Monthly Archives: February 2018

Engel & Völkers opens Jacksonville Beach office

Corey Hasting

Real estate brokerage Engel & Völkers Florida expanded by opening an office in Jacksonville Beach led by broker/owner Corey Hasting.

Hasting previously was a leading agent in northeast Florida with brokerage firm Keller Williams.

It expansion into Jacksonville Beach added to the statewide presence of Engel & Völkers, which has South Florida offices in such markets as Delray Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jupiter, Miami, Palm Beach, Sunny Isles Beach and Wellington.

Jacksonville Beach is a coastal city that has attracted developers including Ormond Beach-based Manoj Bhoola of MSB Hotels IVV, LLC, who has proposed construction of an eight-story, 211-room hotel there.

Engel & Völkers was started in 1977 as a specialty boutique brokerage in Hamburg, Germany, and now has a global network of 10,000 agents in more than 30 countries.– Mike Seemuth

Source:: The Real Deal

Former FSU president wants $10.7M for 984 acres near Tallahassee

T.K. Wetherell

A former president of Florida State University and his wife want $10.7 million for a 984-acre hunting plantation about 30 miles from Tallahassee.

The property, called Oak Hill Plantation, has an 8,000-square-foot house and large populations of quails, doves, turkeys and deer. It also has a 15-acre lake fed by a spring and live oak trees that are 200 to 300 years old.

The owners are former FSU president T.K. Wetherell and his wife, Virginia Wetherell, who served as secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection from 1991 to 1998 and in the Florida House of Representatives from 1982 to 1988.

T.K. Wetherell also served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1982 to 1992 and was Speaker of the House from 1990 to 1992.

The Wetherells’ plantation in the Red Hills region of the Florida Panhandle is adjacent to Avalon Plantation, owned by Ted Turner, the founder of cable television news outlet CNN.

In addition to the five-bedroom, four-bathroom main house at Oak Hill Plantation, the property comes with a 1,600-square-foot guest house and a gathering lodge with a living room, kitchen and loft bedroom, plus an attached workshop and barn. [Atlanta Business Chronicle] – Mike Seemuth

Source:: The Real Deal

Spotlight on: The no-drama broker behind One57’s $100M condo sale

Leighton Candler and One57 (Credit: Getty Images)

From TRD NYC: In 2008, the New York Observer crowned Leighton Candler as the city’s “new co-op queen,” after she racked up a series of eight-figure deals on the Upper East Side’s Gold Coast. But the Corcoran Group agent is now in line for an even grander title after selling the city’s priciest condominium for $100.4 million.

The buyer, Dell Technologies founder Michael Dell, inked a contract for the Billionaires’ Row condominium back in 2012 and the sale closed two years later. Dell’s identity — and Candler’s role — was revealed on Thursday by the Wall Street Journal.

Although she’s flown under the radar these past few years, Candler’s record-setting One57 deal puts her in an exclusive club. She joins other record-setting brokers like Corcoran’s Carrie Chiang, who represented David Wildenstein in the $79.5 million sale of the Upper East Side commercial townhouse last year; Sotheby’s International’s Serena Boardman, who brought a $77.5 million buyer in 2015 to Woody Johnson’s co-op apartment, where she had a co-exclusive with Brown Harris Stevens’ John Burger; Brown Harris Stevens‘ Paula Del Nunzio, who listed the Harkness mansion when it sold in 2006 for $53 million; and Compass’s Kyle Blackmon, who represented Sanford Weil when he sold his 15 Central Park West condo for $88 million in 2012. (Blackmon was at BHS at the time.)

Discreet and blessed with a sizable Rolodex, Candler has been a quiet force among the city’s most elite brokers for years. A native of Atlanta, she’s been described as the epitome of a Southern lady. But her upbringing wasn’t all charmed. Her father — a great-grandson of Coca-Cola Company founder Asa Candler — went bankrupt in 1969 and in the 1980s was convicted of passing $3.8 million in bad checks.

In 1979, Candler moved to New York to attend Parsons School of Design. She lived in Paris for three years, but returned to the city to work for interior designer Elisabeth Draper.

“I had to get work,” Candler told the Observer. “And I took that seriously.”

Still, her father’s connections ran deep. “Daddy had done business with a lot of people in New York,” she said, noting that the Carnegies were friends, as was Huntington Hartford, heir to the A&P fortune. Meanwhile, she was building her own contact list, attending parties with the artist Saul Steinberg and publisher Malcom Forbes.

