( Top Dealmakers of the Year special section)


In the Top Dealmakers of the Year recognition program, in the land category, the work of the original legal team that represented the city of North Miami in the execution of a 99-year ground lease for the Biscayne Landing project was overlooked.

For more than a year leading up to the deal, Peyton White Lumpkin of the Lumpkin Firm in Coral Gables, Detra Shaw-Wilder of Kozyak, Tropin and Throckmorton of Coral Gables, interim City Attorney Roland Galdos and former City Attorney Lynn Whitfield laid the groundwork for the transaction that ultimately was signed with developer Michael Swerdlow. The team was the first to conduct negotiations, which ran from mid-2011 until March 2012.

Among other things, the talks helped determine which party would do the site’s ground cleanup, established the time-frame to complete the project and set the lease payment.

The City Council, however, rejected the lease proposal and shortly thereafter, the city hired a new in-house attorney, Regine Monestime. In turn, she elected to retain new outside counsel for the project: Roland Sanchez-Medina Jr. and Peter Gomez of Sanchez-Medina, Gonzalez, Quesada, Lage, Crespo, Goez, Machado & Preira.

The new team, which the DBR recognized in May as finalists, restarted the talks. After negotiating certain changes — such as the revenue and jobs program portions — an agreement that included the first legal team’s work was signed in August 2012.

Upon review, the DBR has elected to add the first legal team as finalists in the Top Dealmakers land category for its work on the Biscayne Landing project.

Trillions of dollars are said to be on the sidelines as U.S. domestic and multinational companies cautiously await more certainty and better business conditions before they put the cash to work,

But in 2012, opportunistic investors took a close look at South Florida and saw considerable opportunity in commercial and residential real estate and in finance.

There were multiple incentives: bargain prices left over from the crash, dirt cheap interest rates, safety from political dislocation abroad and long-term prospects offered by the Panama Canal widening project.

In many instances, businesses got new life, real estate projects were revitalized and most important, jobs were created and preserved.

In selecting the latest round of Top Dealmakers of the Year, DBR editors sifted through about 90 nominations, many with multiple candidates, and settled on more than 70 people as finalists and Top Dealmakers in 13 categories.

Among others, dealmakers profiled in today’s special report helped the Miami Herald find a new headquarters building, negotiate the sale of an entertainment center at Lincoln and Alton roads in Miami Beach, hammer out a 99-year ground lease for a long-awaited mixed-use project in North Miami and help a communications firm buy $1.5 billion in wireless communications towers.

This year’s categories include Office, Industrial, Hotel, Retail, Land, Residential, Leasing, Real Estate Finance, Corporate Finance, Corporate Domestic, Corporate International, Public Finance and Restructured/Distressed.

The nominees were judged exclusively by the Review’s editors. Factors evaluated included the complexity and size of the deals and how instrumental the nominees were in making them happen. A major consideration involved the obstacles each dealmaker had to overcome.

• How tough were the negotiations?

• How complex was the financing?

• How difficult were the marketplace conditions?

• Were there competitors looking to derail the deal?

• What was the level of creativity?

Most important, the judges looked at how the outcome benefited the dealmaker’s client.

There were two rounds of eliminations before the editors convened to select the finalists and the Top Dealmakers.

In the most competitive categories, the selections were difficult. Some dealmakers rose to the top by narrow margins.

But there was one constant as the judges pored through example after example of hard work and hard-nosed dealing: It was knowledge that our dealmakers, whether they toil in the fields of law, real estate or finance, are important players in the economy because of the positive impact they make on our local and regional economies.

The Editors