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Related Group Breaks Ground On Pompano Beach Condo Project Led By 33-Year-Old Nicholas Perez

Related Group today is breaking ground on a 20-story, 105-unit luxury oceanfront condo development called Solemar in Pompano Beach, Florida, north of Fort Lauderdale.

The project is being overseen by Nicholas Perez, 33, son of Miami’s “condo king,” Jorge Perez, the billionaire chairman and CEO of Related Group. The senior Perez, now 71, has been ceding responsibility at the company he founded in 1979, which remains privately owned. Nick is now a vice president. His older brother Jon Paul Perez, 36, became president in October. 

Nicholas Perez is a vice president at Related Group.

"Pompano's kind of overlooked for luxury development beachfront purposes," the younger Perez told Bisnow via phone. "I'm not sure why. The beaches are beautiful. They're wide, they're clean, they have these natural dunes that line that beach, and Pompano is a city that in the past five to seven years has really invested a lot of money into their downtown pier area."

Pompano has been undergoing a years-long redevelopment with a “fishing village” theme. Its pier was renovated and a new parking garage built. Downtown retail has been reimagined, with new shops, restaurants and a beachfront Hilton hotel. 

Solemar launched sales last fall at a comfortable clip, then was inundated this year as the coronavirus pandemic went on and South Florida home sales boomed. Perez said the project is 80% sold, with just over 30% of buyers hailing from the Northeast. The rest are locals who are downsizing from large homes or people from the West who want a beach property.

Foreign buyers, who buoyed South Florida condo sales after the Great Recession, are largely absent now. “I think we have two buyers from Latin America,” Perez said.

Related Group had purchased the Solemar site more than 10 years ago and left it undeveloped. Following success at another beachfront condo project, Auberge in Fort Lauderdale, which is now 100% sold, Related’s team decided to launch a project on the Pompano site with a similar look and feel, but with a more accessible price point.

Units at Solemar cost about $800 per SF, compared to $1,300 to $1,400 per SF at Auberge, Perez said. Units start at $1.3M, penthouses at $5M.

“You're really getting this beautiful beach, same amenity program, same designer [Meyer Davis for the interiors]. Different architect — we've got Arquitectonica here,” Perez said.

The lobby sits at 13 feet above sea level. "That gives you certain benefits for flood insurance, insurance costs, but it also is planning for if there is sea-level rise or a huge storm, you're kind of out of the flood zone,” Perez said.

Buyers are required to put down 20% deposits when they sign a contract and 10% when the building tops off, as opposed to 50% upfront, which many new condo projects have required since the Great Recession. The deposit structure appealed to buyers who like Pompano for its lower price points compared to elsewhere in South Florida, Perez said.

A rendering of Solemar, a Related Group project in Pompano Beach, Florida

Nick earned an undergraduate degree at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, then moved to New York, where he worked for Island Capital Group for three years and Related Cos. for about five-and-a-half years. (Jorge Perez and Related Cos. founder Stephen Ross are longtime best friends and business associates. Their firms are independently owned and operated sister companies.) 

Jon Paul Perez likewise worked for Related Cos., then returned to Miami. Jon Paul has been back for seven years; Nick, for three and a half. Nick said he participates in the executive committee and senior-level meetings, but his main focus is on executing specific development projects that he is responsible for and finding new opportunities for the company.

“My father wants us to grow within the company and be able to work with him, alongside him, until he totally steps away.”

“He's never going to step away,” he added, chuckling.

So far, Nick has led development of Regatta at New River, a 230-unit luxury rental project in Fort Lauderdale, which received a temporary certificate of occupancy in March and is about 50% leased, and an office building in Coconut Grove that is home to Related Group's new headquarters. “That was my pride and joy,” Perez said. 

The younger Perez acknowledged that he'll face fresh challenges, such as climate change, which he thinks builders will adapt to with sustainable techniques, and increased competition, which he says is good for South Florida.

“Even from when I got here three-and-a-half years ago, there's probably 20 new developers in town from across the country, across the world, because they realize the potential that South Florida has,” Perez said.

Asked whether he would follow in his father’s footsteps beyond real estate — Jorge Perez is well-known for being both an arts patron and an influential political donor — the younger Perez said, “I haven't personally caught the bug of collecting … but art is definitely a huge part of our DNA here at Related.” A full-time curator helps select certain pieces of works for all of the company’s projects, from affordable housing developments to the most upscale properties.

The younger Perez hasn’t yet gotten deeply involved in politics, either, he said, “But it's inevitable that you have to be involved in every community that you're doing business, and that has a huge political and civic component to it … Maybe one day I'll do a run for office, but right now I'm focused on growing myself, growing the company, and helping keep this company successful for the next couple generations.”