Candler was working for legendary broker Edward Lee Cave when Hall Willkie hired her at BHS more than two decades ago. “She came in wearing a pink Chanel suit,” he recalled. “This beautiful creature in all pink looking like a million dollars. She had me right there.” But it wasn’t just her looks. “She’s a very talented broker. She has great contracts and she’s a sweetheart,” Willkie said. “She’s a force. She’s a formidable competitor.”

In 2001 Candler jumped to Corcoran, where she established a track record for closing massive deals with little drama or ego. “She is one of the best,” said Sotheby’s Nikki Field, who described Candler as “top caliber” and “no nonsense.”

Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman said Candler’s global client network is unmatched. “Leighton is the embodiment of discretion and does not speak about her clients or her achievements,” she said. “She doesn’t need to.”

Candler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Over the years, some of Candler’s biggest deals include selling conservative billionaire David Koch’s apartment at 1040 Fifth Avenue in 2006 for $26 million, and the decadent penthouse owned by Joan Rivers for $24 million in 2015.

On the buy-side, Candler has represented low-key but powerful deal-makers like a hedge fund manager and his wife, who paid $46 million for a penthouse at 1060 Fifth Avenue in 2008 — the priciest co-op deal on record at the time. Six months later, Candler sold it for them for $48.8 million. “She has near reverence for these really splendid prewar co-ops,” the hedge funder’s wife told the Observer.

Though the bulk of deals involve people purchasing homes to live in, she’s increasingly working with investors who have “different criteria in mind,” she told Leaders magazine in 2016. “We have to know what the rate of return is, how to secure appropriate financing for a project, and be responsible for advising on the build-outs to maximize returns.”

Candler herself is not a huge spender, telling the Observer that she doesn’t buy artwork, jewelry, horses or cars. For years, she rented a studio in a rental building on Central Park South. “I live in small places,” she said in 2008. “I love other people to have those apartments… I love coming back to my little nest as long as I can look out and see everything.”

Two years later, that changed. Candler was among the holdout rent-stabilized tenants who accepted a buyout offer of more than $1 million from Vornado Realty Trust, which is now building 220 Central Park South at the site. Candler’s $100.47 million record at One57 is expected to fall when one or more pricier units close at 220 Central Park South.

Source:: The Real Deal

Asking price for re-listed Jupiter home reduced by almost $5M

Admiral’s Cove house listed for sale by former New York Yankee Jeff Nelson and his wife Sheri Quinn Nelson

A former pitcher for the New York Yankees and his wife re-listed their custom-built, waterfront house in Jupiter and reduced their asking price by almost $5 million.

Jeff Nelson and his wife, Sheri Quinn Nelson, are now asking $14 million for the seven-bedroom house they re-listed with Billy Nash, head of the Nash Group unit of The Keyes Company.

Nash told Mansion Global that the Nelsons want to sell their house in the Admirals Cove area of Jupiter and to move north to a new home in Jupiter Island.

The two-story house in Admirals Cove, built in 2009, has seven bedrooms and 11 bathrooms and 11,394 square feet of living space.

Among other amenities, the property has a swimming pool, spa and sauna, plus a bar, billiards room and gym. It also has a private dock big enough for a 160-foot-long yacht.

Nelson, 51, was a pitcher for the New York Yankees from 1996 to 2000 and again in 2003. He also played for the Seattle Mariners.

His wife, Sheri, bought the house in Admirals Cove with her former husband for $3.49 million in 1999 and retained ownership as part of their divorce settlement.

The Nelsons initially listed the one-acre property for sale about a year ago for $19.9 million. [Mansion Global] – Mike Seemuth

Source:: The Real Deal

Oceanfront home in Palm Beach listed for $49.5M may have a buyer

1473 North Ocean Drive in Palm Beach (Credit:

A potential buyer is under contract to purchase an oceanfront house in Palm Beach listed for sale for $49.5 million.

The Palm Beach Daily News reported that the purchase contract was disclosed in an updated listing for the house at 1473 North Ocean Drive in Palm Beach.

It served as a vacation home for Diane Halle and her deceased husband, billionaire Bruce T. Halle, the founder of Discount Tire Co., who died Jan. 4 at age 87.

Cristina Condon and Todd F. Peter, agents of brokerage firm Sotheby’s international Realty, updated the listing for the house in the Palm Beach Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service to show that a potential buyer has been under contract to purchase the property since mid-January.

Condon declined to disclose the contractual purchase price or the timing of a potential closing.

The main house and a guest house with four bedrooms and a pool cabana were built on a lot that measures almost two acres and has 156 feet of frontage on the ocean. The main house and guest house have a combined total of 17,804 square feet of living space.

