Monthly Archives: October 2015

All 112 Florida property insurers pass stress test

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation based tests on major storms in previous years, including a Category 4 hurricane that hit Fort Lauderdale in 1947.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation said its catastrophe stress tests show that all 112 insurers of property in Florida could pay policyholder claims arising from a powerful one-in-100-year storm.

The state agency said all 112 insurers, including 67 based in Florida, have enough reinsurance, capital and surplus to pay claims for storm so strong it would be expected to occur in one year out of 100.

The results of the catastrophe stress tests
“should give consumers added piece of mind and confidence in Florida’s homeowner insurers,” William Sadler, executive director of the Florida Property & Casualty Association, said in a prepared statements.

The stress test measured insurers’ hypothetical financial exposure in three historical disasters. These include the four-storm hurricane season in 2004 when hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne made landfall in Florida.

The other two storms used to measure financial stress on insurers were the Tampa hurricane of 1921 with sustained winds of 140 miles per hour and a Category 4 that hit Fort Lauderdale in 1947 with sustained winds of 147 miles per hour.

This is the third year that the Florida Department of Insurance Regulation has applied stress tests to Florida property insurers.

Source:: The Real Deal

Inside a $40 million log cabin: VIDEO

Granot Loma

[From the New York site:] The most expensive log cabin in the U.S. just hit the market in Michigan, asking $40 million. Here is a look inside.

The massive estate on the shores of Lake Superior is known as Granot Loma and is surrounded by 5,000 acres of forest, according to Curbed. It claims to be the largest log cabin in the world, with 26,000 square feet, 23 bedrooms, 12 bathrooms and a kitchen modeled after one at the White House. (Fun fact: George Gershwin is said to have played the Steinway grand piano in the game room.)

There’s also a card room, a solarium, a gym and a wine cellar, bringing the total number of rooms to 50. Outside, there’s a hot tub overlooking the lake, a private harbor, a marina and a boathouse.









[Curbed] – Christopher Cameron

Source:: The Real Deal

Initially listed in 2004, Palm Beach home finally sells

Palm Beach home at 150 Algoma Road.

The owners finally sold a home in the Estate Section of Palm Beach after trying for 11 years.

They had regularly put the home on the market and taken it off since 2004, according to the Palm Beach Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.

Heinz and Cornelia Gundlach had listed their three-bedroom home at 150 Algoma Road with several real estate agencies over the years.

They sold the 4,615 square foot home in Palm Beach, fully furnished, for $2.82 million to William F. Indoe, a senior attorney in the New York City office of law firm Sullivan & Cromwell.

The Gundlachs bought it for $505,000 in 1987. The home is a French-style villa located three streets north of the Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach.

Indoe is expected to operate the residence as a rental. He and his wife have an apartment in Manhattan.

Indoe and his wife, Jane, own a Palm Beach home at 137 Australian Avenue, and he owns two condos on the same street. [Palm Beach Daily News] — Mike Seemuth

Source:: The Real Deal

W Aviation expansion at Lauderdale airport takes off

Rendering of W Aviation development at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.

W Aviation launched a major expansion of its aircraft parking, maintenance and refueling operation at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.

W Aviation, a fixed-base operator at 5901 Northwest 24 Way, plans to build hangar and ramp space to accommodate owners and operators of private jets as large as the 19-passenger Gulfstream 650.

A unit of The Windsor Group, W Aviation has done business as a fixed-base operator at city-owned Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport for about 18 months.

The parent company Windsor Group also conducts charter flight operations at the airport through a unit called Windsor Jet Management. Windsor also does maintenance work at the airport though its Mach-1 Jet Services division.

W Aviation broke ground Wednesday at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport for a $13 million project to build two 20,000-square-foot hangars, each with 5,500 square feet of attached office space. The project also will entail a 155,000-square-foot ramp expansion for parking aircraft.

That will be the first phase of W Aviation’s expansion on the airport’s northern border along Cypress Creek Drive, scheduled for completion in the middle of next year.

Phase two, scheduled to finish in 2017, will entail construction of more hangar space and a 24,000-square-foot passenger terminal with a lobby, fitness center, café and other amenities.

The two-phase W Aviation expansion will be the first aviation construction project north of the airfield in 10 years.

