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November 14, 2018

FLORIDA'S 350 BIGGEST COMPANIES 2018

Profile: Jorge Perez and his Related Group

Amy Martinez | 6/28/2018

Since the recession, Related has become a more diversified company in terms of both the location and types of projects it builds. Since 2010, the company has completed $1.9 billion in government- subsidized and market-rate apartments (vs. $2.5 billion in condos). It’s building high-end apartments across Florida and in Atlanta’s Midtown and Buckhead neighborhoods, and it recently opened a branch office in Dallas to pursue apartment projects in the western U.S.

Steve Patterson, who heads Related’s market-rate rentals and mixed-use division, says the main market drivers are Baby Boomers looking to downsize out of their houses into an apartment because of a job change, divorce — or just a desire to live downtown. “People are tired of being in the suburbs and commuting into the city to do things,” Patterson says.

Meanwhile, Related is building about $4 billion in condos in South Florida, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. Perez says the company has taken a “more conservative” attitude toward new condo construction, starting projects only after a majority of units have been sold with 50% down payments. Related sold all of its units at SLS LUX at an average price of $750 a square foot.

Easing out

Perez acknowledges that his vision of a thriving, “24-hour” downtown Miami can’t happen without housing options for workforce households. One strategy is micro-units — apartments or condos about 600 square feet or smaller, with a kitchenette and bathroom. In Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, Related is building two micro-apartment projects where units will start at $1,400 a month. While the units are small, the buildings have plenty of amenities — rooftop pools, fitness centers, dog-washing stations and private dining rooms that residents can reserve for large parties. “We’re going to try to make communal living very important,” he says.

These days, Perez, who has signed a pledge to donate at least half of his wealth to charity, is looking to eventually step away from running the company day-to-day to focus on philanthropy. He’s now grooming his two oldest sons, Jon Paul, 33, and Nicholas, 30, to take over the business. Jon Paul, who has an MBA from Northwestern University, and Nicholas, a former Division 1 college tennis player at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, are part of the company’s executive committee.

Perez lives in a Venetian-style waterfront mansion in Coconut Grove with his wife, Darlene, a nurse practitioner, and their 17-year-old son, Felipe. They have two dogs: An American bulldog adopted from a rescue shelter and a small Havanese named Samson. Eventually, they plan to downsize to a penthouse condo that Related is building nearby.

“I live in a beautiful house on the bay, and I have servants, so yes, I have a very lucky existence,” says Perez. “But I’m not a conspicuous consumption person. Only in the last few years have I given myself the pleasure of flying first class. I guess I’m getting old.”

Recently, Perez was talking to an old friend who used to create marketing programs for Related’s condo projects. The friend reminded Perez how involved he got in every detail, down to picking out the outfits worn by women models at sales events. Perez says he still enjoys the design aspects of developing buildings, but his priorities are changing.

Tags: Housing/Construction, Real Estate, 350 Biggest Florida Companies

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