthplace Restoration)

The owners of Walt Disney’s childhood home on Chicago’s North Side celebrated the completion of a years-long restoration of the property this week — on Disney’s birthday.

The rededication ceremony Wednesday night marked homeowners Dina Benadon and Brent Young’s five-year effort to rehab the home where Disney lived until he was 4, according to Block Club Chicago.

The Disneys built the two-story house in 1892 with $800. Measuring 18 feet by 28 feet, Disney’s mother drew the plans while his father, who was a carpenter, did the construction. The family lived there until moving to Missouri in 1906.

Wednesday’s event was attended by a member of the Disney family, a group of elementary school students singing “Happy Birthday,” and, naturally, Mickey Mouse.

Benadon and Young own Super 78 Studios, which creates animations and exhibits for theme parks, according to the report. [Block Club] — John O’Brien

From left: Trump International Hotel & Tower, Donald Trump (Credit: iStock, Getty)

Months after broker RKF released a marketing brochure for 401 North Wabash Avenue — known to most Chicagoans as Trump Tower — that did not include the president’s name, a new brokerage launched an advertising push that returns the Trump brand front and center.

This spring, RKF released a flyer in search of tenants for the building’s 64,000 square feet of unleased retail space facing the Chicago River. Not only did the brochure leave out the tower’s official name — referring to it only by its address — it also included a picture of the building’s front facade from before the Trump name was added in big letters in 2014, according to Crain’s.

But a more recent brochure, published by A-R-C Real Estate, prominently features the Trump International Hotel & Tower name on its front page, imposed over a rendering of the building featuring a fully-occupied terrace space.

Trump personally reported making more than $8 million last year off the building, the city’s second-tallest tower.

His son Donald Jr. met with Downtown Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd) over the summer to discuss potential retail tenants for the Riverwalk level of the tower, which has sat vacant since the 92-story building was completed in 2008. [Crain’s] — Alex Nitkin

Matt Barba and Omar Hussain. (Credit: Placester)

Real estate tech platform Placester, which was valued at $200 million last year, has laid off more than 100 employees in a companywide restructuring that will return it to “development mode.”
Changes at the Boston-based firm that provides mobile services to real estate professionals, included its top executive. Its original CEO and co-founder Matt Barba will return, according to Inman. He had been replaced by Omar Hussain earlier this year. Hussain arrived at the company from Imprivata, a healthcare IT security company. Barba was most recently chief technology officer.
The company’s vice president of marketing, Seth Price, said that firm will return to “development mode.”
“It’s the hardest thing to do, when you have something that’s going well, to put on the breaks and say, ‘hey, we’ve got to go into development mode and build for a period of time,’” Price told the outlet.
Placester, which was founded in 2010, has raised $100 million and is backed by New Enterprise Associates and Romulus Capital. It featured in The Real Deal’s top real estate tech deals of 2017, after securing a $50 million funding round, and was valued at $200 million at the end of the year.
The layoffs happened Thursday, and reportedly left just 25 employees at the company, down from over 1f40. Amid the announcements, Hussein will now serve as executive chairman of the board. [Inman] — David Jeans

Clockwise from top left: Brookfield Asset Management set to close on combination with Forest City Realty Trust, Compass taps AI expert Joseph Sirosh to be its new chief technology officer, FAO Schwarz to open toy store at Chicago Midway International Airport, and a Malibu home designed by Frank Sinatra and his wife lists for $12.9M.

Compass taps AI expert to be new chief technology officer
Nine months after Compass’ chief technology officer left to start his own company, the SoftBank-backed brokerage has picked a new one. Before landing at Compass, Joseph Sirosh was the CTO of artificial intelligence at Microsoft and the vice president of Amazon’s global inventory platform, where he helped build up the the e-commerce company’s machine learning applications. Sirosh and Compass’ engineering team will develop AI-powered products for the firm’s agents to use. He will also help build out the the industry’s “first-ever end-to-end [real estate] platform,” Compass chairman Ori Allon said in a statement. [TRD]

Brookfield Asset Management set to close on Forest City Realty Trust deal
In November, Brookfield Asset Management shareholders voted to go through with a $6.8 billion purchase of Forest City Realty Trust, and the merger is now poised to close by week’s end. Forest City’s former CEO Albert Ratner tried to stymie the deal by filing a lawsuit, calling the deal a “shameful value giveaway,” but that wasn’t enough to deter it. Once the sale is finalized, the Toronto-based global investment giant will be the largest commercial property owner in New York City, said its senior managing partner Ric Clark, who serves as chairman of Brookfield Property Group. The deal will expand Brookfield’s portfolio by 5 million square feet of office space and 2,500 apartments. [TRD]

Former eBay chief product officer takes the helm at real estate VR tech firm
A real estate technology firm that offers 3D virtual reality tours of homes has tapped the former chief product officer at eBay to take the helm. Matterport hired R.J. Pittman as outgoing CEO Bill Brown’s replacement, the company said. Brown will still serve Matterport in an advisory role. Before Pittman landed at Matterport, he led the global e-commerce platform for Apple’s online store. Pittman also co-founded an advanced search engine technology company called Groxis. [TRD]

Renters Warehouse to expand services with OwnAmerica Real Estate acquisition
Property management company Renters Warehouse, which manages approximately 22,000 rental houses across the country, announced this week its purchase of OwnAmerica Real Estate. The single-family rental home marketplace will allow Renters Warehouse to expand the services it provides to customers. The company is currently the biggest third-party manager of single family rental homes in the U.S., and has sold $490 million worth of homes, according to Bloomberg. The deal will allow Renters Warehouse to “go after an emerging class of large investors who want a passive role in managing homes,” the outlet reported. [TRD]

MAJOR MARKET HIGHLIGHTS

WeWork-affiliated fund partners with Meridian Group to buy DC office building
Meridian Group and WeWork Property Advisors — a fund managed by WeWork and Rhone Group — are shelling out $136.5 million for a Boston Properties-owned office building in Washington, D.C., Bisnow reported. The outlet reported that Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, a global law firm that currently occupies the 350,000-square-foot building in Dupont Circle, is moving out. WeWork plans to lease 100,000 square feet of space in the building and launch a co-working space. WeWork Property Advisors is the entity that entered into a contract to buy Lord & Taylor’s flagship store in Manhattan for $850 million last year. The fund will contribute half of the equity to the deal, according to Bisnow. [TRD]

