Fort Lauderdale Doing Wellness Well

Fort Lauderdale Doing Wellness Well

By: Sara Warden

2 min read February 2020 — A study from the Macrothink Institute suggests that 8.7% of all payroll costs are tied to absenteeism, and when the bottom line is at stake, this makes business owners sit up and pay attention. This is perhaps the biggest reason why the global wellness industry has blown up in recent years and is now worth $4.5 trillion, according to the Global Wellness Institute.


When thinking of wellness, often fitness comes to mind. But wellness is an overarching industry that encompasses various sectors, including personal care, beauty and anti-aging; healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss; fitness and preventive medicine. The U.S. ranks No. 1 globally for its wellness industry, at a value of $52.5 billion.

One novel technology in the wellness industry is cryotherapy. It may sound like a technology of the future but iCRYO Cryotherapy is a leading company in the field, offering services that include whole body cryotherapy, cryo facials, infrared saunas, IV infusions, compression therapy, body sculpting, and localized cryotherapy. Launched in October 2015, the company now has an estimated annual revenue of $11.4 million.

iCRYO has 11 branches across New York, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Kansas and Texas, with another 12 coming soon. The Fort Lauderdale location will celebrate its grand opening next week, on Feb. 22.

It’s another in the series of developments as Fort Lauderdale quickly jumps on the wellness bandwagon. In fact, at the end of this month, the Riverside Hotel on Las Olas Boulevard will host the Employee Wellness Summit for Legal and Professional Services, a 1.5-day event that attracts sponsors such as insurance provider Cigna and healthcare company Optum.

FINN Partners, a public relations company with offices in Fort Lauderdale, also recently launched the FINN Wellness Collaborative, an initiative to elevate brands that support employee and consumer wellness. “Brands are seeking to secure a value-based loyalty connection to their customers,” said Cathy Chon, managing partner of CatchOn Communications, a FINN Partners affiliate, in a press release. “From safer home-cleaning products to clean-beauty cosmetics to sustainable fashion, consumers are making wellness a decision at check-point – and these brands need to be recognized for their contributions toward personal care and wellness.”

A 2016 Gallup poll showed that highly engaged workplaces can claim 41% lower absenteeism, 40% fewer quality defects, and 21% higher profitability. And in a period of extremely low unemployment, companies need to offer greater flexibility to retain the best talent, as 54% of office workers reported in the poll that they’d leave their job for one that offers flexible work time and 53% of employees say work-life balance and personal well-being are “very important” to them when considering a new job post.

“This new global data stream is meant to encourage business leaders and policymakers to see physical activity as a comprehensive sector, and one that’s critical in supporting lifestyles that are crucial to good health,” said Ophelia Yeung, one of the co-authors of the Global Wellness report.

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Broward County’s Economic Growth, Sustainability and Key Sectors to Highlight Launch of Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale 2020

    January 21, 2020

Dale V.C. Holness, Mayor of Broward County, will give the keynote address at the launch of Capital Analytics’ third publication focusing on Greater Fort Lauderdale. 

Broward County, FL – Broward County’s booming real estate market, powerhouse tourism sector and burgeoning startup ecosystem are just some of the focal points of the third edition of Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale from Capital Analytics. The 2020 edition highlights the region of Greater Fort Lauderdale, including Fort Lauderdale, Plantation, Dania Beach and Hollywood, with a special focus chapter on the City of Tamarac. 

Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale is an in-depth economic analysis that highlights business opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs and innovators in the Broward County area. These include Broward County’s commercial real estate market that remains one of the hottest in Florida, as well as the region’s residential real estate market that is attracting a variety of demographics, from millennials to retirees. Marine & Logistics are also covered in detail as the county remains the dominant force in this sector with the trade powerhouse that is Port Everglades and the city of Fort Lauderdale retaining its title as the yachting capital of the world. The publication also dives into the construction and infrastructure sectors as the economic growth for both remains strong while mitigating the effects of rising sea levels is now a top priority. 

