Going forward, multifamily will require a more pronounced focus on open spaces, safety and security and sustainability. In an interview with Invest:, Asi Cymbal, owner of Cymbal Development, shares how he integrates those concepts into his company’s development portfolio.
What is the significance of your Oasis Pointe development?
We are excited to break ground on our project in Dania Beach. We think it’s a burgeoning area with tons of opportunity and walkability. It’s poised to become the next center for residential development in Broward. We did make design changes resulting from the pandemic. We have 100% fresh air intake into our building. Typically for multifamily developments, that is not the case, it’s usually recycled air. It’s an expensive proposition but we thought it was valuable in this climate to pump fresh air into the building. Another addition is the air filtration system that is 99% effective against COVID-19. We really tried to design a building we would want to live in. A building that is safe and secure, particularly against the virus. We are also embracing nature and the outdoors, so there are extensive portions of outdoor space, including a boardwalk for our residents and a boat club. We are building a marina into the project itself. There will also be an outdoor pool and fountain area, as well as an amenity area, a butterfly garden, a meditation garden and a million square feet of retail across the street.
What are some of the biggest lessons learned from the pandemic?
Our biggest lesson learned is to never give up. In April when we were raising funds, lenders would not return our calls. We were elated that we managed to close this sizable $60 million loan in the middle of a pandemic and break ground in the middle of a pandemic too. We believe we are timing this project perfectly. We are taking advantage of lower construction pricing. We are also capitalizing on our construction expertise. We are the general contractors on our projects and we are hands-on. We think this is an amazing opportunity and we are also looking to acquire five significant additional projects in 2021. Our pipeline is $600 million in projects and we are looking to double that next year.
What is your take on distressed assets?
We always look at distressed assets and we are analyzing those resulting from the pandemic. We bought notes from banks on properties that were in mid-construction, took over those projects, and we’ve made significant money that way. We’ve purchased projects out of bankruptcy and have done well there as well. We are gearing up for the same scenarios that we anticipate will occur in 1Q21 and we are focusing on those opportunities. We like complicated deals, as long as the purchase price reflects that complexity and the effort that it takes to solve those issues.
What innovations do you see emerging that will benefit your operations moving forward?
A lot of innovations are going to be centered around working from home. We are gearing up our communities to be friendly for those who work remotely. We are creating Zoom lounges and individual private office space in many of our developments. Oasis Pointe will feature several such spaces, which we think is important. We are also looking to create more hygienic environments using touchless services and technology.
What is your view on the urban to suburban exodus?
There will definitely be a mass exodus in the short term as happened from the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s perfect timing for us because we’re making our presence known in suburban areas, as showcased by the location of our Oasis Pointe project. Our collective memories are short, and people will forget about this as well. In the aftermath of 9/11, some people left New York but the majority stayed, the city got rebuilt and fear over a subsequent terrorist attack slowly but surely subsided. The same is true for this pandemic. In 12 months, there will be more people coming back to the urban core.
How does Cymbal Development integrate sustainability in its development portfolio?
We are all about light, air, water and sustainability. When you walk into our units, there should be a lot of natural light, natural air, quiet and tranquility. That is a big factor for us in our design. We also like to be around water and we embrace nature. Both our projects in Dania and Downtown Fort Lauderdale are surrounded by water and embrace nature. We have a beautiful rain tree in our Fort Lauderdale project that we are showcasing. Nature is going to be a prevalent theme in all of our developments going forward.
What is your outlook on Fort Lauderdale’s real estate industry for 2021?
We intend for 2021 to be our busiest year on record. We would like to see more projects under construction and more projects acquired than in prior years. As far as what the year will reveal, we anticipate that there will be a stronger travel industry, which is an important component for us and our footprint in Dania Beach and Fort Lauderdale. We certainly are hopeful that the airlines and the cruise businesses come back full steam ahead. We will see how as a community and a country we grapple with a post-COVID-19 future. Our economy is going to be much stronger next year, albeit not until 3Q21 to 4Q21. We are planning for 4Q21.