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Site Visit: The Link at Douglas Station

Student Site Visit: Link @ DouglasThis spring, the MRED+U students were treated to a site visit of The Link at Douglas, a large mixed-use development project and joint venture with The Adler Group and 13th Floor Investments. The Link at Douglas Station will provide convenient accessibility to US-1, Douglas Road, the Douglas Station Metrorail, Miami-Dade bus lines, the Coral Gables Trolley and The Shops at Merrick Park. Two of the planned three residential buildings are underway and the multi-phased development will eventually have a total of 1,400 residential units, including a workforce housing component. The office tower will be 21 stories tall offering over 280,000 square feet of commercial office space. Retail space, including a national grocery chain, will be included throughout the development.

Site Visit: Link @ Douglas13th Floor and Adler obtained a ground lease with Miami-Dade county to develop the project. They are funding over $17 million in public infrastructure improvements, including renovating the Metrorail station, building a public plaza and funding a portion of the Underline, a 10-mile-long linear park that runs underneath the Metrorail tracks from Dadeland to Brickell. Jonathan Raiffe from the Adler Group participated in a Tuesday Speaker Series last fall with Advisory Board member Ryan Bailine and provided great background on the history of the development, the timeline to get to groundbreaking and the complexities of the public private partnership.

Site Visit: No. 17 Allapattah Residences

MRED+U Student Site Visit to No. 17 Allapattah ResidencesStudents toured the newly developing No. 17 Residences that are being developed by MRED +U Advisory Board Member Lissette Calderon. Lissette is the president & CEO of Neology Life Development Group. She is considered a pioneer of development along the Miami River –– being one of the first developers who decided to focus her work on revitalizing the Miami River waterfront. Her new development is a 14-story multifamily building with 192 units. Students enjoyed lunched with her and her team before the tour commenced. The tour kicked off with introductions from Lissette and her development team. Her message to students emphasized the importance of teamwork and working cohesively to achieve a common goal. The real estate development process entails various disciplines working unison and learning to build a team around your strengths and deficiencies can set you up for great success. 

MRED+U Student Site Visit at No. 17 Allapattah ResidencesLissette showed the students the different unit mixes that will be offered to incoming residences. Students walked the amenity deck, a large pool area for consumers to enjoy and relax. She spoke about the emergence of prop tech and the impact that it has had on real estate since the novel pandemic. Prop tech is helping developers save money and making the development process flow more seamlessly. The tour concluded with an inspiring and informative Q&A session on the rooftop overlooking the city of Miami.

Tuesdays with MRED+U: David Arditi + Justin Oates

Tuesdays with MRED+U: David Arditi + Justin OatesClosing out the Tuesday Speaker Series last fall, Advisory Board member David Arditi, Principal and co-founder of Aria Development Group, introduced the MRED+U students to Justin Oates, Vice President of Cain International. David has been actively involved with the MRED+U Advisory Board for the last five years, mentoring students, offering internships and participating in student engagements similar to this. David and his partners founded Aria about 10 years ago after recognizing that ownership of the asset and the entrepreneurial side of building your own business were very appealing to him. Aria is currently active in Miami, Washington, DC and New York and is evaluating other markets.

Justin came to Miami with Cain about 18 months ago from an investment banking and private equity background. He commented that the Great Recession of 2009 and other economic crises tend to shape a lot of our career decisions.   He was set to start with Bear Stearns when it collapsed in 2008. He quickly pivoted into another area of finance but also was interested in participating in real estate as an owner/operator. Cain International is a $6 billion investment firm with a significant presence in Western Europe, the UK and the US. It is headquartered in London and its US operations are focused on center city development in markets like NY, LA, Boston and Miami. Cain entered the South Florida market in partnership with OKO Group and has three significant developments underway. 830 Brickell will be the first standalone Class A+ office tower in the Miami CBD to open in the last years. (Brickell City Center has Class A office space but is also part of a large retail and hotel operation.) Both Missoni Baia and Una Residences are luxury multi-family projects. They are also close to the acquisition of two landmark hotels on South Beach (later announced as The Delano and The Hudson Hotel).

At the conclusion of their conversation, David’s advice to the MREDU students was to stay close to your classmates as the probability that you will have an opportunity to do a deal with one of them is high. Your classmates can be a source of deal flow, capital and information.

Site Visit: Elysee

Site Visit: ElyseeA small group of students from the MRED+U program recently visited the newly completed Elysee condominium tower. Elysee, standing at 649 feet tall, is one of Miami’s newest luxury high rise projects in the Edgewater neighborhood. During the tour, led by the developer Taylor Collins, MRED+U students got a closer look at how a project of this scale gets built. For many ambitious students, projects of this size can still feel like a distant reality. (But that is where MRED+U comes in.) Taylor was an open book as he described his vision for the project. In great detail he explained to the students how he assembled his development team, all the various stages of the development process, what he would have done differently, how COVID-19 impacted the real estate market, and what he did to successfully maneuver this unusual time. One cannot stress how rare it is to find someone like Taylor, who builds at this scale, and at the same time is so candid.

The MRED+U program offers a unique style of education - one that you cannot get from a traditional graduate program. Part of this education is the access to great minds like Taylor, and the projects he builds. Few people get this type of opportunity, and therefore, if you have the chance to apply or attend MRED+U – you should!  

