Q&A: The Related Group COO on Today’s Market
The Related Group COO Matt Allen discusses the highs and overcoming the lows of Miami real estate.
Matt Allen, COO of The Related Group, at his home.
To The Related Group COO Matt Allen, working for the real estate company is akin to the famous Vince Lombardi quote, “Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all-the-time thing.” (Allen even has the quote framed in his home.) As the man responsible for the day-to-day operations of one of the country’s largest real estate developers, Allen was arguably at ground zero of Miami’s real estate downturn. Consequently, he has a lot to say about fighting your way back to the top and never giving up, and since 1999, he has raised over $10 billion in equity and debt. The multi-hyphenate executive and active member of the Miami community brings immeasurable intensity to his career, family, and philanthropy. Here, he speaks about working side by side with Jorge Pérez, Related’s chairman and CEO, coming back from the recession, and what he feels is the key to his success.
You wear a lot of hats at The Related Group.
That’s what’s fun about my job—it’s always different. Jorge [Pérez] keeps me hopping all the time because his priority has to be my priority. I get a high from making sure we get a deal done and getting the best deal that’s out there; we call it the “Related tax.” I also love the people I work with. We have such a “push hard” mentality; you’ve got to make sure that people realize you appreciate them.
How many dollars are you currently overseeing for Related?
We have probably over $10 billion in development right now. We raise a lot of money; we have a lot of equity partners and there’s a lot of entertainment. I’m the main liaison for that; you have to make sure the banks see you as a normal person.
What’s the largest raise you’ve done for any one project?
This past year, we raised over $100 million for the 444 project [One Brickell at 444 Brickell Avenue]. We’re doing debt deals all the time—we just closed with Canyon Capital [Advisors] on a $157 million facility for SLS Lux.
Right now, roughly how many projects are in the works?
At our meetings, we speak about more than 60 to 70 jobs. I’m probably the only one other than Jorge in the company who has a hand in every job, but we also have great division presidents. I look at myself as partners with those guys.
Carlos Rosso, George Mato, and Matt Allen at the Jaume Plensa sculpture debut, hosted by Colin Cowie, at Park Grove last November.
So are you the “good cop” or the “bad cop”?
Plenty of people don’t like me because you have to be stern, and they don’t always agree with you. When I have to take charge, I have to take charge, and when I don’t, I let them know they’re doing a good job.
You were really at the epicenter of the recession. What was that like for you?
It was a hard time. I was the one on the front end with the banks. We had 50 lenders and $2 billion in debt, and you’re telling people, “People aren’t closing on their condos, we can’t pay you back right now.” You take it personally. But we didn’t have one bankruptcy, we didn’t have one lawsuit with any of those lenders, and not many people can say that.
What do you think about today’s market?
We’re building to demand today. When you have such a South American influence, speculation is not driving the market—it’s investment. Miami’s become a big global city. You start reading about where Miami is globally, and we’re the seventh city of importance to high-net-worth individuals.
You’re also very involved in charity work.
Giving back to the community is very important. I think it’s a necessity of life, and I want my kids to see that. I’m on the board of the Dolphins Cycling Challenge, and we have the largest team. I did a fundraiser for the DCC and brought 300 people to my home. All this money goes to Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and that’s important…. Forget the tall buildings; we need the education and the medical facilities.
Do your kids take part?
This year, they decided to take donations for Sylvester and do a haunted house in the backyard. They did an incredible job. They raised around $1,300, but the money isn’t the point—it’s what they are learning.
Are you Related for life?
Absolutely, no doubt in my mind. It’s like when you’ve been on a national championship team year after year—you crave it. Even for all the difficulties of what we do, how we work, the constant challenges, when you’re with the best, there’s nowhere else to go.
Read more at http://oceandrive.com/personalities/articles/the-related-group-coo-on-coming-back-from-the-recession#umKR4vp1jsBjUPFt.99
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