repositioning and revitalization of
Miami’s South Beach District through
the restoration of Art Deco landmarks
and the creation of new commercial,
creative and cultural opportunities.
Dacra, which is behind the transformation of the Miami Design District,
also developed mixed-use projects on
Lincoln Road and Española Way that
combine forward-thinking urban
design with commercial viability. In
1999, Dacra acquired 8. 5 acres on the southern tip of Allison Island
with a vision to create Aqua, a new urbanist community.
Founder and chairman emeritus of the Sembler Co., Mel Sembler
served as US Ambassador to Italy from 2001 to 2005 and as US
Ambassador to Australia and Nauru from 1989 to 1993. On the business front, the Sembler Co. is one of the
nation’s most highly recognized shopping
center developers. A past president of the
International Council of Shopping Centers,
Sembler has served in the group for 25 years.
He’s also on the boards of several banks,
including the First Bank of Treasure Island,
National Bank, First Union Bank and American
Momentum Bank. Sembler Co. continues to
develop projects such as Boynton Town Center
and Renaissance Commons, even in a down
economy. Sembler also built Duval Park, a residential complex in St. Petersburg intended to recreate the charm of
Old Key West. Although best known as a developer, Sembler is also
renowned for his activism in the anti-drug movement.
JAMES M. SENEFF, JR.
Founder and executive chairman of
CNL Financial Group, James Seneff
boasts a real estate investment career
that began in 1973 with a $5,000 loan
and a 50-year plan. CNL and its affiliates have since formed or acquired
companies with more than $26 billion
in assets. In 2006-2007, CNL sold $15
billion in REIT assets, including CNL
Hotels & Resorts, CNL Retirement
Properties and Trustreet Properties,
at or near the market peak. Seneff chairs CNL’s four non-traded
REITs—Global Income Trust, Global Growth Trust, CNL Lifestyle
Properties and CNL Healthcare Trust—and is executive chairman of
CNLBancshares. The company expanded into commercial real
estate services in 2007 and now has a presence in seven US cities.
Donald Soffer transformed a mosquito-infested swamp in North Dade County into
an upscale, planned community. It all
started about 50 years ago when he purchased a 785-acre tract of marshland and
sketched his vision on a cocktail napkin.
That vision became South Florida’s
Aventura. Although he built an upscale
community, Soffer came from humble roots.
He was born and raised in the small, poor steel town of Duquesne,
34 REAL ESTATE FORUM APRIL 2012
PA. His father, Harold, sold cars and appliances before starting a successful real estate and development business. When he came into his
own, Donald Soffer spent 40 years building the Turnberry Isle Miami
and the Aventura Mall, as well as thousands of residential units and
numerous offices. Aventura is now a self-contained city with golf
courses, lakes, bike and exercise paths, hotels and more—much of it
developed by the company he founded, Turnberry Associates.
MARTIN “HAP” STEIN
Faced with a double-digit decrease in consumer spending, more
retail closures than openings and a nonexistent capital market,
credited with sharpening the company’s focus on its current niche—
grocery-anchored shopping centers. Regency went public as a REIT
in Stein’s first year as CEO and now boasts 396 properties.
Terry Stiles heads one of the largest full-service real state companies in the
Southeast, a firm his father Howard
Stiles launched in 1951. Stiles Corp. has
developed more than 37 million square
feet of real estate. Stiles has built his personal and corporate reputation on being
at the forefront of commercial real estate
trends, building the first master-planned
corporate park in Broward County and
the first speculative office building in an
urban downtown area in the nation after a five-year period of slow
construction activity. Stiles has over a million feet of office space in
Downtown Ft. Lauderdale and has developed many of the high-pro-file projects on Las Olas Boulevard, including the Bank of America
Plaza at Las Olas City Center and 350 and 450 Las Olas Center.
Michael Swerdlow is the brains behind South Florida projects like
the Dolphin Mall, a 1.4-million-square-foot outlet center in Miami, as
well as Dolphin Commerce Center, a planned three-million-square-foot corporate park in Miami, and Las Olas
Riverfront, a retail entertainment venue
along Ft. Lauderdale’s waterfront. The
hands-on chairman and CEO of the
Swerdlow Group taps his 30-plus years of
experience in evaluating and selecting new
development opportunities and in making
major decisions regarding architectural
design and key professional resources.
Swerdlow is currently working on Biscayne
Landing, one of the most significant urban
redevelopments in South Florida’s history and one of the largest
residential projects planned on a former Superfund site. ◆
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