Big Names, Big Projects

The 183-acre site near Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami may have a tortured history, but the final result looks like a model for modern urban planning.

The Soffer family’s Turnberry Associates and New York real estate powerhouse the LeFrak Organization recently held the groundbreaking for the development of the $4 billion SoLe Mia. The project will have all the elements for a live/work/play village with 4,390 residences, 1 million square feet of retail space, a 40,000-square-foot cinema, a 100,000-square-foot Infiniti, Land Rover and Jaguar dealership for Warren Henry Automotive Group, 37 acres of park and two swimmable lagoons with sandy white beaches. 

The site was once a dump and then the Biscayne Landing project, which stalled during the recession after a couple of condo towers were built. Turnberry and LeFrak bring deep pockets as developers this time around, and SoLe Mia should bring an Aventura-like atmosphere to North Miami. 

Turnberry was the major force in creating and developing nearby Aventura and the mega-mall named after the city. It is also the owner of Fontainebleau Miami Beach. “This was natural for us because of the swampland my dad developed,” Turnberry CEO and chairman Jeffrey Soffer said, referring to the land his father drained to create Aventura. Soffer is not only known for leading
$1 billion in development, but is married to supermodel Elle Macpherson. The July issue of Forbes reported that Soffer has officially joined the ranks of the world’s billionaires and estimates his sister Jackie, who leads Turnberry’s office, retail and hospitality operations, is worth $700 million.

LeFrak owns and manages 120 luxury residential projects in the New York area and also has 6 million square feet of Class A waterfront office space in its flagship Newport development in New Jersey, across from Manhattan. It is also involved in equity investments, merchant banking and fixed-income portfolios.

The two organizations have similar philosophies: seeking opportunity where others see challenges, Jackie Soffer told the audience at the groundbreaking. 

“We could not have better partners. Your record speaks for you,” said North Miami Mayor Dr. Smith Joseph. “It is here to put North Miami on the map.”

SoLe Mia should be a major taxation and employment boost for North Miami, where the household income of $36,134 lags the Florida average of $46,956. The developers will offer employment preferences and vocational training for residents, city officials said.

Harrison LeFrak credited some of the biggest names in South Florida real estate with helping the deal along, including developers Michael Swerdlow, who identified the opportunity, and Jimmy Tate, who put Turnberry and LeFrak together.

LeFrak also talked about how 29 years ago, his family turned an abandoned rail yard in New Jersey into the Newport project. Now, his family, led by his father, Richard, has an estimated worth of $6.5 billion, according to Forbes, ranking 74th on the list of richest Americans.

Abandoned land can be an overlooked opportunity and the LeFrak family is deeply committed to SoLe Mia, he said. “Our own balance sheet, our own finances and our reputation are at risk.” 

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.