The Halles bought the property on North Ocean Drive in 2012 for $41.5 million. [Palm Beach Daily News] – Mike Seemuth

Source:: The Real Deal

How bright are smart buildings?

Illustration by Daniel Nyari

Every time a tenant enters or exits a Rudin Management-owned property, the building notices. A sensor in a turnstile near the entrance sends a signal to the property’s operating system, dubbed Nantum. The system can sense sudden shifts in occupancy and quickly adjust its heating and air-conditioning depending on the season.

Rudin launched the independent tech startup Prescriptive Data — Nantum’s creator — in June 2016. The Manhattan-based company supplies Rudin’s buildings as well as properties owned by six other landlords with its technology. (A representative for Rudin declined to name the other landlords.)

The startup seems to be at the forefront of the smart building revolution underway in commercial real estate, including rental apartments.

“Property owners are just now realizing that they need to future-proof their buildings,” said John Gilbert, Rudin’s chief technology officer and executive chairman of Prescriptive Data.

Smart building technology can also be useful in the event of a natural disaster or attack, Gilbert said, explaining that Nantum knows exactly where people are in a building as well as general movement patterns. That, he said, can help warn landlords and tenants of an “impending safety concern in real time and can help emergency services identify the specific location of occupants.”

Following Rudin’s lead, Convene is now working on a building operating system that uses beacon technology. The firm, which manages common spaces and amenities as well as co-working spaces, is currently beta-testing its system in two office buildings. One of those is owned by Brookfield Properties and the other by the Blackstone Group, said Chris Kelly, co-founder of the tech-focused office services firm Convene, which has raised $119.2 million in venture funding since 2009. With the help of beacons, the building’s operating system can automatically change a room’s temperature and lighting or even order a cup of coffee depending on who walks in.

The smart buildings of the future, Kelly and other sources said, will be akin to giant computers run by even more advanced operating systems that increasingly rely on machine learning.

Smart building technology is also being enabled by a new wave of home automation products such as Google’s Home and Amazon’s Echo. The voice-recognition gadgets allow consumers to control their music, entertainment and shopping whims from anywhere in their home.

Firms like Nest, which Google acquired for $3.2 billion in 2014, produce smart thermostats, while others like Latch and Teman, which makes, sell smart door technologies: screens that recognize faces and let customers open and close doors from virtually anywhere on their phones, in some cases with the help of Wi-Fi. And the list goes on.

“A building manager goes home and talks to his Alexa and has a really great software experience with five or six different mobile apps during the day,” said Luke Schoenfelder, co-founder of Latch, which has raised $26 million since it launched in 2014 and markets its products to multifamily property owners. “Then they get to their office, and all the systems haven’t changed in 20 years.”

The proliferation of home automation products has rapidly increased the need for operating systems in large commercial properties, argued Gilbert. Hotels are also waking up to the trend.

For example, Verdigris, which sells technology that monitors a building’s energy usage, counts Hyatt, InterContinental and W Hotels among its clients.

Technologies like Latch produce data, but landlords can’t effectively use that data unless they’re properly wired to a central system.

While costs of these systems vary and are tricky to pin down, Gilbert said Rudin’s Nantum system has saved the development firm about $5.5 million a year in heating, electricity and maintenance expenses.

Smart technology can also help reduce disturbances by tracking elevator usage and estimating when repairs are needed. “I don’t think about it as the future,” said GateGuard creator Ari Teman, speaking about smart buildings generally. “It’s happening right now.”

But while the idea of responsive buildings may sound like a no-brainer for owners, there are obstacles.

Arie Barendrecht, co-founder of WiredScore — which grades buildings’ connectivity and tech infrastructure — said that only about 20 percent of New York office buildings have the high-speed internet wiring needed to sustain smart buildings. In addition, it’s a big upfront financial investment for landlords — especially if they invested heavily in their properties.

“[It’s] never an easy shift,” Barendrecht said. “If you’re a building owner, there’s obvious hesitation to completely cede human intervention.”

Check out the complete version of this cover story in the February 2018 issue

Source:: The Real Deal

Adult supervision: Chinese regulator takes control of Anbang

Wu Xiaohui and the Waldorf Astoria

Meet the new boss, very different from the old boss … who was detained by Chinese communist party officials amid fraud allegations.

