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Source: The Real Deal South Florida

Zom nabs land, $52M construction loan for Maizon rental tower in Brickell

Renderings of Maizon by Zom

Orlando-based developer Zom just closed on the land and construction financing for a 24-story, mixed-use apartment building in the west Brickell neighborhood, property records show.

Maizon Apartments LP, an affiliate of Zom, paid more than $6.7 million for the development site at 1100-1142 Southwest Second Avenue and 221-237 Southwest 12th Street. It also secured a $51.8 million construction loan from Santander Bank and broke ground on Maizon, according to a notice of commencement filed on Tuesday.

LLCs controlled by Alberto J. Cabrera and Maria Ramon sold the assemblage. The pair sold a property nearby for $6 million in September, also slated to become a mixed-use project.

Zom secured approvals from Miami’s Urban Development Review Board in October for the project, which will have 262 apartments and nearly 15,300 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. In all, Maizon will span 424,258 square feet and include 366 parking spaces and 24 bicycle spaces, open courtyards, and an amenity deck and pool on the ninth floor, according to documents filed with the city.

Zom is active in Greater Downtown Miami. The developer is building Solitair Brickell, a 50-story, 438-unit building near Brickell City Centre, as well as Met Square and adjacent MDM towers.

In the Brickell neighborhood, other new apartment buildings in the pipeline include Panorama Tower, a mixed-use luxury rental building under construction in the financial district, and Broadstone Brickell, which is closer to Maizon. Alliance Residential Company recently completed the latter, a 24-story apartment building at 255 Southwest 11th Street.

Zom could not immediately be reached for comment.

Source: The Real Deal South Florida

Once asking $73M, Céline Dion’s Jupiter Island compound sells for $28M

Celine Dion and 215 South Beach Road

Céline Dion and 215 South Beach Road

Céline Dion finally sold her oceanfront estate on Jupiter Island for $28 million, more than 60 percent less than its original $72.5 million price tag.

The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter sold the 5.7-acre compound to a domestic buyer who will use it as a vacation home, the Palm Beach Daily News reported. Jupiter Island Trust, with Paul Friedman as a trustee, is the buyer, property records show.

Dion and her late husband, René Angélil, spent nearly $20 million on the land at 215 South Beach Road in Hobe Sound and millions more developing the property. It features a nearly 10,000-square-foot home with five bedrooms, an elevator and media room, an eight-bedroom guest house, a water park, pool house, beach house and a tennis pavilion with a simulated golf range. They completed construction in 2010.

The property also has about 486 feet of ocean frontage.

Dion slashed the asking price to $45.5 million last year after Angélil died, and again earlier this year to $38.5 million, which means it sold for about $10 million less than its latest ask. Sotheby’s International Realty listing agents Cristina Condon and Todd Peter and Canadian broker Joseph Montanaro of Montreal represented the seller, according to the Palm Beach Daily News.

The French-Canadian singer told the Wall Street Journal that she wanted to sell the property because she lives primarily in Las Vegas, where her Caesars Palace show’s contract is in place until 2019, and the home was “not being used.” [Palm Beach Daily News] – Katherine Kallergis

Source: The Real Deal South Florida

US high streets looking low for retail in 2017

From the retail issue: Ralph Lauren is packing up its Polo store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. In San Francisco’s Union Square, Saks Fifth Avenue is consolidating and Macy’s will shutter its men’s store after selling the building to Morgan Stanley for $250 million. Macy’s is also looking to unload its Miami Beach flagship store on Lincoln Road as part of its plan to close 100 stores.

Across the country, the most trafficked high streets in the U.S. are feeling the pinch. The growth of e-commerce has traditional retailers rethinking their brick-and-mortar strategies, leading to an uptick in vacancy rates on the most expensive retail strips as record rent growth along many high streets recedes. [more]

Source: The Real Deal South Florida

Douglas Elliman takes over sales at Akoya Boca West

Rendering of Akoya Boca West. Inset: Jay Phillip Parker and Richard Siemens

Siemens Group hired Douglas Elliman to handle sales of Akoya Boca West, a luxury condo building under construction at the Boca West Country Club and secured registration to market and sell the project in New York.

