Day in the life of: Todd Glaser

“When a toilet is flushed in Miami Beach real estate, Todd Glaser knows about it,” says the prolific luxury spec homebuilder, who talks (not always in the third person) about patents, power and his average workday

Sep.September 20, 2019 10:00 AM

Todd Glaser (Photo by Mary Beth Koeth)

Todd Glaser’s passion for luxury homes took root early. As a teenage waiter at the Regency Hotel in Bal Harbour, where a new condo now stands, he would often work private dinners held at the homes of wealthy friends of the hotel’s owner, Lou Brandt.

“At 16, my friends and I got into all these gorgeous, unbelievable mansions,” Glaser said. “When I walked into one of the elegant courtyards, it was mesmerizing. I got a magical feeling.”

Little did he know at the time that later in life he’d be buying, bulldozing, rebuilding and selling some of the these same mansions. And that’s a point of pride for the 55-year-old developer.

“I’m dyslexic. I want people to know that a dyslexic who never went to college can be successful,” he said. “I knew what I wanted, so I didn’t need college. I learned to be an owner’s rep and oversee design and construction projects, not to be an architect.”

Glaser has been working in South Florida real estate since 1990, when he bought a small house in Coconut Grove, renovated it and sold it for a profit. He later moved to bigger and better projects, building and, in some cases, revamping multimillion-dollar homes in Miami Beach, Miami and Palm Beach.

He’s sold or developed homes for Billy Joel, Cher, Alex Rodriguez, Hulk Hogan and others. For Lennar Corp. chairman Stuart Miller, Glaser and his partners built the 27,000-square-foot mansion at 22 Star Island, which was reportedly being marketed as a $67.5 million whisper listing in July.

While today he’s “about 70 percent owner’s rep and 30 percent spec developer,” Glaser added that he also finds it important to buddy up. “I’d rather have 50 percent of a project than 100 percent of nothing.”

Among his many projects, one of the largest is One Thousand Museum Residences in Miami, the striking 62-story luxury condo tower designed by Zaha Hadid, with units priced from $5.8 million to more than $24 million. “I was one of the first investors. Standing on the heliport over 630 feet above the ground that’s a WOW factor.”

Glaser has also registered a number of patents, which range from a recessed soap dish for bathtubs and sinks to a device that prevents tracks of high-rise impact-window sliders from filling up with water and leaking inside apartments during hurricanes. “You don’t want to have a leak on the 45th floor. Insurance companies are going see this and will want people to retrofit,” he said.

Glaser and his partners are currently building several projects in Palm Beach, including homes at 111 Atlantic Avenue and 113 Atlantic Avenue, which he says will each be priced above $17 million. In Miami-Dade County, he is working on multimillion-dollar residences at 1635 West 22nd Street and 1420 West 23rd Street, both on Sunset Islands, Miami Beach. In total, he’s currently working on 18 jobsites in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Key to keeping his work going is having his ear to the ground, remaining keenly aware of what is going on in his market. “When a toilet is flushed in Miami Beach real estate, Todd Glaser knows about it,” he said.

Here, the developer describes his typical day. His answers have been edited and condensed for clarity and space.

6:00 a.m. I get up and read The Real Deal and the Shiny Sheet [Palm Beach Daily News] every day. If there’s any news associated with my projects, I email it to my partners. I have one cup of coffee.

7:00 a.m. I live in a 1938 Mizner-style home in Miami Beach with two guest houses. One is a fully equipped gym and the other a three-car garage. I work out of my garage — only me. The garage is my office. I walk across the courtyard from my house, and I’m usually in the office by 7. It’s got my artwork and skateboard collection and my kids’ art. [Glaser and his wife, Kim, have four children.] If I want, I can go there at three in the morning.

8:00 a.m. I bombard people with emails, look at jobsites online, check headcounts and the status of projects. Constantly doing deals — buying and selling. I have two phones and answer every call. I work seven days a week … it doesn’t shut off.

10:00 a.m. Two or three times a week, a rabbi comes to my house and I put on tefillin. I’ve done this for years, and it has brought me good things. [Putting on tefillin is part of Jewish prayer tradition.]

11:30 a.m. I go to Palm Beach three to four times a week to check on projects, go to open houses and look at properties. I split my time on meetings with owners, contractors in the morning in Miami and in the afternoon in Palm Beach. By 11:30 to 12, I’m usually on the Brightline [now Virgin Trains USA] to Palm Beach. I work on the train ride. My everyday car is a Maybach, but I use Uber to get to Brightline and to move around in Palm Beach.

1:00 p.m. I don’t do a lot of business lunches, but my favorite restaurant in Palm Beach is Sant Ambroeus, and in Miami Beach, Sardinia and Sylvano.

2:00 p.m. I keep my restored 1938 Sea Tabby yacht at our home in Palm Beach. It’s a classic Mathis Trumpy wooden yacht. It’s a family boat, but I use it as an office and for taking out clients and showing them properties and worksites. I also use my 1989 Conch 27 for taking clients to visit properties.

4:00 p.m. I catch Brightline again.

6:00 p.m. I usually get back home by 6, and I wrap up work at home.

I do yoga at my home gym, and my teacher comes over every day.

7:00 p.m. Kim and I have dinner at home or I take my wife out for dinner. My favorite food is any type of dessert. When I was a kid, I ate my dessert first. I still do it, but I’m getting better about it.

10:00 p.m. By 10, I’m usually in bed.

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