Malibu home designed by Frank Sinatra and his wife lists for $12.9M
A home in Malibu that Frank Sinatra and his wife designed with architect Ted Grenzbach has hit the market for $12.9 million, the Los Angeles Times reported. The 5,800-square-foot home has seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, and a master suite with a hair salon, lounge and sauna. It also has “floor-to-ceiling windows that take in ocean views,” according to the outlet. The home, which was built in 1992 — six years before Sinatra died — was previously listed as a $110,000-per-month rental. Friends of Sinatra such as Dick Van Dyke, Gregory Peck and Jack Lemmon often spent time at the property. [TRD]

Smaller IKEA store opening in Manhattan as part of broader expansion
Manhattan-based shoppers will no longer have to trek to Brooklyn or the suburbs to shop at IKEA. The Swedish furniture retailer plans to open a smaller “concept store” in Manhattan that will allow customers to browse products aimed at smaller living spaces. Customers will be able to order items at the store and have them shipped to their homes. IKEA’s Manhattan store, which will be located at the Zucker Organization-owned 999 Third Avenue in Lenox Hill, is expected to open next spring. The company plans to roll out 30 concept stores in various cities over the next three years. [TRD]

Paul Manafort transferred Florida mansion to his wife after guilty plea
President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort Jr., transferred a Florida home he owns in Palm Beach Gardens to his wife for $10 in October — a month after he forfeited several properties as part of a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller III, Forbes reported. Manafort was in a Virginia prison when he signed the deed that transferred ownership of the mansion, according to the outlet. Former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade told Forbes that Manafort was likely trying to take care of his family by transferring the property, but David Pelligrinelli, a real estate transactions expert, told the outlet that federal prosecutors could still try to void the deed. Manafort, who was once detained in the home, was recently accused of breaching his plea agreement by Mueller’s team. [TRD]

FAO Schwarz to open toy store at Chicago Midway International Airport
Having just reopened its flagship store at Rockefeller Plaza, FAO Schwarz is now setting up shop in Chicago. The toy store plans to open a store at Chicago Midway International Airport as part of a revamp that will bring 70 new retailers to the airport by 2020. It is not immediately clear how big the new store will be. FAO Schwarz will be part of a mix of local brands and retailers from elsewhere heading to the airport on Chicago’s South Side. Passengers want “more things that look like Chicago” at the airport, but also appreciate “some of the bigger household brands,” a city aviation department spokesperson said. [TRD]

Head of mortgage company snaps up Aretha Franklin’s Detroit mansion
Aretha Franklin’s last Detroit mansion has sold for $300,000, the Detroit News first reported. Anthony Kellum, the head of a Michigan-based mortgage company, bought the late singer’s 6,200-square-foot home and plans to carry out “major renovations to restore its original beauty,” according to the Associated Press. The home, which hasn’t been occupied for a decade, was the only home Franklin still owned in Detroit, a spokesperson for her estate said. Franklin, who died at 76 on Aug. 16 from pancreatic cancer, purchased the five-bedroom, six-bathroom home in 1993. It came with a three-car garage, a backyard adjacent to a golf course and an empty half-acre lot. [TRD]

(Credit: iStock)

The number of industrial buildings coming online nationally slowed slightly in the first nine months of 2018, after several years of strong growth.

A total of 237 million square feet of new industrial space was delivered across the country from January through September, down slightly from 243 million square feet year over year, according to a new report by Avison Young.

The slowdown follows a major growth period for industrial development across the country, with 1.5 billion square feet of new space coming online since 2012, the report said. The surge in deliveries in previous years left many markets struggling to absorb the new space, and developers unwilling to start new projects, Avison Young principal Erik Foster said. As the existing space is filled, new projects will start getting launched again, he said.

Markets like Los Angeles and Chicago have been leading the way in industrial market growth, and developers have benefited from record low vacancy rates and strong rent growths. But after years of growth, even those markets slowed this year.

Chicago saw 10 million square feet of new industrial space in the first three quarters of 2018 — a steep drop from the 22.6 million year over year, according to Avison Young. Los Angeles saw 5.4 million square feet of new industrial space through three quarters, which is about 77 percent of the way to its 2017 total of 7 million square feet.

In Chicago, the drop in deliveries caused vacancy rates to continue falling, with the 5.7 percent vacancy in the third quarter a 20 basis point drop year-over-year. That’s not the case in Los Angeles, where vacancy in the Inland Empire area increased to 4.9 percent but is still near record lows.

While deliveries are down so far in 2018, they won’t be for long: More than 337 million square feet of new industrial space is under construction across the country, the report said.

New Jersey has already eclipsed its 2017 industrial delivery total, with 10.3 million square feet of new space coming online through three quarters of this year, compared with 9.7 million square feet delivered all last year.

In Miami, demand for warehouse space has pushed vacancy rates to a record low 2.7 percent in the third quarter, falling 33 basis points year-over-year. But more than 4 million square feet of industrial space under construction will increase the supply.

Secondary markets across the country are now benefiting from the same economic factors that caused a surge of industrial development in larger markets, Foster said. Growth in e-commerce is leading companies to increase the amount of industrial space needed for productive storage and delivery.

Columbus, Ohio, for example, has seen 4.3 million square feet of industrial deliveries so far this year, eclipsing 2017’s year-end total of 3 million new square feet. In Greenville, South Carolina, 2.8 million square feet has been delivered through the end of the third quarter, eclipsing 2017’s total of 2.3 million square feet of new development.

Rendering of Midtown Boca and Angelo Bianco, Crocker Partners’ managing partner

The ongoing saga continues between the Boca Raton City Council and two developers that have taken legal action.

A nearly year-long study commissioned by the city has recommended against building new housing developments in Boca’s Midtown commercial district, prompting Cypress Realty of Florida and Crocker Partners to speak out against the findings, as reported by the Palm Beach Post.

Angelo Bianco, a principal at Crocker Partners, told the publication the study “shows an attempt to frustrate and delay property owners’ rights.” Crocker Partners is currently suing the city, seeking $137 million in damages after it asked city officials to allow for up to 2,500 apartments for its planned Midtown Boca project.

According to the publication, the study rules the area can not sustain housing, and instead recommends taxing commercial landowners in order to improve the area.

Cypress Realty bought about 10 acres of land in the area in 2011 with the intention to build apartments. Nader Salour, a principal of Cypress Realty told the publication he “never would have bought the land if we knew it was just commercial.”

Cypress Realty filed a separate lawsuit against the city in October. [Palm Beach Post]Amanda Rabines

Sam Zell Credit: Getty Images, iStock)

Sam Zell may be a bit skeptical about climate change, but he nonetheless may profit from it.

Zell’s Equity Residential issued $400 million in green bonds, according to a company press release. The issuance, which the firm claims is the first ever for an apartment REIT, is for 4.15 percent unsecured notes that mature in 2028.