W Aviation in June opened a fixed-base operation at Simón Bolívar International Airport near Caracas, Venezuela, which could boost air traffic between Fort Lauderdale and the South American country. [Sun-Sentinel] — Mike Seemuth

Source:: The Real Deal

The two faces of Airbnb

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky

Airbnb, the $25 billion global-hospitality behemoth, may have met its match. And right in its hometown of San Francisco.

On November 3, the voters of San Francisco will vote on Proposition F, the citizens initiative that, if passed, will crack down on Airbnb’s business. In the heart of Silicon Valley, a coalition of homeowners, neighborhood groups and tenant advocates gathered over 20,000 signatures to say “enough is enough.”

I have been an Airbnb host in San Francisco for about nine months. Last January I watched Katie Couric interview Airbnb’s 34-year-old billionaire CEO, Brian Chesky, and that’s when I realized that something didn’t add up.

Anti-Airbnb protestors in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood, in 2014.

Anti-Airbnb protestors in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, in 2014.

Testing Airbnb’s claims
Couric asked Chesky if his company inspects its hosts’ homes for safety and fire hazards. Chesky replied, “We want to be a gold standard,” saying that he has 100 employees devoted exclusively to safety and that “hosts verify their IDs by connecting to their social networks and scanning their official ID or confirming personal details.”

So to test Airbnb’s system, I signed up as a host. I took a few photos of my house, inside and out and uploaded them to the Airbnb website, and within 15 minutes my place was “live” as an Airbnb rental. No background check, no verifying my ID, no confirming my personal details, no questions asked. Not even any contact with a real human from their trust and safety team. Nothing.

I could have used photos of my neighbor’s house, or even photos saved from the website of Better Homes and Gardens. Within an hour, I had my first inquiry from a guest. Within a couple of months, I had over a dozen reservation requests that would have netted me at least $4,000 in short-term rental income. This had the makings of a seriously lucrative enterprise.

Indeed, an accidentally leaked memo from huge real-estate developer Coldwell Banker Commercial estimated that a landlord could more than double net annual income by renting to Airbnb tourists than to local residents.

I was impressed and appalled at how easy Airbnb’s website made it.

When Couric asked Chesky about fire safety, instead of outlining his company’s inspection procedures, he replied that Airbnb, a company valued at $25 billion, offers free smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors to its hosts. When Couric pushed a bit further, Chesky talked about their “self-administered” system.

“We want to make sure that the codes and regulations are modernized,” he said. “A lot of the laws are 20th-century laws, or sometimes even 19th-century laws, in the 21st century.”

I decided to take Chesky up on his “gold standard” offer of receiving a free and “self-administered” smoke and carbon-monoxide detector for my Airbnb home. I requested one via the Airbnb website, and my query received the briefest of e-mail responses, directing me to a particular Airbnb webpage. But on that page, instead of offering me a free detector, it offered me a free “Emergency Safety Card,” saying I could use it to “list emergency numbers, exit routes, and other resources” for my guests.

Apparently, the offer for a free smoke detector had expired faster than a Groupon coupon. But the Airbnb representative didn’t mention that, nor did Chesky in his interview with Couric.

Besides the hosts, Airbnb also has no quality control over the types of guests. Neighbors suddenly find themselves living next door to a “hotel” where complete strangers are traipsing in and out, keeping tourist hours, in close proximity to children, seniors, and other vulnerable populations. That’s true of regular hotels as well, but usually they exist in areas that have been zoned for such activity.

Supporters of Airbnb hold a rally outside City Hall January 20, in New York City.

Supporters of Airbnb hold a rally outside City Hall January 20, in New York City.

Who’s really renting their places out?
All of this revealed to me a “credibility gap” between the company’s public face and reality.

But the biggest gap of all is in how Airbnb portrays “regular people” hosts, those who rent out spare rooms to tourists to make some extra money in these difficult times, as the face of its company. What could be wrong with that?

Here’s what’s wrong: an increasing amount of Airbnb’s commercial activity in cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles does not come from the listings of “regular people” who are merely renting out a spare room. Instead, it comes from professional landlords who are removing badly needed housing from the local market and making it available exclusively for tourists. Many of these landlords are evicting thousands of people and getting rid of rent-controlled housing.