The official launch of the publication will take place on Thursday, Jan. 30, at the Riverside Hotel. Following a short networking breakfast, Dale V.C. Holness, Mayor of Broward County, will give a keynote address that underscores some of the major achievements of Broward County’s economy over the past 12 months. This will be followed by two robust panel discussions.

The panels will address major themes currently dominating Broward County’s economy: construction and real estate development, and corporate and personal financial sustainability. Alan Hooper of Urban Street Development, James Fox of Maddox Group, Brad Meltzer of Plaza Construction and Gerald Stryker of John Knox Village will participate in the panel, “Sustainable Growth in Broward’s Construction & Real Estate Development.” Philip Rosen of Becker will moderate. The second panel, “Corporate and Personal Financial Sustainability for 2020,” will feature Tony Coley of Truist, Jeffery Klink of Valley National Bank and Michael Balter of Marcum LLP. The moderator will be Jack Miller of Capital Analytics. 

The event will be attended by hundreds of high-level guests and officials from Broward County’s key industries and economic institutions. 

“The Broward County market has not only shown unprecedented growth over the last decade but it also presents an opportunity for national and international investors alike,” said Abby Melone, president of Capital Analytics. “Broward County has been one of the strongest and most interesting market choices for our company due to this economic growth. We will be releasing our next South Florida title, Invest: Miami and Invest: Palm Beach  in Q3 of 2020.”  


About Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale

Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale is an in-depth economic review of the key issues facing Greater Fort Lauderdale’s economy, featuring the exclusive insights of prominent industry leaders. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale is produced with two goals in mind: 1) to provide comprehensive investment knowledge on Broward County to local, national and international investors, and 2) to promote Broward County as a place to invest and do business.

The book conducts a deep dive into the top economic sectors in the county, including real estate, construction, utilities and infrastructure, transportation and aviation, banking and finance, legal, healthcare, education, and arts, culture and tourism. The publication is compiled from insights collected from more than 200 economic leaders, sector insiders, political leaders and heads of important institutions. It analyzes the leading challenges facing the market, and uncovers emerging opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs and innovators.


For more information, contact: 

Max Crampton-Thomas

Content Manager 

305-523-9708 Ext: 233



Spotlight On: Andrew Burnett, Senior Principal, Stantec

Spotlight On: Andrew Burnett, Senior Principal, Stantec

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 — The Broward County Convention Center and Hotel is one of the largest projects underway in Broward County. A project of this magnitude requires the utmost care in regards to design and architecture, as well as the foresight to plan for future environmental challenges. Invest: spoke with Andrew Burnett, the senior principal for Stantec, which is working on the Convention Center project. Burnett addressed the company’s ongoing projects, how shifting demands have changed its focus and the National Flood Insurance Program. 


What are some of your most significant projects in development within Broward County? 


We have multiple projects throughout Broward County, including the Fort Lauderdale region, Pompano Beach, Sunrise and Miramar. For instance, we are the architect of record and landscape architect for the Broward County Convention Center and Hotel, which is around a $1 billion project. This is an extremely large and involved project requiring integrated services from Stantec that also has many resilient aspects being built into it that we hope to use as a model for future growth and development throughout the county. As we are expanding the convention center and building the new hotel, we have done a series of wave-height analyses. These are not just focused on the floodplain and how high we need to build the building to stay out of the floodplain, they also address storm surges and how to design the building to be more resilient in those situations. It has been great to have the county’s support on these matters. Our other projects in Broward County include the new AC Hotel by Marriott in Sawgrass Mills, Manor Miramar, Las Olas Walk and 1380 South Ocean Boulevard. 


How have you seen demand shift in the last couple of years and how are you adapting to this shift? 


Historically, we would see the demand for smaller residential units in the Downtown urban core because of the density of the population. As we moved away from the urban areas, the units were constructed bigger to attract more people, but now we are starting to see smaller units becoming attractive away from the urban centers. This indicates that people are looking for alternative solutions that are more affordable. It may also be partially due to having more flexibility and adaptability in the way that we live and the way that we engage the community as Broward becomes more connected and dense. We foresee more of these deals for smaller units outside of the main urban areas making sense for investors. 