The bonds are expected to generate proceeds of $396.7 million, which the company plans to funnel into green projects such as 855 Brannan Street in San Francisco. The property, a 383,000-square-foot development with 449 units, owns the distinction of being the largest LEED Platinum-certified multifamily property in San Francisco.

“We are very pleased with the demand for this issuance, especially from investors with an environmental focus,” said Mark Parrell, the firm’s president.

The company is embracing sustainability in spite of its founder’s doubts about climate science.

“I fall into the group on climate change that says I don’t have the certainty that a lot of other people have. That doesn’t mean I disagree with it … the level of certainty of exactly what is happening has a lack of humility and an arrogance to it that scares me,” Zell said in a 2015 interview with Bloomberg. “Anytime there is this giant consensus, as far as I’m concerned, conventional wisdom is my greatest enemy. And this strikes me as an awful lot of conventional wisdom.”

Equity Residential has recently been looking to trim its Manhattan portfolio. Last July, the firm sold 101 West End Avenue to the Dermot Company and Dutch pension fund PGGM for $416 million. It also reportedly put 800 Sixth Avenue in Chelsea and 505 West 54th in Hell’s Kitchen on the market in September.

(Credit: iStock)

The federal EB-5 visa program received another extension as part of the larger federal spending bill, this time until Dec 21. EB-5 had been set to expire on Dec. 7.

Congress now has two weeks to decide whether to extend again or shut down the controversial green card initiative. The program gives foreign investors the opportunity to obtain a green card if they invest at least $500,000 in a project and create at least 10 jobs.

The program has received a number of short-term extensions for the past three years, with Congress unable to agree on a permanent measure. Most recently, lawmakers extended the program on Sept. 28, with the Dec. 7 deadline. That was part of a larger spending bill to avoid a government shut down.

One expert said he did not see a change in the immediate future.

“I would call it business as usual, the program will remain alive, it will be extended again,” said Ronald Fieldstone, a partner in the Miami office of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr.

EB-5 faces a number of pressing issues, including weakening demand from Chinese visa seekers — who comprise a large share of the applicants — due to long wait times. A number of notable fraud cases involving EB-5 projects have also surfaced.

One of the most high-profile EB-5 projects came to a halt in October in New York. Investors walked away from their plans to build a massive Ferris wheel in Staten Island, which attracted 412 EB-5 investors. It marked one of the largest EB-5 failures yet.

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Hector de la Canal, the flier and One Brickell

When Miami broker David Landau opened a letter at his Brickell on the River North condo late last month, it had an alarming message to residents. A new construction project would be rising fast, and their view of the water would soon be gone.

With the One Sotheby’s International Realty letterhead written on the top, the note read: “Warning!!! The Related Group is planning to build on the property next to Brickell on the River & your view will be completely taken away! The time to sell is now before it’s too late & your unit loses value.”

Landau, who has lived in the complex at 31 Southeast 5th Street for more than eight years, was angry. He knew Related had development plans there, but had heard they were far in the future. The letter, he believes, was an attempt by the One Sotheby’s agent to win business by trying to get some of the hundreds of residents to enter into a “panic sale,” convincing them to unload their condos quickly in order to get the fast commission.

“I feel like this guy is really breaking into my house,” Landau said, a broker associate with Florida Capital Realty. “I feel like someone is trying to steal from me, to reduce the values of these assets.”

The flier came from a young One Sotheby’s agent named Hector de la Canal. In a brief interview, de la Canal confirmed he wrote the letter. He asked that further questions be emailed then did not respond to a list of questions sent to him.

The letter was sent without the knowledge or approval of One Sotheby’s, said company president, Daniel de la Vega.

In a statement, de la Vega said the firm is “committed to providing unsurpassed quality, value and trust to our clients. We have a network of world’s most passionate and committed professionals and we hold our agents to the highest standards. The flyer sent out to residents is not aligned with our company’s core values and we are addressing the concerns with our agent.”

In the letter, de la Canal said he recently learned that Related Group is planning to announce sales “sooner than people thought” at its One Brickell mixed-use project at 444 Brickell Avenue.  It would rise in front of Brickell on the River condo.

Related Group had bought the site in 2013 for $104 million and past plans included 1,200 condos, a five-star hotel with about 200 rooms and convention space, and at least 200,000 square feet of office and retail space. The project would have three towers designed by Arquitectonica.

But a Related spokesperson said the company has not started sales or broken ground on the site, and has not announced an immediate timeline. Future plans, the spokesperson said, will depend on market conditions.

Condo developers in Miami have struggled to attract buyers as South American currencies have weakened and a recent report showed the greater downtown area has a six-plus year supply of luxury condo inventory. Some developers are holding off plans to build until the next market cycle or are self-financing projects.

That environment can sometimes prompt aggressive tactics, like what appears to be the case with the Brickell flier, said Josh Migdal, a partner with the Miami law firm Mark Migdal & Hayden.

Those moves, he said, “are the symptom of a housing market that has significantly slowed down and shows how Realtors are trying to obtain new listings at reduced prices.”

Sarah Elles Boggs, a real estate agent with Douglas Elliman, said people may see more of these aggressive tactics given the condo market slowdown in Miami. “It makes sense that this would start happening because people get desperate when they get hungry,” she said.

Boggs, who represents clients in Brickell, said she has seen it before in Miami. Brokers have sent emails and mailed out fliers to residents warning about views being obstructed by future projects at some Brickell condos, such as Quantum on the Bay and Infinity at Brickell.

Phil Gutman, president of Brown Harris Stevens in Miami, said the flier sounded aggressive, and acknowledged that agents sometimes can go rogue. But he didn’t think it was a pervasive problem.

“There is a lot of misinformation, but this isn’t really a common practice that someone does this,” he said.

Landau filed a complaint with the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, alleging de la Canal engaged in illegal panic selling tactics by targeting residents at the 42- and 46-story towers.

He isn’t sure how many other condo owners received the flier, though knows of at least one other. But Landau said foreign buyers could be particularly vulnerable to this type of tactic, along with resident already worried about Related’s plans. His own belief is the development won’t happen for “a long time from now.”

57 Ocean developer hosts Arquitectonica book signing

Miami-based architecture and design firm Arquitectonica kicked off Miami’s Art Week with a panel and book signing hosted by 57 Ocean developer Multiplan Real Estate Asset Management.

Multiplan, led by Brazilian billionaire José Isaac Peres, hosted a discussion moderated by the Miami Herald’s Jane Wooldridge. Panelists included Arquitectonica co-founder Bernardo Fort-Brescia and Alastair Gordon – the author of the new, eponymous book about Arquitectonica.

