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Spotlight On: Asi Cymbal, President & Owner, Cymbal Development
Capital Analytics   Max Crampton-Thomas  October 2019

Fort Lauderdale’s real estate development market is in its prime and if there was ever a time to capitalize on that, it’s now. The successful developers are those who truly understand the market, can create an innovative product and have the foresight to protect themselves if this hot market goes cold. Asi Cymbal is the president and owner of Cymbal Development, a development and construction company that is working on a new innovative development along the water called Marina Lofts. Cymbal discusses the key differences he has identified in Broward and Miami-Dade’s real estate development markets, market trends and how vital the financing market is to how real estate development performs.

What can be expected for your development of Marina Lofts?

We have a significant interest in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, and we own a six-acre site along the water where we are building The Marina Lofts. We brought in Bjarke Ingels, an amazing architect, to design the project. Marina Lofts will be a multi-use project with residential, marine and retail, and a possible hotel and condo component as well. We have waited for the market to come to us, and we believe this is happening now with all the activity that is happening south of the river. It is primarily a rental market on the river and we think there is an opportunity to create something spectacular and cost-efficient along the waterfront.

How do the markets in Miami-Dade and Broward County differ?

Miami and Broward are quite different, although they are so close in proximity. Fort Lauderdale strives to be a city that seems closer in line to the bigger cities in the Midwest, while Miami strives to be a city that is more closely aligned with Eastern cities like New York. They have slightly different demographics as well, but both are attractive cities in different ways, which I believe adds to their appeal for various types of renters or buyers. An issue we are dealing with in both places is construction costs, and we are emphasizing efficiency in design more than ever. To be successful in these markets, we need to be a lot more cost-conscious than we have been in the past.

Where do you see development trends gravitating as we move into 2020?

There will continue to be strong demand for multifamily units. I believe retail will take a hit even though there are some interesting innovations happening in that space. There is an opportunity for growth in office space and there is more of an emphasis on an environmentally friendly product. Our housing tenants expect to see more of this emphasis, so we do design with an eye toward energy conservation, green efficiency and things of that sort that appeal to this demographic. Overall, we are cautiously optimistic through 2020, and our company will remain in significant expansion mode.

How dependent is real estate development on the financing market?

The financing market helps check the type of real estate product and the quantity of product being developed in South Florida. Regulation is a lot more strict today than it was right before the Great Recession. Having a stronger financial backing for projects is what keeps the region from over-building and there is a lot more hesitation and thought going into what is developed in South Florida. During the Great Recession, we saw opportunities to develop, but it was difficult to find financing. By the time we were mid-cycle everyone wanted to finance, but the opportunity was diminished. Now, we are toward the end of the cycle and there is financing, but you need to create your own opportunities.