April 24, 2014
An investor who specializes in buying prime property out of foreclosure has partnered with the Disney family to acquire the site of the former Golden Sands hotel in Miami Beach.
Hollywood-based investor Yair Wolff is now looking to turn the half-demolished building into an ultra-luxury residential pied-a-terre.
Wolff is listed as an executive of the company that bought the oceanfront property at 6901 Collins Ave. on April 9.
Developer SMG Management LLC is also involved in the deal. SMG was founded in 2009 as a real estate development vehicle closely linked to the estate of Roy E. Disney. The California fund that manages the Disney family’s fortune, estimated by Forbes magazine at over $1 billion, additionally provided $12 million in debt financing to the deal partners.
The seller, which was represented by the hotel unit of broker CBRE, was the trustee for the estate of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. under its Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan. Lehman Brothers took over the property in 2013 after Miami Beach-based WSG Development Co. defaulted on a $16.7 million loan.
The investment is similar to others Wolff has made in the past. Last year, he bought the note on a vacant 13,000-square-foot site at 251 Washington Ave., which is involved in litigation. Wolff also recently purchased a defaulted note on the residential condo at 1607 Ponce de Leon Blvd. in Coral Gables.
For its part, his partner SMG Management has been involved in developing residential condos. The company has two active Miami Beach projects, the 50-unit Palau Sunset Harbour at 1201 20th St. and the 114-unit Peloro on the Bay at 6610 Indian Creek Drive.
A CBRE statement said Wolff and the Disneys plan to build a 20-story tower of 14 full-floor residences. Since the facade of the former Golden Sands hotel building carries a historical designation, the developer will have to build around the partially demolished structural shell. Among other things, the developer must stick to the Miami Modern architecture of the 1951 hotel, restoring the crab orchard stone finishes on the building’s front and using a color palette that’s consistent with MiMo style.
The new construction also must restore the hotel lobby to its original condition down to the check-in desk. Because the hotel was not built to modern flood safety standards, the lobby will remain flood prone at just 6 feet above mean sea level.
It’s not clear how much the property traded for. CBRE declined to divulge the price. Calls to Wolff and the project’s California financier, Disney’s Shamrock Holdings Inc., were not returned by deadline. The property last sold for $19 million in August 2005.
Christian Charre of CBRE’s hotel brokerage business noted, “The property was widely marketed nationally and internationally, attracting investors not only from the United States but also from Europe, Latin America and Asia.”
Robert Given, also of CBRE, noted the scarcity of development opportunities on Miami Beach’s waterfront “pushed the pricing in this transaction.”