Investor Michael S. Liebowitz has purchased a 50 percent interest in the Mondrian South Beach for an undisclosed amount. Russell Galbut, who has a controlling interest in 1100 West which has owned the Mondrian since 2016, will retain 50 percent ownership while Menin Hospitality will continue to manage and operate the property.
Galbut and Liebowitz will serve as managing members of the hotel playing "an active role in enhancing the customer experience while staying true to Menin Hospitality brand standards,” according to an announcement of the sale.
“I’m really excited about it,” Galbut told RE:MiamiBeach. “Michael is an incredible human being. I think he’ll bring a lot of experience and knowledge and together we’re going to bring the Mondrian to a new level.”
Initially the conversations between Liebowitz and Galbut were related to Liebowitz’s purchasing the property but, he said, after fifteen minutes he knew he wanted to partner with Galbut instead. “I think he’s an incredibly honorable guy. He’s got a lot of experience,” Liebowitz said.
“We came up with a 50-50 deal. He never took a deposit. We never did a term sheet,” Liebowitz added. “We closed in 3 ½ weeks on our word. I’m like an old school New York ‘on my word’ kind of guy and that’s the way he is.”
Liebowitz calls the Mondrian “a unique asset” because of its location. “It's not on Collins with a hundred other hotels. It has the most Instagrammable pool deck.”
“It’s big enough that it has meaning,” Liebowitz said. “I didn’t want a small hotel. I never do anything small.”
Though he hasn’t had much time to think about specifics since the deal came together so quickly, he said, “I think there’s so much more potential in it and I think Miami Beach has so much going on,” noting Galbut’s 1212 Lincoln Road project under construction and the project proposed for 500-600 Alton Road.
Galbut’s not sure yet either about future plans but said, “It’s already extremely beautiful and I’m sure it’s got the nicest sunsets and sunrises of any hotel on the Beach and I believe that under Michael’s leadership and partnership the Mondrian will see physical improvements in line with what a Mondrian stands for.”
“I’m a believer that it’s not a zero-sum game. Everybody wins,” Liebowitz said. “Don’t bet against Miami Beach and Florida because a lot of people are moving here for a lot of reasons,” he said pointing to the recent announcement by luxury resort and hotel developer Aman that it will build an Aman hotel and Aman-branded residences in the Faena District at the site of the old Versailles Hotel. “That lifts all boats,” he said.
Liebowitz said since selling several businesses in the insurance and financial industries, he’s been looking for investments and wants to do more deals with Galbut. He continues to serve as President and CEO of Miami-Based Harbor Group Consulting which he founded in 1995 and which was acquired by Alliant Insurance Services last year. Harbor Group advises financial institutions across multiple lines of businesses.
Galbut, Managing Principal of Crescent Heights, owns numerous properties on the Beach and is trying to develop the 500-600 blocks of Alton Road along with Terra Group's David Martin.
[Updated to reflect comments from Liebowitz and Galbut]
Photo: Menin Hospitality
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