Tuesdays with MRED+U: Michael Tillman + Matt Rieger

Tuesdays with MRED+U: Matt ReigerThe MRED+U Student Speaker Series has featured a number of our Advisory Board members talking about their particular real estate sectors. Recently, Matt Rieger, President and CEO of Housing Trust Group, and Michael Tillman, CEO and Founder of PTM Partners, joined together for a very interesting discussion on the similarities and differences between affordable housing and opportunity zone investments. HTG is a multi-family development company that specializes in affordable housing. One of the tenets of the company is that at least 75% if their business will be in affordable housing with the balance being in workforce and market rate housing. The company currently operates in Florida, Georgia, Texas and Arizona and is likely to expand into the Carolina’s and the Midwest. PTM Partners is a real estate investment and development platform that focuses on opportunity zones. PTM Partners is the largest opportunity zone developer and investor in the country and they also have platforms that are focused on impact investing and distressed real estate investment. PTM Partners strives to provide accessibility of housing and, although the projects are not necessarily labeled affordable, there are affordable and workforce components.

Tuesdays with MRED+U: Michael TillmanMichael explained to the students how opportunity zones were created through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Basically, opportunity zones are tax incentives to encourage those with capital gains (from any type of investment) to invest in low-income and undercapitalized communities. The program provides three tax benefits for investing unrealized capital gains in Opportunity Zones: 1) temporary deferral of taxes on previously earned capital gains; 2) basis step-up of previously earned capital gains invested and 3) permanent exclusion of taxable income on new gains (investment must be held more than 10 years).

Matt discussed affordable housing and some of the typical misconceptions surrounding it. Basically, affordable housing is anything below market rate housing and offers the ability to utilize low-income housing tax credits (which come from the Department of Treasury). Affordable housing has often times been confused with public housing (a HUD program). These low-income housing tax credits are given to states on a per capita basis (hence the importance of the US census). Qualified applicants for affordable housing have income ranging from a floor of 30% of area medium income (AMI) to a cap of 80% of AMI.  Affordable housing developers have to lease their units to income qualified tenants at a capped rental rate. The tax benefits help to bridge the gap and incentivize developers to provide affordable housing. One of the risks for an affordable housing developer is that they are capped on income but uncapped on expenses such as construction, land cost, property taxes and insurance.

Tuesdays with MRED+U: Eduardo Imery + Mo Abbas

Tuesdays with MRED+U: Eduardo Imery + Mo AbbasIn November, Advisory Board member Eduardo Imery (EVP and CFO, Fortune International Group) and MRED+U Faculty Mo Abbas joined our Tuesday Speaker Series. Eduardo grew up in Venezuela and came to the US for college earning a dual degree in Finance and Management. He encouraged MRED+U students to take as many internships as possible to discover what type of a boss you want to work for, to learn what you are looking for in a job and to determine if you want to work for a big corporation or prefer an entrepreneurial firm. Upon graduation, he moved to Miami to be closer to family and Venezuela. Taking a position within the finance industry, he began analyzing investments for high-net-worth individuals and family offices.

At the time, Edgardo Defortuna, President and CEO, Fortune International Group, was getting into vertical development. He appreciated the due diligence and investment review that Eduardo was doing on behalf of one of his clients and recruited him to join Fortune as a senior analyst. As part of the finance team, Eduardo was involved in capital raising, acquisitions, cash flow forecasting, and budgeting. After a few years, his boss departed, and Eduardo was offered the job of CFO. He described the opportunity as a challenge, and he was typically the first one in and the last one out while learning on the job. As CFO, he is now integrally involved in strategic planning, business development, project management and growth strategies for the firm.

Fortune’s strategy is to be involved in a project from its initial stages through completion. This starts with identifying the land, developing a sales strategy, determining the right time to launch the sales effort, designing the building with the architect, identifying the best construction firm and general contractor for the project and then overseeing the financial management of the project to ensure an on time and in budget final product. Fortune’s projects are all on the waterfront and/or ocean and appeal to the luxury price point investor and end user. Over time the Jade brand of condominiums has evolved to meet the changing market demands. The Jade brand includes Jade Brickell, Jade Beach, Jade Ocean and Jade Signature.

Site Visit: Soleste Grand Central

MRED+U Student Site Visit to Soleste Grand CentralMichael Tillman, CEO at PTM Partners, and MRED+U Advisory Board Member, led students on a hardhat site tour of the newly developing Soleste Grand Central. The mixed-use development will include 360 multifamily units in an 18-story tower –– with 40 units set aside for workforce, low income, and affordable housing. There will also be ground floor retail and a parking garage with 438 spaces. The site is located in the Historical Overtown neighborhood and positioned in an Opportunity Zone.

The tour started near the west entrance to the Miami Brightline station on NW 8th St. Michael greeted all of the students and gave background insight into PTM Partner’s new development as they walked over to Soleste Grand Central. Michael rendered creative solutions as to how the new project would build around society’s growing pandemic concerns. The project will feature over one acre of amenity space. This was planned purposefully to give residents more space and comfortability in the building’s common areas. There will also be a reception area for residents to enjoy coffee in the mornings and cocktails at night. Michael shared with students his thoughts on the future of real estate over the next several years including his hopes for the Overtown area and other opportunity zones with which he is involved. Michael pointed out design characteristics including floor materials, lightning, landscaping, and circulation that will differentiate this project from others in the immediate area.


