Shoma Group co-founder picks up Coral Gables apartment complex for $8M

32-unit buildings could be redeveloped into luxury townhomes or apartments

915 and 920 Palermo Avenue in Coral Gables
915 and 920 Palermo Avenue in Coral Gables

Coral Gables real estate investor Maria Lamas picked up a 32-unit apartment complex in her own backyard for $8.2 million.

Venetian Flats, an entity managed by Lamas, bought the Venetian Apartments at 915 and 920 Palermo Avenue, located near the Venetian Pool and the Biltmore Hotel. Her company financed the deal with a $6.1 million loan with Ocean Bank.

Lamas, who co-founded Shoma Group with her then-husband Masoud Shojaee, paid roughly $256,000 per unit.

920 Sevilla Developers, a foreign company registered in Delaware, sold the properties.

The complex, which is being renamed Venetian Flats, has two buildings. The one at 915 Palermo Avenue has 18 units and was completed in 1963. A year later, the 14-unit building at 920 Palermo Avenue was finished. A spokesperson for Lamas said the buildings are being renovated with the possibility of raising rents.

However, Lamas plans to redevelop the site into luxury townhomes or flats in five to 10 years depending on the market, the spokesperson said.

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Marcus & Millichap broker Landy Toledo represented the buyer and the seller. Toledo said assemblages like the nearly 1-acre Venetian Apartments are rare finds near the Biltmore area in Coral Gables. “There is redevelopment potential, including the opportunity for the buyer to transform the property into additional townhomes and condominiums,” Toledo said.

Lamas played an instrumental role in Shoma Group’s growth, the company she and Shojaee founded in 1988. The couple split after 29 years of marriage in 2015 and their divorced was finalized three years later.

Lamas’ Coral Gables acquisition closed as the city experiences an apartment building boom. Life Time and development firm Nolan Reynolds International recently completed a 1.2 million-square-foot mixed use project with 495 luxury apartments along U.S. 1.

About a mile from Lamas’ properties, Ubica and Maven Real Estate are planning an apartment building on a half-acre site anchored at 152 Almeria Avenue.

Nearby, Agave Holdings is almost finished building The Plaza, a 2.25 million-square-foot mega-project with 174 apartments, a 242-key hotel and 161,000 square feet of retail.

Lamas’ spokesperson said she was attracted to the Palermo Avenue site because it is across from the Venetian Pool and surrounded by million-dollar homes. “There are no other apartments within close proximity,” the spokesperson said. “And it is still within walking distance to downtown. Just an all-around great location.”