Southern exposure

It all began two years ago when Douglas Elliman broker Jacky Teplitzky, a native of Chile, was speaking to one of her Brazilian clients who wanted to buy a property in Miami. Trouble was, the woman didn’t know any brokers outside of New York.

So Teplitzky flew down to Miami, teamed up with a local broker and found the woman a property; three months later, Teplitzky got a similar call from Chile. “I said to myself, ‘Somebody is trying to tell me something,’ ” she said.

She started talking with Prudential Douglas Elliman chairman Howard Lorber about the firm’s growth in Miami — Douglas Elliman Florida — and told him her idea to bring a team down herself.

By the spring of this year, Teplitzky had acquired her Florida license and, with Miami broker Laura Steinbruckner, formed the Jacky Teplitzky team under the Elliman umbrella, although she still works out of New York.

Her story isn’t unusual. Increasingly, New York brokers (who, of course, have to get Florida licenses), real estate industry professionals and developers are heading down to the Magic City, looking to capitalize on its thriving market and to deepen the connection between the two cities. What’s happening in the Miami area is similar to the migration earlier in the decade by New York power players like Brown Harris Stevens and Corcoran to Palm Beach.

Jacky Teplitzky

New York’s Horacio LeDon, who is originally from Miami, has opened a brokerage in Miami’s Design District. Oren Alexander of Elliman has expanded his reach to Miami. Even commercial brokerage Robert K. Futterman & Associates opened a new Miami office last year. Most are still based in New York, however.

“Miami is really New York City South,” said Kevin Maloney, founder of New York–based developer Property Markets Group. “In Miami, everyone is from the East Coast — the South Florida market very much feeds from New York City. It makes sense that developers would want to come down, too.”

Maloney said he was drawn to a sector that was continuing to emerge. “It’s really allowed us to come down [to Miami] and acquire sites very inexpensively and go ahead and build,” he told The Real Deal. “We’re here just as the market’s emerging, and as it gets stronger, we’re starting to see funds down here, like Starwood and Westbrook and Rockpoint.”

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PMG now has three residential projects in development across South Florida (in addition to six in New York): the 95th on the Ocean condo in Bal Harbour, a project in Hollywood, just north of Miami, and the planned 321 Ocean boutique condominium in Miami Beach’s South of Fifth neighborhood.

Horacio LeDon

“Miami has been a great market for us,” Maloney said of PMG, whose first local project was the Mei condominium in 2008. “It’s a fun market — it’s very much on the upswing at this point.”

The biggest New York–Miami deal of 2012 might have been the $132 million purchase by Vornado of 1100 Lincoln Road, the epicenter of Miami Beach’s retail market. (The seller was actually another New Yorker, investor Aby Rosen.)

New York’s presence in the city’s development, both in hype and performance, extends beyond brokerages and agents.

Restaurateur Danny Meyer has already opened Shake Shack burger joints in Miami Beach and Coral Gables. Last year, The Dutch, serving up surf and turf, came to the W South Beach, and notable New York Greek eatery Milos expanded with a location in South of Fifth. And in steamy Miami, the opening of Serendipity 3, which now serves up hot chocolate on Lincoln Road, is also notable. Fittingly, Serendipity 3 is in the building now owned by Vornado.

Teplitzky said such expansions into the Miami market are helping to draw New York’s real estate crowd. “We used to look at Miami as having one or two [restaurants] that were good — now, it seems like almost every single restaurant in New York has arrived in Miami,” she said. “I feel like it’s become a very, very diversified place — and it has a lot of room to grow.”

And Miami has changed in other ways, too, evolving from a scattered, car-centric city into more of a walkable metro area, Teplitzky said. “I was stunned when I got to Miami when I saw people walking around on the street,” she said. “You never used to see people walking the streets in Miami. So right now, it’s like a mini-Manhattan almost — it’s a completely different environment.”

Florence Quinn, founder of New York–based public relations firm Quinn & Co., recently decided to expand her company with a Miami office, in part to capitalize on the growing impact of real estate in the city. Real estate data providers Miller Samuel and StreetEasy have also expanded in South Florida.

“My guess is it’s going to be a flood [of people coming to Miami] — I think we’re going to see even more of a relationship between New York and South Florida,” Quinn said. “People have always said Miami is an extension of New York — it’s the sixth borough.”