Site Visit: Brickell City Centre

MRED+U Student Site Visit to Brickell City CentreLate in October, MRED+U students toured the luxurious Brickell City Centre located in downtown Miami. The mixed-use space consists of two mid-rise office buildings, two residential towers, East Miami hotel, retail space, and a plethora of restaurants. This massive 4.9 million-square-feet development was developed by Swire Properties and designed by the illustrious Arquitectonica. The tour was led by Nick Crowley, Project Manager, Swire Properties.

Nick kicked off the tour by giving students a background perspective of the development and how it came to be. As students strolled through the site, Nick pointed out the $30 million Climate Ribbon that spans 150,000 square feet throughout the project. He elaborated on the Climate Ribbon’s functions and the purpose that it serves acting as an environmental management system.  He went on to discuss the design and construction process of the entire development. Nick also touched on the traffic circle that Swire had to convince the City of Miami to design and build located on SW/SE 6 Street and South Miami Avenue. The traffic circle was designed to help westbound traffic on SE 6 Street continue to travel west through the intersection, therefore, helping alleviate north, east, and west-bound traffic patterns. The tour ended in the auxiliary room where students had the chance to ask Nick further questions about the site.  

Site Visit: MB Station

MRED+U Student Site Visit to MB StationOn October 2nd, students had the opportunity to tour MB Station on Coral Way. The tour was led by Alfredo Vargas, CADE Capital Partners, and MRED+U alumni. MB Station is a mixed-use project with 17-stories, 190 rental units, 4,805 SF of ground floor retail space, and Shenandoah Fire Station #14, which is located in the rear base of the building. The building opened up in May of 2019.

The tour commenced with Alfredo introducing himself and giving students background insight into his family’s real estate  history. Students then explored the variety of units that MB Station offers from studios, 1 bedrooms, and 2 bedrooms. As the group reached the 5th floor they surveyed the project’s pleasant amenities. The amenities included an outdoor courtyard with a pool, fitness center, sauna, yoga room, community club room, and private balconies in the majority of units. The tour concluded with an informative Q & A session.


Tuesdays with MRED+U: Shepherd Eco | Wynwood

Tuesday's with MRED+U: Shepherd Eco | WynwoodOn October 27th, the MRED+U students had the privilege of a full-scale presentation on Shepherd Eco|Wynwood with Advisory Board members Arden Karson and Jackie Gonzalez-Touzet and guests Christine Menedis and Steve Wernick. Students were required to create an account as if they were a potential investor in the project and then had the opportunity to review the project overview, private placement memorandum and subscription agreement. Arden welcomed the students, identified the roles that each member played on the team and discussed the importance of teamwork to achieve their goal.

Arden discussed the process behind identifying the physical site which started with an understanding of her client’s needs (size, zoning, and pedestrian access to name a few). After compiling an extensive comparable property analysis, the site was identified, and negotiations commenced. The property spans four parcels and over 56,000 square feet and is located within the Wynwood BID with easy access to Midtown and Edgewater.

Shepherd Eco A Sustainable, Resilient OfferingChristine discussed the importance of identifying your target market - in this case the Gen X and millennials. Shepherd Eco’s vision is to create a sustainable and resilient mixed-use brand (residential and hospitality) utilizing sophisticated technology and sustainable and flexible materials. This approach, combined with a focus on human connections and experiences through wellness, mindfulness, art, and countless other amenities, will create a timeless lifestyle experience and become a focal point in the Wynwood community. As Christine emphasized, “Sustainability in all forms is core to what we do.”

Jackie was drawn to the project because, as its core, sustainability and resiliency are the focal points of the design and construction. Using recycled construction materials, testing shapes and creating flexible and modular structures that can be dismantled and reconfigured was very appealing to her sense of eco-conservation in design and construction. Resilient landscape was also central to the design. The use of shade trees and native plants as well as harvesting storm water were central design elements to enhance green space and minimize environmental impact. Christine and Jackie also created the Wynwood Pocket Park, which provides direct pedestrian access and intertwines the existing artistic Wynwood community with the property. Retail space was dropped in lieu of a signature art wall fronting the project.

Steve Wernick provided a detailed review of all the due diligence and work undertaken to purchase the property. The Wynwood Property is zoned T6-8-0 and is appropriate for the development of commercial multi-family lodging, as well as restaurant and retail spaces. Following this presentation, students were all given an opportunity to ask detailed questions to all the entire team.

Tuesdays with MRED+U Student Speaker Series Continues at a Rapid Pace

Tuesdays with MRED+U: Jonathan Raiffe + Ryan BailineThree more dynamic combinations of Advisory Board members and industry leaders rounded out the month of September in our newly launched student speaker series. Ryan Bailine (Greenberg Traurig) and Jonathan Raiffe (Adler Group) brought a great perspective on the importance of public-private partnerships. The Link at Douglas is a large mixed-use development project and joint venture with 13th Floor Investments (Advisory Board member Arnaud Karsenti) and capitalizes on the County’s goal to provide commercial and residential development at Metrorail stations along the busy commuter corridor. Extensive negotiations with the County included an investment by the partners of over $18 million in public improvements to the Douglas Station as well as support and access to The Underline. The master plan includes five buildings, four residential and one hotel.

