Can the metaverse sell an office building? Miami brokerage thinks so

Firm pitches first commercial-virtual real estate deal

National /
Apr.April 08, 2022 07:00 AM

Inhouse Commercial founder Jared Robins, Metaverse Group vp Matt Zanardo and former Miami Beach mayor Phillip Levine (LinkedIn, Wikipedia, iStock)

Tasked with luring a major tech company to buy an aging office building, a Miami-based brokerage is including a unique sweetener: a digital twin of the property.

Inhouse Commercial said this week that it partnered with Metaverse Group to develop a virtual version of the two buildings at 930 and 960 Alton Road in Miami Beach, aiming to sell them as a package. The asking price is $25 million.

If Inhouse’s plan succeeds, it would be the first commercial-metaverse combo deal, the firm says.

The two-story office property, majority owned by former Miami Beach mayor Phillip Levine, had been on the market for nearly a year before Inhouse opted, a couple of months ago, to pursue the new strategy.

The listing had attracted several prospective buyers, but the firm thought it could fetch a higher price and attract a big tech buyer with a plan focused on the virtual world and cryptocurrency.

“Companies and brands in our line of business were entering the metaverse, and we saw there was probably going to be a need for a connection to the real world,” said Jared Robins, Inhouse’s founder.

Around the same time, Inhouse partnered with FTX, the Bahamas-based cryptocurrency exchange, to facilitate a sale in cryptocurrency — a move Robins said has generated “much more interest” from tech companies.

“Miami really has become a tech hub and the crypto capital of the U.S.,” he said. “We saw an opportunity to market this asset to that group of buyers.”

Orlando’s Sierra Development, a luxury homebuilder, is pursuing a similar strategy on the residential side; it will look to get eight figures for a Miami mansion and its replica in a popular metaverse called The Sandbox later this year.

While many companies and brands have entered the metaverse in recent months, the viability of the virtual real estate business remains untested. For the Alton Road buildings, the expectation is that the buyer will use the digital twin as a virtual meeting place for remote employees — a model that has gained traction among future-leaning enterprises. New York City brokerage Serhant, for one, is building out a proprietary metaverse called UNIVERS for its employees and agents.

Metaverse Group, a major owner and developer of virtual real estate, so far has only developed renderings of the virtual property. It will wait until Inhouse secures a buyer to fully build it out and select the metaverse where it will live, according to Matt Zanardo, who heads consulting for the firm.

For now, the company is leaning toward building the asset in Decentraland, a popular and easily accessible “public” metaverse where the Metaverse Group is a major landholder, Zanardo said.

A full-scale replica would require about 25 to 30 parcels — each parcel is 16 square meters — in that virtual world, where the cheapest parcels still sell for more than the equivalent of $10,000 in the native cryptocurrency, called MANA. Ultimately, the buyer could buy the land, or lease it at a rate of about 2 percent of its total cost per month.

If the company decides security and privacy is a priority, it may choose to build in its own closed “walled garden” — comparable to the virtual worlds some major enterprises and universities are building for employees and students, Zanardo said.

Levine bought 930 and 960 Alton Road in 1996 for $1.6 million and has used it over the years for his political campaigns and business ventures. Constructed in 1948 (930 Alton) and 1975 (960 Alton), it comprises some 21,000 square feet of commercial space, according to marketing materials. The only tenant, Reebok Crossfit, is leasing month-to-month, Robins said.

The asset is being marketed as a potential 63,000-square-foot redevelopment play. Miami Beach Commissioners in July approved a new zoning ordinance to promote office development on Alton Road.

Metaverse Group is a subsidiary of Tokens.com, a publicly traded company that invests in so-called “Web3” crypto assets and metaverse businesses.





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