The 139-unit, nine and 10-story luxury condo building is about 30 percent presold, Elliman Florida CEO Jay Phillip Parker said. Siemens, which was previously handling sales in-house, brought on Elliman for its reach into the Northeast, including Long Island, Connecticut and New Jersey, Parker said. Reservations were converted to contracts with no fallout, he said.

Siemens completed the foundation for Akoya Boca West in the fall and is aiming for an early 2018 delivery date. The country club spans 1,400 acres with about 400,000 square feet of club facilities and amenities, including a sports complex, clubhouse, a 38,000-square-foot spa, tennis facilities, dining and entertainment venues, and four 18-hole championship golf courses.

The building will be the first new residential development at Boca West in about 20 years. Developer Richard Siemens previously said Akoya would have a roughly $190 million sellout.

Units will range from two to five bedrooms and from 1,800 square feet to about 4,500 square feet. Parker said the project is geared toward empty nesters from South Florida and the Northeast, families, and older buyers in their 50s or 60s.

Prices range from about $895,000 to more than $3 million. Unlike in Miami-Dade, the project is requiring deposits of 25 percent rather than 50 percent.

In Miami-Dade, Douglas Elliman recently lost the exclusive sales and marketing of 6080 Collins Avenue Beach House, a boutique condo-hotel in Miami Beach, to Compass.

Source: The Real Deal South Florida

Any half-decent hacker could break into Mar-a-Lago: Internet security at four Trump properties is not good

U.S. Coast Guard boat in front of the Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach, Florida (Credit: Getty Images)

Two weeks ago, on a sparkling spring morning, we went trawling along Florida’s coastal waterway. But not for fish.

We parked a 17-foot motor boat in a lagoon about 800 feet from the back lawn of The Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach and pointed a 2-foot wireless antenna that resembled a potato gun toward the club. Within a minute, we spotted three weakly encrypted Wi-Fi networks. We could have hacked them in less than five minutes, but we refrained.

A few days later, we drove through the grounds of the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, with the same antenna and aimed it at the clubhouse. We identified two open Wi-Fi networks that anyone could join without a password. We resisted the temptation.

We have also visited two of President Donald Trump’s other family-run retreats, the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and a golf club in Sterling, Virginia. Our inspections found weak and open Wi-Fi networks, wireless printers without passwords, servers with outdated and vulnerable software, and unencrypted login pages to back-end databases containing sensitive information.

The risks posed by the lax security, experts say, go well beyond simple digital snooping. Sophisticated attackers could take advantage of vulnerabilities in the Wi-Fi networks to take over devices like computers or smart phones and use them to record conversations involving anyone on the premises.

“Those networks all have to be crawling with foreign intruders, not just ProPublica,” said Dave Aitel, chief executive officer of Immunity, Inc., a digital security company, when we told him what we found.

Security lapses are not uncommon in the hospitality industry, which — like most industries and government agencies — is under increasing attack from hackers. But they are more worrisome in places where the president of the United States, heads of state and public officials regularly visit.

U.S. leaders can ill afford such vulnerabilities. As both the U.S. and French presidential campaigns showed, hackers increasingly exploit weaknesses in internet security systems in an effort to influence elections and policy. Last week, cyberattacks using software stolen from the National Security Agency paralyzed operations in at least a dozen countries, from Britain’s National Health Service to Russia’s Interior Ministry.

Since the election, Trump has hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and British politician Nigel Farage at his properties. The cybersecurity issues we discovered could have allowed those diplomatic discussions — and other sensitive conversations at the properties — to be monitored by hackers.

The Trump Organization follows “cybersecurity best practices,” said spokeswoman Amanda Miller. “Like virtually every other company these days, we are routinely targeted by cyberterrorists whose only focus is to inflict harm on great American businesses. While we will not comment on specific security measures, we are confident in the steps we have taken to protect our business and safeguard our information. Our teams work diligently to deploy best-in-class firewall and anti-vulnerability platforms with constant 24/7 monitoring.”

