Brazilian Investor Picks Up Parcels In Edgewater, Brickell

, Daily Business Review


Biscayne Blvd. and 34th Street
Biscayne Blvd. and 34th Street

A Brazilian oligarch who founded and controls an airline has been quietly scooping up prime residential development sites in Miami's urban core, the Daily Business Review has learned. The buyer hopes to buy-and-flip his way to a profit as part of the current real estate boom.

José Afonso Assumpção, the 80-year-old founder and majority owner of the Brazilian airline Líder Aviação, spent much of 2013 assembling a parcel of land in Brickell just a few blocks west of the proposed Brickell CityCentre project, then crafting his vision for a massive, 66-story mixed-use condo there. Now, on the brink of selling that parcel for "almost double" what he originally paid, Assumpção has branched out to another white-hot Miami neighborhood, Edgewater, paying top dollar for a lot in the area in anticipation of further land value appreciation.

Assumpção, who founded Líder as a one-aircraft Amazonian air service in 1958 and has since grown the company to be the largest private jet and helicopter concern in Brazil, has waded remarkably deep into the real estate game in two of Miami's most coveted developer hot spots without attracting much attention. Part of the reason: The transactions have been funneled through a shell company, Miami Sunrise Properties, which is not registered to Assumpção but to an employee inside the local unit of his sprawling aviation empire. Elena Arechaga, who works as president of a Doral-based Aviação subsidiary, is listed as the sole officer for Miami Sunrise.

Miami-Dade County records show Arechaga has been trusted by Assumpção to act on his behalf since at least 2001, when she was given power-of-attorney privileges to pay the mortgage on her boss' Key Biscayne pied-a-terre.

Most recently, Arechaga used Miami Sunrise to buy a 37,000 square-foot infill site in Edgewater—at the intersection of Biscayne Boulevard and 34th Street—paying a record $205 per square foot for the multi-lot assemblage.

Ryan Shaw, a senior associate at Marcus & Millichap who helped arrange that transaction, said Assumpção has no immediate interest in developing that plot, even though its sale included a permit to build a 16-story, 127-unit residential tower on site.

"It's more of a land bank opportunity for them," Shaw said, "These guys are just going to hold on to it, so I don't think they're going to be competing head-to-head with any developers."

Requests for comment made to Arechaga and Assumpção were not immediately returned.

However, according to Rejane Gomes de Paula, an agent with Miami-based Fortune International Realty who represents Assumpção and says he is "like family" to her, the Brazilian multimillionaire is only getting started. Between January and February of 2013, Assumpção used Miami Sunrise to corner nearly the entire city block between Southwest 10th Street and Southwest 11th Street just east of the I-95 overpass, in the western part of Miami's financial district. Miami-Dade appraiser records show Miami Sunrise paid $13 million for an assemblage of contiguous lots totaling 92,250 square feet, averaging $135 per square foot.

Miami Sunrise has since engaged in an eviction processes against various holdover residential tenants occupying single-family homes on the land. In April, Assumpção told Jornal O Tempo, his hometown newspaper, that he was planning a project tentatively named "1010 Second" at the site. According to the newspaper, the plan was for two 33-story towers containing 210 residential apartments, as well as a 200-room hotel, five-story parking garage and mixed-use retail space.

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