57 Ocean is an 81-unit, 18-story condo project designed by the Arquitectonica, under construction at 5775 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach.

Pierre Yves-Rochon discusses the art of interior design at Jade Signature

Acclaimed interior designer Pierre Yves-Rochon appeared at an event at Fortune International Group’s recently completed Jade Signature in Sunny Isles Beach to sign and discuss his book “Interior Splendor.”

Edgardo and Ana Cristina Defortuna of Fortune International Group hosted the event. Broadcast journalist Sabina Covo was the moderator.

The grand opening for Jade Signature, at 16901 Collins Avenue, was held in March. Fortune launched sales and construction of the oceanfront development in 2013.

Integra Investments completes ArtSquare in Hallandale Beach

Integra Investments just celebrated the completion of ArtSquare, its 8-acre mixed-use project at 401 North Federal Highway in Hallandale Beach.

The event featured live art and music. The project consists of six buildings with 358 rental apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Apartments start at $1,600 per month. The developer secured a $55.8 million loan for the project in 2016.

3001 PGA Boulevard and Jacques Bessoudo

Galium Capital and joint venture partner Owens Realty Capital just paid $25.1 million for a Palm Beach Gardens office building anchored by Seacoast National Bank.

The 67,500-square-foot building at 3001 PGA Boulevard traded for about $372 per square foot. The seller, GLL 3001, L.P., is tied to a Munich, Germany-based real estate fund, GLL Real Estate Partners.

The property previously sold for $28.4 million in 2006 as part of GLL’s buyout of the previous owner’s assets, said Jacques Bessoudo, a partner at Galium.

Built in 2006, the 5.6-acre property sits along PGA Boulevard, just south of the Gardens Mall and features 246 parking spaces.

In addition to Seacoast National Bank, tenants include public relations firm McNicholas & Associates and Berkshire Hathaway. Bessoudo said the building sold nearly 95 percent occupied with asking rents reaching the high $20’s per square foot.

HFF represented the seller.

Owens Realty Capital will manage the property, Bessoudo said. The Orlando-based firm owns, manages and develops properties in Connecticut, Florida, North Carolina and New York, according to its website. It has about 25 million square feet under its management.

Aventura-based Galium Capital owns more than $300 million in commercial assets across the United States. The company is also partnering with Miami Beach developer Silvia Coltrane and Jordan Kavana on a new condo-hotel project in North Beach.

TRD South Florida’s Winter issue drops in December.

The Real Deal South Florida’s winter 2018 issue is almost here, and it’s jam-packed with juicy stories and rankings.

On December 14th, digital subscribers will get first dibs on reading the magazine, including our examination of the future of the white-hot multifamily market and an in-depth look at the struggle to stay independent in a residential brokerage scene dominated by ever-growing local and national heavyweights.

The issue also features a ranking of the top coworking firms in Miami-Dade, an architectural and design survey of some of the most prominent projects of the cycle, an analysis of the residential brokerages that have seen the most turnover and plenty more.

Check out our fall issue online.

The deadline for advertising is Dec. 10. Contact us at Advertising@TheRealDeal.com or call 786-334-5052. 

Not a subscriber? Don’t miss out — subscribe now for early access to the magazine.

Mike Fernandez and Two Park Grove (Credit: Wikipedia and Curbed)

Billionaire Mike Fernandez paid more than $6.4 million for a penthouse at Park Grove, a three-tower complex being developed by the Related Group and Terra.

Fernandez, a Coral Gables businessman who made his money in the health care industry, bought upper penthouse 1 at Two Park Grove at 2821 South Bayshore Drive in Coconut Grove.

The 23-story, 67-unit building is the second tower of the 297-unit development. It was completed in June.

Fernandez already owns a sprawling waterfront estate at 1 Arvida Parkway in the Gables Estates community of Coral Gables. His private equity firm, MBF Healthcare Group, is also based in the Gables.

Other unit owners at the Park Grove project include Brahman Capital Management founder and principal Peter Hochfelder and Ryder System executive Eugenio Sevilla-Sacasa.

The complex will feature a restaurant by Miami restaurateur and chef Michael Schwartz, a gym, spa, sauna and steam rooms and a wine tasting room. It was designed by Rem Koolhaas’ OMA and Arquitectonica with interiors by Meyer Davis Studio.

Terra and Related scored $112.1 million in construction financing for One Park Grove, the third and final tower of the project that includes Two Park Grove and the Club Residences.

Shares of Emaar Properties PJSC have plunged 39 percent this year. (Credit: iStock)

Investors aren’t impressed with Dubai’s biggest developer.

Shares of Emaar Properties PJSC, which developed the Burj Khalifa skyscraper, have plunged 39 percent this year, Bloomberg reported. It’s price-to-earnings ratio is at the lowest level since 2009.

That’s thanks to a difficult local real estate market — as a supply glut coincides with lower demand. And a recovery doesn’t seem imminent, the report said.

Emaar had the lowest quarterly profit in almost three years in the period that ended in September. At the same time, the central bank said property prices decreased 7.4 percent in the September quarter from a year earlier.

The stock price slump has led analysts to change ratings to a buy or overweight recommendation. But so far, that doesn’t seem to be happening.

“At current share price, market is completely ignoring value of U.A.E. development property business,” said Yugesh Suneja and Adbullah Sahli of ADCB Securities. [Bloomberg]Meenal Vamburkar

Next week there will be two real estate events in South Florida.

On Dec. 11, Alpha Connector is hosting its Real Estate Social Holiday Party from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at American Social, 721 E Las Olas Boulevard. Attend and network with the leading real estate professionals in the industry.

On Dec. 14, SHOTS is hosting its Real Estate Happy Hour from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at SHOTS Miami, 311 NW 23rd Street. Come for an evening of networking.

To search for future industry events or browse past ones, click here. And to submit more industry events, please reach out to events@therealdeal.com.

(Credit: iStock)

December is mega-tax-bill time on Capitol Hill, when legislation loaded with gifts and goodies for special-interest constituents moves ahead for action before the end of the year. House Republicans have unveiled their 2018 version — nearly 300 pages worth — and it has goodies galore: Write-offs and tax-credit deals for racehorse owners, “motorsports entertainment complexes,” TV and film producers, mine-rescue team trainers, two-wheeled electric vehicles, Indian coal facilities, economic development in American Samoa and a bunch of others. And yes, homeowners and builders are on the gift list as well:

— Did you pay mortgage-insurance premiums this year on a conventional home loan, a Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-backed mortgage or a Veterans (VA) loan? Congratulations! You’re a potential beneficiary if the bill passes.

