The Weekly Dirt: More bad news for suspended Miami commissioner

An analysis of South Florida's top real estate news

The Real Deal Weekly Dirt: Miami Commissioner DLP Fallout
Alex Diaz de la Portilla (Getty)

You heard about the arrest of now-former Miami commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla on charges of bribery and money laundering. 

But did you know that he has been staving off foreclosure of his childhood home for more than a decade? Diaz de la Portilla allegedly owes mortgage payments, interest and other fees totaling about $630,000 to Wells Fargo. 

The foreclosure proceedings began in 2011, when Diaz de la Portilla and his then-wife Claudia Davant, got divorced. Wells Fargo, as trustee for Merrill Lynch, bought the mortgage and filed the first foreclosure complaint against Diaz de la Portilla and Davant. Three years later, the lawsuit was dismissed, only for Wells Fargo to file a second foreclosure suit against the former couple in 2017.

Two years went by, when, in 2019, a Miami-Dade judge issued a final judgment in favor of Wells Fargo for $628,545. Since then, four sales of the property were scheduled and then canceled. 

But time may finally be running out for Diaz de la Portilla — at a time when he is under more scrutiny than ever before. The property is scheduled to be sold in a courthouse auction in November, my colleague Francisco Alvarado reports.  

The former commissioner, who served in the Florida Legislature from 1994 to 2010, is part of a political dynasty in Miami that includes his brothers Renier and Miguel. 

Diaz de la Portilla was suspended from office by Gov. Ron DeSantis after he and his friend, attorney William Riley Jr., were arrested and booked into Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center earlier this month on public corruption charges. The indictment alleges that Diaz de la Portilla accepted illegal payments and campaign contributions from Riley, a land use attorney who represented David and Leila Centner, the controversial anti-vax couple who founded Miami-based private school Centner Academy. (More about Riley and the alleged scandal here.) 

After the arrests of Diaz de la Portilla and Riley, the city removed Diaz de la Portilla’s name from his office, parking spot and other signage while he maintains that he is being targeted and denies the allegations. 

Riley was removed from the brokerage Rosa Commercial Real Estate, a small firm in Coral Gables led by broker and former Hialeah councilman Oscar de la Rosa. Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago and his chief of staff Chelsea Granell held their licenses with the same brokerage, until last week. Now the firm is down to de la Rosa and his stepfather, Hialeah Mayor Esteban “Steve” Bovo. 

What we’re thinking about: What deals did Rosa Commercial Real Estate work on, and why were nearly all of its agents also politicians? Send me a note at

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Residential: Steven Hudson, CEO of a financial services firm, paid $14.4 million for the townhouse at 220 Brazilian Avenue in Palm Beach. Hedge funder David Malm sold the property just nine months after acquiring it for $12 million. The 4,000-square-foot unit has four bedrooms and five bathrooms.

Commercial: Trammell Crow Residential and Carlyle sold the Park 82nd Apartments at 8255 Park Boulevard to Stockbridge for $156 million. The 368-unit development, in Miami-Dade County’s Fontainebleau neighborhood, traded for $424,000 per unit. 

— Research by Adam Farence 

The Real Deal Weekly Dirt: Miami Commissioner DLP Fallout
217 East Rivo Alto Drive


Spec home developer Ramin Aleyasin listed the under-construction spec home at 217 East Rivo Alto Drive in Miami Beach for $38.5 million with Compass agent Matthew Crane. The property is expected to be completed in less than a year, according to the listing. The seven-bedroom, seven-and-a-half-bathroom estate will include a pool, boat lift, dock for two yachts and a rooftop terrace. 

A thing we’ve learned 

To improve land sales in Miami Beach, Carl Fisher implemented a new strategy in 1919 that many developers would eventually copy. He raised his prices by 10 percent to fuel the concept that his land was rapidly appreciating in value, according to the book “Bubble in the Sun.” 

Elsewhere in Florida 

  • Attorney Bronwyn Stanford claims that she lost her position in charge of Miami-Dade’s pet shelter after she stood up to benefactor Yolanda Berkowitz, in a dispute over how the county’s Doral shelter was run, according to the Miami Herald. Berkowitz, who is married to developer Jeff Berkowitz, sued Stanford for slander this summer, claiming that Stanford falsely told staff that Berkowitz was an escort before she married the real estate developer. 
  • Politico reports that Gov. Ron DeSantis is losing his influence in Florida, citing interviews with close to two dozen lobbyists, political consultants and lawmakers. 
  • Brightline began operating a new route to Orlando, the same day a Brightline train hit and killed a pedestrian. The high-speed rail company now offers trips from Miami to Orlando, which take about three and a half hours, Axios reports