The China Insurance Regulatory Commission took over Anbang Insurance Group on Friday in the wake of the financial fraud indictment of chairman Wu Xiaohui, saying they needed to take this step to prevent the company from collapsing, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A group of 31 regulators will oversee the company for at least one year, taking over all management and board responsibilities such as asset trading and contract signing. Anbang will continue to be a private insurer, although the regulators could extend their takeover for another year.

Wu, who is married to the granddaughter of former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, was detained in June and has been indicted on fraud charges. The CIRC specifically cited Article 144 of Chinese insurance law in its Anbang takeover, a clause about illegally altering business registration filings.

CIRC official He Xiaofeng will lead the regulatory group. The company’s head of real estate Theo Cheng left the company over the summer amid uncertainty over its leadership.

Anbang was growing enormously as recently as two years ago, purchasing New York’s famed Waldorf Astoria hotel from Blackstone Group in 2016 for $1.95 billion and buying Asian and European insurers. However, the Chinese government questioned how sustainable their business model could be and took steps to halt their expansion last year, ordering banks to stop conducting business deals with the company.

The company may be under greater pressure to sell its overseas holdings following the government takeover, with the Blackstone Group reportedly interested in buying back the Waldorf from Anbang, along with 16 other properties. Along with operations partner Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Anbang has begun converting the Waldorf into a complex with 350 condos and 350 hotel rooms over the course of a three-year renovation. Before the Anbang takeover by government officials, Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta told investors that he did not believe the property was up for sale.

Chinese companies such as HNA Group, which is facing serious debt problems, and Dalian Wanda Group are also looking to put more of their properties on the market.

Anbang had seemed to have strong political support for a time, but the Chinese government is now at work on new regulations for overseeing such firms. The company had changed the way companies sell insurance in China by issuing products more similar to investments, a move that sparked a number of copycat companies, some of which have faced sanctions from the Chinese government as well.

Despite these problems, Ivan Shi, research director at the consultancy Z-Ben Advisors, told the Journal he thinks the government will draw the line at breaking up Anbang.

“I think their goal is probably insuring the stability of the company,” he said. “It’s such a big company with so many clients that I think it will cause more problems for them to break it up.”

Before his detainment by party officials, Wu also met with former Kushner Companies CEO Jared Kushner to discuss a multi-billion-dollar recapitalization and redevelopment of 666 Fifth Avenue. Anbang eventually withdrew from talks amid political scrutiny. [WSJ] – Eddie Small

Source:: The Real Deal

Stockholders file class action lawsuit against Wynn Resorts

Steve Wynn (Credit: Getty Images)

Legal troubles continue to mount for Steve Wynn and the company that bears his name.

A group of stockholders have filed a class action lawsuit against Wynn Resorts, claiming the company gave false and misleading statements regarding Wynn’s sexual misconduct allegations. The investors, headed by lead plaintiffs John and Joan Ferris, say that the scandal tanked the stock’s value. The lawsuit also names Steve Wynn’s successor, Matthew Maddox, as a defendant.

On January 26, the Wall Street Journal reported that Wynn had forced one of his employees, a manicurist, to have sex with him. The article said that Wynn ordered her to take her clothes off and lie down on the massage table he kept in his office. The woman refused, telling Wynn that she was married. Wynn persisted, and they ended up having sex, according to the report. A series of separate accusations against Wynn followed the article’s publication, and two more women have filed assault complaints in Nevada.

Wynn has denied the allegations, saying: “The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous.”

Wynn Resorts stock dropped more than 10 percent shortly after the sexual misconduct allegations were reported.

The lawsuit is the third class action complaint filed against Wynn Resorts since the scandal broke. Earlier this month, the Massachusetts pension fund Norfolk County Retirement System sued Wynn Resorts for having “turned a blind eye” to the allegations, it alleged. Then came a similar lawsuit filed by the Operating Engineers and Construction Pension Fund, which is based in Pennsylvania.

In the stockholder class action, the plaintiffs claim Wynn Resorts breached its fiduciary duty. The suit alleges that the company deliberately misled the public and artificially inflated stock value.

“Defendants engaged in a plan, scheme, conspiracy and course of conduct, pursuant to which they knowingly or recklessly engaged in acts, transactions, practices and courses of business which operated as a fraud and deceit upon Plaintiffs,” the suit alleges.

The allegation in the the Journal report was revealed through a lawsuit that Elaine Wynn, Steve Wynn’s ex-wife and co-founder of both Wynn Resort and Mirage Resorts, filed to lift restrictions on the sale of her stocks. Steve Wynn stepped down as CEO earlier this month .