The White House did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Trump properties have been hacked before. Last year, the Trump hotel chain paid $50,000 to settle charges brought by the New York attorney general that it had not properly disclosed the loss of more than 70,000 credit card numbers and 302 Social Security numbers. Prosecutors alleged that hotel credit card systems were “the target of a cyber-attack” due to poor security. The company agreed to beef up its security; it’s not clear if the vulnerabilities we found violate that agreement. A spokesman for the New York attorney general declined comment.

Our experience also indicates that it’s easy to gain physical access to Trump properties, at least when the president is not there. As Politico has previously reported, Trump hotels and clubs are poorly guarded. We drove a car past the front of Mar-a-Lago and parked a boat near its lawn. We drove through the grounds of the Bedminster golf course and into the parking lot of the golf course in Sterling, Virginia. No one questioned us.

Both President Obama and President Bush often vacationed at the more traditional presidential retreat, the military-run Camp David. The computers and networks there and at the White House are run by the Defense Information Systems Agency.

In 2016, the military spent $64 million on maintaining the networks at the White House and Camp David, and more than $2 million on “defense solutions, personnel, techniques, and best practices to defend, detect, and mitigate cyber-based threats” from hacking those networks.

Even after spending millions of dollars on security, the White House admitted in 2015 that it was hacked by Russians. After the hack, the White House replaced all its computer systems, according to a person familiar with the matter. All staffers who work at the White House are told that “there are people who are actively watching what you are doing,” said Mikey Dickerson, who ran the U.S. Digital Service in the Obama administration.

By comparison, Mar-a-Lago budgeted $442,931 for security in 2016 — slightly more than double the $200,000 initiation fee for one new member. The Trump Organization declined to say how much Mar-a-Lago spends specifically on digital security. The club, last reported to have almost 500 members paying annual dues of $14,000 apiece, allotted $1,703,163 for all administration last year, according to documents filed in a lawsuit Trump brought against Palm Beach County in an effort to halt commercial flights from flying over Mar-a-Lago. The lawsuit was dropped, but the FAA now restricts flights over the club when the president is there.

It is not clear whether Trump connects to the insecure networks while at his family’s properties. When he travels, the president is provided with portable secure communications equipment. Trump tracked the military strike on a Syrian air base last month from a closed-door situation room at Mar-a-Lago with secure video equipment.

However, Trump has held sensitive meetings in public spaces at his properties. Most famously, in February, he and the Japanese prime minister discussed a North Korean missile test on the Mar-a-Lago patio. Over the course of that weekend in February, the president’s Twitter account posted 21 tweets from an Android phone. An analysis by an Android-focused website showed that Trump had used the same make of phone since 2015. That phone is an older model that isn’t approved by the NSA for classified use.

Photos of Trump and Abe taken by diners on that occasion prompted four Democratic senators to ask the Government Accountability Office to investigate whether electronic communications were secure at Mar-a-Lago.

In March, the GAO agreed to open an investigation. Chuck Young, a spokesman for the office, said in an interview that the work was in “the early stages,” and did not offer an estimate for when the report would be completed.

So, we decided to test the cybersecurity of Trump’s favorite hangouts ourselves.

Our first stop was Mar-a-Lago, a Trump country club in Palm Beach, Florida, where the president has spent most weekends since taking office. Driving past the club, we picked up the signal for a Wi-Fi-enabled combination printer and scanner that has been accessible since at least February 2016, according to a public Wi-Fi database.

An open printer may sound innocuous, but it can be used by hackers for everything from capturing all the documents sent to the device to trying to infiltrate the entire network.

To prevent such attacks, the Defense Information Systems Agency, which secures the White House and other military networks, forbids installing printers that anyone can connect to from outside networks. It also warns against using printers that do more than printing, such as faxing. “If an attacker gains network access to one of these devices, a wide range of exploits may be possible,” the agency warns in its security guide.

We also were able to detect a misconfigured and unencrypted router, which could potentially provide a gateway for hackers.

To get a better line of sight, we rented a boat and piloted it to within sight of the club. There, we picked up signals from the club’s wireless networks, three of which were protected with a weak and outmoded form of encryption known as WEP. In 2005, an FBI agent publicly broke this type of encryption in minutes.

