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By Taylor Pierce ’19
On April 13th, after chasing warmer weather in Miami, 21 first- and second-year REA students met with a group of local real estate investment professionals to learn about their current activity in South Florida and abroad. The students were joined by representatives from the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate and visited with four companies during the trek.
The group of students first met at the office of PGIM, one of the world’s largest investment managers. Juan Miguel Capurro ’16 and Fernando Herrera Osorio, both part of the PGIM’s Latin America Real Estate team, presented a collection of their Mexican industrial, retail, multi-family, and condominium investments. The team also discussed the unique dynamics of Latin American real estate projects and the various challenges they face in these emerging markets.
The students then traveled to Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood to meet with Miami-based Mast Capital, a fully-integrated real estate investment firm. Matthew Adler ’06 and Michael Tang ’14 provided an overview of the firm’s opportunistic acquisitions approach and shared development plans for a few upcoming projects. The group also discussed the importance of selecting the right capital partners and negotiating a beneficial promote structure. Mast Capital’s current portfolio includes the Conrad Brickell, a 203-room luxury hotel currently undergoing an $8M renovation, and a planned, 6.3-acre, 688-unit multi-family riverside development known as Miami River Walk.
After a quick lunch break at Wynwood Yard, a pop-up food truck hub in the Wynwood Arts District, the group traveled to Paraiso Bay, a four-tower, 1,300+ unit condominium master development owned by Related Group. Once students arrived at the active construction site, they were briefed by Robert Thompson of Plaza Construction, the project’s general contractor, before touring the amenity deck and a penthouse unit overlooking Biscayne Bay. Plaza Construction’s team provided an overview of the construction schedule that was significantly delayed by a tower crane collapse during Hurricane Irma in September 2017. During a very informative Q&A session, the construction professionals also shared their perspective on effective planning and emphasized the importance of teamwork and communication between the numerous parties involved in real estate developments.
The students then traveled to the SoFi District of South Beach to tour the Washington Park Hotel (WPH), a 181-room lifestyle hotel, that is owned by The Wyckoff Group and Carlyle, and operated by Highgate. The property is a collection of four landmarked Art Deco hotels that were redeveloped in 2016. The new concept also added two cocktail bars—Employees Only and Swizzle. While touring students through WPH, Highgate’s General Manager Gabriel Perez explained the benefit of adding scale to the property’s operation. After combining the four individual assets, WPH was able to maintain a boutique concept while also providing a higher quality experience to its guests. Gabriel added that the redevelopment included modern designs inspired by Miami's cultural renaissance of art, music, and food.
Following the company visits, students were joined by local alumni and friends of Columbia Business School for a networking cocktail hour at Morenos Cuba in South Beach.
The Real Estate Association would like to thank the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate, specifically Assistant Director Tricia Philip-Rao who accompanied the group in Miami, the generous company hosts and alumni, and REA organizers for their contributions to this wonderful trek.
Taylor Pierce ’19 is a first-year MBA student focused on real estate. Prior to Columbia Business School, Taylor worked at Vanbarton Group, a NYC-based real estate private equity firm, focusing on office and multi-family assets in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. Taylor also worked as a construction manager for D.F. Chase, Inc., a Nashville-based general contractor, after graduating from the University of Kentucky with a BS in Civil Engineering and Mathematics.