Source:: The Real Deal

Brock Development scores loan, breaks ground on Palm Beach Gardens hotel

Rendering of the hotel at 4250 Design Center Drive

Brock Development just scored $20 million in construction financing and broke ground on a new hotel in Palm Beach Gardens.

Property records show Florida Community Bank provided the loan to Brock NPGA Hotel for the five-story, 122-key hotel. The company, led by principals Andrew and Peter Brock, paid $2.6 million for the roughly 1.3-acre lot at 4250 Design Center Drive.

The seller, Heartwood 42, is an affiliate of BBX Capital. The hotel, a Residence Inn by Marriott, will be part of a larger mixed-use project BBX and Stiles Corporation are building.

The hotel site is on the northeast corner of RCA Boulevard and Design Center Drive.

In 2016, the Palm Beach Gardens City Council approved the master developers’ plans for the 30-acre site, which calls for more than 200,000 square feet of office, medical and retail space near a proposed Tri-Rail station, as well as a parking garage. The development site is on the south side of PGA Boulevard, east of I-95.

Nearby, the recently renovated PGA National Resort & Spa is on the market. The property includes a 339-key hotel with a 40,000-square-foot spa and five 18-hole golf courses.

Andrew and Peter Brock could not immediately be reached for comment. Their company is also developing the 200,000-square-foot Alton Town Center shopping plaza in Palm Beach Gardens with partners North American Development Group.

Source:: The Real Deal

Battle lost: Judge approves 36 foreclosures against Sixty Sixty Resort unit owners

(Photo illustration by Jhila Farzaneh for The Real Deal. Credit: Getty Images)

Lionel Gossaf arrived in Miami from Brussels on Wednesday evening to try to save his unit at a Miami Beach condo-hotel that has been at the center of an epic fight with the Port Orange, Florida-investment company Schecher Group.

But he learned he had already lost the battle.

Earlier that day, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Beatrice Butchko approved the foreclosure of Gossaf’s unit and 35 others in the Sixty Sixty Resort at 6060 Indian Creek Drive. Butchko had initially set a three-day trial in which Gossaf said he expected to make his case against a 2016 foreclosure lawsuit filed by Schecher Group, which alleges he failed to pay about $125,000 in assessments for repairs to Sixty Sixty’s hotel and common areas. Since 2016, Schecher had filed similar complaints against 65 unit owners.

“I was going to testify on the third day of trial,” Gossaf said. “But the judge changed the plan. I am very upset because I didn’t get the chance to defend my case. It is not fair.”

Through a spokesperson, Butchko declined comment citing judicial ethics rules that bar her from publicly commenting on rulings. Steven Davis, the attorney for Schecher, said Butchko ruled against the 36 unit owners because they lost standing in the foreclosure cases when they deeded away their property rights to an outside investor.

“My client is satisfied with the outcome,” Davis said. “It is important to note that these people bought their units and were having trouble before Schecher came into the picture.”

Butchko set foreclosure auctions on the 36 units for June. Schecher Group, whose principal Richard Schecher Sr. claims delinquent owners owe his company roughly $9.4 million in unpaid assessments, has previously acquired 10 units for which it initiated foreclosure proceedings. Davis said Schecher will likely bid on the 36 units. “I think so,” he said. “But it is a foreclosure sale so whoever wants to bid is entitled to bid.”

Since his company began filing lawsuits two years ago, Schecher Sr. has been accused by Sixty Sixty unit owners of attempting a hostile takeover of the condo-hotel. In a previous interview, Sixty Sixty Condominium Association President Maria Velez claimed Schecher engaged in unscrupulous tactics such as allegedly charging unit owners a 100 percent late fee and 18 percent interest for a $3,500 monthly assessment.

More recently, lawyers representing Gossaf, Velez and the other unit owners filed a motion to dismiss the foreclosure lawsuits that accused Schecher Sr. of committing fraud. The document alleges that at least 11 amended claims of liens filed by Schecher Group are “cut and paste forgeries and notary frauds.” However, Butchko dismissed the motion.

Gossaf, a French national who lives in Brussels, said he purchased his 10th floor unit in 2013 for $100,000 using savings from his pension. “I wanted to do a real estate investment in Florida because I wanted an asset in America and I thought it would be well protected,” Gossaf said. “And my family and I come quite often to Miami.”

He said he spent $11,000 to pay for attorney fees against the Schecher lawsuit and a pending bankruptcy filing by the condo association. He spent another $1,500 to travel to Miami for the three-day trial. “I was very upset and angry when I learned the judge foreclosed on all of us without hearing our defense,” Gossaf said. “This is not American justice.”

Source:: The Real Deal