Billionaire Ross confirms split with Pérez as both firms expand in South Florida

NY-based Related has been growing aggressively in South Florida over past two years

Billionaire developer Stephen Ross was ahead of the curve when he first invested in South Florida real estate in 1979 with his partner, Jorge Pérez.

But more recently, Ross, chairman of New York-based Related Companies, and Pérez, chairman of Miami-based Related Group, have gone their separate ways. Without naming the firm, Ross said at a ULI event in Miami on Wednesday that he and his partner “just kind of split recently, very amicably.”

A spokesperson for Related Companies confirmed he was referring to the Related Group. Pérez started Related Group in 1979 with Ross as a partner. Ross’ stake in Related Group waned over time, and the two companies were independent of each other.

Camilo Miguel Jr., Kieran Bowers and Stephen Ross

Camilo Miguel Jr., Kieran Bowers and Stephen Ross

But over the past year or so, the two firms have been expanding aggressively in each others’ so-called territories in South Florida. Ross also owns the Miami Dolphins and the Hard Rock Stadium complex in Miami Gardens, which hosts Formula One and other major sporting events. Earlier this year, he proposed developing the oceanfront Deauville Beach Resort in Miami Beach into a two-tower luxury condo and hotel project, but a referendum tied to the zoning failed to garner enough votes.

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Related Companies has long had a presence in West Palm Beach, and Related Group has focused largely on condo development in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. But more recently, Related Group acquired sites in Palm Beach County and is moving forward with at least one project there, while Related Companies is expanding in Miami-Dade County.

Ross spoke with Swire Properties President Kieran Bowers, in a discussion moderated by Mast Capital developer Camilo Miguel Jr. at ULI’s Miami Summit at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami downtown.

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Related Companies and Swire are co-developing the supertall office tower at Brickell City Centre.

Called One Brickell City Centre, the 1,000-foot tower, planned for 700 Brickell Avenue and 799 Brickell Avenue, will mark the tallest commercial high-rise in Florida and one of the tallest buildings in the state. Site clearing is expected to occur next year, with the foundation set after that, Bowers said.

Despite still-high interest rates, record inflation and other soaring costs, Bowers and Ross are still confident in the South Florida real estate market, especially the office market.

“The growth has been phenomenal, and I don’t really see it ending,” Ross said.

Swire plans to invest between $2 billion and $3 billion in the next five or six years in South Florida, Bowers said.

“We’re moving forward right now, no matter what,” Ross said. He noted that a lack of available office space is slowing the office market. Ross, who owns a waterfront estate in Palm Beach, said he fled New York City during the pandemic. Related Companies has since grown its office portfolio in West Palm Beach, becoming the largest office landlord in the city.

Still, both Ross and Bowers acknowledged the slowdown. Ross also alluded to issues that the region is facing, including transportation, but didn’t get into any specifics. Both praised the “welcoming” business environment that attracted companies to relocate or expand to South Florida during the pandemic.

“I think Florida is going to be on the offensive,” Ross said. “The availability of money isn’t there. The interest rates are higher…. I think everybody is taking a bit of a pause.”

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