Harvey Hernandez, president and CEO of Newgard Development Group, has been developing commercial and residential properties in the tri-county region for two decades, most recently with the opening of BrickellHouse in December, which sold 366 of 374 condos as of January.
Earlier this year, Newgard and Menin Hospitality announced the Gale Boutique Hotel & Residences in Fort Lauderdale. Both companies, along with Fort Lauderdale investor Dev Motwani’s Merrimac Ventures, are developing the waterfront project, which will include a 96-room hotel and adjacent 128-unit luxury condo.
In addition to the Gale and BrickellHouse, Hernandez has been working on Centro, a condo project in downtown Miami, and the Morris Lapidus-designed One Flagler, boutique office condos, also in the Central Business District.
TRD spoke with Hernandez to discuss current projects and what’s next, including a yet-to-be announced partnership with Miami Worldcenter.
How did you get into real estate? Out of a need to find something to do. In the late ’90s and 2000s, I started buying real estate, and renovating and repositioning buildings.
What are you working on now? The Gale, Centro and One Flagler. Centro is downtown, 350 units with a commercial component. We’re more than 90 percent sold and we’ll be topping off soon.
With One Flagler, we’re renovating the whole building, which was designed by Morris Lapidus. The challenges are updating the building without interfering with the historic elements of the building. It’s a 50- to- 60-year-old building, so you have to make sure that everything is updated or replaced. Now, it’s all cosmetic.
The Gale [in Fort Lauderdale] is providing [hotel] services to residents: concierge, rental options, valet. Everything is flexible. We think that’s what people want. We think it’s going to change the entire neighborhood.
We’re also working on a lifestyle hotel, a 2-acre [project] in Miami Worldcenter with a great residential and commercial component.
Why Fort Lauderdale Beach? We see a trend of people from the U.S. and Canada moving to South Florida. Fort Lauderdale is a tremendous option for these newcomers, and Fort Lauderdale Beach is probably the most attractive — with the activity, water views, Las Olas shopping district.
Tell me about Centro — why is there no parking? There is, but there isn’t a garage on site, and that’s for a couple of reasons. We really like to develop buildings that are different and deliver value. When it comes to downtown, we wanted to develop a building that was an option to the younger generation, the working generation, that doesn’t want to have a car. For somebody that doesn’t want a car, they can live at Centro and save 20 to 25 percent.
We made a deal with the Miami Parking Authority to use parking garages in the area that sit empty after hours. In addition to that, there’s 24/7 valet.
We’re also creating alternative sources of transportation. We’re working with Car2Go and are the only dedicated Car2Go hub in the CBD, which is a big deal in downtown Miami.