“Hedge fund vampire” bites into waterfront Coconut Grove mansion for $19M

Heath Freeman leads Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund that paid $633 million for Tribune Publishing, the national newspaper company that owns South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Heath Freeman, managing director of Alden Global Capital, and the house at 3503 Lodge Drive in Coconut Grove, Miami (Getty, Compass / Brown Harris Stevens)
Heath Freeman, managing director of Alden Global Capital, and the house at 3503 Lodge Drive in Coconut Grove, Miami (Getty, Compass / Brown Harris Stevens)

“Hedge fund vampire” Heath Freeman is biting into Miami’s luxury home market.

Freeman, managing director of New York-based Alden Global Capital, picked up a waterfront mansion in Camp Biscayne, a gated Coconut Grove community, for $19 million, records show. Freeman financed the purchase with a $12.4 million loan from Wells Fargo Bank.

The sellers of the 9,700-square-foot, six-bedroom, six-bathroom house at 3503 Main Lodge Drive in Miami are David J. Ivler and his wife, Jessica. David Ivler is president of Miami-based drone manufacturer DJI Corp.

Freeman is also part of an investment group that purchased the East Hampton Point luxury resort earlier this year for an undisclosed amount of less than $20 million.

Freeman’s nickname as the “hedge fund vampire’ stems from Alden’s aggressive business strategy of buying up newspaper companies and then laying off employees and making other deep budget cuts that critics claim erodes local media outlets, according to media reports. In May, Alden acquired Tribune Publishing, parent company of the Chicago Tribune and the Sun Sentinel, for $633 million.

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According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Alden leveraged Tribune Publishing with two loans totaling $278 million, and replaced company CEO Terry Jimenez with Freeman. Tribune Publishing’s new owners also offered buyouts to newsroom staffers, including at the Sun Sentinel. The package included 12 weeks of pay for eligible employees with three or more years of continuous service, plus an additional week of pay for every year with the company. Those with less than three years of continuous service would only get eight weeks of pay, according to the Sun Sentinel.

In July, the Poynter Institute reported the buyouts created at least a 10 percent reduction in Tribune’s newsroom workforce.

Records show an entity managed by David Ivler bought the 1-acre property in Camp Biscayne for $1.5 million in 2004. The same year, the deed was transferred to Ivler and his wife. In 2007, the couple built the two-story house that features a theater room, a gym, a game room, an elevator, a full-house generator and an eight-car garage, according to a listing on Realtor.com.

The property, which also has a pool, a boat dock and a white-sand beach, was listed for $22 million in March. Judith Werner of Bold Miami represented Freeman, and Toni Schrager of Brown Harris Stevens listed the property on behalf of the Ivlers.

In recent months, Coconut Grove waterfront homes have sold for sky-high prices. Developer Jorge Pérez and his wife, Darlene, sold their mansion at 3323 Devon Court for their asking price of $33 million. The couple donated the sale proceeds to the Miami Foundation.

Miami businessman and Major League Soccer franchise owner Jorge Mas sold his mansion at 3085 Munroe Drive to nutrition moguls Roger and Sloan Barrett for nearly $46 million. And in a record deal for Miami-Dade home sales, an unknown buyer recently purchased a spec waterfront mansion under construction at 3488 Saint Gaudens Road for $65 million.