We are seeing more residential projects that want to permit themselves as or like a hotel. There is some gray area with the rise of services like Airbnb and WhyHotel that can allow owners to operate as a short-term rental while they’re leasing up their building. Owners and investors are starting to take advantage of this. This is shifting how we design our projects. For instance, if we need to design for things like ADA bathrooms, which you would find in a hotel, we are starting to look at an earlier stage how we might design the spaces to be more flexible to do this.


How have you seen Opportunity Zone legislation affect your business? 


We have seen an increase in requests for test fits on properties that fall in Opportunity Zones. The market is starting to ask questions on sites and locations that they hadn’t previously. There are a lot of regulations that are being finalized and released in the near future that are going to help increase investor confidence to go forward in these Opportunity Zones, but it may be too early to see the fruit of the test fits in these sites. We are expecting to see more of this in 2020. 


How much of a focus do you place on possible future changes to the National Flood Insurance Program? 


We are looking more broadly at what is happening with the National Flood Insurance Program and what may happen in the future in terms of how we go about flood insurance regarding how much of it is subsidized by taxpayers. At some point, taxpayers are going to say that they do not want to be subsidizing flood insurance for landowners who may not be doing enough to protect their buildings. As risk starts to shift from insurance entities to owners, they are going to be asked what they are doing to make their building more resilient. What we are trying to do with our integrated team is to find solutions to this so we can go back to our clients and suggest to them what they need to do to mitigate this risk. 


For more on our interviewee visit:

South Florida to Address Heavy-Hitting Priorities Ahead of Election 2020

South Florida to Address Heavy-Hitting Priorities Ahead of Election 2020

By: Sara Warden

2 min read January 2019 — With its status as one of the most important swing states in federal elections, Florida’s voting pattern generally serves as a bellweather for the overall outcome. With President Donald Trump running for re-election in November 2020, South Florida’s agenda for the year is packed with contentious issues, such as gun reform, climate change and foreign policy.


 On Dec. 23, an appeal was filed by the state government against several Florida cities, including Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, arguing the cities were flaunting the law by applying harsher restrictions on guns than exist on a state level. “If allowed to stand, the decision will not only invite the development of a patchwork regulatory regime in the area of firearms but also render the Legislature impotent to deter power grabs by local officials in other areas,” the brief argued. The issue of gun reform is set to remain a key issue as the 2020 election nears.

Another issue coming back to the forefront is climate change, and South Florida is disproportionately affected by rising sea levels and potable water availability. In November, Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed the state’s first chief science officer and the 2020 legislative session is expected to put more emphasis on climate issues. “State agencies are now beginning to collaborate on these important issues and gather at a leadership level to talk about resilience and how to plan for sea level rise,” Noah Valenstein, secretary of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, told the Herald Tribune.

But by far, one of the most headline-grabbing issues leading up to the election will be President Trump’s flagstone immigration campaign. According to the most recent census data, about 23% of the population of Palm Beach County identify as Hispanic or Latino, and the same is true for around 19% of the Fort Lauderdale population. The Democrats chose to host their first presidential debate in Miami, a city where more than 70% of the population is Hispanic, partly because of the immigration platform.

“Latinos are still seen as a monolith,” says Liz Alarcon, a Venezuelan-American Democratic activist and author of Caracas Chronicles, told TIME magazine. “Politicians as a whole still don’t get it, and that’s a problem.”

U.S. Latin America policy is expected to play a major role in the South Florida 2020 electoral result, and Trump has been largely praised by the Latin American community for his tough stance toward Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. “Florida elections always come down to margins,” Frank Mora, a professor of politics at Florida International University, told the New Yorker. “Foreign policy is intensely local in South Florida.” Because of the high concentration of Latinos in South Florida, foreign policy related to Latin America hits close to home.

It could also help decide who wins Florida in 2020.


