Billionaire hotelier buys Wynwood property for mixed-use project

Sarkis Izmirlian, the original developer of Baha Mar in the Bahamas, is planning a hotel with restaurants and retail on the block-long property

Apr.April 23, 2019 05:30 PM

Sarkis Izmirlian, 201 Northwest 21st Street and 210 Northwest 22nd Street (Credit: Google Maps)

A billionaire hotelier based in the Bahamas has turned his sights to Miami, paying $26.4 million for an assemblage in Wynwood with plans to build a mixed-use project, The Real Deal has learned.

Sarkis Izmirlian, the original developer of Baha Mar in the Bahamas, bought the properties at 201 Northwest 21st Street and 210 Northwest 22nd Street in Miami through a Delaware company, Miami Development 2122 Trustee, Inc.

The seller is Sam Herzberg, whose real estate investment firm, The Sterling Building Inc., includes Richard Do and David Herzberg.

Robert Ziehm’s Sterling Equity Realty brokered the deal that closed on Friday and has not yet been recorded in property records. Sterling’s Marc Sacheli represented the buyer and the firm’s Joseph Weiner represented the seller.

The 1-acre-plus assemblage encompasses the entire block on Northwest Second Avenue from 21st Street to 22nd Street. At $545 per square foot, it represents the highest price paid for property in Wynwood that is outside the Wynwood overlay district that allows heightened zoning, Ziehm said. The 21st Street property includes a nearly 27,000-square-foot warehouse built in 1941.

Herzberg paid $22 million for the properties in 2016, records show.

Sacheli declined to identify the buyer, but said he plans to build a hotel with retail and restaurants on the site.

Corporate documents are linked to an executive of More Development, a Bahamas company, and reveal the buyer is Izmirlian. Born in Switzerland, he studied at Georgetown University and now lives in the Bahamas, according to Georgetown’s website. In addition to real estate development and investment, his family businesses include commodities trading, agricultural equipment manufacturing and financial investments.

At the end of 2017, Izmirlian’s BML Properties Ltd. filed a $2.25 billion lawsuit alleging fraud by the Chinese state-run firm that built Baha Mar, a casino resort in the Bahamas. According to published reports, Izmirlian lost his $845 million investment in Baha Mar when Chinese bankers foreclosed on the unfinished Nassau property in 2015. The lenders sold control of the project to Hong Kong conglomerate Chow Tai Fook Enterprises in late 2016, and the property was completed in 2018.

Izmirlian, whose companies are linked to a West Palm Beach address, has purchased two other properties in Wynwood in recent months, also brokered by Sterling Equity Realty.

First he paid $4 million for 199 Northwest 20th Street, a 2,300-square-foot building on a roughly 9,000-square-foot lot, in October. Then he bought 236 Northwest 22nd Street, a 14,000-square-foot lot, for $2.8 million, in January. That property is adjacent to the assemblage he just purchased.

Herzberg is a long-time real estate mogul in Miami Beach whose properties include the Sterling Building at 927 Lincoln Road, as well as 901 Lincoln Road, the site of Victoria’s Secret. His holdings also include the Walgreens building at the corner of Collins Avenue and Fifth Street in Miami Beach. His nephew Do said he is planning larger investments in other areas, such as Washington, D.C., and Virginia.

Wynwood is undergoing major redevelopment, with other hotel projects planned. Among them, former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine and his real estate partner Scott Robins plan a hotel and residential development at 35 Northwest 27th Street. And Alex Karakhanian and Wynwood Investment Partners are planning a 12-story hotel with office and retail at 51 Northwest 29th Street.

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