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South Florida News

  • Lender sues owners of downtown Miami WeWork building over allegedly unpaid loan
    117 Northeast First Avenue (Getty, Gut Miami via Twitter)

    117 Northeast First Avenue (Getty, Gut Miami via Twitter)


    The owners of a historic downtown Miami office building that is fully leased to WeWork are facing a foreclosure lawsuit.

    Platform Capital Funding sued the owners of the Security Building, tied to an outstanding loan. The lender is seeking more than $46 million, including principal, interest, late fees and a deposit from a failed sale of the building, according to court records. The complaint was filed against Security Building AR Owner, Andrew Joblon, Richard Weisfisch, Arash Gohari and Daniel Gohari.

    WeWork is not named in the suit, but it is the sole tenant of the 15-story building at 117 Northeast First Avenue. Security Building AR Owner, led by Weisfisch, paid $23.5 million for the property in 2015, converted it from residential condos back to office space, and secured WeWork as the main tenant.

    Platform Capital Funding’s attorney, Henry Bolz, did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Joblon, who is managing principal of Turnbridge Equities, said he is a non-controlling minority partner in the building’s ownership and declined to comment further.

    Platform Capital is seeking full repayment of the $38 million loan, which it alleges it has not received, plus a $5 million deposit from the failed sale to Inveniam Capital Partners, a finance and tech firm that planned to purchase the building in part with funds raised from a cryptocurrency auction.

    The sale never went through and the auction was canceled after the buyer alleged that his senior lender changed the language of the agreed-upon deal.

    The foreclosure suit alleges that even though the sale was terminated, the borrower “failed to deliver” the deposit to the lender, which was required under the loan agreement.

    The building, built in 1926, was designated on the list of National Register of Historic Places in 1989. WeWork opened in early 2018.

    The co-working giant has consolidated its locations around the world over the past year. In Miami Beach, it announced it would be closing its 350 Lincoln Road location. The landlord, SML 350 Lincoln Inc., sued in August seeking allegedly unpaid rent totaling more than $19.5 million.


    The post Lender sues owners of downtown Miami WeWork building over allegedly unpaid loan appeared first on The Real Deal South Florida.

  • Waterfront Palm Beach mansion sells for $41M
    1330 South Ocean Boulevard (Compass)

    1330 South Ocean Boulevard (Compass)


    A waterfront estate in Palm Beach sold for $40.7 million — almost $20 million below the original asking price.

    Records show a Swiss entity, Sunshine Estate Partners, sold the mansion at 1330 South Ocean Boulevard to 1330 South Ocean LLC, a Delaware corporation.

    According to The Palm Beach Daily News, European businessman Gerald Herz and his wife, Isabelle, are the sellers. West Palm Beach attorney Paul Krasker signed the deed in favor of the sellers.

    The Swiss entity bought the mansion in April 2017 for $31.6 million from luxury home developer Mark Pulte, who finished the home in 2016, according to property records.

    Linda A. Gary of Linda A. Gary Real Estate represented the sellers in the most recent deal, while Lawrence Moens of Lawrence A. Moens Associates represented the buyer. Moens also represented Pulte in the 2017 sale.

    According to Realtor.com, the property was first listed in July for $59.5 million and later changed to $56.5 million at the end of October.

    The five-bedroom mansion has nine-and-a-half-bathrooms and 12,830-square-feet under air, with more than 3,000 square feet of terraces and covered outdoor space. The furnished home also has 184 feet of Lake Worth Lagoon water frontage, a dock and a pool.

    A company tied to Pulte listed a Palm Beach estate for $140 million to start the year, a record for the most expensive residential listing in South Florida.

    Recently, spec home developer Todd Michael Glaser bought a home in Palm Beach for $13 million, with plans to renovate.


    The post Waterfront Palm Beach mansion sells for $41M appeared first on The Real Deal South Florida.

  • Hospitality startups pick at carnage of failed rivals

    (Photo illustration by The Real Deal)

    Almost everything has remained the same at 70 Pine Street — the oak floors, modern furnishings and colorful art — except for the short-term rental startup operating its 132 rooms.

    After six years in business, Lyric succumbed to shaky finances and a travel shutdown in July 2020. Now, the 66-story Lower Manhattan building is the New York City flagship for Mint House, a three-year-old startup that caters to business travelers. 

    Mint House is one of several short-term rental companies playing a game of musical chairs with its failed rivals. Startups such as Lyric and Stay Alfred — which leased apartments and operated furnished rentals — went out of business after the pandemic sent travel into a spiral, leaving behind several thousand vacant units across the country. That’s created a big opportunity for other short-term rental startups to expand without having to front the costs of outfitting and readying units from scratch.

