South Florida’s top mayors, major developers, brokers and hospitality moguls attracted thousands of people to The Real Deal’s South Florida Real Estate Showcase and Forum this week.
More than 4,100 people attended the event, entering through the showcase of booths where developers, brokers, lenders, architects and other vendors featured their products.
Lending Bankers made it rain with wads of fake $100 bills scattered all over its booth and beyond; and Envoy, an electric car share startup, put a car on display. Sponsors included City National Bank, Thermador, Douglas Elliman, Jennair and One Sotheby’s International Realty. VIPs networked with speakers in a panel room sponsored by Thermador.
It was standing room only at the seventh annual Miami event, held at Mana Wynwood on Wednesday, where Fontainebleau Miami Beach owner Jeffrey Soffer and hospitality guru David Grutman spoke with TRD Publisher Amir Korangy about surviving the pandemic and explained how they create hospitality concepts.
Soffer joked that Grutman “makes this shit up in his bedroom,” while Grutman, who owns and operates LIV nightclub at the Fontainebleau, agreed that there “is no data” driving the creation of his concepts.
During the mayors’ panel, which included Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James addressed the “rough and tumble politics” of working with two billionaire developers who have gotten particularly testy: Charles Cohen and Jeff Greene. James, Levine Cava and others discussed the huge need and plans to invest in infrastructure to support the migration into South Florida.
Suarez, who was cheered on by the crowd, left the panel early to be sworn into his second mayoral term, but not before hammering off statistics about tech jobs and financial firms that have moved to his city. Over the last 16 months, companies with a collective $1.2 trillion in assets under management have moved to the Miami area, with more than 2,000 jobs created, he said.
Later on, developers Keith Menin, Gil Dezer, Jon Paul Pérez and Todd Michael Glaser covered the next wave of South Florida condo development. The consensus was that the huge demand for South Florida real estate will continue. Financing is flowing, and more people than ever are living in the Miami area full time.
“The major difference we are seeing for the future is that we have a much stronger domestic buyer. And that buyer is from companies, employers who are moving to South Florida and making it home,” said Pérez, president of Coconut Grove-based Related Group.
The spotlight on South Florida continued at the next panel, where speakers Nicole Kushner Meyer, Steve Witkoff, Russell Galbut and Kevin Maloney were supposed to talk about their projects across the country, but instead doubled down on the major growth South Florida is experiencing and why they all have developments in Miami. They also addressed the tragic Surfside condo collapse that occurred in June, and how they would not bid on the site.
The forum ended with some of the top residential brokers in the market discussing the effects of the hot luxury market, the prevalence of off-market deals and the lack of inventory, in a sometimes heated discussion. Julian Johnston, Dora Puig, Jeff Miller, Dina Goldentayer and Oren Alexander riffed on competition amongst themselves and who is No. 1.
In response to a comment Goldentayer made about paying for a billboard in Times Square, Alexander joked that his buyers are not in Times Square, while Goldentayer fired back about Alexander inflating his sales numbers regarding a major sale in Coconut Grove.
The brokers also discussed the return of international buyers as agents prepare for Art Basel and the slew of events that surround the artsy week. Puig said she told her team to “brace themselves,” especially with such limited inventory of waterfront single-family homes.
“We are fighting for listings,” Johnston said. “I’ve had 20 brokers come up to me [today] asking, ‘Do you have anything?’”