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Miami CRE Battens Down The Hatches For Matthew

Yesterday evening, The Vagabond Group CEO Avra Jain decided to ride out Hurricane Matthew at her Biscayne hotel. At the time The Vagabond was still basically full with tourists—many of whom were from out of the country and probably had never been in a hurricane before.


“Everybody seems pretty relaxed,” she told us. By noon today, it was clear: Miami and much of South Florida were spared the brunt of Hurricane Matthew, which had weakened to a Category 3, but remained hugging the Florida coast on its trek northward.


“It ended up being a non-event,” Avra says, noting there was no damage to The Vagabond. In fact, the power remained on, and even the restaurant remained open.

Still, Vagabond, like other real estate, hospitality and real estate owners, took a lot of time to prep their properties for Hurricane Matthew, which, at its most powerful, raged with winds in excess of 130 mph and issues of mandatory evacuations for coastal residents. The work, Avra says, was evident of how well-organized everyone in South Florida was in response to the storm.

“The preparation gave everybody a good opportunity to make the area safe,” she says.


We touched base with LeFrak's Michael Tillman (left, pre-storm times from a Bisnow article in 2011) about 1 Hotel South Beach.

"We are battening down the hatches," Michael told us yesterday afternoon. The exterior of the hotel was cleared of furniture and other items that could have been propelled in the windstorm. And, most importantly, he wanted to ensure his guests were comfy and safe to ride out the storm.

Metro1 Properties President and CEO Tony Cho favors microunits.

For Metro1's Tony Cho (here), the storm's approach kept him stranded in London until Matthew departed. But his property manager, Michael Mayer, was kept very busy throughout yesterday.

"Being a commercial warehouse, [there was] not a lot to board up," Michael told us in an email. Like other property owners, Michael's crew ensured loose items were stowed away and the buildings secured.

But his firm did more: Metro1 stocked up on fuel for tools for the cleanup, "purchased an extra supply of heavy duty trash bags," and "stockpiled $10k cash" for maintenance worker advances for the storm prep, he says.

We spoke to Michael this morning, and, like many in South Florida, he was breathing a sigh of relief that things could have been much worse.

"There were very minor winds and bands of rain," he said. "I live in Coconut Grove, blocks from [the] Bay, south of Downtown Miami. That puts me in the southwest quadrant of the passing storm, which was quietest."