February 5, 2023

New to this year’s program are expanded honors for one of our most prestigious categories. In previous years, editors recognized three of the region’s top real estate deals – a winner and two finalists. However, South Florida has seen an abundance of robust, remarkable and transformative projects lately. To effectively showcase the breadth of talent across the region, we expanded this award to recognize 10 of the region’s standout real estate transactions.
HONOREES
Boca Raton Innovation Campus sale
The $320 million sale of the 1.7 million-square-foot Boca Raton Innovation Campus office park in late December 2021 was one of the largest office sales in South Florida since 2016. 
Boca T-Rex Borrower LLC, managed by Angelo Bianco as managing partner of Boca Raton-based CP Group and representing joint venture partners Rialto Capital and Siguler Guff, sold the park to G&I X BRIC Fee Owner LLC, in care of New York-based DRA Advisors. CBRE Group brokered the deal on behalf of the partnership. CP Group and Rialto Capital remain property co-owners, with DRA Advisors as a new partner.
With the sale came a rich history. Developed by IBM in 1969 and considered the birthplace of the personal computer, 123-acre property at 5000 T-Rex Ave. is currently home to Modernizing Medicine, MDVIP, Baptist Health South Florida and Canon Solutions America.
One of the largest office parks in Florida, the development is undergoing extensive renovations to lure inbound tech firms and other arrivals. New amenities include a museum, catering kitchen, 1,200-seat dining hall, food hall, fitness center and more. Further plans include recording studio and a science lab.
Bianco has discussed plans to rezone the BRIC site for mixed-use development, including multifamily, retail, a grocery store, a hotel and medical office, with the office space to remain.
GL Homes buys 335 acres west of Boca Raton
GL Homes secured one of the largest home development sites remaining in land-strapped South Florida when it picked up 334.5 acres of farmland west of Boca Raton for $215 million.
The transactions included a GL Homes affiliate’s purchase of 263 acres at 20150 S. State Road 7 (and extending east to Lyons Road) for $170 million from E.F. Johns Ltd. and Johns Houston Ltd. In a second transaction at the same time, E.F. Johns sold 71.5 acres on the east side of Lyons Road at 205th Street to another GL Homes affiliate for $45 million. The combined deals reflect a major gain in value for the property, which last traded in 2002 for $12.06 million.
It won’t remain farmland for long, as the developer filed plans to build 679 homes on about two-thirds of the property. Sunrise-based GL has been active in the surrounding area of late. Combined with the nearby municipal golf course it acquired from the city of Boca Raton for $65.75 million, GL now owns 522.5 acres in one of the region’s prime suburban development markets.
Already the biggest home builder in Palm Beach County’s southwest region, GL’s efforts will feed the growing demand for single-family homes. 
“We are excited to bring another special GL Homes community to this incredible Boca Raton location,” President Misha Ezratti said at the time of the deal.
Boca Center sells for $261 million
“Large and complex” could describe the $261.5 million sale of the Boca Center mixed-use development in April 2022. The office and retail segments of the property went to different buyers: Macquarie Capital took the office space, while Site Centers acquired the retail the same day.
Boca Center, at 5150 Town Center Circle, includes 368,046 square feet of offices and 117,106 square feet of retail. The transaction also included a 5.9-acre office development site and a 1.84-acre retail development site. In summer 2021, the property underwent renovations, helping enhance its value. 
CBRE’s Christian Lee brokered the office component, while Dennis Carson and Casey Rosen, also with CBRE, handled the retail throughout the six-month transaction. Boca Center at Military LLC, in care of Hartford, Connecticut-based Barings, was the seller in all four deeds. It had acquired the property for $193.8 million in 2014.
Thomas Crocker developed Boca Center in 1987, in what was then Boca Raton’s growing western region. With three Class A office buildings, open-air experiential retail, a McDonald’s outparcel and a Marriott hotel that was not part of this transaction, it earned praise as a prototype for suburban mixed-use development. The buildings hold LEED Silver and Energy Star certifications.
Tenants include Total Wine, Starbucks, Morton’s, Tap 42 Craft Kitchen + Bar and Rocco’s Tacos. Office tenants include Ameriprise Financial, CBRE, UBS, First Republic Bank and Waste Management.
1201 Brickell Bay Drive sale
The April sale of the prime 2.5-acre waterfront site at 1201 Brickell Bay Drive, in the heart of Miami’s financial district, was the biggest vacant land sale in the city’s history.