Tuesdays with MRED+U: Charles Jennings + Joanna LombardU-SoA Professor Joanna Lombard introduced the students to Charlie Jennings, Chief Development Officer at Harbor Retirement Associates, which is focused on assisted living and memory care. HRA is preparing to take care of a significant number of baby boomers and creates appealing living environments through hospitality, quality of life and quality of care. In the past six years they have opened 19 communities in 11 states. Convenience plays a large role so retail accessibility is also an important factor in site locations. Institutional capital is attracted to this sector due to the long-term real estate play as well as current rent streams from the residents. However, scale can work against operators as it is a “people” business and quality of care is of the upmost importance. HRA approaches the development process as If they are going to own the building forever which has enabled them to attract favorable capital.

Tuesdays with MRED+U Lawrence Brown + Edgar JonesEdgar Jones brought Lawrence Brown, Burger King’s Vice President of North America Development into the classroom to share his experience and career path. Edgar has been a part of the MRED+U Advisory Board since 2009 and now serves as a Chair Emeritus. Edgar and Lawrence met a few years ago and Edgar took the time to learn about his unique background in real estate, starting first in finance and investment banking in the US and then moving down Brazil to work in emerging capital markets. After a few years, Lawrence moved into private equity as the CFO of a real estate fund where he discovered his true interest was in building a company versus simply executing transactions. Having been in Brazil for several years, Lawrence was familiar with 3G who had just recently bought Burger King. Lawrence joined Burger King as head of real estate and finance and has since had the opportunity to lead business development for North America working with franchisees, large institutional investors, banks and developers. Two consistent themes emerged from the discussion today: learning how to work effectively under stressful and challenging situations and the importance of developing and maintaining a network of mentors and peers.

MRED+U Benefits from Creative Ways to Learn About Internship Opportunities

Internship Opportunites with Adam Greenfader, AG&TAdam Greenfader, AG&T Principal and a long-time supporter of the MRED+U program, invited current MRED+U students to join him and his colleague Nathan Whigham in a Zoom session to learn more about opportunities with his firm. Adam has a passion for working with students and encourages them to approach their internship as an opportunity to contribute to the success of a project and firm as well as to expand their network of contacts. AG&T is focused on sustainable development in the Caribbean with over 55 projects including resorts and master-plan communities. He shared with students that it is important to be able to juggle multiple projects at a time as opportunities never present themselves in a linear fashion. One of his favorites quotes is from Stephen Covey, “Begin with the end in mind” and he advised the students that it is critical to envision your end user at the beginning of a project analysis. His firm focuses on the initial analysis of a site, developing sustainable solutions and executing and delivering a quality product than is sensitive to the environment.

MRED+U First Virtual Roundtable Was a Winner

Roundtable with MRED+UOn October 20th, MRED+U students joined several Advisory Board members at an intimate mentoring and speedchat event sponsored by Bilzin Sumberg and the Vagabond Group. Designed to be informal and fluid, MRED+U students benefited from eight separate 10-minute conversations at virtual tables hosted by Advisory Board members Suzanne Amaducci-Adams, Kim Briesemeister, Lissette Calderon, Kolleen Cobb, Vanessa Grout, Avra Jain, Arden Karson, Kathy Moorman, Florencia Tabeni, Jackie Gonzalez Touzet and guest table hosts Beth Azor and Alexandra Lehman.

Women Leaders in Real EstateSuzanne Amaducci-Adams welcomed everyone to the event and provided a creative description of the different roles industry participants play. Developers think outside the box; brokers find the box; mortgage bankers and lenders finance the box; architects and designers make the box look good; contractors and engineers build the box; lawyers keep everyone from playing too far out of the box; and operators keep the box running. This lead provided great impetus to the small group conversations that followed. Feedback from table hosts and participants was very enthusiastic, and all were thrilled with an opportunity to have one-on-one discussions between table hosts and participants. Our MRED+U students commented that the one-on-one opportunity was as close to an in-person event as one can get in this environment.

Avra Jain, one of MRED+U’s most ardent proponents of student mentoring and engagement, closed the evening by thanking all who gave their time and energy to participate. She encouraged the students to start small and learn the steps, sequencing and process that are involved to build a quality project. Having your “boots on the ground” throughout all phases of the design and construction of a project is critical. At the end of the day, the accountability will rest with you, the developer, and your reputation is your most valued asset. We look forward to our next Virtual Roundtable on November 18th with more Advisory Board industry leaders.

Dr. Bohl’s RED601 Includes Several MRED+U Advisory Board Members Covering a Variety of Topics

Tigre Wenrich – Nov 20

Tigre WenrichOur last Friday guest speaker was Tigre Wenrich, CEO at Lab Miami Ventures, and MRED+U Advisory Board Member. The pandemic greatly accelerated the need for innovative technology in the real estate industry which has lagged behind for many years. Tigre’s expertise in prop tech gave him an opportunity to discuss the acceleration of ideas and software development in the South Florida market and how his firm tries to identify innovators and provide financial backing for their development. Industry leaders believe that the prop tech explosion is here to stay. The fastest growing segments of the industry are focused on identifying and understanding trends in real estate transactions, the use of flexible space, enhancing property management tools, and upgrading tenant experience. He believes that innovative uses of technology in the construction sector are forthcoming and will be closely monitoring that segment for investment and opportunity.

