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Related Group Goes Into Contraction Mode


Perez

(This story, in slightly different form, originally appeared in ALM’s Daily Business Review.)MIAMI-In the latest sign of Jorge Perez’s downsizing, his Related Group is no longer a partner in the Trump Towers luxury condo in Sunny Isles Beach.

“We have no comment other than to confirm we have satisfied The Related Group’s lender obligations, and we have sold the two projects (Trump II and Trump III at Sunny Isles) to former partners in these developments,” Betsy McCoy, Related’s vice president and associate general counsel, said in an e-mail.

This comes after Related and its lenders—likely to take title soon to the Icon Brickell towers—slashed prices on the nearly vacant Miami project. And Related no longer owns a site in Downtown Miami where Perez planned another condo tower.

“In an economy like this, when developers like Related became so big, they actually contract,” says Michael Cannon, executive director of Integra Realty Resources in Miami. “What [Perez] is going through is a contraction rather than an expansion, and this is what a lot of developers are doing.”

Related was one of the most prominent condo developers in South Florida over the past decade. The company built Murano at Portofino, Icon South Beach and Apogee in Miami Beach, plus 50 Biscayne, 900 Brickell and Loft Downtown in Miami.

But when the housing market and economy collapsed in 2007, Related and its joint venture partners were left owning thousands of new luxury condos.

Perez’s personal net worth has also declined. He was ranked at No. 197 on the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest people in 2006, when his net worth was estimated at $1.8 billion. Last year, he fell off the list when his net worth dipped below $900 million, according to Forbes.

One of Related’s partners was the Dezer family. Related and the Dezers co-developed the Trump Towers, but the relationship ended Dec. 31, according to four people familiar with the project who declined to be identified.

“It wouldn’t surprise me, unless he had a major stake in the [Trump Tower] project, that he would terminate the agreement and move on,” says Cannon, who has no direct knowledge of the deal.

Related had a 50% share in TRG Sunny Isles VII, the company behind the oceanfront project, until Jan. 13 when the Dezers took full control, according to the Florida Division of Corporations. Related and the Dezers joined forces more than five years ago to build the three-tower oceanfront Trump project on Collins Avenue and 160th Street. Each 45-story tower has 271 condos.

In 2007, TRG Sunny Isles obtained a $345.7-million construction loan from Wachovia Bank, now owned by Wells Fargo. On Dec. 31, Wachovia modified the loan and extended its maturity date. A mortgage filed with Miami-Dade County did not disclose the due date.

One tower is sold out, another has a few units sold, and the third is vacant. The unit prices have dropped nearly 40% since pre-sales started five years ago.

Trump Towers condos are selling from $350 to $400 per square foot, down from about $550 to $650 per square foot a few years ago, said Craig Studnicky, president of the International Sales Group in Aventura, whose company represents buyers of Trump Towers units. “At $350 a foot,” he says, “there is not going to be any profit realized by the developer.”

Related also took a big loss on the sale of a Downtown Miami parcel where the company planned to build condos. It sold a 28,500-square-foot lot at Northeast Third Street and Second Avenue for $4.4 million on Dec. 29 to Miami investor Rafael Kapustin, who had sold the land to Related for $12 million in 2007, as the condo market was beginning to deteriorate.

After reacquiring the site, Kapustin sold it to Miami-Dade College for $5.5 million. Related paid off a $5 million mortgage with HSBC Realty Credit Corp. at the time of the sale.

Now Related is working to resolve its problems at Icon Brickell. The company has nearly 1,500 condos to sell and is delinquent on construction loans totaling nearly $700 million.

Related’s McCoy says the developer was negotiating to hand over Icon’s three towers to the lenders with the condition that the company continues to run the project. “We are in a workout process so we would continue to manage [Icon],” she says.