— Did you install energy-conserving improvements in your house this year, such as high-performance windows, doors, roofing or skylights? Did you buy an energy-efficient furnace, hot-water heater or air conditioner? The new tax bill has a little something for you. Ditto if you built an energy-efficient new house.

— Were you underwater on your mortgage, forced to do a short sale, foreclosed upon or negotiated a loan workout agreement this year in which the lender forgave the balance owed? Good news. You’re covered by the bill — the IRS will not tax the forgiven balance of your debt as ordinary income if the bill passes and this tax-code provision is extended.

— Were you a victim of one the country’s recent natural disasters, such as hurricanes Florence or Michael, the Camp and Woolsey wildfires or the Kilauea volcanic eruption? The bill offers tax relief to assist your recovery.

The bill clearly has valuable provisions for certain groups of homeowners. But it also has fundamental problems. Start with the basics: Can it pass? One of the risks of sponsoring tax proposals late in a congressional session — House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, only introduced it Nov. 26 — is that they can get squished in the last-minute crush of higher-profile legislation, such as this year’s federal-budget resolution. If issues like funding a southern border wall are not solved, there could be a government shutdown. Passing a tax bill in the middle of this brewing partisan storm is a serious challenge.

Another problem: In election years like this one, where control of the House is scheduled to shift in January, late-comer bills get caught up in strategic considerations: Should Democrats accept another giant tax bill rammed through by the Republican majority with little or no debate or input from the minority side? Or might it make sense to wait for 2019, when a Democratic-run House Ways and Means Committee can craft a tax bill that includes more of the new majority’s priorities? Democrats in the Senate are in a position to block Brady’s bill, and they may just decide to wait for next year.

There’s another issue that directly relates to provisions that are supposed to benefit homeowners. Last year’s massive tax-overhaul law doubled the standard deduction to $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. The idea was to simplify the process by eliminating incentives for taxpayers to itemize expenses and claim deductions. Millions of taxpayers, including many homeowners, are expected to stop itemizing and opt for the fattened standard deduction when they file for 2018 because their total deductions are below the $12,000 and $24,000 ceilings.

As a result, large numbers of people who would otherwise have claimed deductions for mortgage-insurance premiums under the bill won’t likely be doing so. That’s especially the case since eligibility for taking this particular deduction phases out for taxpayers with incomes higher than $100,000. Most of these taxpayers will be taking the standard deduction anyway, so the value of the provision in the bill is questionable. The same holds true for the energy-improvement deductions for windows and doors. How many homeowners are really going to want to claim this relatively modest benefit when they can simply check off the box and take the standard deduction?

The mortgage-debt forgiveness provision in the bill is in a different category. It’s a crucial money saver for thousands of financially stressed homeowners and is not affected by the doubling of the standard deduction. If the Republicans’ bill doesn’t survive the congressional crush this month, look for it to reappear — retroactive for 2018 — when House Democrats write their own tax bill in 2019.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez

A new development in the ongoing fight between the city of Miami and Airbnb has both sides claiming victory.

The Third District Court of Appeals ruling on Wednesday overturned a lower court injunction that prevented the city from enacting new regulations clamping down on short-term rentals in single-family neighborhoods.

In a statement, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said the city is pleased with the decision, which allows code enforcement officers to begin investigating and issuing fines to property owners who offer homes and rooms for rent on Airbnb and other home-sharing platforms under a resolution approved by the city commission in 2017.

The decision “opens the door for us to join the conversation on how to best regulate home sharing to benefit Miamians,” Suarez said.

Yet, Airbnb’s Florida policy director Tom Martinelli claims the appeals court affirmed the legality of home sharing in Miami, while vindicating home-sharing hosts “who stood up for their and others’ rights.”

“With the Court’s guidance now in hand, we hope to open a good faith conversation with the City and work together on smart, thoughtful short-term regulations for Miami,” Martinelli added.

In April 2017, Airbnb and five Miami property owners sued the city to stop a ban on short-term rentals and the targeting of Airbnb hosts who publicly identified themselves at the city commission meeting when the measure was approved. Represented by Mitchell Berger, a Fort Lauderdale-based constitutional lawyer who became famous as one of the lead lawyers for Al Gore in the 2000 presidential recount, Airbnb and the five plaintiffs were granted a temporary injunction by Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Beatrice Butchko.

According to the lawsuit, a state law passed in 2011 prohibits cities and counties from enacting ordinances that ban or unduly regulate vacation rentals. Under pressure from the hotel industry, then-Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and then-City Manager Daniel Alfonso ignored state law and without legal authority began prohibiting vacation rental, the lawsuit alleges. The complaint also alleged that the city’s existing zoning code, Miami 21, could not preempt state law.

The Third District Court of Appeals, minus one dissenting judge, disagreed and ruled that Butchko’s injunction is “overbroad.”

Airbnb may have an easier time working with Suarez, who cast one of the two “no” votes against the short-term rental ban in March 2017. At the time, he said some residents in his district were Airbnb hosts and relied on the extra income to help pay their mortgages. Suarez also said his office had not received any Airbnb-related complaints.

Charlie Kushner (Credit: iStock)

Kushner Companies will stand to gain significant tax benefits if it chooses to develop a piece of New Jersey beachfront located in an Opportunity Zone, a key feature of the Trump administration’s tax overhaul last year.

The company has spent $13 million buying properties in New Branch, New Jersey, since the Opportunity Zones legislation was enacted, according to Bloomberg. The company reportedly bought the Bungalow Hotel for $9 million in May and purchased two single-family homes for $4 million in August. Each site qualifies for the Opportunity Zone benefits, as they were purchased after the program was implemented.

The Opportunity Zone program has sent the real estate industry scrambling for projects and increased capital raising efforts since it was enacted. Since September, a handful of major firms have announced plans for funds at $100 million or more, including Skybridge Capital, RXR Realty, Normandy Real Estate Partners, Youngwoo & Associates, Toby Moskovits and Somerset Partners.

Under the scheme, developers are eligible to benefit from tax deferments and tax breaks for investing in projects located in designated low-income neighborhoods in the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said the program will generate $100 billion in capital investment across the country.

It has been previously reported that Kushner-owned properties are also located in at least 10 Opportunity Zones. The company did not respond to a request for comment before deadline. It has repeatedly said the Jared Kushner has held no role in the company since becoming White House advisor.

Meanwhile, Cadre, the real estate crowdfunding platform partially owned by Jared and Josh Kushner, announced last week that it will target investors seeking to deploy funds into “under-served markets throughout the U.S,” according to a tweet by the company’s CEO Ryan Williams. [Bloomberg] —David Jeans 

Renderings of ‘Arte by Antonio Citterio’ and Antonio Citterio and Alex Sapir

When developer Alex Sapir needed an architect to design his luxury condo project in Surfside, he chose Antonio Citterio, knowing he could work creatively within the town’s height limit.

