Hedge funds target Miami homes
Written by Catherine Lackner on February 26, 2014
With one investment firm pulling up stakes and moving its operations from Santa Monica, CA, to Miami and others waiting in the wings, interest is spreading throughout the financial services industry, directors of Miami’s Downtown Development Authority learned last week.
The authority, which began a campaign last May to lure hedge funds, investment companies and family offices here, announced last week that Universa Investments will bring its operations to Coconut Grove in March and build its staff from 14 to 25 over the next three years.
Over the past 30 days, authority board member Danet Linares said, she has received at least six calls from agents who represent new-to-market hedge funds. Ms. Linares, executive vice president of Blanca Commercial Real Estate Inc., says the funds’ agents are typically seeking 2,500 to 3,000 square feet of offices in Brickell, where she is based, but she speculated that some are probably looking downtown, too. The names of the firms were not disclosed.
“They want a presence here, a foothold in Miami,” Ms. Linares explained, adding that the inquiries have come from Connecticut and New York. “Word has spread.”
Meanwhile, the authority continues its recruiting trips to the Northeast. This week, authority Executive Director Alyce Robertson, Miami commissioner and board chairman Marc Sarnoff, and other authority members are to travel to New York on another mission.
“We’re also looking at doing a trip to South America,” said board member Nitin Motwani, managing principal of Miami World Center and managing director of the Encore Housing Opportunities Fund. He, along with Mr. Sarnoff and Ms. Robertson, has led the domestic effort.
Many US financial services companies invest in South America, and it makes sense that investment companies there open outposts here, he added. That trip is expected in September.
In addition to climate, Miami has much to offer financial services firms. Not the least of these advantages is that Florida is one of only seven states that doesn’t impose a personal income tax (the others are Alaska, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming).
The emerging cultural scene, epitomized by the Perez Art Museum of Miami, is another draw, as is the fact that Miami is an American Airlines hub, with numerous daily flights to New York and other financial centers.
The incoming investment firms will augment a financial services community that is already well-established here, though largely unheralded. It includes funds that manage billions, including H.I.G., Bayview Asset Management and Trivest.