By comparison, the military limits the signal strength of networks at places such as Camp David and the White House so that they are not reachable from a car driving by. It also requires wireless networks to use the strongest available form of encryption.

From our desks in New York, we were also able to determine that the club’s website hosts a database with an insecure login page that is not protected by standard internet encryption. Login forms like this are considered a severe security risk, according to the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Without encryption, spies could eavesdrop on the network until a club employee logs in, and then steal his or her username and password. They then could download a database that appears to include sensitive information on the club’s members and their families, according to videos posted by the club’s software provider.

This is “bad, very bad,” said Jeremiah Grossman, chief of Security Strategy for cybersecurity firm SentinelOne, when we described Mar-a-Lago’s systems. “I’d assume the data is already stolen and systems compromised.”

A few days later, we took our equipment to another Trump club in Bedminster, New Jersey. During the transition, Trump had interviewed candidates for top administration positions there, including James Mattis, now secretary of defense.

We drove on a dirt access road through the middle of the golf course and spotted two open Wi-Fi networks, TrumpMembers and WelcomeToTrumpNationalGolfClub, that did not require a password to join.

Such open networks allow anyone within range to scoop up all unencrypted internet activity taking place there, which could, on insecure sites, include usernames, passwords and emails.

Robert Graham, an Atlanta, Georgia, cybersecurity expert, said that hackers could use the open Wi-Fi to remotely turn on the microphones and cameras of devices connected to the network. “What you’re describing is typical hotel security,” he said, but “it’s pretty concerning” that an attacker could listen to sensitive national security conversations.

Two days after we visited the Bedminster club, Trump arrived for a weekend stay.

Then we visited the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., where Trump often dines with his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, whose responsibilities range from Middle East diplomacy to revamping the federal bureaucracy. We surveyed the networks from a Starbucks in the hotel basement.

From there, we could tell there were two Wi-Fi networks at the hotel protected with what’s known as a captive portal. These login screens are often used at airports and hotels to ensure that only paying customers can access the network.

However, we gained access to both networks just by typing “457” into the room number field. Because we provided a room number, the system assumed we were guests. We looked up the hotel’s public IP address before logging off.

From our desks in New York, we could also tell that the hotel is using a server that is accessible from the public internet. This server is running software that was released almost 13 years ago.

Finally, we visited the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, where the president sometimes plays golf. From the parking lot, we recognized three encrypted wireless networks, an encrypted wireless phone and two printers with open Wi-Fi access.

The Trump club websites are hosted by an Ohio-based company called Clubessential. It offers everything from back-office management and member communications to tee time and room reservations.

In a 2014 presentation, a company sales director warned that the club industry as a whole is “too lax” in managing and protecting passwords. There has been a “rising number of attacks on club websites over the last two years,” according to the presentation. Clubessential “performed [an] audit of security in the club industry” and “found thousands of sensitive documents from clubs exposed on [the] Internet,” such as “lists of members and staff, and their contact info; board minutes, financial statements, etc.”

Still, the club software company has set up a backend server accessible on the internet, and configured its encryption incorrectly. Anyone who reaches the login page is greeted with a warning that the encryption is broken. In its documentation, the company advises club administrators to ignore these warnings and log in regardless. That means that anybody snooping on the unprotected connection could intercept the administrators’ passwords and gain access to the entire system.

The company also publishes online, without a password, many of the default settings and usernames for its software — essentially providing a roadmap for intruders.

Clubessential declined comment.

Aitel, the CEO of Immunity, said the problems at Trump properties would be difficult to fix: “Once you are at a low level of security it is hard to develop a secure network system. You basically have to start over.”

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Source: The Real Deal South Florida

Movers & Shakers: Elliman hires luxury sales directors from BHS, Duane Morris expands its real estate practice…and more

Lisa Wilkinson and Cara McClure

Douglas Elliman brought on Cara McClure and Lisa Wilkinson as senior directors of luxury sales in the firm’s Palm Beach office. They were previously with Brown Harris Stevens, where they were the top sales team in 2014 and 2016.

Duane Morris LLP is adding six real estate-focused attorneys to its Miami office.