“What’s interesting [about Surfside’s 120-foot height limit] is that you can be with the design a little bit more experimental, and that is why we brought in Citterio,” Sapir told The Real Deal. “When he came in with the travertine terraces, we loved the idea. In Miami, everybody does stucco and paint and that’s it. And because we are on the beach, and people spend so much time on their terraces, we wanted that experience to be on your terrace to be magical.”

Arte by Antonio Citterio, a 12-story, 16-unit project under construction at 8955 Collins Avenue, marks Italian architect Citterio’s first in the United States.

“We are going to be completing somewhere around the beginning of the second quarter,” of next year, said Sapir, head of Sapir Corp. in Tel Aviv and the Sapir Organization in New York, adding that the project is “going through the final touches right now.”

Sapir spoke to TRD soon after a question-and-answer session at Design Miami with Citterio. During the talk with Dan Rubinstein, the Home & Design editor for Departures Magazine, Citterio described in detail his thought process for 14 projects he designed around the world, including Bulgari resorts in Milan, Bali, London, Moscow, Beijing, Shanghai, and Dubai.

For Arte,  the architect talked about designing something different than the “layered” buildings he encountered in the greater Miami area. Toward that end, Citterio created the overhanging terraces that will enable residents to experience South Florida’s outside world, including views of the Atlantic Ocean.

“It’s really unique. It’s not a normal kind of building,” said Citterio, who designed Arte’s exterior and interiors along with local architect Kobi Karp. “It’s a special kind of building.”

Sapir said he is particularly proud of Arte’s finishes. “We have a mixture of wood and glass and also, something really unique to Miami, we used European white oak floors,” Sapir said. “Again, the finishes were really, really paramount for the project because… we are an incredibly high-end project.”

Sapir is partnering with Özlem Onal and Giovanni Fasciano on the project.

Units will range from 3,150 square feet to 7,523 square feet in size, which is another notable feature of the building, Sapir said. “We wanted to build apartments that are really big,” he said. “They are all floor-through units. Every apartment has an ocean view.”

Less units also means less residents sharing amenities, which include an outdoor pool, an indoor lap pool, a spa and fitness room as well as a separate amenity building housing an indoor tennis court, a residents’ lounge and a multi-purpose room.

So far, prices for Arte’s residences have not been publicly released, although units have been in a pre-sales phase for “a few months,” according to a spokesperson. Corcoran Sunshine is exclusively handling sales.

The Sapir Corp. owns property in Miami and New York, including the NoMo Soho. Arte, which is 150,000 square feet in size, will be Alex Sapir’s first completed project in South Florida.

In April 2015, Sapir, his brother-in-law Rotem Rosen, and Istanbul-based Suzer Group paid $40 million for a 41-unit oceanfront condo on the Arte site. Rosen and Suzer Group have since been bought out while the Sapir Corp., as of September 2018, owns 62.5 percent of the project.

The developer secured a $90 million construction loan from Bank Leumi USA for Arte.

Sapir Corp. is also involved with Miami 18, a 1.7 million square foot mixed-use project in Miami’s Arts & Entertainment District that is slated to include 1200 apartment units, 20,000 square feet of retail space, and 350,000 square feet of office space.

David Martin and Pines City Center

TA Realty paid $80 million for the first phase of Pines City Center, a mixed-use project that Terra is developing in Pembroke Pines.

David Martin’s Terra sold nearly 150,000 square feet of retail space at the southwest corner of Pines Boulevard and Palm Avenue, according to property records. The shopping center is anchored by Publix, Rooms to Go Outdoor and West Marine.

The deal breaks down to about $550 per foot. Other tenants include Outback Steakhouse, Cooper’s Hawk, City Mattress and Humana, according to a release. The developer paid nearly $16 million for the property in 2016 and secured a $54.3 million loan from Oakland Finance & Investment LLC at the time.

Terra is currently building another 150,000 square feet of retail, entertainment and restaurant space next to apartments that are also under construction at Pines City Center. Only the first phase of the retail component sold to TA Realty, a Boston-based asset manager. Phase two will be completed next year.

The mixed-use project will also include a $60 million civic center with a 3,500-square-foot performing arts center and conference hall, an outdoor plaza, a 10,000-square-foot art gallery and a new city hall for Pembroke Pines.

About a year ago, Terra closed on nearly $82 million in financing for the second phase of retail and the 387-unit multifamily development.

Sears filed for bankruptcy protection in October, saying it would close another 142 stores. (Credit: Getty Images)

Hundreds of Sears stores across the U.S. could be saved in what one analyst called “a last-ditch effort” by company chairman Edward Lampert to buy the company out of bankruptcy.

Lampert’ ESL Investments already is Sears Holdings’ biggest shareholder and creditor. On Thursday, he outlined a $4.6 billion bid to take over the rest of the century-old retailer, according to Bloomberg.

The company filed for bankruptcy protection in October, and said it would close another 142 stores around the end of the year.]

Despite efforts to cut costs by closing hundreds of stores, Chicago-based Sears has lost more than $11 billion since 2011. In the last two years alone, it closed more than 725 Sears and Kmart stores nationwide.

Lampert’s efforts to keep Sears out of bankruptcy included shedding hundreds of unprofitable stores. Sears and Kmart had some 3,500 locations when they merged under Lampert in 2005; now there are about 900 nationwide.

Thursday’s bid is the latest in a long series of bailouts Lampert has provided for Sears.

If Lampert’s bid fails and Sears is forced to liquidate, it could leave malls already dealing with the loss of major tenants like Carson’s and Toys “‘R” Us with massive amounts of additional vacant space.

The loss of big-box tenants already has mall owners nationwide getting creative to fill the space, with some considering adding apartments, hotels or medical offices. Some have turned to co-working spaces and business parks to fill former anchor spaces. [Bloomberg]John O’Brien

Phil Ruffin (Credit: Getty Images)

Las Vegas billionaire Phil Ruffin is gambling on a new city.

Ruffin, who owns the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Vegas and a number of other businesses, bought Casino Miami, a 21-acre casino near Miami International Airport at 3500 Northwest 37th Avenue, according to a press release.

Property records show Fronton Holdings LLC, tied to Boston-based Summit Partners, sold the sprawling site. The 200,000-square-foot facility includes 1,000 slot machines with a license to hold up to 2,000, an electronic table game area with digital blackjack and roulette, a club, bar, restaurant, jai-alai games and betting.