David Martin – Nov 13

David MartinDavid Martin, CEO at Terra, and MRED+U Advisory Board Member spoke to the students on November 13, 2020. David shared great insights about the impact of the pandemic on the Miami real estate market. He discussed the challenge to build safer developments where consumers feel more comfortable in common areas following COVID-19 concerns. Despite the uncertainty of future implications of the pandemic, this unique time allows new opportunities and ideas to emerge to create a better outlook for our society.

David went on to converse with students about Terra’s commitment to work creatively and to render affordable housing solutions throughout Miami. He mentioned that the creation of affordable housing development is not in the government’s hands, but rather it is in ours. David and his team are pondering and working diligently to create affordable housing without subsidies. He touched on the need to build affordable units near public transportation and employment hubs. Students received invaluable advice on how to create sustainable developments that bring communities together to build a unified vision.

Alicia Cervera – Nov 6

Alicia CerveraMRED+U Advisory Board Member Alicia Cervera spoke to students in class on November 6, 2020. Alicia serves as the Managing Partner & Principal for her family’s firm, Cervera Real Estate. The family owned and operated company recently celebrated 50 years of business. For half a century they have helped transformed the South Florida luxury condo market’s landscape. Alicia’s expertise is in marketing and sales of high-end condos. She spoke to the students about her background and how she got started on her journey into the real estate industry. Her mother, Alicia Cervera Sr, is a pioneer for women in the real estate industry. She is known as a disruptor that challenged the status quo and pushed the industry to evolve a few years after her arrival from her homeland in Cuba.

Alicia shared her 40 plus years of industry experience with MRED+U students and touched on her partnership with Jorge Perez earlier in her career that led to another company being formed. She noted how vital it is to have local connections and a global reach and shared her experience with dealing with the current times and the importance of not shifting away from in person human interaction when it is safe to resume. Lastly, she encouraged young professionals to solve the crisis of affordable housing in the urban core.

Kim Briesemeister – Oct 23

Kim BriesemeisterOn October 23, 2020, students had the opportunity to hear from Kim Briesemeister, Principal at RMA, and MRED+U Advisory Board Member. Kim’s firm specializes in providing redevelopment, economic development, urban design, and real estate and marketing consulting. She spoke to the class about Public-Private Partnerships (P3) and gave a behind-the-scenes look into what went into her redevelopment in Pompano Beach with Tim Hernandez, Principal at New Urban Communities, and business partner.

Kim elaborated on the different types of Public-Private Partnerships and the nuances that each entailed. She went on to discuss the things that successful redevelopment has done to make these communities prosperous. There was an emphasis on having a clear vision, a plan, a team with multiple disciplines, and strong leadership and political awareness in areas identified for redevelopment.

Kieran Bowers – Oct 9

Kieran BowersKieran Bowers, President of Swire Properties Inc., gave an overview of the company which is a seventh-generation business established in Hong King with vast holdings in real property, aviation, beverages, marine services and trading and industrial investments. Swire Properties is known for transformational projects that sit on large scale transportation sites. Their investments are in large cities where they can build multi-family projects that will have easy access to the surrounding area.  In the US, the primary investments are in Miami, Brickell City Centre and Brickell Key. Swire Properties’ goal and mission is to be the leading sustainable development performer by 2030.

Brickell City Centre, Swire Properties’ most recent development, is a landmark $1 billion investment which currently includes two condominiums (REACH and RISE), two office buildings, the East Hotel, approximately 500,000 s.f. of retail space and an underground 200 parking space garage. There are three characteristics which make the project unique: the climate ribbon, the underground parking and the connectivity with the surrounding area. The climate ribbon is a masterpiece of art and science and serves as an environmental management system. The trellis spans 150,000 square feet weaving together all aspects of Brickell City Centre and protecting visitors from sun and rain. The underground parking provides an unobstructed view of the development from all sides. Swire Properties invested over $10 million in the Miami Metromover, dismantling it from its original site and rebuilding it as part of Brickell City Centre. Swire was also the first corporate sponsor of the Underline, a linear neighborhood park and urban trail anchored at the Brickell City Centre and stretching for 10 miles south under the Miami Metrorail.

Ryan Shear – Oct 2

Ryan ShearRyan Shear, Managing Partner at PMG, and MRED+U Advisory Board member met with students virtually. The class was led by Ryan and discussions were centered on the details that went into creating parking for multi-family developments and how the pandemic has impacted his company. Students were provided with the history of Miami’s parking requirements for different kinds of developments and how and why it has evolved over the years. Ryan shared great insights into the development cost of various parking structures and how his company  negotiates parking requirements before proceeding to build. He shared his views of how parking needs will diminish in the future when driverless cars take the road. Later, he went on to discuss how his office responded to the pandemic by allowing employees to work from home with an emphasis on ensuring that employees felt safe and comfortable while working.

