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November 28, 2015
Financing the real estate boom


Mayan Properties, run by Ezra Katz, is an equity investment partner in the Hyatt Place project near Miami International Airport.

Miami-Dade Regional Roundup

Financing the real estate boom

In his 43 years in real estate financing, Ezra Katz has seen it all.

For Ezra Katz, the latest Miami- Dade real estate boom is just another cycle. Through 43 years of ups and downs, Katz has inked real estate finance transactions totaling more than $10 billion.

Katz runs Aztec Group, which arranges third-party financing for commercial and residential projects, and Mayan Properties, which provides equity financing directly from its network of investors. The two Miami companies together are providing financing and direct investment for some of the highest-profile projects in Florida.

Both companies have carved out a niche catering to offices that manage investments and trusts for a single family or high-net-worth individuals. Family offices, in particular, are becoming important players in real estate investing in the region, although they've been largely overshadowed by a flood of foreign investors.

"Our biggest challenge is how to allocate the equity requirements for our friends," says Katz, who's known for personally investing in deals with his partners on the Mayan side of the business.

One of those deals is Aztec's partnership with Swerdlow Group and LeFrak Organization in Miami-Dade's Biscayne Landing, a massive project in North Miami. Aztec also secured construction financing for Swerdlow's The Shops at Civica, a restaurant and retail project in Miami's health district.

Meanwhile, Mayan is an equity investment partner, along with Concord Hospitality and Travelers Hotel Group, in a new Hyatt Place near Miami International Airport and in a group led by Aqua Marine Partners' Rudy Touzet and Banyan Capital, which recently acquired Brickell City Tower.

"Ezra has made smart decisions that allowed his firm to weather the capital markets storms over the years and make strategic investments for his clients," says Steve Saiontz, a partner at Banyan who has worked with Katz on deals for 25 years.

— Jennifer LeClaire


Royal Caribbean Cruises promoted Adam Goldstein to president and COO; he had been president and CEO of the company's largest brand, Royal Caribbean International. The parent company had not had a president and COO since 2005.

Shopping center REIT Equity One hired David R. Lukes to take over as CEO when Jeffrey S. Olsen leaves later this year. Lukes had been president and CEO of Seritage Realty Trust.

Miami-based Telefonica USA promoted Angel Barrio to CEO; he had been director of multinational and corporate business for Telefonica Global Solutions. He replaces Marcelo Caputo.

The University of Miami Hospital named David Zambrana, COO and interim CEO, as its permanent CEO. The hospital's CEO had resigned in January.


Shiver Entertaintment

Three veterans of the video game industry are expanding their digital gaming startup Shiver Entertainment in Miami-Dade. The company in April leased 16,000 square feet in South Miami, with plans to add 60 jobs to 30 it already has during the next three years. It expects to release its first game next year.

Shiver co-founder John Schappert, CEO and a Miami-Dade native, was COO of mobile gaming company Zynga and worked on hits such as FarmVille. Earlier, he was COO of Electronic Arts. Before that, he and another Shiver co-founder, Jason Anderson (vice president of technology), co-founded the company that developed the Madden NFL video game, later selling it to Electronic Arts. Shiver's third co-founder, John Osvald, was senior vice president of games at Zynga.

In September, Tokyo-based online gaming company Nexon invested $397.7 million in Shiver.

Business Briefs

AVENTURA - Aventura Land Ventures received city approval to build a complex that will include a hotel, medical office building, 200-bed assisted living facility, offices, retail and a residential building on 7.4 acres.

CORAL GABLES - Illinois-based First American Bank will merge Bank of Coral Gables into its operations, opening its first full-service location in the county.

HIALEAH - Sugar product maker Banah International Group emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy after being acquired by a small group of investors, including new CEO Yurek Vazquez. The company changed its name to Harvest Given. > The city plans to develop a 180-unit affordable senior rental housing project on county land near a Metrorail station with money from the county's Building Better Communities bond.

MIAMI - Pinnacle Housing Group and East Little Havana Community Development are developing a rental apartment tower with 100 affordable housing units and 76 traditional units in a 23-story building. It is the city's first mixedincome multifamily building. > Microsoft will open its first U.S.-based Microsoft Innovation Center at Venture Hive in downtown. The center will provide technology tools to schools and universities, students, teachers, startup companies government and others, with the goal of fostering economic growth and innovation. Mobile payments and transaction company Net Element closed on $11.2 million in financing from Cayman Invest. > Orlando-based Parkway Properties paid $148.5 million to purchase Courvoisier Centre on Brickell Key from New York developer Tishman Speyer. The two-building complex has 346,000 square feet of office space. > Miami International Medical purchased the 146-bed Metropolitan Hospital from Puerto Rico-based Sistema de Salud Metropolitano for $46.97 million. It plans to shut down the hospital for a yearlong renovation. The West Palm Beachbased Schlesinger family and Dallas-based TriGate Capital paid $27.59 million to purchase 132 units and the common areas of the Mayfair Hotel & Spa in Coconut Grove from Resource Real Estate Funding. > Opko Health will acquire Israel-based Inspiro Medical for $10 million in cash and stock.

MIAMI BEACH - The first eMerge Americas Techweek conference drew 6,000 technology entrepreneurs and investors — including 220 companies and 115 startups — from around the hemisphere.A company controlled by Tommy Hilfiger purchased the 105-room Raleigh Hotel in South Beach for $56.6 million from David Edelstein and Sam Nazarian. Developers SMG/ Shamrock and W Capital Group plan to develop a 20-story condo with 14 residences on an oceanfront, one-acre lot in North Beach.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY - The Adler Group and 13th Floor Investments purchased the ground lease for county- owned land near the Dadeland North Metrorail Station. The partners plan to develop an apartment building on the site.

SUNNY ISLES BEACH - Turnberry Associates plans to begin selling units this fall for the 52-story, 154-unit condo called Turnberry Ocean Club.

Tags: Miami-Dade, Banking & Finance, Real Estate

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