Terra Branches Out

March 30, 2015   |   Miami Herald

With deep roots in Miami, the father-son team that runs Terra is building luxury, low density units throughout South Florida, including in Coconut Grove, Doral, Weston and the northern reaches of Miami Beach.

For a developer, David Martin started young.

He was just 23 when he and his father Pedro, then a partner at the Miami law firm Greenberg Traurig, founded the real estate firm Terra in 2001.

“David and I had been toying with the idea of starting our own company since he was an undergraduate, “said Pedro Martin, Terra’s CEO. “I told him to get an MBA, get a law degree so at least you can have a good profession if it doesn’t work out.”

The younger Martin graduated from the University of Florida with his advanced degrees, and father and son began raising investments from friends and associates.

“I like this business and I work hard. But David, I quickly saw, has an incredible passion for development and working the community”, said Pedro Martin, an engineer-turned-lawyer who was born in Cuba and fled the island with his parents in 1961.

Alicia Cervera, one of Miami’s preeminent real estate brokers, has worked with Terra and said that the two men, while very close, have markedly different styles.

“I think the father has more of the caution of a very god lawyer,” Cervera said. “David is careful, too, but he’s also very much an entrepreneur. He has that clear, focused, driving vision of an entrepreneur.”

The younger Martin’s approach might strike some sports fans as a real estate version of Money-ball, Michaels Lewis’ 2003 book about the Oakland Athletics and the team’s strategy of looking for value in unexpected places.

“I’m always asking myself: How can we find neighborhoods where we can uncover inefficiency or some sort of idea that’s never been executed?” said Martin, now 37 and Terra’s president and chief operating officer.

For Terra, that meant turning its eye away from Miami Beach and looking at the city’s less developed neighborhoods where land was cheaper.

In 2006, the company completed two towers with nearly 400 luxury condos near the Dadeland South Metrorail stop. Called Metropolis, it was an early example of the transit-oriented development now becoming more popular in congested Miami-Dade County.

Terra also decided to become a full-service, integrated real estate firm, keeping some of its most important functions in-house. In 2005, Terra began operating a construction management company. In 2006, it opened a realty firm. In 2007, it launched its own mortgage bank.

“Having these experts inside the company doing business with us on a daily basis helps us make much more calculated, educated decisions,” Martin said.

In the coming years, Terra developed several properties in downtown Miami, finishing them up in the early days of the crash. That allowed the firm some breathing space and enough capital to figure out its next move as the tsunami of the financial crisis demolished South Florida’s real estate market.

“One of the things we realized is that we can’t lose sight of the fact that in Miami we have suburbs, “Martin said. “Investing in suburbs allows us the opportunity to diversify.”

Today, Terra is developing a mixed-use project in Doral, pairing 150,000 square feet of retail anchored by a Publix with 319 single-family homes. Prices for the houses start at $600,000.

The company also paid $30 million for a golf course in Weston last summer, according to Broward County property records, and plans to build a luxury gated community with 125 homes.

Terra now has about $3 billion under development, according to Martin.

But the project that has probably brought the most attention to terra is the Grove at Grand Bay, two ultra-luxury towers going up on the site of the old Grand Bay hotel in Coconut Grove.

The condos recently set a record price for the Grove at an average of $1,100 per square foot. The neighborhood, known for its bohemian reputation and lush vegetation, hadn’t seen a new high-rise in 10 years, completely missing out on the pre-recession boom.

Residents have certainly noticed the new tower, which in an unusual design twist their way 20-stories into the sky. One local blogger compared them to a “stack of bar napkins”.

Terra Aims to do Development its Own Way

May 4, 2016   |   Miami Herald

For a developer, David Martin started young.

He was just 23 when he and his father Pedro, then a partner at the Miami law firm Greenberg Traurig, founded the real estate firm Terra in 2001.

“David and I had been toying with the idea of starting our own company since he was an undergraduate,” said Pedro Martin, Terra’s CEO. “I told him to get an MBA, get a law degree so at least you can have a good profession if it doesn’t work out.”

The younger Martin graduated from the University of Florida with his advanced degrees, and father and son began raising investments from friends and associates.

“I like this business and I work hard. But David, I quickly saw, has an incredible passion for development and working with the community,” said Pedro Martin, a engineer-turned-lawyer who was born in Cuba and fled the island with his parents in 1961.