    “These properties have been left high and dry,” said Jesse DePinto, a co-founder of Milwaukee-based FrontDesk, which operates 580 units — 60 of which it picked up from troubled operators over the spring and summer. “A lot of the businesses have great furniture, locations and the consumer demand is certainly there.”

    Including 70 Pine, Mint House now operates nearly 1,000 units, up 75 percent since August 2020, according to CEO Will Lucas.

    The company, which signs management agreements with building owners, touts its contactless offerings, including keyless entry, smart thermostats and digital concierge. It has a partnership with Mirror, a home exercise startup. And it’s also teamed up with big corporations, including American Express Global Business Travel.

    Vector Travel, based in Los Angeles and Jacksonville, Florida, is also capitalizing on an opportunity to expand. Last month, it said it would discount its management fee for landlords who signed 18-month agreements.

    Founder Mickey Kropf said the goal is to help landlords impacted by lease defaults.

    Vector currently operates a “few hundred” units, and it is on track to grow 50 percent during the first quarter of 2021. About one-third of new units are coming from landlords impacted by lease defaults.

    “It’s a somewhat creative way of solving for the vacancy left behind,” Kropf said.

    Short-term surge

    Over the past decade, short-term rentals proliferated across the U.S.

    The number of short-term rental units increased seven-fold to 1.5 million between 2014 and 2019, according to CBRE. That year, travel media outlet Skift pegged the sector at $115 billion.

    But the pandemic dealt a catastrophic blow in March 2020. Airbnb hosts, for example, lost $1.5 billion in bookings overnight.

    Not long after, Stay Alfred, which had raised $62 million from investors, permanently closed its doors in May and entered receivership. Lyric, which raised $180 million, folded in July. Domio, which raised $120 million in debt and equity, is in the process of winding down, sources said. Collectively, the three had around 3,500 units.

    “If we were doing this again, we would’ve looked to have owned more buildings,” Stay Alfred CEO Jordan Allen told the Spokane Journal in May, citing a “foundational crack” in the company’s model. “But renting became the business model.”

    For The Guild, a cross between Airbnb and a corporate-stay hotel, Covid was the catalyst to halve its portfolio, leaving it with around 300 units in Austin, Dallas, Miami, Cincinnati, Denver and Nashville. It also opted to “lean into” operating agreements, said co-founder Brian Carrico.

    “It’s really been about figuring out how to adapt and survive, extremely rapidly,” he said.

    The startup, which raised $25 million in January 2020, worked out termination agreements with some landlords, Carrico said. In some cases, it forfeited its security deposit and furniture; in others, it found replacement operators.

    New York City-based Kasa, which operates 1,000 short-term rental units in 35 cities, absorbed 124 of Guild’s units. It also took over units from Hi Howard, which closed pre-Covid, Lyric, Sonder and ApartmentJet.

    Kasa CEO Roman Pedan said there are inherent risks to the master lease model. “It seems risk-free and it isn’t,” he said. And that’s one thing that many of these now-failed startups had in common.

    Even before Covid, some skeptics questioned whether it made sense for hospitality startups to sign master leases with landlords. WeWork, which has since moved away from master leases,  served as a cautionary tale: Its plans to go public failed after filings revealed massive losses and lease commitments. (To date, the 11-year-old company has yet to turn a profit. )

    Founded in 2016, Kasa initially leased units in order to demonstrate its operational ability, but Pedan said he refused to sign leases longer than 15 months. By 2019, the startup had shifted to service agreements.

    “In a lease, you’re tied to fixed rental payments,” Pedan said. “If the revenue drops, it amplifies your losses.”

    The new lease

    When Lyric folded, its landlord at 70 Pine weighed its options carefully.

    The easiest thing to do would have been to convert the units to residential, said Matt Ehrlich, chief investment officer at  Rose Associates, which owns the property with DTH Capital.

    But one thing Rose and DTH did not consider was another master lease with a hospitality firm, which Ehrlich said “creates obvious financial strain.”

    Instead, Rose and DTH inked a management agreement with Mint House. Lyric continued operating 70 Pine until Mint House took over in November 2020. 

    It was a “difficult situation no one asked for,” said Ehrlich. But he described the transition as a “peaceful handing of the baton.”

    Most importantly, he added, “we were never dark.”

    Rose and DTH remained bullish on short-term rentals, even as they watched competitors in the area shutter permanently, including Prodigy Network’s AKA Wall Street and the Andaz Hotel in Lower Manhattan, which hit the market in March, asking $125 million.

    “We firmly believe there’s strong demand, notwithstanding the issues the hospitality industry is facing today,” Ehrlich said. “Long term, we think it will continue to do well.”

    And this summer, that thesis was confirmed. Short-term rental players held a distinct advantage over hotels as travel rebounded this summer: Travelers sought private accommodations to minimize their exposure to Covid-19.

    In November 2020, short-term rentals outperformed hotels in key U.S. cities, according to STR, the hotel data firm owned by CoStar. In Philadelphia, short-term rental occupancy was 62.9 percent, compared to hotel occupancy of 41.3 percent. In Miami, it was 81.9 percent compared to 43 percent, and in Nashville, 60.1 percent versus 37.7 percent.

    “What we do is aligned with what’s in vogue, as a result of Covid,” Pedan said. “At this moment, there’s a need for more flexible stays and professional operators.”

    He added that some landlords hired Kasa to capitalize on requests for two- to six-week furnished rentals that they otherwise had to turn away.

    Airbnb’s IPO in December 2020 — which valued the company at $100 billion, after its stock shot up 112 percent — further validated the short-term rental market.

    “It’s a major endorsement by the public market of a category that’s still in the midst of a pandemic,” Mint House’s Lucas said. “And yet everyone is seeing where this world is going.


    The post Hospitality startups pick at carnage of failed rivals appeared first on The Real Deal South Florida.

  • Founder of Claure-backed hedge fund buys Gables Estates mansion
    Pedro Escudero with 545 Casuarina Concourse (Photos via Twitter/Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)

    Pedro Escudero with 545 Casuarina Concourse (Photos via Twitter/Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)

    The founder of a hedge fund backed by Softbank’s Marcelo Claure bought a non-waterfront mansion in the exclusive Gables Estates community.

    Property records show a Florida company led by Rafael Chapur sold the 1-acre property at 545 Casuarina Concourse in Coral Gables to Pedro and Madeline Escudero for $8.4 million. Escudero, a former tennis pro, is founder and CEO of DPM Capital, a hedge fund backed by Claure. The buyers financed the purchase with a $5.8 million mortgage from Citibank.

    The Gables Estates sale marks the second-most expensive non-waterfront sale in the gated community, which is home to SBE founder Sam Nazarian, singer-songwriter and producer Pharrell Williams, and homebuilder Masoud Shojaee.

    Liz Hogan and Angel Nicolas of Compass

    Liz Hogan and Angel Nicolas of Compass

    Liz Hogan and Angel Nicolas of Compass were the listing agents for 545 Casuarina. It hit the market in October for $10 million. Hogan also represented the buyer, according to Realtor.com. She declined to comment.

    The nine-bedroom, 10,286-square-foot Mediterranean-style estate was renovated by interior designer Briggs Edward Solomon, according to the listing. It features a new saltwater pool, a gym, home office and covered terraces.

    The property last sold for $3.9 million in 2017, records show. The mansion was built in 1991 and expanded in 2019.

    Chapur, the seller, led Hard Rock Hotels’ All-Inclusive Collection. He is the son of Roberto Chapur, who created the Palace Resorts brand in Mexico.

    Earlier this month, multimillionaire Ashar Aziz sold his waterfront home lot in Gables Estates for $18 million to Patrick McMahon, co-founder and chief investment officer of New York-based hedge fund MKP Capital Management. In December, SBE founder Sam Nazarian purchased a waterfront mansion for $14 million.


    The post Founder of Claure-backed hedge fund buys Gables Estates mansion appeared first on The Real Deal South Florida.

  • Forbearance rate stubborn among home-mortgage borrowers


    Home-mortgage borrowers’ pandemic recovery has hit a wall.

    The forbearance rate among mortgage borrowers had been improving since peaking in June at 8.55 percent. But after declining to 5.5 percent — or about 2.7 million homeowners — progress ceased in November, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing the data from Mortgage Bankers Association.

    At the same time, the number of job openings has declined, and unemployment claims remain high.

    “With the waning recovery, and more applications for unemployment claims, we’re likely going to see increased demand for forbearance,” said Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Haus, a home-finance startup. “One of the safeguards people have, if they own a home, is to apply for forbearance.”

    The federal Cares Act passed last March allowed borrowers to postpone payments on federally backed mortgages for up to 12 months. But Covid infections began surging in the fall and the initial robust stimulus from Congress gave way to deadlock at the election approached.

    Shunda Lee, a Texas homeowner, was going to restart payment on her home this month after a three-month forbearance from her lender expired, the Journal reported. Instead, she received a three-month extension because a short-term prospect of her job as a lawyer remains uncertain as the courthouses where she works have often been closed.

    If she runs out of her forbearance allowance and is still not working full-time, she’ll ask her parents for financial help, said the 47-year-old.

    “If worse comes to worst, that’s what I’ll do,” she said. “Nobody wants me to lose my house.” [WSJ] — Akiko Matsuda


    The post Forbearance rate stubborn among home-mortgage borrowers appeared first on The Real Deal South Florida.

  • Bromnin Automotive pays $7M for former Pinecrest Mitsubishi dealership
    Arnaldo Bomnin and 8525 South Dixie Highway (Google Maps)

    Arnaldo Bomnin and 8525 South Dixie Highway (Google Maps)

    A company affiliated with Bomnin Automotive Group paid $7.3 million for a former Mitsubishi dealership in Pinecrest.

    Bomnin bought the two-story, 8,000 square-foot building at 8525 South Dixie Highway, formerly called South Miami Mitsubishi, according to records.

    The building was constructed in 1999 and is down the street from Bomnin Chevrolet Dadeland. The seller was James B. Burgin Jr., records show.

    Bomnin Automotive Group’s other dealerships in the Miami area include Bomnin Chevrolet West Kendall, Bomnin Cadillac Chevrolet Homestead, Bomnin Mitsubishi and Bomnin Volvo Cars Dadeland, as well as Bomnin Chevrolet Manassas in Virginia. The company is led by Arnaldo Bomnin.

    Car dealerships have been a hot commodity in South Florida in the past year. Earlier this month, a boat and water sports products store paid $5.5 million for a former Fort Lauderdale car dealership.

    In October, a company tied to Miami-based Lehman Autoworld bought a Honda dealership in Florida City for $16.8 million, and Pebb Enterprises sold a 23,000-square-foot Tesla dealership in West Palm Beach for $12.87 million.


    The post Bromnin Automotive pays $7M for former Pinecrest Mitsubishi dealership appeared first on The Real Deal South Florida.

  • “Dynasty” producer Douglas Cramer pays record $8M for Morningside home
    Douglas Cramer and 5901 North Bayshore Drive (Getty, Google Maps)

    Douglas Cramer and 5901 North Bayshore Drive (Getty, Google Maps)

    Longtime film and television producer Douglas Cramer bought a waterfront home in Miami’s Morningside for $8.1 million, setting an all-time record for the neighborhood.

    Cramer and his husband Hubert Bush bought the house at 5901 North Bayshore Drive from Bruce Alan and Leslie Lara Weil, records show.

    Cramer helped produce popular television series like “Dynasty” and “The Love Boat.”

    Bruce Alan Weil is a partner at the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP. He paid $475,000 for the home in 1995. Weil renovated and expanded the house, which was built in 1942.

    The $8.1 million sale beats a previous record of $6.4 million for 5701 North Bayshore Drive, which traded in 2013.

    The Weils listed their home in November for $9 million with Nelson Gonzalez of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices EWM Realty represented the Weils, while Esther Percal of the same brokerage represented Cramer. Gonzalez declined to comment on the deal.

    The four-bedroom, four-bedroom has 4,616 square feet of living space on an over 30,000-square-foot lot. The property also features 100 square feet of water frontage with a dock.

    Morningside is north of Bay Point and near the MiMo District. In November, a waterfront home site in Bay Point sold for $5.7 million.

    In early 2019, Venezuelan developers filed plans for a live-work mixed-use building in Morningside.


    The post “Dynasty” producer Douglas Cramer pays record $8M for Morningside home appeared first on The Real Deal South Florida.

  • Latch to go public via Tishman Speyer’s SPAC
    Tishman Speyer CEO Rob Speyer and Latch CEO Luke Schoenfelder (Getty; Latch)

    Tishman Speyer CEO Rob Speyer and Latch CEO Luke Schoenfelder (Getty; Latch)

    Tishman Speyer’s SPAC has found its match.

    The New York real estate giant announced that its special-purpose acquisition company, TS Innovation Acquisitions Corp., will merge with smart-lock maker Latch, the Wall Street Journal reported. The deal would take Latch public with an expected valuation of $1.56 billion. When the deal closes — likely in the second quarter — the company expects to trade on Nasdaq under the symbol LTCH.

    As part of the deal, Tishman is set to receive about 4 percent of Latch’s stake, or about $60 million.

    Rob Speyer, Tishman’s chief executive, said the pandemic is pushing the spread of new technology in the real estate industry, which he said has been “technology-resistant for decades.”

    “It’s hitting this period of massive disruption. It’s entrepreneurs like [Latch CEO] Luke [Schoenfelder] and companies like Latch that are leading this wave of disruption,” Speyer said.

    Speyer, who will join Latch’s board of directors, said he hopes to use Tishman’s expertise and connections to help Latch expand into new countries and new building types, such as offices.

    Latch launched in 2017, and also specializes in building-management software along with its smart lock technology. In 2019, it raised $126 million through a Series B funding round, which included investors like Brookfield and Tishman. At the time, it was valued at $454 million, per the Journal. It aims to be profitable by the end of 2024.

    Several real estate companies launched SPACs last year, aiming to merge with proptech startups. Tishman’s blank-check company raised $300 million, while commercial real estate giant CBRE’s IPO target is $350 million. Most recently, the Chera family’s Crown Acquisitions announced it would raise $200 million through a SPAC that’s focused on proptech.

    [WSJ] — Akiko Matsuda


    The post Latch to go public via Tishman Speyer’s SPAC appeared first on The Real Deal South Florida.

  • Stream this: Cinema chain AMC secures $900M in financing
    AMC Theater CEO Adam Aron (Getty; iStock/Photo Illustration by Kevin Rebong)

    AMC Theater CEO Adam Aron (Getty; iStock/Photo Illustration by Kevin Rebong)

    While most of AMC’s movie theaters are now open nationwide, the cinema chain last month warned that it needed $750 million to avert bankruptcy.

    The struggling AMC Entertainment Holdings got that lifeline, securing a total of $917 million in financing, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company hopes the infusion will give it a cushion to weather it through, as Covid vaccine distributions ramp up.

    AMC has executed a commitment letter for $411 million in debt financing, and has raised $506 million in equity since mid-December, the Journal reported.

    “This means that any talk of an imminent bankruptcy for AMC is completely off the table,” CEO Adam Aron said.

    Forced to close some of its theaters for long stretches because of the pandemic, AMC has been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy for months. The chain will also continue to negotiate with landlords over lease payments, according to the report.

    AMC had about $320 million in cash on hand as of November, down from $418 million in September. It was spending an average of about $125 million per month in October and November, according to reports.

    The pandemic has pummeled AMC’s business, as it has with the rest of the movie theater industry. Attendance at AMC’s U.S. locations fell 92 percent in the fourth quarter from the same period a year ago. In cities like New York and Los Angeles, those cinemas have not been able to reopen. [WSJ] — Sasha Jones


    The post Stream this: Cinema chain AMC secures $900M in financing appeared first on The Real Deal South Florida.

  • Midtown Miami developer launches waterfront Fort Lauderdale condo project
    Rendering of 160 Marina Bay with Fortune CEO Edgardo Defortuna and Ron Krongold (160 Marina Bay)

    Rendering of 160 Marina Bay with Fortune CEO Edgardo Defortuna and Ron Krongold (160 Marina Bay)

    Developer Ron Krongold launched sales of his latest project, a boutique waterfront condo development in Fort Lauderdale, The Real Deal has learned.

    The Midtown Miami developer unveiled plans for 160 Marina Bay, a five-story, 16-unit building at 160 Isle of Venice Drive. Prices will begin in the low $2 millions, with four penthouses asking about $2.5 million, Krongold said. The development will include a private marina with 14 boat slips with deep water access and electrical and water connections.

    160 Marina Bay will replace an older two-story condo building that Krongold’s Gold Krown Investment acquired and has started to demolish. The developer tapped Fortune Development Sales to handle sales and marketing. FSMY Architects + Planners and R23 Designs are designing the project. It’s expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2022.

    Units, which will flow through the building from east to west, will range from 2,875 square feet to 2,918 square feet, each with three bedrooms.

    Krongold said the units are designed for buyers looking for large units with big balconies, privacy and security in a high-tech building. Amenities will include a waterfront pool deck, electric car charging stations that buyers can purchase, a self-service package locker system in the lobby, and smart home technology.

    Edgardo Defortuna, president and CEO of Fortune, called it “an easy sell” and said the project is for the end-user. Three potential buyers have expressed interest since launching sales last week, he said. Fortune also handled sales of more than 600 units in Midtown Miami.

    Developers and brokers have reported an uptick in condo sales, with more buyers coming from the Northeast and high-tax states such as California and Illinois. In the fourth quarter, condo sales in Fort Lauderdale increased 15 percent, year-over-year, to 566 closings, according to Douglas Elliman’s report.

    The Fort Lauderdale site is near Las Olas Boulevard and downtown, as well as minutes from the beach, Krongold said. Buyers who purchase boat slips will be able to get to the ocean in 10 to 15 minutes, he added.

    Property records show Gold Krown Vista paid $5.8 million to buy out the previous condo building’s unit owners.


    The post Midtown Miami developer launches waterfront Fort Lauderdale condo project appeared first on The Real Deal South Florida.