Jessica Goldman – Sept 25

Jessica GoldmanStudents had the pleasure of speaking to Jessica Goldman, CEO of Goldman Properties. Jessica has been a part of the MRED+U Advisory Board for four years, and her late father, Tony Goldman, was a founding member of the MRED+U Advisory board in 2009. Goldman Properties was started in 1980, and today the firm is recognized as a leading brand for the revitalization of at-risk urban communities in the United States. Jessica has upheld and taken Goldman Properties to new heights with her creativity, energy, and passion for her arts in her community. Goldman Global Arts has cemented art into our neighborhood environments, first through celebrating street art and now through by bringing art into large public or semipublic spaces.

She discussed with students how her firm has responded to the pandemic and the duties that she has had to carry out through these turbulent times. Jessica stressed the importance of having a strong mindset through challenging times. With change comes great opportunity to learn, grow, and evolve. In life and business, there are times where we must complete uncomfortable tasks for the benefit of our own development. Jessica inspired students to work hard, find their lane, be creative, and make great decisions towards their future.

Tuesdays with MRED+U: Joe Furst + John Sumberg

Tuesdays with MRED+U: Joe Furst + John SumbergWe recently welcomed John Sumberg (MRED+U Chair Emeritus) and Advisory Board member Joe Furst (Place Projects) to our Tuesday Student Speaker Series. Joe recently joined the MRED+U Board although he has been active with students since the program started in 2011 including hosting site visits, mentoring, participating in juries and overseeing the 2018 Capstone project. Joe founded Place Projects in 2017 having spent the prior ten years with Goldman Properties. John asked Joe how he got started in real estate as his original career path started in law (UM Law School). After practicing for a few years, Joe decided it wasn’t his passion and he returned to graduate school to get a Master’s in Real Estate.

Joe found the easiest way to get started in real estate was as a broker and encouraged the MRED+U students to look at that path as a great entry point. He began to watch the development of different communities and fell in love with what Tony Goldman was doing in Wynwood. Joe began to write a weekly letter to Tony Goldman and after several months obtained an interview and started as general counsel. As John and Joe both agree, one of the themes of successful people is persistence. Over the next ten years, Joe became involved in all aspect of Tony Goldman’s development of Wynwood as it is known today. Joe describes Tony Goldman as an absolute visionary who took an area of Miami filled with vacant warehouses and brought in the first restaurant (Joey’s) and created the site-specific mural program now known as Wynwood Walls. This took street art and elevated it to museum quality art, creating recognition for up-and-coming artists. During this time, Joe also started Wynwood’s Business Development District and a zoning overlay that led to the development of Wynwood into the multi-billion-dollar community that it has become.

In 2017, he launched Place Projects, a firm dedicated to creating community developments that occupy not just physical space but also create a human experience that utilize the five senses to draw you in and stay. Joe has projects throughout Florida but his current focus areas are in St. Petersburg, West Palm Beach, Doral and Wynwood. He is a firm believer in long term value creation versus going in and out of properties for short term financial gains. His suggestion to the MRED+U students is that going out on your own is daunting. If you have already found your passion, then remain unwavering about getting into that niche and identifying an entry point. If you have not yet found your passion, then brokerage is compelling as it will enable you to see all facets of the industry. Alternatively, working for a large firm will also expose you to a variety of transactions and you can focus in on a specific side of the business as you gain experience.

Tuesdays with MRED+U Student Speaker Series Launched on August 25th

Speaker Series-Steve CohenOur Tuesdays with MRED+U Student Speaker Series commenced with a dynamic discussion with Advisory Board member Steve Cohen on Making Valuable Connections Through Networking. Back for his fourth year, this topic has always been an extremely useful way to start off the fall semester as our new and returning students are keen to develop networking skills and business connections as they start the MRED+U program. Steve encouraged the students to figure out what they can offer the executive that they are hoping to meet. Networking is a two-way street, and each person needs to be able to give something in order to get something from the relationship. He stressed the importance of creative approaches to networking, timely follow up after a meeting or call and thanking the person who took the time to meet with you.


Speaker Series-Taylor CollinsAvra Jain introduced the students to our newest Advisory Board member Taylor Collins of Two Roads Development on September 1st. Taylor’s approach has four key elements: location, realistic proformas, simplicity and accuracy of information. He firmly believes that the final project should be more desirable than the renderings. One way to accomplish that is to use virtual reality designers to create your project in real time which will help reveal design flaws before construction. Don’t cut corners to save money. Not only does the developer have a “10 year tail” whereby they are responsible for making sure everything works for that time period, cutting corners will cost more in the long run, waste significant amounts of time, and most importantly, ruin your reputation. Taylor’s latest project, Elysee Miami, a luxury condominium project in Edgewater, is hoping for a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) in October.


Speaker Series-Nitin MotwaniAdvisory Board Chair Nitin Motwani joined Tuesdays with MRED+U on September 8th. Miami Worldcenter is a 27 acre $4 billion urban mixed use project in the heart of Miami intentionally surrounded by arts, culture, the Miami port, public transportation, access to micro neighborhoods, and South Beach. In 2006, the first land assembly efforts began and shortly after, as a result of the Great Recession in 2009, the principals spent the next several years redefining the project and reevaluating their capital partners. In 2015, the principals elected to pivot and return to their original concept of building a community with “urban fabric”, versus a large scale downtown mall. They parted ways with the original retail/mall investors and focused on working with the Downtown Development Authority, public partners who were similarly committed to revitalizing downtown and making it a central hub of downtown living.