 

Alicia Cervera, one of Miami’s preeminent real estate brokers, has worked with Terra and said that the two men, while very close, have markedly different styles.

“I think the father has more of the caution of a very good lawyer,” Cervera said. “David is careful, too, but he’s also very much an entrepreneur. He has that clear, focused, driving vision of an entrepreneur.”

The younger Martin’s approach might strike some sports fans as a real estate version of Moneyball, Michael Lewis’ 2003 book about the Oakland Athletics and the team’s strategy of looking for value in unexpected places.

“I’m always asking myself: How can we find neighborhoods where we can uncover inefficiency or some sort of idea that’s never been executed?” said Martin, now 37 and Terra’s president and chief operating officer.

For Terra, that meant turning its eye away from Miami Beach and looking at the city’s less developed neighborhoods where land was cheaper.

In 2006, the company completed two towers with nearly 400 luxury condos near the Dadeland South Metrorail stop. Called Metropolis, it was an early example of the transit-oriented development now becoming more popular in congested Miami-Dade County.

Terra also decided to become a full-service, integrated real estate firm, keeping some of its most important functions in-house. In 2005, Terra began operating a construction management company. In 2006, it opened a realty firm. In 2007, it launched its own mortgage bank.

“Having these experts inside the company doing business with us on a daily basis helps us make much more calculated, educated decisions,” Martin said.

In the coming years, Terra developed several properties in downtown Miami, finishing them up in the early days of the crash. That allowed the firm some breathing space and enough capital to figure out its next move as the tsunami of the financial crisis demolished South Florida’s real estate market.

“One of the things we realized is that we can’t lose sight of the fact that in Miami we have suburbs,” Martin said. “Investing in suburbs allows us the opportunity to diversify.”

Today, Terra is developing a mixed-use project in Doral, pairing 150,000 square feet of retail anchored by a Publix with 319 single-family homes. Prices for the houses start at $600,000.

The company also paid $30 million for a golf course in Weston last summer, according to Broward County property records, and plans to build a luxury gated community with 125 homes.

Terra now has about $3 billion under development, according to Martin.

But the project that has probably brought the most attention to Terra is the Grove at Grand Bay, two ultra-luxury towers going up on the site of the old Grand Bay Hotel in Coconut Grove.

The condos recently set a record price the Grove at an average of $1,100 per square foot. The neighborhood, known for its bohemian reputation and lush vegetation, hadn’t seen a new high-rise in 10 years, completely missing out on the pre-recession boom.

Residents have certainly noticed the new towers, which in an unusual design twist their way 20-stories into the sky. One local blogger compared them to “a stack of bar napkins.”

Prominent architect Bjarke Ingels, who designed the $400 million towers and was recently tapped for Google’s new headquarters, said the innovative, sculptural approach was meant in part to remove any seeming disparity between the two towers.

“We didn’t want to make a good tower in front and a bad tower in back,” said Ingels, who is from Denmark but now works out of New York. “This way, the towers are front and back on the lower levels, but as they go upward, twist and become side-by-side.”

The towers have won some important fans, both among the local buyers who traditionally make up the bulk of the Grove’s market and the Latin American buyers who have fueled Miami’s wider real estate boom but never thought about settling in the Grove.

Ezra Katz, a major South Florida real estate investor, has a view of the Grand Bay towers from his office building in Coconut Grove. (Terra is headquartered in the same building.)

Katz said that building the towers in their unusual style was a big risk — but one that has paid off handsomely, as the record sale price showed.

“I don’t think I would have had the guts to pull the trigger on that kind of design,” Katz said. “It’s one of the most unusual designs I have seen in the United States of America, and I’ve been in the business for 40 years.”

Katz was so so impressed that he and his wife bought a unit in the building.

“Sometimes it takes someone as young as David to be that kind of pioneer,” he added. “He is pushing the limits of design in Miami much further than they’ve ever been.”

The towers are expected to be delivered in the last quarter of this year.

In partnership with the Related Group, Terra is working on another Coconut Grove development, a three-tower project called Park Grove that will cost $680 million and is being designed by another star architect, Rem Koolhaas. About 75 percents of the units there have sold.

The luxury condos are part of a broader resurgence in the Grove, where Martin now lives with his wife and two young children and where he spent much of his time as a teenager growing up in neighboring Cocoplum.