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Spotlight On: Richard Helber, President and CEO, Tropical Financial Credit Union

Spotlight On: Richard Helber, President and CEO, Tropical Financial Credit Union

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read December 2019 — There are options when it comes to banking and it’s not just choosing between the multitude of traditional banking institutions. When Invest: spoke with Richard Helber, president and CEO of Tropical Financial Credit Union, he made sure to convey that unlike traditional banks, its credit union is a not-for-profit cooperative whose main goal is putting the customer’s interests first. He also spoke highly of the benefits of being located in South Florida and the trends he is keeping a close eye on as we turn the corner into 2020.



What advantages are afforded to customers who bank with a credit union like Tropical Financial as opposed to traditional banks? 

One factor that really makes us different from our banking counterparts is that we are not for profit. We are organized as a cooperative, so we refer to our customers as members because they actually own us. They elect among themselves individuals who will be on our board of directors. Our board of directors are all volunteers. Because we are a nonprofit, we do not pay income taxes and also do not have a profit motive. 

Banks are organized for profit and we are organized for service, with the philosophy of people helping people. What this means to consumers is that we are putting their interests first. There is no stock and we have no stock options. Our goal with our volunteer board is to put the interests of our members first. This translates into trying to be more competitive on our rates and fees and providing better service. In this day and age when there are so many people with busy lives, our mission is to help them make their finances easy to access and affordable so that they can get on with the things that are important in their lives.

How is the location of South Florida conducive to the future success of your operations? 

There are a lot of positive things happening in South Florida. The state is still seeing over 1,000 people a day moving within its borders. There are still companies that want to relocate here or anchor themselves in Florida. It also helps that this is an international market as well. This has increased the amount of diversity in terms of the number and types of companies that are here, in addition to the variety of professionals who have moved into the state.

What are the continuing or emerging trends in banking that you are keeping a close eye on as we move into 2020? 

One of the trends we are watching carefully is the tellerless branch. This is just starting to happen in South Florida and in different markets across the county. This machine is more or less a highly sophisticated ATM. But it can do a lot more than just take a deposit and dispense cash. They can do all the same things a human teller would do and unlike a human, they can be available 24 hours a day. The branch is being transformed into a financial consultation center not a transaction center.

Another trend we have observed is that when it comes to banking, the younger segment of the population wants tools to help them better organize their finances and make good decisions. For that reason, we have created the Get Beyond Money platform where an individual can sign up to meet with a money coach and develop a financial action plan. 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Spotlight On: Douglas Zaren, CEO, Memorial Regional Hospital South

Spotlight On: Douglas Zaren, CEO, Memorial Regional Hospital South

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read December 2019 — As the population continues to grow, the need for specialized healthcare follows suit. For Memorial Regional Hospital South, the focus is on being able to adapt and grow areas that will benefit the future of post-acute care. Invest: spoke with CEO Douglas Zaren about how the hospital is adapting its practices to meet increased demand while also being open and flexible when it comes to adopting new technology into the hospital. 


What differentiates Memorial Regional Hospital South from the other hospitals in the region? 

As the home of the Memorial Rehabilitation Institute, Memorial Regional Hospital South is made unique by our focus on post-acute care. One of our rehabilitative programs is Determination Drive, where we have created a community with an ATM, grocery store, library, park and a MINI Cooper. We use these environments to help patients re-learn different skills in realistic scenarios. By practicing everyday tasks under the supervision and guidance of our therapists, our patients will be ready to leave our hospital with confidence. We also take pride in our Adaptive Sports program, which helps our disabled patients reach their maximum potential. Different activities, such as wheelchair basketball, adaptive bowling and adaptive cycling help our patients gain confidence as they adapt to life with a disability. Our patients are the center of all that we do, and we strive to help them recover both physically and emotionally. 

As the population in Broward County continues to grow, how is the hospital preparing for the increased demand? 

