The Real Deal Miami

Q & A with attorney Suzanne Amaducci-Adams

By Alexander Britell | July 23, 2010 05:30PM

The Bilzin Sumberg partner talks Miami hotel and office real estate

Suzanne Amaducci-Adams

Suzanne Amaducci-Adams is a partner
at Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod. Amaducci-Adams, who is
also the president of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Miami, has
significant experience in commercial real estate deals — from
financing to development, in office and hotels. She leads the firm’s
Hospitality Group, including having personally worked on the
development of the Epic Hotel in Downtown Miami. Amaducci-Adams talked
to
The Real Deal about the
state of the Miami hotel market, her firm’s upcoming move to 1450
Brickell, and an unexpected wave of office leasing.

What are you seeing in the hotel market?
There’s
a lot of interest in South Florida, and a lot of transactions going on
right now like the Royal Palm, which is set for foreclosure auction
August 19. A lot of top players are in town and are looking at it… The
good thing about Miami is it’s a gateway city. And the Miami market is
probably the number-two market in the country as far as recovery on
hotels, and it’s poised to be the top hotel market for the next several
years.

Why is Miami poised for a strong hotel recovery?
The
first is the barriers to entry into our market. You’re not going to
construct a brand new hotel on the sand in Miami Beach. It’s going to
be incredibly difficult to do. So you have to buy an existing property,
and everyone wants one on the sand in Miami Beach. Miami is an
international city, and we have a lot of foreign investment… It also
has very easy access — there are flights to everywhere from Miami
International Airport, along with Fort Lauderdale International
Airport, so from a transportation standpoint, it’s very easy to get to.
That, and the weather.

How are these hotel deals going down? Who are the buyers?
They’re
mostly funds. A lot of people have raised money, but they haven’t been
able to buy things in the last couple of years. They were concerned
about prices; they were concerned about value, so they’ve had a lot of
money that’s been committed to them to invest. So they have been unable
to buy anything and have a bunch of cash… Having a lot of cash
transactions is good, because there is not a lot of financing available
for hotels. Everyone’s talking about the Seville [Hotel] deal. It just
closed for $57.5 million, which is a very high price. That was a
distressed situation, but a good result in a distressed situation.

Your
firm is moving to 1450 Brickell. What does that, along with the Wells
Fargo Financial Center, mean for commercial real estate?

I
think they’re definitely going to have an impact as to overall new
square footage in the market. They’re two trophy buildings and people
are flocking to them. People want the latest and greatest technology.
People want green, people want hurricane protection. I’m also doing
leasing work for 1450, so I’m not allowed to disclose what we’ve been
working on. But there’s extreme interest in 1450… Everyone’s assuming
that it’s a game of musical chairs, where people are just moving office
locations, but that’s not necessarily the case. There are new tenants
coming into the market.

What has office leasing been like this year?
We
were caught off guard by the volume of office leasing activity this
year. We didn’t expect that there would be so much. There’s been a ton
of leasing here. We also do leasing activity at the former SunTrust
building, which is now Miami Tower; we do leasing work at 1450, at 4000
Ponce de Leon [in Coral Gables], so we do a lot of different types of
leasing. I think that means that people are making permanent business
decisions — whether it’s increasing the size of their space, whether
it’s downsizing the size of their space, they’re making permanent
decisions, which I think is a step towards recovery.

Got a tip? Email Alexander Britell at ab@therealdeal.com