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Investor Promises Luxury 'Class-X' Office After $62M Miami Beach Acquisition

Black Lion Investment Group, a real estate investment firm with offices in Miami and Los Angeles, isn't just looking to upgrade the first office building it ever acquired — it has ambitions of creating an entirely new designation for property type: “Class-X.”

Black Lion plans to spend $50M to renovate 1691 Michigan Ave., including the lobby.

The firm paid $62.5M for The Lincoln at 1691 Michigan Ave. in Miami Beach and announced plans for a $50M renovation that its 34-year-old founder, Robert Rivani, said will create “a whole new category of office space that will reinvent the luxury office.”  

“This isn’t just a real estate transaction, but the start of an entirely new frontier for how people will experience luxury at the office,” Rivani said in a statement.

The Lincoln will be rebranded as the Rivani following the renovation, which is slated to finish in about a year. Black Lion plans to upgrade the building’s exterior and bring in amenities that “you would find at an exclusive 5-star hotel,” according to a release. 

Those additions include a concierge, spa, meditation room, fitness center, café, living room for meetings and podcast room. Black Lion, which owns several upscale restaurants in Miami, is also planning to bring in a Japanese restaurant and speakeasy. 

“Rivani is redefining Miami's office design landscape by seamlessly blending opulent hospitality with a tranquil, wellness-centric ethos,” said Carlos Rodriguez, the founder of the Miami-based interior design firm Escala Forma Studio, which partnered with New York-based architecture firm Rockwell Group to design the remodel.

Rivani declined an interview request to outline his vision for a Class-X office. 

New York-based Rockwell Group was brought in to redesign the building's exterior.

1691 Michigan Ave. includes 119K SF of offices that are 87% leased, according to a spokesperson for Black Lion, which will open a 5K SF Miami headquarters at the property. It has 43K SF of ground-level retail that has a tenant roster including Apple, West Elm, Williams Sonoma, Morgan Stanley and Coldwell Banker. A 318K SF parking garage flanks the east side of the property. 

The sale is a steep discount on the $109M New York-based investment firm Clarion Partners paid to acquire the building in 2016, according to property records. Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital Group was slated to buy the building for $93M, but the deal fell apart in July 2022. 

The Lincoln, which was built in 2003, is under a ground lease with Miami Beach, and the city commission voted at the end of January to decline its right of first offer to purchase the property. 

Newmark’s Jeremy Hakala, Clay Sidner and Brandon Shores represented Black Lion, and CBRE’s Christian Lee and Sean Kelly represented the seller. 

Colliers handles office leasing at the property, and a LoopNet listing has space available for $75 per SF, in line with the average asking rent for Miami Beach, according to a first-quarter report from Cushman & Wakefield.  

Black Lion will be competing with a handful of boutique office spaces that are under construction or planned in Miami Beach and are being marketed as trophy properties fit for the upper crust.

Sumaida + Khurana is asking $170 per SF for the 60K SF office called the Fifth Miami Beach at 950 Fifth St. in South Beach. The property landed its first tenant in February, with the New York-based hedge fund J. Goldman & Co. signing for 10K SF. 

The New York-based developer also announced plans last month for a 93K SF office building two blocks away from the Fifth that’s expected to achieve comparable rental rates and has already locked in construction financing from a group of private investors.

The property will be renamed after Black Lion President Robert Rivani following the renovations.

Michael Shvo and his eponymous New York development firm also have plans for three different Miami Beach projects with office components. He most recently won approval from the Miami Beach Planning Board in February to move ahead with his One Soundscape Park, a 63K SF office building planned for 1667 Washington Ave.   

Black Lion’s acquisition of The Lincoln comes after the firm’s first attempt to break into the Miami Beach office market collapsed earlier this year. The investor had partnered with Massa Investment Group to pay $82M for the former headquarters of Starwood Capital at 1601 Washington Ave.

The deal failed to close by a contractual deadline, sparking a lawsuit between Black Lion and would-be seller Nightingale Properties, whose CEO is struggling to repay investors $50M in misappropriated funds. 

Rivani’s acquisition of 1691 Michigan Ave. “marks an unbelievable personal and professional achievement for me,” he said. 

“Being able to close such a significant deal without partners or investors at the age of 34 is a dream come true, and validates what I have been working so hard to build,” he said. “It wasn’t long ago that I was selling Jordan sneakers and being a serial entrepreneur.”