As our population grows, it is important for us to be able to adapt and grow the areas that will be necessary for the future of post-acute care. This need to adapt is further exacerbated by pressures to provide more efficient care. As a result, we focus on the entire continuum of post-acute care, going beyond inpatient rehab to outpatient rehab, home health and Memorial Manor, our Skilled Nursing Facility. By expanding the capabilities to these providers, more patients are able to receive appropriate care. An example of this dedication to growth is the expansion of our electronic medical records technology to Memorial Manor, which will allow the caregivers to easily see the patient’s medical history. Our expansions of outpatient rehab and home health services allow more patients to receive care outside of the hospital setting, in the comfort of their home and on their schedule. Finally, our continued focus on excellent quality in our hospital still gives those patients with higher needs the care they need through our inpatient rehabilitation services, 

How are you implementing new technology to better serve your patients and physicians. 

Technology is advancing rapidly in all aspects of life, including patient care. We have a strong commitment to leverage this expanding technology to provide our patients with the most modern and innovative care in the market. An example of this is our recent acquisition of a C-mill treadmill, which utilizes virtual reality technology to simulate realistic environments for patients. This allows patients to get acclimated to walking in environments they would see outside the hospital, while still being in a safe, monitored situation. In addition, we help our patients become accustomed to using technology in their everyday life. By training our patients with an Amazon Alexa smart home system, they will be able to use these tools in their homes after discharge to help with tasks, such as turning on the lights and controlling the TV, that may be difficult for them as they continue their recovery. 

For more on our interviewee, visit:

All Aboard! Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade Ready to Set Sail

All Aboard! Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade Ready to Set Sail

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read December 2019 — The annual Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade is just around the corner, and event organizers are adding the finishing touches to “The Greatest Show on H2O.” That’s no understatement, with an estimated economic impact of $50 million and 1 million live spectators, plus online and TV streams. “There is nothing like the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade in the entire world,” said Lisa Scott-Founds, the event’s President and CEO.


Taking place on Dec. 14, the show – the seventh-largest one-day spectator event in the country – is not to be missed. “Private boats to the giant showboats and corporate megayachts will be adorned with hundreds of thousands of lights, music, entertainment, decorations, celebrities, musical groups, beauty queens and many other exciting entries,” the event’s website promises. Think the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but on water.

According to Scott-Founds, as a nonprofit organization, organizers are constantly innovating to think of new ways to make the event stand out without breaking the bank. “We always want to integrate the newest technology into our event, like the use of holograms, which we hope is a real possibility for this year,” she said. “We are always asking people, ‘What is something that you’ve never seen us do before?’ We take their suggestion, develop a budget to execute the idea and bring it to our board and possible sponsors to help with underwriting the “new wow factor idea.”

This year, the 12-mile parade route will begin at Stranahan House and will sail eastward into Fort Lauderdale to the Intracoastal Waterway, and ending at Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. It costs a minimum of $35 to enter a boat with no advertising, while the heftiest sponsorship package comes in at a cool $65,000. Spectators can also purchase a ticket to the Grandstand Viewing Area inside the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park with prices starting at $25 for children 10 and under.

The economic bump in the county’s coffers comes at a good time, says Scott-Founds. “The beginning of December is a little slower for tourism, as opposed to other months when tourism in South Florida sees a boom, so we feel a responsibility to bring people into the region and put heads in beds,” she says.

For the event, it seems that all stakeholders in the area come together to enhance the experience for visitors. “Our success is due to collaboration with organizations like our Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau and working with area hotels,” says Scott-Founds. “Tourists should experience a Winterfest weekend, a show at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, eat at our restaurants and immerse themselves in our community. There is just so much to do in Fort Lauderdale, and in Broward County for that matter.”

To learn more, visit:

Spotlight On: Lynn Stoner, Mayor, City of Plantation

Spotlight On: Lynn Stoner, Mayor, City of Plantation

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

4 min read December 2019 — To move a city forward both economically and community-wise, it takes a leadership with the forethought to develop for the future and individuals with their finger on the community’s pulse. The Mayor of the City of Plantation Lynn Stoner recently sat down with Invest: and discussed her first year as mayor, the key challenges her city faces, and how customer service has become the buzz phrase for her administration and how it deals with the community.


What has been a key focus of your first year as mayor of Plantation?


