After a brief stint in nightlife, and then as a residential “broker to the stars,” in 2005, Tony Cho started his own commercial brokerage, Metro 1. The subsequent downturns put him “in crisis,” he says—but then came work in developing the Arts District in Wynwood (“my first experience in placemaking, really,” he says) and Little Haiti. The multifaceted success of those and other projects (the firm has done more than $3 billion in business) galvanized him, and today he is also founder and CEO of Future of Cities, a multifaceted development and venture company with a global vision. When SFBW spoke with Cho, he had just returned from presenting his ideas at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, and was packing his bags to head to the U.N. Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. But all his efforts emanate from South Florida: “I feel that Florida, and Miami in particular, should become a hub for climate tech and innovation,” he insists. “We should invest in becoming one of the most resilient cities in the world.” The goals of the Future of Cities seem rather ambitious, to say the least. The mission is to positively influence the lives of 1 billion people through innovation in the built environment. And that doesn't mean building housing for 1 billion people. It’s more like TED’s rubric, “Ideas worth spreading.” We’re spreading ideas around sustainable and regenerative development practices. People are looking at demonstration projects to emulate and do more equitable and inclusive projects. It’s about inspiring a generation of impact investors and impact developers to help reinvent the built environment.

[caption id="attachment_80623" align="alignleft" width="232"] Jessica Melendez[/caption] The University of Miami Law School’s Master of Laws in Real Property Development (UM-RPD) Advisory Board recently added three members to its board, which helps cultivate the next generation of real estate attorneys. Joseph Hernandez, partner and real estate practice...

Ava Parker’s life has led her to crisscross the state of Florida, leaving an imprint on nearly every region with her achievements. She grew up in the Florida Panhandle, in Santa Rosa County, but her talents took her further afield. The editorship of her high school yearbook propelled her to a journalism scholarship from the University of Florida, a prize sponsored by Florida Times-Union. The University of Florida became her intellectual home and training round—Parker stuck around long enough to earn her law school degree as well as her bachelor’s. For 25 years, she practiced law, first in Miami as an assistant public defender, and later in Tallahassee and Jacksonville. She didn’t actually leave the legal field until accepting her current role six years ago. By then, however, Parker was a fixture in state education. FINDING HER DESTINY “The cool thing about my opportunities that I think are unique is that I got to turn my avocation into my vocation,” Parker says. “I was always very much engaged in community service and in organizations.” She was appointed to the board of trustees for the University of Central Florida, but when Florida instituted a board of governors for the state university system as a result of an amendment to the state constitution, Parker won a plum position on the inaugural board. “It’s probably one of those opportunities that changed the trajectory of my career,” she says. “For over 10 years, I really participated in developing higher education policy for our universities, and that was part of my service to our state. And that certainly gave me an interesting perspective on higher education in the state of Florida.” But then her career took another turn, one that sent Parker on a different trajectory within the educational sector when she had the opportunity to build the newest state university. Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland became the state’s first public university focused on applied research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. With her tenure on the board of governors winding down, and armed with a deep understanding of the system, she helped build out the campus and develop a vision for the institution. Hiring staff and faculty, preparing to receive students and becoming accredited—it was a heavy load. But the range and challenge of the tasks invigorated her; it was a mission that ultimately changed her view of herself. “It really turned me more into an operations person,” she recalls. “I was now inside after having been more of a governance-type person making decisions in Tallahassee. When I started doing that, that’s when I realized, this is interesting work, I understand it because I’ve been around it, and I’m now living with the policies that I helped to develop.” What was intended as a consultant position grew into something greater, as collaborating with talented people to make hard deadlines commanded her attention and interest. Her role as executive vice president and chief operating officer even seemed like destiny: “I felt like the kind of work that I was starting to do was the work that I’d been preparing to do all my life.”

A two-acre development site in Fort Lauderdale’s Hirmmarshee neighborhood recently sold for $14.5 million. Colliers, a commercial real estate brokerage firm, facilitated the transaction with Director Bradley Arendt and Executive Managing Director Mika Mattingly, representing the buyer, Heights Advisors and the seller, 111 Property Group,...

Virgin Voyages, the recently launched lifestyle travel brand offering year-round cruises out of Miami, recently partnered with Patricof Co. (P/Co) to secure more funding for future expansion. Patricof Co. is a private investment platform consisting of professional athletes, including Venus Williams of Palm Beach Gardens and...