Jay Steinman, who will be leading the Miami and South Florida real estate practice, together with partners David S. Drobner and Elaina I. Sodhi, special counsel Rafael G. Moreno, and associates Jesse Giusto and Cristina T. Sanchez will join the Duane Morris Real Estate Practice Group from Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, P.A.

Sbe hired Sebastien Silvestri as senior vice president of food and beverage in the company’s hotel division. Silvestri will be based in Miami and will oversee food and beverage operations in Sbe’s hotels. He was previously vice president of food and beverage at the Venetian and the Palazzo Casino Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas.

The Wynwood Business Improvement District named a new executive director. Manny Gonzalez left the Coconut Grove BID after eight years to lead the Wynwood BID, a group that represents more than 400 property owners in the artsy neighborhood.

The Ocean Drive Association, a group of Ocean Drive property owners, business owners and residents, appointed Ceci Velasco as executive director. Velasco is being tasked with implementing the “Bridge to BID” program and coordinating the city’s 10-point improvement plan, which is slated to rebrand Ocean Drive. She was previously the executive vice president of operations for Mango’s Tropical Cafe on Ocean Drive.

JLL hired Zach Winkler as senior vice president and retail lead for South Florida, and Jonathan Rosen as associate of retail brokerage for South Florida. Winkler was a senior associate at CBRE, and before that a senior director with Robert K. Futterman & Associates (RKF) in New York City.

The Keyes Company named Joan Richardson district sales manager of its Wellington office. Before joining Keyes, Richardson was assistant district sales manager of the company’s Boca Raton office for nearly 12 years.

Duke Realty hired Chelsea Newberry as a leasing representative. Duke Realty’s South Florida portfolio of industrial space spans about 5.9 million square feet.

After 25 years with Wells Fargo Private Mortgage Banking, Todd LaPenta joined Caliber Home Loans as a sales manager in Coral Gables. LaPenta also opened Caliber’s location on Miami Beach.

Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate hired Nicole Ippolito, Paul Burns and Tamara Swan as affiliated sales associates at its Las Olas office. The brokerage also brought on Graciela Caggiano at its Fort Lauderdale Beach office, and Nadine Pepin Tedder at its Plantation Lakeside office.

Top Naples agent Jane Bond left Compass and has joined Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate’s Naples 5th Avenue office. Earlier this year, she worked on the nearly $15 million penthouse sale in Naples, the highest price paid for a condo in Naples. With Coldwell Banker, Bond will focus on Miami Beach and Naples.

Lucido Agency, led by Bob Lucido, and Gustavo Bengochea joined the Keller Williams Coral Gables Coconut Grove Market Center. The group includes about 150 employees.

Daniel Jenkins was promoted to the Eastern Regional Director of Construction for Golden Sands General Contractors. He oversees the firm’s construction projects in the Eastern U.S. Jenkins was previously director of facility services, head of disaster recovery, generator and deployment programs.

Brown Harris Stevens Avatar hired Danielle Marie Tonarely as a Realtor associate in its South Miami office. Tonarely led sales for projects that include 55 Merrick and 1300 Ponce Condominium.

Cresa named Stephanie Katona its regional business manager. Katona previously worked for Cushman & Wakefield in its Midtown Manhattan headquarters. At Cushman, her team handled deals valued at a combined $4.5 billion covering about 1.9 million square feet of leasing.

Moss promoted Travis Serpas to vice president/project executive. Serpas, who has more than 16 years of experience in construction management, joined Moss in 2005 as a project engineer. He’ll oversee construction operations.

Eric Squilla joined Gulf Building LLC as vice president. Squilla has more than 22 years of construction experience.

One Sotheby’s International Realty hired Osmany Garcia as a sales agent. He’ll focus on luxury home sales in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Garcia was previously with Keller Williams Realty.

West Palm Beach-based Copeland & Co. Real Estate hired Susan Eyring as a Realtor associate, bringing Copeland & Co. up to eight agents after launching a year and a half ago.

Peter S. Jannis was promoted to chief financial officer of the Broward County Housing Authority (BCHA). He was previously controller of the housing authority for six years, and before that head of accounting services for Palm Beach County.

