February 21, 2020
A relocation success story

Photo: Carl Juste/Miami Herald/Newscom

Nitin Motwani (left) and Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff are working to lure hedge funds to the city.


A relocation success story

Miami's financial services initiative lands a hedge fund.

Hedge fund Universa Investments relocated to Miami from Santa Monica, Calif., in March — the first firm lured to the city since the Downtown Development Authority launched a finance sector initiative in October 2013. Universa, which has $6 billion in assets under management, moved 14 people to the city's Coconut Grove neighborhood.

Compared to California, "it's a more business-friendly environment in Florida, from a tax as well as other costs of doing business standpoint," including a lower cost of living for employees, says Brandon Yarckin, a senior executive with Universa.

He also notes that Miami gives the company closer proximity to its institutional clients, which are mainly on the East Coast and in Europe, and easier trading hours. The city's proximity to Latin American investors should also be a benefit, Yarckin says.

The DDA and board member Nitin Motwani, managing director of Miami Worldcenter Group, also had a hand in per- McCoy Players suading Universa to relocate. Motwani has a personal relationship with both Yarckin and Universa CIO Mark Spitznagel, but he also says Miami now offers the amenities that firms like Universa are looking for, including culture, entertainment and restaurants.

The DDA's initiative seeks to expand an already-strong financial sector: Miami's Brickell area is home to more international banks than any other U. S. city besides New York, and the city hosts offices for more than 100 alternative investment-related companies, such as hedge funds, private equity firms and wealth managers. "A lot of it is getting people to spend a little more time than they might have historically spent," Motwani says. One of the DDA's strategies for doing so is to offer up to a week of free executive office space downtown to certain executives in the industry.

Universa, meanwhile, expects to grow during the coming years, Yarckin says. The company's 20th-floor office, with panoramic views, is more than twice the size the L. A. office was, he notes, and "was accommodating to the firm's ongoing expansion. "


Coldwell Banker Commercial Alliance launched a new brokerage and advisory offce in Miami, with Jim McCoy as the offce's managing principal.

Wells Fargo named Joe Atkinson its new south Florida regional president, replacing Frank Newman III, who became president of the company's Rocky Mountain region. Atkinson was previously the company's community bank president for the north Florida region.

Coral Gables-based Capital Bank Financial hired Edward Holden as its south Florida market president, replacing Evan Rees, who became City National Bank of Florida's Broward commercial team leader. Holden had been Wells Fargo's senior vice president/ group regional vice president for south Florida until October.

Doral-based real estate frm Easton Group hired Jose A. Hernandez- Solaun as president. He had been a senior vice president at GE Capital.

Michael Holmquist was hired as vice president of Adler Group's Adler Realty Services division. He previously managed a family real estate portfolio and before that was general manager of Terremark Management Services.

CORAL GABLES — The University of Miami will break ground this summer on a 200,000-sq. -ft. ambulatory care center on its main campus. Developer Agave Ponce unveiled plans to build condominiums, offce space and a hotel on the 6. 8-acre site that was once planned as the mixed-use "Old Spanish Village. " The developer is affliated with the owners of Mexico's Jose Cuervo tequila. > The city approved a new historic district along Coral Way; it will include 61 residences, three plazas, a few vacant lots and a park.

CUTLER BAY — Publix Super Markets paid $11 million for a 30-acre site where it plans to build a store.

MIAMI — The University of Miami Health System and Miller School of Medicine are developing new electronic medical record technology in partnership with Lockheed Martin. The goal is to more quickly access patient data and perform complex statistical analysis while maintaining data security. > The University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science opened its new Marine and Atmospheric Science building on Virginia Key. The $47-million, 86,000-sq. -ft. complex includes seawater intakes, holding tanks and a 40,000-gallon wind wave tank. > Developers Marc Kovens and Shawn Chemtov began construction on the 385,000-sq. -ft. Wynwood Central, the frst major new commercial real estate development in the city's Wynwood Arts District. The mixed-use project will include live-work spaces, retail and offce space. > Developer Jeff Berkowitz received Federal Aviation Administration approval for what will be the tallest building in Florida, the 1,000-foot, $430-million SkyRise Miami in downtown. Set on land that is part of Bayside Marketplace's parking area, it will include observation decks, a nightclub and restaurant, a tethered base-jumping drop and a motionsimulator theater. It is projected to cost $430 million. > An affliate of Leawood, Kan. -based Nueterra agreed to acquire the 450-employee Metropolitan Hospital for an undisclosed sum.

MIAMI BEACH — Several South Beach hotels recently changed hands: An affliate of Washington, D. C. -based private equity frm Carlyle Group acquired the 54-room Hotel Nash for $15. 5 million. An affliate of Levy Family Partners paid $14 million for the 69-room Redbury South Beach. Miami Beach-based Ventura Capital One paid $12. 5 million for the 45-room Cavalier Hotel. And real estate investor James B. Potter paid $11 million for the 29-room Hotel Eva. Developer Don Peebles paid $21 million for a one-acre oceanfront site, where he plans to build the 13-unit Bath Club Estates.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY — Microsoft is staring a job training program focused on basic technology skills, in partnership with the county. It will also work with the Miami-Dade Public School System and the Florida Department of Education to incorporate the Microsoft IT Academy into the school system. Developer Wood Partners broke ground on Alta Dadeland, a $128-million project with 431 apartments, 2,000 square feet of retail and resort-style amenities adjacent to Dadeland Mall in the Kendall area. It is expected to come online in the second quarter of 2015. > Chile-based airline LAN Cargo will spend 23. 9 million to build its frst U. S. maintenance hangar at Miami International Airport.

SURFSIDE — Developer Fort Capital is building the 80-room, beachfront Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club out of an existing 1930s building. It will also build 150 Surf Club Four Seasons Private Residences in two new 12-story towers.

Showing an Impact

The five-day Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show in February by the numbers:

94,980 Visitors, down 6% from last year

3,000 Number of boats

2,000 Number of exhibitors

Note: 2014 sales numbers aren't in yet, but the 2013 show generated $312. 2 million by Florida companies and $30. 4 million in sales and excise taxes in the state.

Profile Collaborative Boating

Aventura-based startup Collaborative Boating believes it has found a way to create a mass market for boat rentals. On the company's BoatSetter website, owners can rent out their boats (with insurance provided by Collaborative Boating) and screened renters can hire a licensed captain along with the boat. Collaborative Boating CEO Andrew Sturner, a computer engineer who is also founder, president and CEO of marina investment company Aqua Marine Partners, believes his relationships with marina owners and the site's connection of captains will give Collaborative Boating an edge. About 150 marinas are already part of its network, and Collaborative Boating has grown from five employees to nine. Sturner expects to hit cash-flow breakeven within 12 to 18 months.

Tags: Miami-Dade

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