A 2014 investigation by Eric Schneiderman, New York state’s attorney general, found that nearly 40% of Airbnb’s $451 million in revenue, some $168 million in New York City alone, came from hosts who had at least three listings on the site. Data analyst Tom Slee plucked info from the Airbnb site in September and found that of the 30,268 listings in New York City, 44% of guest visits are to hosts with multiple properties. (Slee shared the latest information with the author via email. Here’s an example of earlier research along the same lines.)

These are not “regular New Yorkers” renting a spare room — not too many can afford to have control over multiple properties. They are professional operators who took on multiple leases in desirable locations.

One of those operators, Robert “Toshi” Chan, was revealed to be the Airbnb “host” of more than 200 apartments in dozens of different buildings, known collectively as Hotel Toshi. Eventually, Toshi’s illegal operation was shut down, and he agreed to pay a $1 million settlement for not obtaining proper hotel permits or insurance.

Under political pressure, last year Airbnb kicked off some of the worst violators, but recent data indicates little has changed. Its service is eating up affordable housing for local residents.

In San Francisco, various studies have found that a third of Airbnb rentals are controlled by people with two or more listings, and 40% of revenue comes from Airbnb hosts with multiple listings.

In Los Angeles, another study revealed that while a majority of hosts were “regular people,” those rentals generated just 11% of the company’s revenue. The other 89% was generated by professional landlords and agencies.

Perhaps the biggest tragedy in all this is that at the core of Airbnb is a really good idea. It has cleverly used Web- and app-based technology to bust open a global market that connects tourists with financially strapped homeowners. After interviewing some of Airbnb’s “regular-people” hosts, I’m convinced that this service legitimately does help them make ends meet.

But by taking such a hands-off, laissez-faire attitude toward the professionalization of hosting by greedy commercial landlords and multiproperty agents, Airbnb has become its own worst enemy. As the number of victims piles up, it undermines its own “sharing and trust” ethos because Airbnb could easily meet cities halfway:

  • With one stroke of the computer mouse, Airbnb could “evict the evictors” — de-list from its website any professional landlords or property managers operating multiple properties as tourist hotels. It has the data and knows who they are.
  • Cooperate with cities like San Francisco, Santa Monica, and Portland, which require hosts to register with local agencies, by de-listing any unregistered hosts.
  • Pay the same hotel occupancy taxes that hotels pay in all 34,000 cities in which Airbnb operates, or collect them from the hosts and turn them over to the cities.
  • Stop refusing to supply the data that cities need to enforce regulations and taxation, including the number of rental nights and rates charged by each host.

Whatever its remarkable origin as a rags-to-riches story that began in Brian Chesky’s living room, Airbnb is no longer simply a platform of “regular people” hosts. Instead, it has morphed into a giant loophole for professional real-estate operatives, allowing them to evade long-standing city laws that previously had protected the local housing stock by banning short-term rentals to tourists. The fast-growing company and its politically connected investors have shown no interest in killing their golden goose.

So some of the citizens of San Francisco have taken the matter into their own hands. Airbnb is clearly panicked — it is spending over $8 million to defeat the ballot measure, while the neighborhood activists can’t hope to match that. It’s David vs. Goliath in San Francisco. So goes the “sharing” economy.

Source:: The Real Deal

The Wrap: A map of horror movie filming locations, plans for former Grand Central site under review…and more

Timberline Lodge

1. Horror Movie Filming Locations: A Map of the Strange, Scary, and Cursed [Curbed]
2. Full plans for 872-unit Seventh Street apartments, now being reviewed by city [The Next Miami]
3. He completed the deal by turning lemons into lemonade [Daily Business Review]
4. New exodus of Cubans headed to the U.S. is underway across the Americas [Miami Herald]

Katherine Kallergis

Source:: The Real Deal

A visual guide to The Donald’s successes and failures (but mostly failures)


From the New York website: Maybe you watched Wednesday’s Republican primary debate on TV. Maybe you heard Donald Trump say he filed for bankruptcy “four times out of hundreds” and wondered: Trump has how many businesses? And only four of them failed?

Boy do we have a graphic for you.

A website called gathered publicly available information on Trump’s career, and calculated that a hefty 58 percent of Trump-brand businesses failed. To be fair, many of the ventures that crashed were pretty minor (anyone remember Trump Vodka? Trump Steaks?). And, as the chart points out, 42 percent is an “excellent baseball batting average.”

