Leading the charge in Miami for a top Brazilian developer
Photos by Evelyn Suarez
Marcelo Kingston, managing partner of Multiplan Real Estate Asset Management, has more than 20 years of experience in the real estate development and financial sectors throughout the United States and Brazil.
Under Kingston’s oversight, Multiplan is developing 57 Ocean, a new, luxury wellness-inspired oceanfront condominium complex in Miami Beach. Multiplan was founded by José Isaac Peres, the internationally recognized Brazilian developer and owner of major residential and commercial real estate holdings. The 81-resident luxury boutique project was designed by Miami’s globally acclaimed Arquitectonica.
Kingston is also the founder and former CEO of PatioMix Shopping Centers, a Brazilian mall company with development, construction, leasing and management capabilities. He is a member of the Urban Land Institute Florida Multifamily Product Council, the Key Biscayne Village Educational Advisory Board and the Key Biscayne K-8 Educational Excellence School Advisory Council.
Kingston holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Louisiana State University, a master’s degree in design from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Kingston was interviewed by SFBW Associate Publisher Clayton Idle at WeWork’s coworking space at the historic Security Building on First Avenue in downtown Miami. The following transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Tell us a little bit about your early life, such as where you grew up, what your family was like and how you ended up studying finance at LSU.
I was born and raised in Rio in Brazil. My dad was an economist, and my mother was a speech therapist. They had four kids. I think early both of my parents tried to teach all of us the value of a good education and sports. Sports brought me to LSU. I took on swimming and made the national team in Brazil.
LSU was an amazing experience for both sports and the education there. I ended up being an All-American swimmer and graduated summa cum laude. All those things come in to play to come from Brazil and not know English. It paid off and made me strong to go through the experience, and it shaped my character.
Your background includes a lot of experience in both the United States and Brazil. How do Brazilians perceive Miami as a place for business and a place to live?
I think Miami is a great community. It’s a multicultural city. I think it’s easy to come to adapt and adjust. It feels like home to many people. It’s a melting pot. I lived in different parts of the U.S. and it never felt like home. But, beyond that, it’s a very open community to be an emerging business player and set up those business relationships. I think Miami embraces people and it’s full of life. I think the lifestyle opens up people’s minds. Brazilians love it. It’s a vibrant community. I see Miami growing more and more, and attracting more people because of that.
The founder of Multiplan, José Isaac Peres, is extremely successful with a portfolio that includes 19 malls with more than 5,400 stores. Tell us about joining his company and his strategy for developments in Miami.
He is an icon in Brazil. He is a self-made businessman with the largest real estate company In Brazil, which he started from scratch. Before Multiplan, he did over 300 residential projects.
He was willing to do something big in a different market and expand beyond Brazil and establish a presence here.
Mutliplan is still an early-stage company. We’re still building a team. It has the backbone of a large company and a great leader. It has an early-stage vibe.
I started PatioMix in 2008, when the Brazilian economy was booming. I had worked for one of the top Brazilian mall companies. I saw an opportunity in
midsize Brazilian cities. I saw new centers of economic activity. There were very few malls, very few structured commercial centers. In four years, we built five malls and handled marketing and leasing.
Brazil is cyclical. Back in 2014, it started to hit a political crisis. The economy was hit pretty hard. I decided to sell the company to a principal investor in those malls to finish that chapter and move on.
57 Ocean has gained attention as one of the few projects still coming out of the ground amid fears of an oversupply in condos. What gives you confidence the project can be a success?
I think there is always this concern about the right time to market, considering whether there is excessive supply and enough demand. It’s very tough to put all condos in the same market, though. Collins and 57th Street is an established area with no raw land. The demand is out there for unique projects.
With a company like Multiplan backing us up, we started construction right away. This delivered a a message to the market that the project is real. You know we are going to get it done.
We are delivering something different. How do you deliver a value proposition? Healthy living connected to nature. Fulfill the mind, the soul and the body.
It’s a boutique building with 81 unites, very exclusive. Residences have two to four bedrooms. We have two beach houses, which is like living in a house that’s part of a large condominium. We have two penthouses—sky residences.
Water is on both sides. It’s right on the beach and the backyard is the Intracoastal Waterway. The “view-through” units are a real jewel in the building.
The other thing we learned about the market is flexibility—the importance of adjusting and having flexible spaces. The building is more than enough to customize to a certain degree, so you can adjust the floor plans to the needs of market.
Brazilians were widely credited with buying up a lot of the Miami area condo inventory during the Great Recession. What are the dynamics these days of Brazilian investment in South Florida with a new Brazilian president and the Brazilian currency 60 percent off its 2011 high against the dollar?
I think Brazil came from very difficult years over the past eight years. There is a positive outlook now. We just had the elections and, for the first time, are starting to see a change. I think that’s what we missed. There was no new leadership that could promote change. Michel Temer was a congressman and you might say an old guy. [He’s 75.] However, he was like one of the few guys that were clean throughout the scandals. Congress is 50 percent new. It’s the first time we can pass reforms, such as pension reform and fiscal policy, and build consumer confidence.
Are you still feeling good about the influx to Miami from South America and Europe?
The Miami market is hard to picture. There are so many nationalities and no one key consumer buying group. It’s diverse and from everywhere. We don’t look from the standpoint of demographics, but instead look at psychographics—what type of lifestyle you want to deliver.
Miami is seeing an influx of domestic buyers as a result of the federal tax legislation’s impact. This has fueled the sales of a lot of condos.
What do you like best and what’s worst about doing business in South Florida?
The real estate industry has a strong presence with a lot of activity in different categories. There are great partners and real estate companies and still a lot to do. You see the crane activity. It’s a very welcoming and open community. It’s easy to do business. There are a lot of new ideas and new capital.
Miami could be move innovative. I think coming from many other cities, they had more of an internet technology system established. I see a missed opportunity there. We could have a little more innovation and think a little differently, out of the box.
I think the city is trying. There’s a lot of investment in infrastructure in Miami. I think there is a lot of focus on sea level rise. Brightline is a major effort to connect Florida in general and different centers of activity. I think that’s a main thing that will facilitate a lot and drive much more business and pull back industries to be more integrated.
What keeps you awake at night?
My kids. I have one boy and a girl.
I think I’m very focused on the consumer. I’m trying to understand consumers, which is a key challenge—what people know and what they want and who is your consumer. You are trying to figure that out day by day when you are launching your product. It’s difficult to understand. You have all that marketing and beautiful research, but what is that underlying need?
A human-centric approach to innovation should drive products and services and organizations. That’s what I chase every day and what keeps me awake at night.♦
About CEO Connect
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The presenting sponsor is CDW. The gold level sponsors are Celebrity Cruises, Shorecrest Construction, CenterState Bank, MBAF, Levatas and Greenspoon Marder.
The evening begins with a cocktail reception for about 100 guests followed by the highlight of the event, a live interview conducted by Gary Press, SFBW Chairman and CEO or Clayton Idle, Associate Publisher and a well-known C-level executive who provides insight into their personal lives, careers and views on issues affecting the business community.
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