Tenacious G

By Heidi Patalano | June 17, 2019 11:00AM

Heidi Patalano

You must be made of tough stuff to get a building off the ground in South Florida. Maybe even canine stuff. Such is the character of this issue’s cover subject, Crescent Heights developer Russell Galbut.

He is a pit bull who hasn’t eaten in a month, who will grab onto your leg,” said Philip Levine, former mayor of Miami Beach. While the developer’s company is building ambitious projects in L.A., Chicago, Boston and beyond, Galbut is sinking his teeth into the local scene, with the 44-story luxury residential building dubbed Park on Fifth. Check out deputy editor Katherine Kallergis’ insightful piece on the Miami Beach native here.

While Galbut’s chutzpah got his developments off the ground, another developer’s audacious moves resulted in foreign investors getting bilked out of millions. Palm House developer Robert Matthews claimed Donald Trump and the Clintons were on his project’s board (!!!) and spent part of the $45.5 million he raised on personal expenses, including a yacht named Alibi. In the wake of Matthews’ guilty plea, we examine the role that EB-5 centers play in marketing projects, which, as reporter Keith Larsen writes, often creates “a petri dish for fraud.”

Elsewhere in the issue, our ranking of the top multifamily developers in South Florida shows that while many are paused on their condo projects until the next cycle, it’s full steam ahead on rental housing. And speaking of cycles, it would seem as though history is repeating itself in the home lending market, with so many nonbank mortgage lenders coming to the fore. Our ranking of the biggest of those firms found that the top five nonbank lenders provided nearly $2.9 billion in local residential mortgages over a 12-month period compared to the five largest banks, which provided just $1.47 billion.

Other highlights in the issue include managing editor Ina Cordle’s look at the resi scene in the equestrian enclave of Wellington  and E.B. Solomont’s dive into online-only resi brokerage eXp (page 42). Its virtual conference rooms must be seen to be believed.

Enjoy the issue!