Business News & Notes

Winter 2020

Another Bacardi Brand

Coral Gables-based Bacardi has announced its acquisition of American whiskey and bourbon producer Stillhouse Spirits for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition resolves a $100 million lawsuit that Stillhouse founder Brad Beckerman filed in March against Bacardi, alleging breach of contract and financial wrongdoing (Bacardi made a minority investment in the whiskey maker in 2014). As part of the deal, Beckerman will leave the company. The innovative brand (their bourbon is part-aged with a batch of coffee beans, whiskey flavors include spiced cherry and coconut) joins a long list of Bacardi brands which include (beyond their rums) Grey Goose vodka, Bombay Sapphire gin, Martini & Rossie vermouth, and Patrón tequila.

It Really Is About Location

The real estate mantra of location, location, location hit the high mark last month with the purchase of an empty piece of land in Gables Estates for nearly $14 million. The 1.9-acre waterfront lot at 625 Leucadendra Drive was sold to South Properties II LLC, led by Juan Carlos Correa Ballesteros, who is on the board of directors of Mexican Coca-Cola bottler Arca Continental. The property was first listed in August for nearly $16 million. Apparently Leucadendra Drive is the place to be. In November a mansion at 601 Leucadendra sold for $11.5 million; in July, the property at 555 Leucadendra sold for $23 million.

Rental Reality Check

Are retail space rental rates high in the Gables? The answer is relative. According to a survey published by the South Florida Business Journal, the rates in the Gables are neither the highest nor the lowest. Coming in at No .1 is Brickell, with asking rents of $118.93 a square foot. Next comes Miami Beach at $83.65, followed by Downtown Miami at $75. The Gables comes in at No. 7 with $38.16 per square foot average asking price, less than Aventura or Coconut Grove. So, take heart retailers. It could be worse.

Keeping it Local

Maven Realty, the small but rapidly growing Gables real estate investment firm run by principles Marc Schwarzberg and Jose Ortega, is sticking to its mission of keeping it local. After its acquisition of the former Scientology Building on Giralda Plaza, which is now home to COYO Taco (and soon to be home to four other local eateries), Maven acquired the historic La Palma hotel (currently being restored and renovated). Now it owns the retail spaces on Giralda that house Miss Saigon, Clutch Burger and the Local (shown right). What you probably didn’t know is that Maven turned down the Cheesecake Factory, which wanted to occupy all of the former Scientology Building. “Everything we try to do is local and community,” says Schwarzberg. “We’ve been very discerning in the tenants we lease spaces to.”

Count Us In

At their monthly breakfast meeting in December, the Coral Gables Chamber again pushed forward its advocacy of support for Florida Counts Census 2020, a group of seven philanthropic organizations who have joined together to raise $2 million to ensure Florida has a complete and accurate count; turns out that Florida is one of only five states in the U.S. that do not have a budget nor a Complete Count Committee to make sure everyone gets counted. The impact in Coral Gables? “If we are undercounted by even 10 percent, based on nearly 52,000 residents in our city, then it is possible that more than $92 million dollars would not come back to our community over the next decade,” says Chamber President and CEO Mark Trowbridge.

Leeding the Way

The handsome granite-grey building at 1515 Sunset Drive, which vaguely resembles the New York Public Library, has become the first LEED Platinum Office Building in Coral Gables. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most recognized sustainable building certification in the world, and now a requirement for all buildings over 20,000 square-feet in Coral Gables. The Platinum designation is the highest achievement level for LEED. The building is owned by a company controlled by Facundo Bacardi, and not only houses family offices but the shrine to haute cuisine known as Fiola Miami.

Business Kudos

Each year the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce gives out its Diamond Awards for the best in local business. Among the 12 categories were awards to Threefold Café for Outstanding Restaurant, to Freebee for Outstanding Technology Company, and Caja Caliente for Outstanding Woman-Owned Business. Luis Chiappy, EVP of the Southeast Region for AXA Advisors, was honored as Business Leader of the Year. In addition, the Diamonds paid special tribute to American Airlines on the occasion of their 30th Anniversary in Coral Gables. Miami International Airport, the Gables global gateway, is American’s second largest hub and its nexus for the Americas. Accepting the Chairman’s Vanguard Award was Juan Carlos Liscano, VP for American in charge of the Miami hub.

Juan Carlos Liscano with Chamber CEO Mark Trowbridge