Ruffin said in a statement that he looks forward to entering the gaming market with this deal, and expects to unveil plans for the property soon. It will remain Casino Miami. He told the Wichita Eagle that he paid cash for the property, but declined to disclose a purchase price. He also said he plans to build a hotel on the site.

By purchasing an operating casino, Ruffin is bypassing a new Florida law that requires any future gambling facility not located on tribal land be approved by 60 percent of Florida voters.

Voters approved the ballot measure in November, which means that developers like Jeffrey Soffer, who has long been rumored to try to bring gambling to his Fontainebleau Miami Beach, would have to launch a statewide campaign to approve it at his properties. (He would also need to go to Florida voters should he decide to expand the Mardi Gras Casino and Race Track, which he purchased in April for $12.5 million, renaming the property the Big Easy Casino.)

Ruffin, who co-owns the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas with President Trump, is worth an estimated $2.5 billion. He has his hand in a number of hotels, casinos, greyhound racing tracks, oil production and other industries.

Chinese investors keep retreating from the U.S. real estate market.

They offloaded more than $1 billion in U.S. properties in the third quarter, the Wall Street Journal reported. Meanwhile, insurers, conglomerates and other big investors from the country purchased $231 million of property.

“This has to do more with a change in how capital is permitted to behave rather than Chinese investors saying ‘I don’t like the U.S.’,” Jim Costello, senior vice president at Real Capital Analytics, told the Journal.

The Chinese government has tightened capital controls and put a damper on companies’ acquisitions abroad. Investors, as a result, have sold assets and made fewer deals abroad.

This marked the second quarter that Chinese investors were net sellers of U.S. property. The second quarter was the first time that happened since 2008. Ping An Insurance Group Co. of China and partners sold a 13-story Boston office building for $450 million, the largest sale by a Chinese investor during the third quarter, the report said.

Over the years, Chinese investors have spent tens of billions of dollars to buy U.S. real estate — sometimes well beyond market prices. Anbang Insurance Group’s $1.95 billion acquisition of the Waldorf Astoria in 2015 was the highest price ever for a U.S. hotel.

In New York, SL Green Realty bought a $148 million stake in HNA Group’s 245 Park Avenue. The struggling Chinese conglomerate paid $2.2 billion for the office tower in 2017, with $1.8 billion in debt.  [WSJ] — Meenal Vamburkar

Rue Vendome Apartments and Cushman & Wakefield’s Calum Weaver and Perry Synanidis

A company tied to private equity firm Aspen Capital just bought a newly renovated apartment complex on Normandy Isle in Miami Beach for $5.25 million.

Hervé Barbera’s Bar Invest Group sold the 30-unit building at 6905–6921 Rue Vendome for about $175,000 per unit. Records show Barbera bought Rue Vendome in 2012 for $2.6 million.

The complex recently underwent a renovation that included updating its landscaping and adding hurricane-impact windows. Bar Invest also revamped the kitchens and bathrooms, as well as upgraded its air conditioning systems.

The complex sold fully leased, according to a press release. The average market rent for a unit at Rue Vendome is $1,293 a month. Apartments average about 630 square feet.

Calum Weaver and Perry Synanidis of Cushman & Wakefield represented the seller, and the buyer was represented by Jesse Spencer of Compass.

Rue Vendome is near the recently upzoned North Beach neighborhood in Miami Beach, where there are plans to create a town center district between Collins and Dickens avenues to Indian Creek Drive between 69th and 72nd Streets.

Bar Invest is owned by the Barbera family of France. Hervé Barbera’s father, Jacques Barbera, chairman of Bar Invest, launched the Miami company in 2001. The first project was co-developing Mary Brickell Village with Constructa, which the companies sold to Quebec-based Ivanhoe Cambridge for $135 million in 2005. – Amanda Rabines

Miami Beach (Credit: iStock)

On the eve of Art Basel Miami Beach, top residential brokers were busy showing off their multimillion-dollar properties to potential buyers and fellow agents, literally rolling out the red carpet for them.

Darin Tansey of Douglas Elliman pulled out all the stops at 35 East Di Lido Drive, a recently completed waterfront mansion. It’s officially hitting the market next week for $17.95 million, but Tansey was looking to capitalize on art collectors in town for Miami Art Week with an invite-only cocktail event at the home.

Darin Tansey, George Sarkis, Jay Phillip Parker, Scott Durkin, Susan de França, Jerome Baker, Stephen Kotler and Warren Sapp at 35 East Di Lido Drive (Credit: Lifestyle Production)

“The Tuesday of Art Basel is the day when you have all of the true collectors of art in town before the parties begin,” he said. Guests included NFL Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, Miami Dolphins player Jerome Baker, and on the Elliman side, Susan de França, president and CEO of Douglas Elliman Development Marketing; Elliman president and COO Scott Durkin; Jay Phillip Parker, CEO of Elliman Florida; and Stephen Kotler, CEO of Douglas Elliman’s Western region.

Tansey and George Sarkis, an Elliman Sports & Entertainment division agent, hosted the event. It featured models clad in silver outfits on stilts, dressed as angels, a graffiti artist flown in from New York who worked on a live piece, a docked yacht from Worth Avenue Yachts, Lamborghinis from Prestige Imports parked in the three-car garage, a DJ on the dock and a number of sponsors.

Only Elliman agents were invited so as to “keep it in the family” and Tansey said he already has some prospective buyers. About 250 people attended.

“Everyone with a luxury home is in some way an art collector,” said Techrin Hijazi of William Raveis Real Estate. Hijazi is working with Valli Art Gallery to host a private event on a 140-foot luxury yacht docked at 44 Star Island Drive in Miami Beach on Friday evening. It will be catered by Sciuri Cafe in Miami Beach with cigars from Rocky Patel Premium Cigars.

It makes sense that the event is being hosted on a yacht: the property returned to the market as a teardown earlier this year with Hijazi and Lourdes Alatriste, a partner at Engel & Völkers, for $18.4 million.

6332 Alton Road, which is on the market for $5.6 million

Nancy Batchelor of EWM Realty International also hosted an event at one of her listings, known as the “Skinner House” at 6332 Alton Road in Miami Beach. The four-bedroom, 4,860-square-foot home is on the market for $5.6 million. Batchelor and Michael Raynes, the developer, hosted the soiree, which was catered by Le Basque.

On Wednesday evening, Hilda Alvarez and Luxury Living Realty’s Karla Abaunza and Jorge Escasena held an event at unit 7716 at Oceanside Fisher Island that showcased art from Pablo Atchugarry, Gustavo Montoya, Carlos Cruz-Diez and others.