The parcel was sold by TWJ 1201 LLC, which is managed by Jerome Hollo, son of South Florida icon Tibor Hollo and executive VP of Miami-based developer Florida East Coast Realty. The parcel sold for $363 million, 23 times the $15.5 million it last traded for in 2000. The buyer was 1201 Brickell Bay LLC, managed by Randall Davis in Chicago.
There have been big proposals for the prime parcel in recent years.
In 2016, FECR announced plans to develop the site with a 1,049-foot tower, which would have been the tallest in Florida, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Norman Foster. Given its proximity to Miami International Airport’s flight routes, the site requested, and received, Federal Aviation Administration approval. Construction, however, never commenced.
The site could become home to a high-rise with to 80 stories with some 1.79 million square feet of space, according to Deepblocks, which estimates what development could occur on specific properties based on the current zoning. If “tallest” is sought, the tower will compete with another FECR building – the 868-foot Panorama Tower in Brickell – and the planned Waldorf Astoria Residences Miami, expected to rise 1,049 feet.
Microsoft leases space at 830 Brickell tower
Microsoft Corp. was among the biggest names to select Miami for a major new office over the past two years – a trend that brought many prominent companies to the Magic City.
In September 2021, Microsoft leased a 50,000 square-foot space at 830 Brickell, which is currently under construction by OKO Group and Cain International. Chicago architecture firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Hill designed the tower, with Italian firm Iosa Ghini Associati handling interior design.
With a topping off in June and completion expected in 2023, the tower is already about two-thirds 60% leased, with Microsoft leading the list of high-profile tenants. Others include WeWork, Chicago-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo, Toronto-based global asset and wealth management firm CI Financial, Dublin-based aircraft leasing company AerCap, insurance brokerage Marsh, global law firm Winston & Strawn and financial services firm A-CAP. 
Cushman & Wakefield represents the developers in the transactions.
“The Microsoft deal at 830 Brickell was a huge win for Miami. It was critical to kick-starting the tech momentum that Miami has seen over the last few years,” said Andrew Trench, executive director for the firm’s office brokerage services, who handles leasing for the building with Brian Gale and Ryan Holtzman. “Landing them in Miami validated the city as a tech destination and set 830 Brickell on a path toward being the preferred home for best-in-class companies that have migrated to South Florida.”
Confidante Hotel sells for $232 million
Hyatt Hotels Corp.’s June 2022 sale of the Confidante Miami Beach to Sunstone Hotel Investors for $232 million was at the time South Florida’s largest hotel trade. The sale was the first step in the hotel’s transformation.
Sunstone will spend $60 million to renovate and rebrand the 339-room property as the Andaz Miami Beach. The result will be an “immersive and inspiring luxury lifestyle resort experience,” the company said in a release. 
The transaction calculates to $684,000 a room. The acquisition allowed Sunstone to “recycle” capital from the recent sales of three Chicago hotels into this higher-growth market, CEO Bryan Giglia said in a statement.
Located on 1.5 acres of oceanfront land in Miami Beach, the property is the latest in the lodging real estate investment trust’s strategy is to create long-term stakeholder value through the acquisition, active ownership and disposition of hotels considered to be long-term relevant real estate.
Giglia added that, upon completion of the planned renovation, “we will have transformed the earnings potential of the hotel and we will own a premier Miami Beach luxury resort at a highly attractive all-in basis in a resilient, supply-constrained market that has continued to demonstrate meaningful rate growth.”
Manalapan mansion sells for $173 million
One could be excused for mistaking the $173 million sale in Palm Beach County as a major commercial real estate deal. After all, even in South Florida’s recently heated residential marketplace, few residential properties sell anywhere near the sale price of this oceanfront estate in Manalapan.
This mansion transaction saw a trust reportedly led by Netscape founder Jim Clark sell the estate he bought in March 2021 to a firm reportedly associated with fellow tech pioneer Larry Ellison of Oracle. Lawrence Moens of Lawrence A. Moens Associates was the broker in the off-market deal.
The lofty figure reflected significant gains – and a crushing of the previous sales record. The sale price was almost double the $94.17 million Clark reportedly paid to the Ziff family last year. It also cemented the deal as Florida’s most expensive home sale ever. The $122.7 million sale of a Palm Beach spec mansion in February 2021 previously held the record for a single-family home.