Miami World Center built a team of best in class including partnering with CIM Group, Forbes and Taubman (retail), MDM and Marriott (convention), Zom Living (residential), Hines (office), and Elkus & Manfredit (master planner). Over 76% of the Miami World Center employees were from Miami-Dade County so there was an immediate positive economic and community impact. The focus became: 1) pedestrians first, 2) transit connections, 3) creating public spaces.

Fall Orientation Was an Innovative and Fast-Paced Start for All Involved

Orientation GatheringThe MRED+U program was busy all summer planning a pandemic-safe return to campus with a variety of virtual and hybrid learning experiences for our incoming class. Starting in mid-July, students were immersed in Finance and Market Research bootcamps that met weekly through Zoom. In mid-August we welcomed our largest group of new students with a virtual “Meet & Greet” with faculty, staff, and Advisory Board members and outlined some of the upcoming programs and events. Our orientation week had a different feel from years past but we were able to have small site visits and walking tours at CocoWalk, the Vagabond, throughout Coral Gables, Gables Station, and at HTG’s Village View in Ft. Lauderdale. Each of the tours were recorded through Zoom –­– students who were not able to attend were able to follow along virtually.


Cocowalk Nearing Completion as MRED+U Students Gain Behind the Scenes Access

Orientation-CocoWalk Site VisitSmall groups of students were treated to a site tour of the long-awaited renovation of Cocowalk. As the oldest city in Miami, Coconut Grove remains a top tourist destination in Miami and Cocowalk has long been known as the “heart” of the Grove. Grass River Property, Comras Company, and Federal Realty Investment Trust are betting on this with the anticipated reopening of Cocowalk in the next few months with 150,000 square feet of retail space and the addition One Cocowalk, 85,000 square feet of Class A office space.

Purchased in 2015, Grass River’s renovation of the original open-air mall included a demolition of the eastern portion of the mall to create the new Class A office space while keeping the original structural columns. A restoration of the whole garage with a post tension structure was required. A signature 20,000-pound baobab tree was airlifted in and placed as the focal point of the new courtyard.

One of the goals is to create a flagship community project that is more appealing to the neighborhood, residents, and local workforce. The first floor of One Cocowalk will remain retail and restaurants and floors 2-5 will be new Class A office spaces. Regus’ co-working operator, will anchor the office building, taking about 2,000 square feet on the ground floor and the remaining 41,000 square feet on the second and third floors. The rooftop area will be available for office tenants with Wi-Fi and seating for outdoor dining and relaxation.


Avra Jain hosts small group of students at The Vagabond

Orientation- Vagabond

Avra, one of our most enthusiastic and involved Advisory Board members, invited a small group of students up to The Vagabond to hear her talk about how she discovered the neighborhood now known as MiMo. The Vagabond was opened in 1953 as a motel and restaurant and quickly became a fabled hangout for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and the rest of the Rat Pack. Years of deterioration and decline took its toll on the neighborhood, in 2014 Avra identified the neighborhood and The Vagabond as just days before it was set to be demolished. After purchasing the site for $1.9 million, she spent the next 18 months restoring it to its original splendor. This historical renovation included the landmark mermaids on the street corner and the mosaic dolphin and mermaids in the pool, all of which were recreated from photographs.

Avra’s passions are art and architecture, as evidenced by her development efforts throughout Miami-Dade County from Hialeah to the Miami River. She committed to serving the needs within the community and believes quality affordable housing is of paramount importance to long term sustainable growth of the Magic City. She shared with the students that if the financial aspects of a transaction can’t be explained on the back of a napkin, it’s probably not a deal that makes sense.



Orientation-Coral Gables with Scott Davidson

City Beautiful with MRED+U Advisory Board Members Scott Davidson

A small group of students had the opportunity to meet with Advisory Board member Scott Davidson and learn about his real estate career path, family business and involvement in Coral Gables. The group met at Gables International Plaza, an emblematic building developed in the 1980s by Scott Davidson’s family. Scott gave an extensive overview of George Merrick’s vision and design of Coral Gables as well as its evolution into the current City Beautiful. With breathtaking views of Coral Gables from the top of the building, students benefited from Scott's visual as well as oral presentation.


Miracle Mile through the eyes of Venny Torre, CEO of Torre Construction and Development

Orientation-Coral Gables with Venny TorreA small group of students walked the Mile with Venny Torre, whose boutique construction and development firm, has put an indelible print on the City of Coral Gables. With 25 years of construction and development experience, Venny began working in the construction field at the age of 15 and has not stopped since.

The tour commenced in front of the flagship Actor’s Playhouse at the Miracle Theater as Venny led the students down Miracle Mile and discussed the revitalizations that are taking place downtown. He offered students insight in to how COVID-19 had impacted retail stores in the area. Although property owners have been working with their tenants and offering abatements to help ease the economic blow, smaller stores are suffering significantly. Restaurants have adapted by providing more outdoor dining space for their clientele to meet county restrictions as well as expanded takeout and delivery options.

Often called Mr. Downtown Coral Gables, Venny leads the Business Improvement District, serves on the board of the Community Foundation and the Coral Gables Museum and has a passion for historic preservation and urbanization. He discussed plans of the city to potentially add residential zoning and allow bigger buildings to create more density in the area. Tied closely to that is how parking might be restructured. There are plans to redo the local parking garages to make them a hub for public transportation. Restructuring the parking garage will make it easier for residents and those looking to commute by public transportation methods, to know they have somewhere to leave their car safely while they commute to and from work.