98 La Gorce Circle, asking $10.5 million

Julian Johnston, broker and owner of Calibre International Realty, said most agents host their open houses and cocktail parties on the Tuesday and Wednesday of Miami Art Week.

Any later and “you’re competing against so many events.” He had a broker’s open for 98 La Gorce Circle. The price for that property was just reduced to about $10.5 million. And he plans to have another at 4510 Prairie Avenue, also in Miami Beach, next week to attract agents and buyers still in town from Art Basel.

Amanda Rabines contributed to this story.

Adam Neumann and 1333 New Hampshire Avenue NW

A WeWork-affiliated real estate fund is buying a Washington, D.C. office building in partnership with Meridian Group for $136.5 million.

WeWork Property Advisors, which WeWork manages with private equity firm Rhone Group, is contributing 50 percent of the equity, Bisnow reported. The 350,000-square-foot building at 1333 New Hampshire Avenue NW in Dupont Circle is currently occupied by law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which will be moving out. The seller is Boston Properties.

WeWork will lease 100,000 square feet in the building and turn it into a co-working space.

The joint venture secured a $151 million loan from a subsidiary of Blackstone Mortgage Trust, according to Bisnow. Of the total, $84 million will go toward the acquisition of the property.

Last year, WeWork Property Advisors signed a contract to buy the Lord & Taylor building in Manhattan for $850 million. That deal has yet to close. The fund also bought a 50 percent stake in the Devonshire Square Estate office complex in London.

Meanwhile ARK, another investment fund managed by WeWork, has been in talks to buy a massive development site in Austin, Texas.

In October, reports surfaced that SoftBank was considering investing up to $20 billion in WeWork and becoming the majority shareholder. Masa Son’s firm has already invested over $5 billion into the co-working company. [Bisnow]Konrad Putzier 

Investors flipped 45,901 single-family homes and condos in Q3. (Credit: iStock)

Home flipping in the U.S. is down to its lowest levels in more than three years, the latest sign that the housing market is experiencing a slowdown.

Investors flipped 45,901 single-family homes and condos in the third quarter, down 12 percent from a year ago, according to a report published Thursday by Attom Data Solutions. It was the lowest number since the first quarter of 2015.

“Home flipping acts as a canary in the coal mine for a cooling housing market,” said Attom’s Daren Blomquist.

A number of recent data points and reports have signaled that the post-recession housing boom may be coming to an end. Most recently, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that new home sales dropped 8.9 percent compared to September, marking an almost two-and-a-half-year low.

In Miami, third quarter home flips fell to 1,667, a 15.7 percent drop from a year ago. In a recent survey, Miami homes sat on the market for an average of 84 days, among the longest amount of time in the nation.

In Los Angeles, investors flipped 1,299 homes, an 8.5 percent decline. The Chicago metro area experienced a smaller decline. It had 1,276 home flips, which was a 5 percent drop.

New York City countered the trend, however. Its 1,828 homes represented a 5.5 percent rise from third quarter 2017 numbers.

The housing slowdown is partly due to rising mortgage rates, which have made owning a home more expensive and could have pushed some potential buyers out of the market, experts say.

Rising rates and more expensive home prices could have also contributed to the drop in home flipping, given it has become increasingly difficult for buyers to find homes at distressed prices and then rehab them and turn a quick profit.

From July to September, the average gross flipping profit was $63,000, according to ATTOM. This represented a 42.6 percent return on a buyer’s investment, which was the lowest level since the first quarter of 2012.

Last year was a banner one for home flippers in the U.S. Investors flipped more than 207,000 condominiums and single-family homes in 2017, the most since 2006, according to Attom.

Rendering of the Estates at Acqualina, Jules Trump (Credit: The Closing)

The Trump Group is offering a limited number of brokers’ clients the chance to peruse floor plans and pre-opening prices for The Estates at Acqualina’s north tower in Sunny Isles Beach. The catch: A prospective buyer must pay a $100,000 refundable deposit to get on the list.

Developer Jules Trump said he is limiting the offer to brokers his firm has dealt with before, and will cap the reservations at 15.

A buyer can use the deposit toward the cost of the unit, which Trump said will be offered at a discount to the select few. “It will be pre-opening prices, which are better than pre-construction prices,” he said, declining to provide the prices.

Units at The Estates at Acqualina south tower, which is now 70 percent pre-sold, range from $4.2 million to $35 million. Units will range from 2,917 square feet to 9,000 square feet, and from three to seven bedrooms. The project will also feature three single-family homes. Completion is expected in late 2020.

Construction is underway on both 50-story towers of the $1.6 billion project at 17901 Collins Avenue. In October, Trump signed a $600 million contract with Coastal Construction to complete both towers and the amenity villa of The Estates at Acqualina, ranking as the largest contract for a condominium project in South Florida.

Trump, (no relation to the president) said the marketing maneuver is geared to offer an advantage to loyal brokers, and isn’t a show of desperation amid a slow market for condo sales. The $100,000 refundable deposit will mean only serious buyers will apply.

“We appreciate those brokers who have been supportive and we’d rather see their clients get great deals, hence the idea,” he said.

Trump said November pre-sales numbers totaled $50 million at the south tower. Eight units sold, at prices ranging from $3.1 million to $12 million. The buyers included three from Florida, two from Mexico, one each from Argentina and Spain and one from a European country Trump declined to name.

The development will feature common areas created by Karl Lagerfeld.

The Estates at Acqualina will also include 50,000 square feet of amenities including a spa and fitness center with a boxing ring, an ice-skating rink, bowling lanes, movie theater, golfing and Formula One simulators, a speakeasy and cigar lounge. A restaurant is expected to be announced early next year.

Rendering of Avenir and Landstar Development Group’s Rosa Schechter

The developers of the massive Avenir development in Palm Beach Gardens want out of workforce housing – and they’re willing to pay for it.

Landstar Development Group is proposing to pay the city of Palm Beach Gardens $10 million to opt out of a previous 2016 agreement that assured the project would include workforce housing, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Under the previous agreement, the developer would dedicate 250 townhouses priced as workforce housing.

The new proposal states that the city would use $5 million for a comprehensive workforce housing program and $5 million for improvements at the Burns Road Recreation Center. It goes before the city council later this week.

Construction is already underway at the 4,763-acre site of the mixed-use development. Avenir was designed to include 1.8 million square feet of office space, 400,000 square feet of commercial space, 200,000 square feet of medical offices, a 300-room hotel, and a public park.

Avenir also will encompass 3,900 homes, including 960 for people 55 and older. [Palm Beach Post] – Amanda Rabines