The Real Deal Miami

Inside gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine’s real estate holdings

The next project for the developer and Democratic hopeful is in Wynwood, partner Scott Robins says
By Katherine Kallergis |
Research by Kevin Sun
August 24, 2018 05:40PM

Philip Levine and one of his properties

Florida gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine may be known best locally as the former mayor of Miami Beach, but he is also a developer with a sizable real estate portfolio of more than $79 million that stretches from Miami to New York City’s Park Avenue.

Earlier this summer, he and his real estate partner Scott Robins sold a major retail portfolio they had developed in Miami Beach’s Sunset Harbour neighborhood – an area viewed as a testing ground for Levine’s sea level rise initiatives – for nearly $69 million to Asana Partners, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based real estate investment firm.

“It was time to monetize it and move onto the next one, which is what I’ve done my whole life. We started on Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue. We’ll continue to go into these areas, rehab them, sell them and move on. It’s a normal process for us,” Robins said.

Levine and Robins led the major redevelopment of the neighborhood, bringing in tenants like Barry’s Bootcamp, the home-grown Panther Coffee, Dirt, Stiltsville, shared office space concept Büro and Lucali. The retail property sold, fully leased, for more than $1,000 per foot.

Now, Levine and Robins are focusing on Wynwood.

Born in Boston, Levine has spent most of his life in South Florida, where he moved to at the age of 10, graduating from Hollywood Hills High School in Hollywood, Florida. After college, he moved to Miami Beach.

Levine, a Democratic candidate running in Tuesday’s primary election, is competing against other real estate heavyweights, including Democrats Gwen Graham and Jeff Greene. Some polls show Levine and Graham are in a dead heat to win the Democratic nomination, with Greene trailing them. Graham, a former U.S. Representative, is the daughter of Bob Graham – whose family developed Miami Lakes and has been involved in the contentious American Dream mega-mall project in northwest Miami-Dade.  Greene is a billionaire real estate developer who made hundreds of millions of dollars betting against subprime mortgage-backed securities before the last financial crisis hit. He is now focused on West Palm Beach.

Whoever wins in Tuesday’s primary election will face off against the Republican candidate in November – either Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam or Congressman Ron DeSantis, who earned President Trump’s endorsement earlier this year.

Levine made his fortune when he sold OnBoard Media to LVMH Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy in 2000 for an undisclosed amount. In 2011, he formed a new company called Royal Media Partners that provides port shopping services exclusively for Royal Caribbean Cruises.

Levine was also mayor of Miami Beach from 2013 to 2017, during which he oversaw a number of zoning changes and implemented some controversial neighborhood sea level rise mitigation efforts. 

According to a financial disclosure form filed with the Florida Department of Elections in August, Levine’s holdings are valued at about $79.2 million – excluding the Sunset Harbour retail portfolio. He’s raised about $23.36 million, according to the state. Donors include the Blavatniks, whose Miami Beach developments include the Faena District, the Robins family, Alan Potamkin, and Related Group founder Jorge Pérez’s wife, Darlene Boytell-Pérez.

Now that Levine and Robins sold the Sunset Harbour property, Robins called Wynwood their next “frontier.”

Wynwood

According to property records, Levine’s Baron Wynwood 2 LLC and Baron Wynwood LLC own the 38,478-square-foot assemblage on Northwest 23rd Street and Northwest First Place. The companies paid $5.85 million for the properties, at:

  • 170 Northwest 23rd Street
  • 2200, 2215 and 2237 Northwest First Place
  • 175 Northwest 22nd Street
  • Levine’s campaign headquarters is based at 2215 Northwest First Place, where Hillary Clinton had a field office for the 2016 presidential election. The lots are also across the street from real estate owned by Goldman Properties.

Robins said they’re currently working on a project on 27th Street in Wynwood with residential and commercial components. He’s assembling a team and working on plans for the site over the next couple of months, but Robins declined to provide specifics. On 27th Street between Northwest First Avenue and North Miami Avenue, Levine’s Baron Wynwood entities own six contiguous lots totaling 39,550 square feet, at:

  • 35, 49, 63, 65, 73 and 83 Northwest 27th Street

Property records show the companies spent $2.13 million assembling the site between 2012 and 2014.

Miami Beach

In Miami Beach, Levine’s Media Holdings Limited and Media Holdings 930 LLC own the office buildings at 930 and 960 Alton Road, where his Royal Media Partners is based. The Media Holdings companies paid $1.6 million in 1996 for the larger corner building and $1.4 million in 2010 for the adjacent property.

Levine and Robins’ 17th Street Partners LLC paid $1.47 million for the development site at 1000 17th Street, which is now leased to European menswear brand Suitsupply. They developed the retail building, one block north of Lincoln Road in 2014.

Levine, who lives on Miami Beach’s Sunset Island 1 at 1425 North View Drive, also invests in residential real estate. He has two properties on the market on Sunset Island 2:

  • Danny Hertzberg is listing Levine’s lot at 1800 West 27th Street for nearly $3 million. Levine paid $1.2 million for the property in 2011.
  • Danny and Hillary Hertzberg are listing the lot at 2520 Shelter Avenue for $2.55 million. Levine’s Baron 2520 Shelter LLC paid about $1.7 million for it in 2012.

In 2012, Baron Sunset 1525 LLC paid $980,000 for the lot at 1525 West 21st Street, and sold it in 2014 for $1.42 million.

He also owns a condo unit at Palau in Sunset Harbour, which he purchased for $1.2 million in 2016, according to property records.

Outside of South Florida

In Manhattan, companies tied to Levine paid a combined $6.15 million for units 10C and 10D at 525 Park Avenue in 2011 and 2017. The 14-story prewar building was built in 1914 and converted to a condominium in 1989, according to StreetEasy.

Companies controlled by Levine also own a development site in Okeechobee County, Florida, north of Lake Okeechobee. Property records show Okee Investments LLC owns the land on Highway 70. The entity paid $2 million in 2006 for nearly an acre at 2121 Highway 70 and for 5.72 acres next door at 2229 Highway 70.