Source: The Real Deal South Florida

Non-disclosure agreements, disclosed

Illustration by Lexi Pilgrim for The Real Deal

From TRD New York: Last May, the chairman of New York REIT, a company that became notorious for having its dirty laundry aired in public, stressed the clandestine nature of a potential entity-level selloff of its $3 billion portfolio.

The process “generated over 80 executed nondisclosure agreements,” company chair Randolph Read told investors on a conference call at the time.

Those agreements, at least in theory, were designed to ensure the REIT would not have dozens of tongues wagging about prospective deals, which could give some parties unfair leverage.

“As a seller, you don’t really want buyers comparing notes and telling people what they’re bidding,” said Woody Heller, head of the capital markets group at Savills Studley, who was not involved in the negotiations. “You want them to bid based on what they’re paying, but every buyer wants to know what everybody else is paying.”

Despite Read’s proclamation, he and others at New York REIT surely had their doubts about how confidential the information was being kept, as industry players are near-unanimous in their belief that NDAs do little to muzzle shop talk.

“In general, these agreements are the bane of the industry’s existence,” Heller explained. “They don’t really serve a function, yet we all use them. They’re a pain in the neck.”

[TRDPullQuote align=”right”] “I’ve signed 10,000 of them if I’ve signed one, and I’ve never seen one litigated.” [/TRDPullQuote]

Any real estate pro whose business relies on turning chatter into commissions has had to hear – or utter – the statement: “I can’t say anything. I’m under a really strict NDA.”

But brokers who have signed one NDA after another say that the agreements are almost never abided by, and even less frequently enforced when an accusation of a breach comes up.

“They come in various degrees of tightness, but if somebody wants to circumvent it, they’re going to do it,” said Peter Hauspurg, CEO of Eastern Consolidated. “It gets done all the time, just by a whisper to a friend. I’ve signed 10,000 of them if I’ve signed one, and I’ve never seen one litigated.”

NDA 101

A boilerplate NDA is a “for your eyes only” agreement, which stipulates that a prospective buyer or broker can share sensitive information about a deal with certain parties – attorneys, partners, lenders, etc. – only insofar as it’s reasonably necessary to market or evaluate the deal. Stricter ones will bar the recipient from acting on that information, such as cutting a deal with a partner for a certain period of time that might be up to three years.

“The weaker ones are silent. The stronger non-disclosure agreements expressly say what other transactions are prohibited,” said Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom attorney Evan Levy, who’s worked on drafting many NDAs. “They’re not only worried about the non-disclosure, they’re also worried about what other transactions you might do.”

[TRDPullQuote align=”left”] “Proof is a whole different kettle of fish.” [/TRDPullQuote]

Some include more specific language about restrictions, such as barring a potential buyer from contacting an owner’s employees, tenants, lenders or any other parties without approval. Or they could include “non-circumvent” clauses, which specifically bar someone who was granted sensitive information from trying to cut a side deal.

NDAs will often have a section on terms laying out how long the agreement is in effect, such as two years past the date of the last disclosure.

There are, however, those “strict” NDAs, many of which spell out specific penalties that would be enforced if an agreement is breached. Several leasing brokers said they’ve signed NDAs that would force them to repay their commissions if sensitive information about a deal comes out.

Others provide for “specific performance” that paves a way for the aggrieved party to ask a court to step in and provide injunctive relief, such as ordering the side found to have breached the NDA to put a freeze on any deal they may be working on with the information.

“I’ve actually seen one NDA that negotiated damages for disclosure,” said Jonathan Mechanic, chair of the real estate department at Fried Frank. “I’ve seen some so concerned about it that they actually provided for a dollar amount.”

Those in the know said that while sometimes the bigger deals have more stern NDAs, it often comes down to just how carefully one side guards its information.

Edward Minskoff, whose Edward J. Minskoff Equities owns and manages a portfolio of some six million square feet, said the company is willing to negotiate NDAs according to tenants’ needs. Public companies, for example, may need to disclose signed leases to investors.

When it comes to brokers, on the other hand, the company insists on strict confidence.

“We do it [NDAs] all the time because, one, we’re not a public company,” he said. “We don’t have to disclose financial information. And so we prefer that brokers, especially, don’t disclose the terms of our deals.”