One of the many components that I chose to focus on is our transportation corridor. Plantation’s population is approximately 94,000 residents, 22 square miles and it’s right in the middle of the county, 10 minutes away from the Port Everglades and 15 minutes away from the airport. About 70% of the pass-through traffic on University Drive does not originate in Plantation, so one of my priorities was to be on the Board of Broward County’s Metropolitan Planning Organization. As a result, we will have adaptive lighting installed on University Drive starting in 2020. The following year, we will start the project on Pine Island, and we are in conversation regarding the bridge from Midtown across the river to State Road 84. These are hugely important and beneficial initiatives. Another major city initiative stems from 2016 when our citizens approved a $60-million bond issue. We are working now to complete these projects in the areas of public works, public safety, and parks and recreation. These projects will provide tangible improvements for residents, visitors, and businesses. 


We have people arriving to Plantation every day, calling or visiting to explore areas and opportunities, which has us absolutely thrilled. Being a strong mayor, I am trying to retain our hometown feel. I’ve lived here since 1970. I went to high school here and my three children and granddaughter are still in town. I understand the family component of Plantation. And keeping with this hometown feel, our first Light Up City Hall event was held on Dec. 7 and we anticipate making this as an annual event. 


What makes Plantation attractive to new businesses?


There was a time when Plantation was the golden city of the county. Now, many of the people that were raised here, are coming back . They have fond memories of where they used to fish, ride their bikes and go to our parks. They want to come back to raise their children in a similar environment.


We are focusing on maintaining that hometown feeling amid the development. We are now putting the finishing touches on our Midtown district, which was created in 1980 to be high density. We are handling the traffic in a manner that you feel comfortable coming here, taking a walk, riding a bike or taking a shuttle. We are focused on finding the right balance for our residents, visitors and businesses.


How is Plantation focused on government as a customer service?


As a contractor, I understand when people talk about their project costs. I understand their financial constraints when trying to put a project together. The city has codes that must be complied with but there is a way to present that information in a more palatable manner. City staff needs to understand the business consequences of their comments and we as a city need to understand the impacts of our rules and regulations and take a balanced approach. We are also striving to streamline business processes with a goal of transitioning to online plan review and permitting over the next several years as part of our “Paperless Plantation” initiative. This particular initiative is part of an overall effort through strategic planning that will focus on providing greater customer service across all 16 city departments. The City of Plantation believes in continuous improvement and every day we look for ways to better serve our stakeholders.


What are the main challenges that the city is facing as it grows economically?


Coming from the private sector, I always want things done a little faster. Still, when I look back over the last year, we’ve come a long way. Traffic and transportation are the main challenges, as well as sustainability. Along with our partners, Broward County, FDOT and MPO, our transportation initiatives together with Midtown upgrades will continue to offer a welcoming hometown feel that everyone will enjoy.


For more on our interviewee, visit:

Spotlight On: Jeff Burns, Founder & CEO,  Affiliated Development

Spotlight On: Jeff Burns, Founder & CEO, Affiliated Development

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

4 min read November 2019 — To be a successful developer in today’s real estate climate, a company must not only be professional but also in tune with regional and global trends as well as stewards for fulfilling a community’s needs. Affiliated Development focuses on building mixed-use multifamily developments in underserved areas of the market. Invest: spoke with CEO and Co-Founder Jeff Burns who provided his insights on the company’s approach to Opportunity Zones and their potential in Broward County, as well as highlighting the regions that have the most demand for multifamily development.


What are the most interesting highlights for Affiliated Development over the last year?


We have been working on projects in Broward County and we have also made some fairly aggressive moves into Palm Beach County. In Broward, we just topped out the construction of our 142-unit mixed-use apartment building in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, named The Six13. We are going to start leasing efforts for The Six13 in spring 2020, and delivering apartments on June 1. We are also in the beginning stages of additional projects in three other Broward cities, including another in Fort Lauderdale.  In Palm Beach County, we got underway on a 230-unit apartment project on Dixie Highway in Lake Worth Beach called The Mid. We are also moving on other opportunities in Lake Worth Beach. In May, we closed on the purchase of a 20-parcel assemblage in Downtown West Palm Beach, a couple of blocks from the Virgin Trains station to construct a 289-unit mixed-income workforce housing project called The Grand. My partner and I are very proud of what our Affiliated team has accomplished this year. We are workaholics and have had a busy year, but are focused on keeping the momentum going into 2020.