The graphic also looks into The Donald’s well-documented tendency to

Source:: The Real Deal

Piola inks lease at Gateway Plaza in Doral

Gateway Plaza at Doral

Piola, the popular pizzeria, has just signed a lease at Gateway Plaza at Doral, a redeveloped shopping center that is aiming to fill up with eateries.

The restaurant is taking a 2,937-square-foot space in the property’s Building B, Irma Figueroa, director of retail leasing and sales at the Comras Company, who exclusively represents Piola, told The Real Deal. The asking rent was $50 per square foot, Figueroa said.

Piola, which also has South Florida locations in Hallandale, Weston, Fort Lauderdale and Miami’s Brickell area and plans to open soon in Pinecrest, expects to launch in Doral in about six months, she said.

Gateway Plaza at Doral, at 2000 Northwest 87th Avenue, has 34,017 square feet of retail space, and is currently being marketed by High Street Retail.

Miami-Dade property records show the owner as DBH Properties Ltd., which is linked to MCH Properties, whose president is Mario Henriquez.

Sharon Dresser, president of High Street Retail, told TRD that she has worked with the property’s owner to design and redevelop the property. She is now marketing space to a variety of dining spots.

“We designed it for restaurants because the restaurants in the area do really well,” she said. “There are a lot of offices, and there is a need.”

The shopping center’s Building A is set to have such tenants as Chipotle Mexican Grill, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Mooyah Burgers and Fries, Cold Stone Creamery and Ker’s Winghouse Bar and & Grill, she said. The restaurants have not yet opened. Sprint is also a tenant of the building.

In addition to Piola, Dresser said she has two leases in the works for Building B. One would be a breakfast/bakery type restaurant, and she declined to describe the other eatery.

Doral is undergoing rapid development, and has seen an influx of big name tenants and new projects this cycle. Its urban transformation includes the of addition two mixed-use, master-planned communities: Downtown Doral, developed by Codina Partners, and CityPlace Doral, developed by the Related Group, Shoma Homes and Prudential. Sergio Pino’s Century Homebuilders Group is also planning a mixed-use development, Midtown Doral, a four-phase development near the corner of Northwest 107th Avenue and Northwest 74th Street.

Source:: The Real Deal

A look at South Florida’s spookiest properties

On this Halloween Eve, The Real Deal South Florida explored Miami’s oldest and most haunted properties: the Biltmore Hotel, Deering Estate, Casa Casuarina, the City of Miami Cemetery and the Miami River Inn. Among the paranormal activity? The sounds of doors opening and shutting, noise from nonexistent parties and the ghosts of wars past.

Here’s a look at TRD‘s top picks:

Biltmore Hotel (Credit: Jorge Royan)

Biltmore Hotel | Coral Gables | Built in 1926

The founder of Coral Gables developed the Biltmore Hotel in 1926. It’s considered one of Miami’s haunted properties, serving as a hospital during World War II, as a VA Hospital and the University of Miami’s medical school until 1968.

Rumor has it the spirit of gangster Thomas Walsh haunts the hotel: Walsh was shot and killed by another gangster in 1929 at a party on the 13th floor.

Alleged paranormal occurrences at the Biltmore include being tapped on the shoulder by men in army uniforms, noise from parties that aren’t happening, and the ghost of a man in a white tuxedo appearing in the elevators – elevators that have been said to stop on the 13th floor for no reason.

Deering Estate

Deering Estate

Deering Estate | Palmetto Bay | Built in 1900

Industrialist Charles Deering lived at the 44-acre property from 1922 until he died there in 1927. It’s home to a prehistoric burial mound with anywhere from 12 to 18 burials of Native Americans, one of a handful in the county, as well as archeological remains – dating back 10,000 years. The state of Florida and Miami-Dade County purchased the estate in 1985, when Deering’s last heir died. No one has lived there since. [Miami Herald]

Casa Casuarina

Casa Casuarina

Casa Casuarina | Miami Beach | 1930

After a morning walk in the summer of 1997, Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace was murdered on the front steps of the Versace Mansion, now known as Casa Casuarina.

