A star-studded lineup of real estate industry bigwigs – including Howard Lorber, Pamela Liebman, Louise Sunshine, Robert Reffkin, Jackie Soffer, Craig Robins and Michael Stern – joined thousands of attendees at The Real Deal South Florida’s Fifth Annual Real Estate Showcase & Forum on Thursday, held at Mana Wynwood in Miami.
Engaging panelists covered the expanding national residential brokerages, the changing retail market, the future of Miami’s condo cycle, and the added value that hotel brands bring to condo projects. And in a one-on-one interview, TRD Publisher Amir Korangy sat down with Brightline President and CEO Patrick Goddard to discuss ridership, future stations and more.
The event was sponsored by 100 companies who set up booths in the Showcase, including Coastal Construction, Douglas Elliman, Fortune International Group, OneWorld Properties, Samsung and Popular Bank – Miami Heat player Wayne Ellington was on hand at Popular Bank’s booth to sign autographs and pose with fans.
During the first panel, moderated by TRD senior reporter E.B. Solomont, Douglas Elliman Chairman Lorber, Corcoran CEO Liebman, Compass founder and CEO Reffkin, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates COO Julie Leonhardt LaTorre, and The Agency’s CEO and founder Mauricio Umansky tackled the aggressive expansion push that residential brokerages are making across the country. Umansky announced that his Beverly Hills-based firm is opening an office in Boca Raton for its first foray into South Florida.
The panelists also discussed how sustainable the traditional brokerage model is – to Reffkin, it is not; growing naturally vs. via acquisitions; and taking back control over their listings (and taking it away from platforms like Zillow).
Shortly after, Louis Birdman, Moishe Mana, Jules Trump, Michael Stern and Kieran Bowers discussed the luxury condo market in Miami amid a shortage of developable land and a credit crunch, at a panel moderated by TRD Editor-in-Chief Stuart Elliott. Stern, who’s developing Monad Terrace in Miami Beach, predicted that developers will stop using the once-popular EB-5 visa program as a source of financing, and instead will turn to the new Opportunity Zones program, which provides tax deferments and tax breaks for developers who invest in projects in designated low-income neighborhoods across the country.
Trump, of no relation to the president, announced that his Trump Group signed a $600 million construction contract with Coastal Construction, the largest ever for a South Florida condo project, for the Estates at Acqualina in Sunny Isles Beach.
On the commercial market, Craig Robins and Jackie Soffer, who are married, denied that there is a “retail apocalypse” and said instead that retail landlords can survive the threats they’re facing from e-commerce by recruiting tenants with a strong digital and physical presence. Dacra’s Robins, who’s developing the Miami Design District, and Soffer, of Turnberry Associates, were joined by East End Capital Partners’ Jonathon Yormak. The panel was moderated by Katherine Kallergis, associate web editor.
Yormak expressed some concern over the end of the commercial cycle, and said that retail landlords face “drastic resets in retail rates” due to “vast amounts of vacancy.”
In between panels, Korangy had a fireside chat with Goddard about the $4 billion Brightline project. Goddard said that the Orlando leg will be up and running by 2021. After Orlando, Brightline has its sights set on Tampa.
At the last panel, moderator Ina Cordle, managing editor of TRD South Florida, asked panelists about the value that hotel brands bring to condo projects. Louise Sunshine, a strategic adviser to the owners of Fort Partners, said the Four Seasons brand adds a minimum of 30 percent in value to its residences. Sunshine was joined on the panel by Fortune International’s Edgardo Defortuna, Aria Development Group’s David Arditi and Faena Group’s Benjamin Sinclair.
“Miami is probably a world capital of branding,” Defortuna said. “We all are selling lifestyle, and the condominium branded residences really take it to the next level.”