The term “single family” doesn’t quite apply to this property. With four main buildings totaling 25,470 square feet under air, it has a combined 33 bedrooms, 34 bathrooms and 13 half-bathrooms, plus a media room and a wine cellar. It boasts 1,200 feet of beachfront and 1,300 feet along the Intracoastal Waterway. The 15.65-acre site also includes a tennis court, a half-basketball court, a pool, botanical gardens and a PGA-quality golf course. Divided by Ocean Boulevard, a private tunnel/gallery connects the two parts of the property.
FedEx leases 500,000-square-foot office in Medley
South Florida continues to be a logistics hub. Any doubt should be assuaged by the 501,000-square-foot lease FedEx Ground signed. 
The shipping giant signed the lease for space at Miami 27 Business Park in Medley, where a shipping center is slated to open in 2023. Developed by real estate investment trust Duke Realty Corp., Miami 27 Business Park launched as a speculative development as part of a 34.9-acre industrial campus.
Duke Realty bought the land on which the park sits in January 2018 for $35.7 million. Its 9.25 million square feet in South Florida are part of its 162.4 million square feet of industrial assets nationwide. 
A spokeswoman for FedEx Ground cited “significant package volume due to e-commerce growth” as rationale for securing the long-term lease agreement.
Duke Realty was represented in the transaction by David Loudenslager, its VP of leasing and development in South Florida, as well as Erin Byers and Steve Wasserman of Colliers International.
Historically, Miami has not been a market that sees a tremendous demand for buildings of this size to be occupied by a single tenant. With the increasing demand on the sector, Duke was confident enough to proceed, said Stephanie Rodriguez, senior VP of the company’s Florida region.
“Duke Realty made a decision to develop this building on a speculative basis without any tenants in tow,” she said. “Ultimately, FedEx moved swiftly and committed to taking the entire building.”
City Center on 7th Apartments sells for $223 million
This $222.7 million sale of the City Center on 7th Apartments in Pembroke Pines in July 2021 was the largest multifamily deal in South Florida over the past year. AIR Communities purchased the 700-unit complex, including 425 garden-style apartment homes and 275 two-bedroom townhomes, from Harbor Group International, which built the two-phase project in 2014 and 2015.
Resident amenities include a 24-hour fitness center, clubhouse, business center, television lounge and game room. The complex also features two resort-style swimming pools with secluded tanning decks, children’s playground and gated controlled access.
The off-market deal added to AIR’s concentration of properties in South Florida, which it said was the largest among publicly traded REITs. AIR owns and operates eight properties in South Florida, three of which were acquired shortly after being developed in 2022.
Since the pandemic, inbound migration has increased demand for luxury rentals. The company knew well the Pembroke Pines submarket and the likelihood of attracting residents from among the area’s major employment centers.
“City Center represented an opportunity for AIR to continue growing its presence,” the company noted, “while generating attractive returns for its shareholders.”
Shops at Beacon Lake sells for $108 million
In the biggest stand-alone retail center deal in South Florida over the past year, Stiles Corp. and Lubert Adler sold the Shops at Beacon Lakes near Doral for $108 million in December 2021 to AEW Capital Management.
Developed in 2020, Shops at Beacon Lakes is a 417,248-square-foot super-regional shopping center development. Fully leased at the time of the sale, retailers include The Home Depot, City Furniture/Ashley Furniture, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ross Dress for Less, Michaels, Five Below and 24-Hour Fitness. Among the outparcel tenants are Panda Express, Jersey’s Mike’s, BurgerFi and Encore Nails.
Brokers were JLL’s Danny Finkle, Alex Sharrin and Eric Williams. The company represented both sides of the transaction, including working on behalf of the buyer to secure the seven-year, interest-only acquisition loan through PGIM Real Estate.
Situated on 33.82 acres at 1700-1970 N.W. 117th Place, Shops at Beacon Lakes fronts Florida’s Turnpike, lending visibility from one of Miami-Dade County’s most heavily trafficked thoroughfares, with over 124,000 vehicles a day. The property is part of a larger project that includes Topgolf and Telemundo’s headquarters.
Shops at Beacon Lakes is also at the entrance to the 4.6-million-square-foot Beacon Lakes Office and Industrial Park, which drives additional traffic to the center. This project stands as one of the most successful retail centers in Stiles’ history.
Click here to learn more about the 2022 Structures Awards winners and honorees.
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