But enforcing NDAs is a different matter.

“Proof is a whole different kettle of fish,” said Sherwin Belkin, a partner at Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman. “If A entered into an agreement with B, how do you find out if B talked to someone?”

There have been cases where an NDA led to legal action. In 2015 the New Jersey-based brokerage Endeavor Global Group Realty filed a lawsuit against a Brazilian investment firm it claimed violated an NDA in order to buy a Billionaires’ Row property through an LLC and avoid paying brokers’ fees. That case is still ongoing in court, and transcripts show that in October attorneys were trying to suss out who exactly was covered by the NDA.

[TRDPullQuote align=”right”] “It would be one way to get people to leave you alone.” [/TRDPullQuote]

And when Compass accused Corcoran Group in 2015 of launching a smear campaign against one of its managers, Gene Martinez, the brokerage alleged Corcoran breached an NDA and “maliciously published” Martinez’s employment contract.

The details of the contract were originally made public as part of a related lawsuit reported in TRD, but were later put under seal.

And in April, Sharif El-Gamal’s Soho Properties sued Hidrock Properties, alleging the firm used confidential information obtained during an air rights deal to “usurp the note” on the Dream Hotel Times Square site. In that case, the judge actually put a temporary restraining order on Hidrock from buying the note, but lender Colony Capital sold the loan so the point was moot and the case closed.

While many feel NDAs aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, they could serve another purpose.

One broker, who asked not to be named, confessed to exaggerating the severity of NDAs in conversations with colleagues as an excuse to avoid jeopardizing valued relationships.

“I haven’t seen that, but that’s good,” Studley’s Heller said. “It’s a convenient excuse. It would be one way to get people to leave you alone.”

Source: The Real Deal South Florida

Home buyers snapping up property in smaller Chinese cities

Aerial view of downtown Tangshan in China (Credit: Getty Images)

From TRD New York: Chinese home buyers are looking beyond major centers like Shanghai and Beijing as places to invest, which may dampen the government’s attempt to curtail spiraling home prices.

Chinese officials have introduced restrictions in recent months, which has slowed price gains in places like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, Bloomberg reported. But that hasn’t happened in smaller locations like Tangshan or Bengbu — a city in the province of Anhui. Both places had month-on-month gains for 2.2 percent in April. In the city of Jinghong, which is not closely followed by statistics bureaus, home prices jumped 26 percent in the year ending in March 2017, Bloomberg reported, citing data from website

In order to slow down property prices, the Chinese government has focused on creating cooling measures for certain cities — rather than implementing national rules. Local governments have been left in charge of dealing with smaller housing markets.

“The current surge in sales in third- and fourth-tier cities is fueled largely by expectations of a future price rally, not by asset yields, and that’s exactly a sign of a bubble,” Zhao Yang, Hong Kong-based chief China economist at Nomura Holdings Inc., told Bloomberg. He added that the “biggest risk” is that a downturn in those smaller cities could result in a sudden slump in national sales.

The Chinese government is also stepping up its efforts to prevent locals from buying real estate abroad. The May issue of The Real Deal looked at the impact capital controls are having on New York City real estate.  [Bloomberg]Miriam Hall

Source: The Real Deal South Florida

Universal plans up to 3 hotels on ex-water park site

The former Wet ‘n Wild water park in Orlando

Universal Parks and Resorts detailed plans to build as many as three hotels where its Wet ‘n Wild water park in Orlando formerly was located. In plans filed with the city government, Universal said it is planning two or three hotels with “resort style” swimming pools and landscaping, plus retail stores and restaurants. Universal also plans to build three parking garages ranging in height from two stories to three.

In March, the theme park operator disclosed plans to build about 4,000 hotel rooms on the site of Wet ‘n Wild, which closed last year. Universal’s latest filings with the city show that the company plans to build 1,200 hotel rooms at the former water park site on the west side of Universal Boulevard and 2,800 on the east side. Developed in 1977 by George Mallay, the creator of SeaWorld, Wet ‘n Wild operated for 39 years. [Orlando Sentinel]Mike Seemuth

Source: The Real Deal South Florida