How have you leveraged the new Opportunity Zones in the state and what is their potential in Broward?


In April (prior to the IRS posting its regulations) we closed our The Six13 project with Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ) funding. We are one of the first companies to implement QOZ financing for a project of this kind in the state of Florida. These zones are definitely getting a lot of thrust, but there are more people talking about it than implementing it. The QOZs are definitely going to have an impact, but it is becoming more challenging to find sites that make sense due to unrealistic landowners and sellers.  There might be a reality check setting in with landowners who found themselves in a QOZ and have priced their land ridiculously high. It could have the adverse effect of preventing projects from happening in some areas because of false expectations.


Our philosophy is to remain disciplined. If we strip away the QOZ benefit, is this still a deal we’d do? If the answer is yes, we’ll take an aggressive position. Some people are doing deals that they would not otherwise pencil-out (without the QOZ rules). The program was intended to incentivize investment into these areas, not make a bad deal good. 


Which areas of the region have the most demand for multifamily developments? 


Fortunately for us, all of South Florida is booming. More and more people are moving here from the Northeast and other high-tax states because our business climate is favorable and our quality of life is second to none. Certain markets have experienced a tremendous amount of urban growth during this latest cycle, such as the Flagler Village submarket in Downtown Fort Lauderdale. We are getting a lot of people who are moving to Fort Lauderdale from Miami to avoid the chaos, but who still want the benefits of a big city lifestyle.


We made a major investment in Lake Worth Beach, which is a perfect example of a place in close proximity to the largest employment center in Palm Beach County (West Palm Beach), which is about 10 to 15 minutes up the road. Lake Worth Beach historically has not seen much development or investment, but it is starting to happen because not everybody wants to live in a major downtown metropolis (and pay the rents these markets demand). In some places, it is getting a little bit too crowded and some people are moving into tertiary markets that are near where they work but that maintain their character and are less hectic.


How important is it to be able to offer affordable and workforce housing to the region?


It’s critical. Our region is one of the most cost-burdened places in the entire country when comparing the cost of living to income. It’s necessary to offer a high quality of life for our current residents, many of whom support our area’s largest industry, tourism. It’s necessary for economic development and to attract and maintain major employers and high-quality talent.


Many companies are moving here from the Northeast, looking to locate their offices into these urban areas. I think the days of large office parks in the suburbs are becoming fewer and fewer because companies understand that to attract top-tier employee talent they need to offer an atmosphere that caters to the young workforce who graduate from school and prefer urban living. Younger professionals don’t want cars; they want to be close to where the activities are. I believe that to be able to attract a high-quality workforce, urban living is key. But in areas like Fort Lauderdale, every landowner knows what they are sitting on, and it is very challenging to find any reasonably priced land where you can build anything that is not going to be very expensive.


We focus very heavily on being close to employment centers. In Palm Beach and Broward County, the average workforce renter commutes 30 minutes in each direction each day for work. People get in their cars and do that because they can’t afford to live near their workplaces. Meanwhile, as some of these cities keep growing, people are starting to complain about traffic. If these cities can offer housing that the workforce can afford, we’ll see a lot more people walking around, utilizing public transportation and a lot less traffic congestion. I also see great opportunities in cities like Lake Worth Beach and Boynton Beach (Palm Beach County), Pompano Beach, Hollywood and Hallandale (in Broward) that are a few minutes away and are becoming really nice options. 


What are the prospects for the real estate business in the area looking into 2020?


We are obviously at the top of the cycle. I think most developers realize that. Thus, we will be measured in our approach and watch market indicators very closely. As 2020 is an election year, we will no doubt see some volatility. Affiliated is going to continue to stick to our core competency, which includes attainably priced luxury rental housing. There is so much need for that here that we could build thousands of units over the next couple of years and only scratch the surface.  


For more on our interviewee visit: