The Real Deal Miami

The Real Deal’s most popular stories of 2015

Extortion, MLS manipulation and the super-rich flocking to Miami are among biggest hits

December 29, 2015 02:15PM
By Katherine Kallergis

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Downtown Miami skyline (inset from left: Kevin Tomlinson, Jill Hertzberg, Jill Eber and billionaire Amancio Ortega)

Miami skyline (inset: Kevin Tomlinson, Jill Hertzberg, Jill Eber and Amancio Ortega)

It has been a blockbuster year for South Florida real estate – for scandals and multimillion-dollar deals. The Real Deal ranked its most popular stories by number of page views. Check them out here:

1035 Lincoln Road

1035 Lincoln Road

1. Entire block of Lincoln Road sells for $370M to Spanish billionaire [September]

Lincoln Road made national headlines in September when an entire block of the retail destination sold for $370 million – one of the largest real estate deals in Miami-Dade history. The new owner is the world’s fourth richest person, a Spanish fashion billionaire whose empire includes Zara: Amancio Ortega.

A partnership led by local commercial real estate investors and developers Michael Comras and Jonathan Fryd sold the properties that run from 1001 Lincoln Road through 1035 Lincoln Road, now home to newly built stores for Gap, Intermix, Athleta, Apple and the future location for Nike – which will be built at the former site of Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma. The investors assembled the properties in 1999, paying a total of about $12 million. They then started to lease space to national retailers, helping to spearhead the transformation of the pedestrian promenade, where rents have now skyrocketed to about $300 per square foot.

Forbes currently ranks Ortega, a 79-year-old self-made billionaire, as the world’s fourth richest person, pegging his wealth at $70.2 billion.

2. Where is Miami in the current real estate cycle? [January]

Miami’s boom has continued to be fueled by a strong pool of wealthy out-of-town buyers and projects led by experienced and well-financed developers, as predicted by a handful of prominent industry insiders in January.

Developer Richard LeFrak weighed in on the market at the time, and warned that the weakening buying power of foreign investors could lead to a slowdown – which it did. LeFrak cited the dramatic increase in the number of buyers from the northeastern U.S. over the past two years as evidence of a continually bullish Miami market. “These are the people paying the big prices in Miami Beach … They all like Miami because it’s an exciting place to have a home,” he said.

3. Kevin Tomlinson gets new gig, responds to the Jills [August]

As part of one of the juiciest real estate stories of 2015, Miami Beach Realtor Kevin Tomlinson spoke to The Real Deal about his arrest, his allegations regarding Miami’s power real estate duo, the Jills, and his new job.

In April, Tomlinson filed a complaint with the Miami Association of Realtors against Jill Hertzberg and Jill Eber, claiming that they altered MLS data to hide homes that had been on the market for a long period of time. Months later, Tomlinson reportedly met with Hertzberg to make the complaint disappear if both of them paid him $250,000, threatening to go public if they refused. Eventually, he reportedly asked for $800,000, but it was too late for Tomlinson. Officers took him into custody at his Meridian Lofts penthouse on Miami Beach.

Tomlinson cited 353 alleged manipulations of the MLS system, including 30 to active listings in 2014, alone. He said the manipulations were to property identifiers, such as city, zip code and subdivision area so that the properties could not be found.

The Jills spokesperson, however, said the MLS changes were unintentional, and only concerned expired listings.

Tomlinson was fired from ONE Sotheby’s International Realty after his arrest on Aug. 8 and joined Calibre International Realty shortly thereafter.

Jane Wooldridge, David Friedman, Craig Robins, Howard Lorber and Horacio Silva at the panel discussion

Jane Wooldridge, David Friedman, Craig Robins, Howard Lorber and Horacio Silva at the panel discussion

4. Super-rich flock to Miami, will keep coming back [April]

Knight Frank and partner Douglas Elliman released their 2015 wealth report, which named Miami as a hot spot for the wealthy, in the Design District in April. Miami, which came in sixth, will remain among the world’s top 10 cities for the super rich through at least 2025, according to the report. It’s preceded by London, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai.

Panelist Howard Lorber, chairman of Douglas Elliman, said Miami has all the important cultural amenities, including football, basketball, opera and ballet. “It has everything you want. It’s an alive city. It’s a vibrant city.” Lorber, who is based in New York and has a home on Fisher Island, understands Miami’s allure among the wealthy worldwide. “Where do you want to put your money? To me it’s New York or it’s Miami.”

5. Greater Downtown Miami faces 11-year supply of new condo units [March]

TRD columnist Peter Zalewski responded to a report that the downtown Miami market was cooling down, as South American and European investors have less buying power than before.

Zalewski applauded the Miami Downtown Development Authority for “knowingly releasing at this time of year a new 44-page study with a bearish outlook about the future of the local condo market.” He cited the report’s 22,200 units – or an 11-year supply – that are in the pipeline.

Despite that, “the Miami DDA report appears to underestimate the possibility that the number of new condo units available for purchase could jump substantially if developers convert a number of the nearly 6,700 apartment units — about 3,000 units of which are currently under construction — announced for the area,” Zalewski said.

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