Venny’s plans to expand art in the beautiful city through community development includes plans to bring back local artists to liven up Miracle Mile and create murals for selected walls throughout the street. He has been a proponent of working with property owners to put pop-up art galleries in vacant storefronts along the Mile.


Insider View of Gables Station

Orientation-Gables StationJared Graham, Director of Development, and Ryan McKee, Design & Construction Project Executive, lead a small group of students through Gables Station, NRI’s latest transit-oriented, wellness driven and urban living project. Located at US1 and Ponce, the mixed use project is comprised of three buildings and will add 500 apartments, 125,000 s.f. of retail and anchored by a 4 story Life Time Fitness Club. The project was developed to capitalize on public transportation access from the Miami Metrorail and the Coral Gables Trolley system and to add a new walkable community option by integrating access to the Underline. The addition of the Gables Station Park blends with the Underline to create the largest park in Coral Gables at almost 3 acres.

Our students were able to walk through all three buildings beginning with Building 1 which is nearing completion and includes the Life Time Fitness club. The state-of-the-art apartments will have access to the Club’s on-line bookings for fitness and spa availability. Between Buildings 1 and 2 are easy access to the parking garages and retail and restaurant spaces, all accessed from the Ponce side of the project. Plans for these spaces include a specialty grocery as well as other dining and retail options. Building 3 will have larger apartments and the most expansive views looking over Biscayne Bay and Downtown Miami.


Behind the Scenes at Housing Trust Group’s New Senior Community, Village View

Orientation-HTG Fort LauderdaleOrientation week gave a small group of students the privilege for a behind the scenes look at HTG’s new affordable senior community, Village View, that is currently under construction. This development is located in the budding Flagler Village market in Broward County and, upon completion, will deliver 100 affordable units for seniors (55 and over). Apartments are set aside for seniors earning at or below 30, 60, and 70 percent of the area median income (AMI).

Students first were briefed on the construction’s sites COVID requirements and the protocol that the builder, ANF Group Inc., follows to keep the site in good standing. Students were shown an elaborate break down of how the construction project manager keeps the development on track throughout the different phases of building. Following the briefing, groups embarked on their hard hat tour of Village View led by MRED+U Advisory Board member, Matt Rieger and the project team including MRED+U Alumni, Kim Colin.

Groups walked through each floor of the site as they observed the new construction taking place with Matt, as his team explained the phase of construction that each floor was on and identifying unique construction design techniques to ensure a safe and quality product. Students climbed to the top floor of Village View, where the building was being prepared for concrete to be laid down over the tension cables.

At the top of the building, students saw immaculate views of Flagler Village and the surrounding neighborhood skylines. On their way back down to the ground level, groups stopped on one floor to overlook the pool area which lies in the core of the new development. The tour concluded with Matt Rieger answering inquiries from curious students. Village View is planned to be completed in the first quarter of 2021. Rents will range from $402 to $1,236.

June 2020 MRED+U Graduation


Graduation Fall 2019This year’s MRED+U graduates represented the 10th anniversary of the MRED+U program joining over 160 alumni working throughout the industry in South Florida, the US, and the world. Beginning with an August 2019 Orientation packed with site visits and neighborhood tours. The calendar was filled with events such as the ULI Vison Awards, ULI Fall Meeting in Washington, DC, site visits, guest speaking engagements featuring our enthusiastic and inspiring Advisory Board, a Holiday Party hosted by our Advisory Board Chair Nitin Motwani at Miami Worldcenter, the 2020 Real Estate Impact Conference, a spring trip to Seaside and more. In March, we quickly moved to a 100% virtual classroom and the remainder of the academic year was seamless and engaging based on feedback from all participants.

This was an extraordinary year for this class, not solely defined by the pandemic, and we celebrate all of you through the following Graduation Video until we can celebrate in person. Thank you to our Advisory Board, students, alumni, faculty, and staff for making this the best year ever.

Fall 2019 Karim Fayaz
Ali Troy Gulec, dual M.U.D.
Xiaoyun Jiang
David Martinez-Delgado
Jesus Alfonso Perez Villamizar
Eli P. Stephan
Chao Wang, dual M.U.D.
Spring 2020 Or Shai
Dylan Rzepka, dual M.Arch
Summer 2020 Asi Ackerman
Claudia Carolina Aguado Camilli
Alexander Stephen Alford
Mazin Hasan A. Alroumi
Kevin Frank Bandel
Justen M. Bittman
David Ernesto Chonillo Breilh
Antonio Chopitea Junior
Ryan Coffield
Caroline Edna Cozzi
Andrea Cross
Chandler Alexandra Davis
Celeste Desiano, dual M.Arch
Nicholas Daniel Font
Samuel Esteban Herrera
Nicholas J. Nicola
Viorica Irena Pineda
Mackenzie Alsace Reininger
John Alphonse Ronco
Joseph Henry Roque
Christian J. Salgado-Soto
Andrew Christopher Samonas
Michaela Madison Senior
Andrew Albert Socarras
Burak Sumru
Laura Zapata Cadavid