Miami Heat veteran Udonis Haslem has amassed career earnings estimated at about $60 million, but unlike many retired athletes who turn to real estate, he’s investing and developing affordable housing.
The 39-year-old power forward, who has played for the Heat since 2003, formed a real estate company in 2017 called Haslem Housing Venture LLC to promote low-income housing within the Miami-Dade area, Sylvester King, Haslem’s business manager, told The Real Deal.
Haslem Housing and another Miami-based company, Magellan Housing LLC, are developing a 134-unit rental apartment project for low-income residents of North Miami, and “we’re looking at other projects,” King said. “Anything that is going to improve the family structure and give kids the opportunity to go home in a safe environment is something [Haslem] is passionate about promoting.”
The two companies responded to a request for proposals by the North Miami city government by proposing a mixed-use development with 134 apartments and a 10,000-square-foot commercial building on 6.32 acres of city-owned land at 13780 Northeast Fifth Avenue, formerly known as Rucks Park. The project site also would include three adjacent parcels owned by the North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency.
A joint venture of Haslem Housing and Magellan Housing would pay $1.5 million for the land and would spend another $1.75 million to remediate soil pollution at the city-owned site, a government-designated brownfield with high levels of arsenic, ammonia and pesticides.
A municipal evaluation committee ranked their proposal for the former Rucks Park site as the best, and in a unanimous vote Monday night, the North Miami City Council endorsed the committee’s selection and directed the city manager to negotiate a development agreement with the winning bidders.
The city council’s action allows the joint venture to secure financing for the development, said Nick Inamdar, principal of Magellan Housing. The 16-month construction phase of the project could start as soon as October 2020.
Inamdar said financing will determine some of the residential details of the mixed-use development, to be called Atala. For example, the apartments would be reserved for residents earning 60 percent of the area’s median income “if we’re fortunate enough to obtain low-income housing tax credits,” he said. In addition, “that might dictate the overall size of the project. It may dictate whether we’re doing a family project or an elderly project.”
Pre-leasing is expected to start before construction is completed. “The housing stock in North Miami is pretty old. There hasn’t been a whole lot of new development, particularly in the central part of North Miami where we’re located,” he said. The project site was developed as a sewer treatment plant around 1963 and as a nursery around 1973, and “for 40 years now, it has essentially sat there abandoned, fenced off,” he said.
Haslem – who may play his final season with the Miami Heat starting Oct. 23 with a home opener against the Memphis Grizzlies – will do more than lend his name to the North Miami development. Inamdar said Haslem, a Miami native, will provide some of the financing and also play a role in designing the development and determining the criteria for selecting tenants.
“He’s got a foundation that does youth work, and from that, he has seen individuals going back to substandard homes. So, he’s really interested in trying to improve the housing stock here in Miami,” Inamdar said. “As he nears the end of his career with the Miami Heat, he’s really interested in ways he can give back to the community.”
Haslem joins other famous athletes who have turned to real estate investment as their professional sports careers have waned. Among them, retired all-star Yankee Alex Rodriguez formed A-Rod Corp. in 2003, and has since purchased over 15,000 apartments across the U.S. And Rodriguez’s multifamily arm, Monument Capital Management, recently launched its fourth residential fund focused on workforce housing.
Former NFL star Elvis Dumervil has invested in the multifamily market, amassing a portfolio of more than 700 units, mostly concentrated in North Miami and North Miami Beach, since forming his property management and investment firm Prestige Estates in 2016.
And former Miami Heat player Luol Deng has also focused on real estate, with a portfolio valued at $125 million, including resorts, hotels, condominiums and apartment buildings, according to Forbes.