A true Miamian, Martin sometimes peppers his speech with “bro” and “dude,” his expressive eyebrows pumping up and down when he makes a particularly emphatic point like this one: One of Terra’s philosophies is that development should contribute to a neighborhood — enhancing its character without disrupting it.

“Typically in real estate, more density leads to more value,” he said. “And early on in the company’s history, our approach was: Let’s buy the land as cheaply as possible and try to pack as much density on it as we can.”

“But something we learned after the crash was that less is sometimes more,” Martin continued. “People want intelligent luxury now. At the Grand Bay, we were zoned for 440 units, but we only built 98.”

Nasir Kassamali, who owns the Doral-based design firm Luminaire and introduced Martin to the architect Ingels, said Martin’s deep roots in Miami have helped him understand the “ecosystems” of the areas he develops.

“Coconut Grove is not Brickell, it’s not the Beach, it’s a very bohemian village,” Kassamali said. “Their philosophy is to build good buildings with good architecture and improve the neighborhood without overwhelming it.”

Terra is also still developing Miami Beach, where it started out.

Last year, it delivered Glass, an 18-story building in the South of Fifth neighborhood that a previous developer had planned to fill with 45 units. Terra took that down to 10.

In North Beach, Terra has hired the world-famous architect Renzo Piano to design a 20-story tower with 69 luxury condos on the northern edge of a 25-acre park. That project will wrap up in 2017.

For an architect, working with a family-owned company can have major advantages, Ingels said.

“When it’s a family-owned company, it’s not just about the return of investment for shareholders that might have a very short-sighted view,” Ingels said. “It’s really about building a legacy, and if you screw up, you don’t only screw up a company you can walk away from, you screw up your family name.”

Ingels said he hopes to work with Terra again.

“One of the funny and challenging things about David is that — once a direction has been decided for a project — he is incredibly impatient to get things done,” Ingels said. “We would agree on something in Miami, and then he would call me as I was leaving the airport in New York to ask for updates. But it means we make progress incredibly quickly.”

“In other contexts, he might be diagnosed with ADD,” Ingels continued. “But in this case, I think he’s found a very productive way of channeling his urgency.”

 

 

TERRA

Business: Terra is a full-service real estate developer with an in-house construction management company, a mortgage bank and a realty firm. Founded by father-and-son team Pedro and David Martin in 2001, Terra has a diversified approach to real estate, developing luxury condos downtown and on the beach and bringing mixed-use and single-family projects to the suburbs. It also develops commercial and office properties. In recent years, the firm has engaged some of the world’s leading architects, including Renzo Piano, Rem Koolhaas and Bjarke Ingels. It was an early believer in the promise of the emerging neighborhoods in Miami’s downtown and is also bringing Coconut Grove its first high-rise luxury condo towers in 10 years.

Owners: Pedro and David Martin

Headquarters: 2665 S. Bayshore Dr., Miami

Employees: About 100

Total assets under development: $3 billion

Major luxury towers under development: Grove at Grand Bay and Park Grove (Coconut Grove). Glass and 8701 Collins (Miami Beach).

Major single-family projects under development: Botaniko (Weston); Atlantic 15 (Sunny Isles Beach); Modern Doral, Neovita, Vintage and Doral Cay (Doral).

Number of units under development: 1800

Website: www.Terra.com

Real estate diversifies as developers build for today’s end users

May 31, 2016   |   Miami Herald

The international media’s coverage of The Panama Papers has characterized South Florida’s real-estate market as being dominated by luxury condos owned by absentee buyers. In fact, a deeper look reveals that our housing landscape is becoming increasingly diverse as developers meet demand among actual residents, so-called “end users.”

While the perception is that our market is one-dimensional due to the sheer number of high-rise condos that have been built over the past decade, today there are thriving single-family home and apartment communities under way in neighborhoods like Doral, Weston, Pembroke Pines, and even in and around downtown Miami.

Although we have seen an uptick in condo development in the past three years, the majority of units being built this cycle are selling to owners who will spend all or part of their time here. This marks a shift from the boom-turned-bust of 2008, which was driven by condo developers, their buyers and banks over-leveraging themselves in the name of speculation.

Case in point: In downtown Miami, the center of overbuilding last cycle, 85 percent of the 3,438 condos delivering this year are pre-sold, according to the Miami Downtown Development Authority’s latest market report. The same study found that 94 percent of downtown’s existing units are occupied by full-time residents.

