“Miami is the last man standing”: Marc Roberts weighs in with Robert Rivani on hospitality

Deep-pocketed transplants flocking to luxurious nightlife and dining venues

With his exuberant fashion sense and style, imagine Robert Rivani as a Gen Z Mr. Monopoly, the titular character of the popular real estate board game.

His commercial condo buying spree in Miami and Miami Beach this past year is akin to picking up Monopoly properties that can generate the highest income, Rivani told a standing room only crowd at The Real Deal’s South Florida Showcase + Forum on Thursday.

In Miami Beach’s South of Fifth neighborhood, the 32-year-old retail real estate investor now owns restaurant spaces at boutique condominiums One Ocean and Marea, and a two-story restaurant building adjacent to the Continuum South Beach condo complex, where New York-based celebrity seafood hotspot Catch recently signed a lease for its first South Florida outpost. Rivani paid a combined $42.7 million for the three properties.

“Anyone who knows South of Fifth, no one is going there to shoot darts and pound beers,” Rivani said. “We are trying to develop a restaurant’s row. You need heavy hitters. You already have Papi Steak and Carbone.”

Rivani, founder and CEO of Miami-based Black Lion Investment Group, is also the restaurant landlord at One Thousand Museum, SLS Brickell and Paraiso Bay Residences in Miami.

Rivani joined Marc Roberts, co-owner of E11even nightclub and co-developer of two E11even-branded residential towers in downtown Miami, on TRD’s hospitality panel, moderated by Katherine Kallergis, at Mana Wynwood in Miami. The duo dropped their insights about restaurant and nightclub real estate in the Magic City and its neighbor across the causeway.

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The pandemic-induced migration of hedge fund managers, financial services professionals, tech and cryptocurrency entrepreneurs and ultra-wealthy individuals has transformed Miami into ‘the capitalist capital of the world,” Roberts said.

Open Thursdays through Sundays, E11even averages 6,000 patrons a night, Roberts said. “Our clientele ranges from 21-year-olds to 70-year-olds,” Roberts said. “The brand has resonated with every generation.”

Even with predictions of a looming economic recession and cryptocurrency markets cratering, the luxury hospitality real estate sector in Miami and Miami Beach won’t suffer too much, Roberts said. “Miami is the last man standing,” he said. “If you stick with Miami, you are not going to go wrong. Just don’t leverage yourself.”

Downtown Miami’s Park West neighborhood, the site of his nightclub and two condominium projects, is poised to become the city’s entertainment hub once the Florida Department of Transportation finishes construction of the new I-395 bridge to Miami Beach, Roberts said. Miami Worldcenter, a $4 billion master-planned community of apartments, condominiums, hotels and retail, is also in Park West, Roberts noted. In August, Roberts and his partner Titan Capital sold a nearly half-acre development site in Miami Worldcenter for $30 million.

“With what’s happening in Miami Worldcenter, and you take into account what we are doing, you will have so much entertainment and restaurants in Park West,” Roberts said. “I’m staying in Park West.”

Rivani said he’s not worried about a recession because his restaurant tenants cater to deep-pocketed diners who don’t have a problem paying for $1,000 steak entrees. “For the business I am in and the tenants that I have, a recession doesn’t apply,” Rivani said. “[Their clientele] pay $200,000 for dinners. These are people who want to actually enjoy their lives. I am not too worried about it.”