The Real Deal Miami

The Closing: Jorge M. Perez


February 08, 2008 09:14PM

Founder, chairman and CEO of the Related Group, Florida’s top multifamily developer and the largest Hispanic-owned business in the United States. Since its formation over a quarter of a century ago, Related has built and/or managed over 70,000 apartments and condominiums.

What is your name?

Jorge Manuel Perez.

What is your birth date?

October 17, 1949

Where did you grow up?

Argentina, Cuba and Colombia

When did you come to the United States?

I came here in 1968 to go to university. I went to school in Miami, New York and Michigan. I kept going back home for summers until my parents retired in Miami, then Miami became my base. [Perez graduated from C.W. Post College, summa cum laude, and received a masters in urban planning, with highest honors, from the University of Michigan.]

Where do you live?

Miami.

Do you have any other homes?

We have an apartment in Palm Beach, which I use for weekends to get away, a house in Deer Valley, Utah and a house in Punta del Este, Uruguay.

Do you have children?

I have three children from my previous marriage — 23, 22 and 19 — and a 4-year-old with my wife, Darlene.

What was the first job you ever had?

I flipped pizzas in a little Italian restaurant near the university where I attended school.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A college professor or an economist in one of the social agencies in South America. I had a do-gooder type mentality. I I never thought of [being a] businessman or developer.

What is something that people don’t know about you?

I’m very shy. I have to go to functions where I meet presidents and things like that, but it’s not easy for me. I’m never really at ease with people.

Do you watch television?

Only sports and once in a while, I’ll watch a movie.

What kind of sports?

Basketball.

Are you a Heat fan?

I’m a big Miami Heat fan. I have the best courtside seats.

How much money do you have in your wallet right now?

$125

Do you feel rich?

No. I think I always have a fear that whatever I have could leave, and it’s very temporary. I’ve seen a lot of people with more than me lose everything. I don’t think of myself as rich. I don’t live a lifestyle of the super-rich.

How many pieces of art do you currently own?

Over 400.

What is the value of your art collection?

Plus or minus $50 million.

Who are your favorite artists?

My favorite artist that I collect is Diego Rivera. My favorite artist period is Monet.

What is your favorite restaurant?

There are two in Miami that I love: Prime Blue Grille and Il Gabiano.

Why are you interested in buying the Miami Dolphins?

I wish I could tell you that I have a deep love for football, but it was mostly because my partner Steve Ross and I do alot of things together. He asked me to participate with him and I said OK.

What kind of car do you drive?

I have three cars that I drive. I like cars. The everyday car is a Mercedes S550. I have a Cooper Works MINI Cooper Convertible and I have a Ferrari Modena.

What one word would you use to describe yourself?

Intense.

What one word would other people use to describe you?

Intense.

What do you consider to be your greatest success?

My children.

What publications do you read regularly?

The Economist, the Miami Herald, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

What was the last book you read?

The last book I read was in Spanish. It’s called “The Bad Girl, by Mario Vargas Llosa.”

Do you cook?

No. But my kids love my breakfast. So when we all get together, I do a special breakfast, and that is the extent

of my cooking.

What is your special breakfast?

Scrambled eggs with chopped tomatoes, onions and peppers — that I chop myself — and then I put toast in a very low oven so it gets like Melba toast. I’ve been doing that since they were babies, and they still love it when I cook it for them.

Are you planning to make more films?

Yes. I had Ira and Abby, and we just opened up in Colombia Paraiso Travel, which has also been accepted to the Tribeca Film Festival. With the same group, I’m working on another movie.

What’s more fun — real estate or filmmaking?

I love real estate, and I love being involved in moviemaking. But I’m not involved in the production or directing — I’m just an executive producer, i.e., I’m the money guy. Real estate for me is much more the realization of my dreams.

If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?

I don’t really regret things. I think I’ve had an amazing life. The one great failure is divorce. I would not want to go through that experience again.

What is your idea of a perfect Sunday afternoon?

Being with my wife and my little 4-year-old, laying down by our pool and reading a book and playing with them. Those moments are precious for me.

How would you like to be remembered?

As a person that made a difference in the cities that he was involved in. TRD