“He was murdered right there as he was trying to walk in – he was fiddling with his key, trying to open the gate,” historian Paul George told the Miami New Times last year.

Creepy or not, it sold for $41.5 million at an auction in 2o13. [Miami New Times]

City of Miami Cemetery (Credit Phillip Pessar)

City of Miami Cemetery (Credit: Phillip Pessar)

City of Miami Cemetery | Miami | 1887

About 1,000 open plots remain at the city’s oldest cemetery, which is home to some of Miami’s founding members: Julia Tuttle, William Burdine (of Burdines, later Macy’s) and Dr. James Jackson. Veterans of the Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War I and II can also be found there, according to the city of Miami’s website.

The criteria to be buried there is “strict,” the website reads. “One must be able to produce proof of ownership for a plot and must be either the deed holder or able to prove familial relationship to the owner.” Friends of the family are not allowed.

Miami River Inn

Miami River Inn

Miami River Inn | Miami | 1906

MiMo developer Avra Jain picked up the historic hotel earlier this year , which has been called a great place for “ghost hunters or sound sleepers” in a TripAdvisor review.

“At 11 p.m. every night, patrons on the first floor allegedly hear the front door open and close loudly, hear someone wipe their shoes on the welcome mat, running, and a shaking door knob,” according to the Huffington Post. “Others also say they hear what appears to be a ghostly tantrum of someone throwing items around the halls, but nothing is found outside.” [Huffington Post]

Source:: The Real Deal

Convicted fraudster’s Miami Beach manse lists for $29.5M

Photos of 5930 North Bay Road from a previous listing, Jill Hertzberg and Jill Eber of Coldwell Banker

A waterfront mansion at 5930 North Bay Road — one of the many multimillion-dollar assets to be sold off following its owner’s tax fraud conviction — is now being listed at $29.5 million.

Whitehall, along with condos on Fisher Island and at New York’s Trump World, other homes and a variety of exotic cars, was among the possessions of Mauricio Assor and his son, Leon Cohen-Levy. The pair, owners of the Flatotel chain, had concealed more than $150 million in assets and failed to report more than $49 million in income to the Internal Revenue Service, according to a 2011 Forbes article, citing court documents. That year they were sentenced to 10 years in prison for tax evasion.

Jill Hertzberg and Jill Eber of Coldwell Banker’s the Jills now have the listing. The home had previously been listed by Pointe Group Advisors for $25,995,000.

The 13,637-square-foot estate sits on a 73,480-square-foot lot, with 200 feet of water frontage, and is being marketed for redevelopment.

Whitehall has nine bedrooms and seven and a half bathrooms. The home features a custom-built 35-foot by 50-foot pool, a dock and jet-ski lift, helipad and private gated entry to the property.

The estate’s illustrious past also links it to former President John F. Kennedy and the Bee Gees. Gossip tabloids had said that Kennedy had used the home to rendezvous with Marilyn Monroe and other lovers, according to a release. The house later belonged to a member of the Bee Gees, who hosted guests including a British prime minister.

Miami-Dade property records show the current owner as North Realty LLC, which lists Leon Cohen as manager. The entity purchased the home in 2002, but no monetary amount is recorded.

Whitehall has been vacant for years, caught in litigation between CDR Creances SAS, a French government agency, and the imprisoned property owners.

According to Forbes, the father-son team’s other toys included a Rolls Royce Phantom, a Porsche Carrera GT, a Bentley, a Ferrari Testarossa, a BMW Z8, a Dodge Viper, a limo and a $1.2 million helicopter. The two men titled the homes and cars and a $45 million investment portfolio in the names of shell companies formed in the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

They also sold the New York Flatotel and directed the $33 million in proceeds to a bank account at HBSC in Switzerland, opened in the name of Panamanian bearer share company, without reporting the income on U.S. tax returns, according to Forbes, citing court documents.

Beyond the prison time, U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch ordered the father to pay $9.4 million in restitution, and the son to pay $7.7 million in restitution. A Bal Harbour mansion owned by the family was sold for $4 million last year.

“This is a rare opportunity,” Eber said in a statement, “for someone to own a piece of history and one of the best estate lots in Miami, featuring 200 feet of wide bayfront with stunning, unobstructed views toward downtown Miami.”

Source:: The Real Deal