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Miami’s New Condo Kings

Jorge Pérez built the Related Group - the iconic real estate development company responsible for many of Miami’s luxury condos. Now his sons take over the reigns.

Miami — People often say that there’s no room in Miami for another luxury condo building, but the team at the Related Group will tell you they’re wrong. Going into the pandemic, the company had about 2-3 years of unsold inventory, and they anticipated it would get worse before it got better. But to their surprise, condos flew off the shelves, construction never stopped, and renters kept paying.

“Miami used to rely on the South American buyers, but now it’s really balanced out and we’re 50% domestic,” said Jon Paul Pérez, the company’s new-ish president, and son of Jorge Pérez who founded the company in Miami in 1979.

If you live in or have visited Miami, you’ve likely walked by a building that was built by the Related Group - Miami’s longtime luxury condo developer. And if you’re an art fan, you’ve probably been to the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), named for Jorge Pérez. In short, Related is as much a part of Miami’s history as any of the Cocaine Cowboy movies. Until recently, the company was run by Pérez himself, but when the pandemic hit, his son, Jon Paul (known as JP) stepped up to the challenge and managed everything via Zoom when dad couldn’t quite - and had the luxury not to - keep up with the new world of remote work.

JP became president of the Related Group in October 2020, a position he’s been groomed for his entire life. Bloomberg Línea caught up with JP and his brother Nick (VP at Related) to talk about their first year at the helm, and what we can expect from this new generation of condo kings.

While the change had been a long time coming, “Covid sped up the transition. I was thrown into the fire and it was either sink or swim and I swam pretty well,” JP said. He had been working at the company since 2012.

Pérez, who is originally from Argentina, founded Related with his best friend and business partner Stephen Ross, who you may also know as the owner of the Miami Dolphins. Both Pérez and Ross are on Forbes’ billionaire list.

“One of the earliest memories that we have is sitting in the back seat of the car and visiting construction sites with my dad,” Nick said. While their father encouraged them to pursue their own passions, both sons decided to follow in their father’s footsteps. To learn the lay of the land, they were required to work outside the family business before being welcomed into it. Both went to New York and worked at The Related Companies of New York, led by Ross and later earned MBA’s from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, which is well-known for its focus on family businesses.

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And like many Miami natives they left, but they eventually returned home.

While Related doesn’t only work on luxury condo buildings - they also build affordable housing, hotels, office buildings, and restaurants - the father and son trio are known as the “Condo Kings,” in Miami. To elevate their properties they often partner with luxury brands - as is the case with their newest building, Baccarat Residences in the heart of Brickell, which they say will ooze with the same luxury standards as the French ultra-lux crystal brand itself.

“It gives the buyer confidence in terms of the quality of the apartment that they are buying,” said JP. In fact, building this “next level” type of luxury is something the brothers brought to the Related Group. It’s something they were exposed to while living in New York.

Besides the quality of the buildings themselves, they are also known for having museum-quality art work such as the famed Botero statues that welcome residents at many of the properties. That’s because Pérez “is extremely passionate about art,” hence his $40 million donation (in art and in cash) to the PAMM. “He’s in Basel right now buying more art,” added JP. Art Basel Switzerland - the original fair - is taking place from September 21 - 26 in Basel, Switzerland.

While the buildings own most of their own art, about 90% in fact, Pérez does lease some pieces from his private collection.

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The mark that the new kings bring is that of a younger generation. For example, Related has several projects going on in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, an area the JP says his father would have traditionally overlooked “because he himself would never spend any time there.” The neighborhood started as a warehouse district, but today is covered in street art and is home to the trendiest restaurants; the only thing that’s been missing: residential and commercial buildings. But the Related Group is on it.

Pérez, who is still chairman and CEO, took some convincing regarding the Wynwood projects, but JP said, “99.2% of the time he says ‘Great!’”

Besides there being fewer launch parties and fewer broker parties, JP says sales haven’t slowed down. That being said, they did make a small change to their sales protocol. They used to take a 50% deposit for pre-construction units, but now they accept 40%, he said.