These were Miami’s biggest commercial buyers during 2015

Deals include a Lincoln Road assemblage, vacant land and hotels

Jan.January 21, 2016 03:45 PM

It’s no secret that boatloads of investment money flowed through Miami during 2015. But what companies were behind those purchases, and what were they buying?

The Real Deal analyzed data from CoStar Group, an information company, to identify last year’s five biggest investment movers and shakers in Miami’s commercial sector.

#1 Ponte Gadea Lincoln Road

An entity owned by the world’s fourth richest man, Amancio Ortega, made Miami-Dade County history last year when it picked up an entire block of Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road for a whopping $370 million.

The purchase covered a handful of parcels that had been assembled by Michael Comras and Jonathan Fryd, two local real estate investors who had purchased the properties 16 years ago.

With that sale, Ortega almost single-handedly pushed property values along Lincoln Road, where rents have already skyrocketed compared to the rest of Miami Beach.

The Zara founder has an affinity for real estate: a 2012 Forbes article said his free time is consumed by investing in properties, and his Lincoln Road deal shattered the street’s previous $342 million sales record from 2014.

#2 Carey Watermark Key Biscayne

Carey Watermark Investors, a publicly traded real estate investment trust, put down a whopping $328.6 million last year to purchase a majority stake in Key Biscayne’s waterfront Ritz-Carlton condo hotel.

The hotel complex boasts 302 hotel rooms — 188 of which are condo-hotel units — located on 17 acres of land on Key Biscayne’s eastern beaches. Gencom Group, a major hospitality firm that owns Ritz-Carlton properties throughout the U.S., was the seller.

This deal was also the year’s largest single-property investment purchase, and it was part of a three-deal venture between Carey and Gencom that was valued at more than $500 million.

#3 Blackstone Group  downtown Miami

Blackstone Group’s purchase of an 85 percent interest in downtown Miami’s InterContinental Miami hotel was enough to land it in third place for this list.

The New York financial giant absorbed the InterContinental’s former owner, Strategic Hotels, in a massive $6 billion deal. As part of that deal, Blackstone gained an 85 percent stake in the downtown Miami hotel. The hotel is valued at roughly $355 million, so this deal breaks down to $302 million.

The InterContinental, located on a waterfront lot at 100 Chopin Plaza, is 34 stories and has 641 rooms. Three years ago, the hotel underwent a massive $30 million renovation plan that included the opening of restaurant Toro Toro.

#4 Chesapeake Lodging Trust  South Beach

Hotel deals were a hot item during 2015, and this one was no different. The Maryland-based Chesapeake Lodging Trust paid $278 million for a piece of Miami Beach history last year when it acquired the James Royal Palms Hotel.

The seller was KSL Capital Partners, a private equity firm that picked up the James in 2011 and put in $42 million to spruce it up.

It was first put up for sale early last year and even attracted a bid from developer Don Peebles — whose offer fell short of what its owners hoped to fetch.

Shortly after its purchase, Chesapeake dropped the James part of the hotel’s brand, instead naming it the Royal Palm South Beach.

The 393-room hotel is located on a beachfront lot at 1545 Collins Avenue.

#5 AMLI Residential  Doral, Dadeland and Midtown Miami

Although AMLI Residential’s individual purchases weren’t enough to get it on TRD’s list of 2015’s biggest deals, the multifamily company’s combined pick-ups were enough to land it in the fifth spot of Miami’s biggest commercial buyers.

AMLI, which is an institutional fund managed by Morgan Stanley, picked up three major properties last year: a Midtown Miami development site for $55 million, the Signature at Doral housing community in Doral for $103.5 million, and the Modera Dadeland apartment complex in Kendall for $104.5 million.

That’s a combined $263 million worth of Miami-Dade real estate, which cements the fund’s position as one of the county’s major real estate players of 2015.

TRD researcher Eda Kouch contributed to this report.

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