South Florida’s real-estate sector has learned from its past mistakes, and today’s housing market is proving resilient despite economic volatility overseas.

Several factors are fueling this stability.

Enhanced lifestyle offerings are appealing to end users from across the U.S., Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia who want to own a home here, preserve their wealth, start a business or upgrade their family’s quality of life. Our architecture has been elevated. World-class cultural and retail destinations are boosting our standing as a year-round destination. New museums are rising; our public and private schools are improving; and neighborhoods from Wynwood to Coconut Grove are being reimagined as urban and walkable.

Second, our market is on sound financial footing by comparison with past cycles. Because the vast majority of today’s home sales are all cash, developers are insulated from the risks associated with insurmountable debt. Even when lenders finance purchases, buyers are contributing 30 to 40 percent equity, a high threshold favoring residents over speculators. The days of easy-to-access loans are gone, resulting in one of the country’s most under-leveraged markets.

At the same time, we are making important investments in our infrastructure, from creating new parks and public transit options to expanding Miami International Airport and adding high-speed rail service.

Developers are doing their part to lure end-user residents by building low-density projects, prioritizing neighborhoods that foster a sense of community and offering amenities that make people feel at home.

At Grove at Grand Bay in Coconut Grove, set for completion this summer, buyers include local accountants, attorneys and doctors. More than half of the building’s owners are from the U.S., including many empty-nesters relocating from across South Florida.

Nearby, at Park Grove, we’ve sold units to New England transplants and seasonal snowbirds. One of our buyers is a middle-aged couple relocating from Connecticut after years of vacationing on a sailboat in Coconut Grove. 

At Glass in Miami Beach, each of the tower’s 10 units has been purchased by an end user. Residents include a banking executive, a tech mogul, members of a powerful steel family and an Icelandic couple that divides their time between Miami Beach and New York. 

Likewise, the majority of our single-family homes at Modern and NeoVita in Doral and at Botaniko in Weston are selling to existing South Florida families in search of new construction, contemporary home designs, more private space and a suburban community offering a strong quality of life.

After years of enduring criticism as a one-dimensional market overrun by absentee buyers, South Florida’s diverse housing options are increasingly appealing to end users. That’s good news for our real-estate market, our economy and our city’s newest crop of residential developments.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article80426277.html#storylink=cpy

 


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article80426277.html#storylink=cpy

 

As Coconut Grove surges, developer plans first new office building in decades

February 13, 2017   |   Miami Herald

The deal between the city’s parking agency and Martin was criticized by some Grove residents for taking away cheap public parking when it was announced two years ago. 

Market fundamentals are driving the move: Coconut Grove has one of the lowest vacancy rates for office space in Miami-Dade County, said Matthew Cheezem, managing director at commercial real estate firm JLL.

“The demand is clearly there because of the cachet of the Grove,” Cheezem said. “But the supply has been lacking. If you were a traditional company and you wanted to be in creative space, you went to Miami Beach or Coconut Grove. And nine times out of 10, Coconut Grove did not have space.”

He said the Grove’s office-space vacancy rate stands at a tight 6.2 percent. Reflecting the high demand for work space, two office towers in the Grove sold for $42 million in 2015 after just three weeks on the market.

The last major new office tower built in the Grove was the SBS Tower in 1989. In the early 2000s, the old Mayfair Center was also converted into office space. High-profile tenants there include Virgin Hotels and Sony Music. Cheezem said the Grove’s major office buildings are between 90 and 100 percent leased.

Revival in the Grove

Developers have returned to the Grove in droves over the last decade, lured by its hip history and proximity to downtown. Martin and other prominent builders are delivering luxury high-rise condos. A major retail firm paid $87.5 million to buy and revive ailing shopping mall CocoWalk. And in the West Grove’s predominantly African-American neighborhoods, investors are snapping up properties, leading to conflict and gentrification.

The $16 million sale of the parking garage has also been controversial with some Grove residents, who said it would take away badly needed parking spaces from the central business district. Even Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado criticized the largely autonomous Miami Parking Authority over the deal.

$16 million Sales price for public parking garage that Terra will turn into office space.

“They don’t understand that their mission is to provide parking, not to make money,” Regalado said at the time.

The MPA has recently opened new surface lots near City Hall and also has plans for a 333-space parking garage nearby, according to Miami Today. It is also seeking to build a new garage at the Coconut Grove Playhouse as part of a county rescue plan for the shuttered theater.