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South Florida News

  • French investor alleges Bay Harbor Islands brokerage defrauded him out of $8M: lawsuit

    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.”

  • Apple is planning a $1B campus in Austin

    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

  • Bridge Development secures loan for another spec industrial project in Fort Lauderdale

    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.

  • No brainer? DJ Khaled lists Aventura estate after buying Miami Beach mansion

    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.

  • Citizens to increase rates by 8.2% statewide

    (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

  • Airbnb and Aimco settle dispute over short-term rentals at Aimco properties

    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

  • Greystar pays $84M for Palm Beach Gardens apartments

    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.

  • Big Rock buys land near Delray Beach, plans senior housing

    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.

  • One Sotheby’s hires Long & Foster veteran as COO

    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’s CEO Barry Gosin buys $8M worth of company stock

    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.