The Wizards of OZ: A Discussion about Opportunity Zone Investment

Florida -

Miami, FL…September 24, 2019 – (RealEstateRama) – Last week CREW Miami (Commercial Real Estate Women) held its September lunch program, The Wizards of OZ hosting a panel of experts who discussed and answered questions about recent Opportunity Zone transactions that demonstrate the complexities and benefits of this new form of CRE investment.

Miami’s Real Estate Industry
Keren Marti, Janis Cheezem, Todd Rosenberg, Frank Guerra Art Lieberman. | Photo Credit Brett Hufziger

“With 427 opportunity zones created throughout the state, and 124 of those in South Florida, we are seeing many different players enter and exit the space. CREW Miami was excited to offer the community a space to listen and learn from those using the tax incentive to find ways to engage and connect with the community through shared vision and development,” says Keren Marti, CREW Miami President and National Account Manager for First American Title National Commercial Services.

CREW Miami September Lunch Program
Janis Cheezem Todd Rosenberg Frank Guerra Art Lieberman. | Photo Credit Brett Hufziger Photography

Janis Cheezem, Partner, Akerman LLP served as moderator and successfully navigated a balance of questions presented to, and the corresponding responses offered by each speaker. Following the discussion, a brief Q&A session was enthusiastically welcomed by guests.

Some Takeaways from the Panelists:

Frank Guerra, Founder, Altis Cardinal: Altis Real Estate Strategies is a Miami-based full service real estate firm formed in 2009. The Company focuses on three core areas: acquisition of real estate assets including residential, office, retail and land, development and management services of real estate assets in all asset classes and consulting with respect to complex matters arising with respect to real estate assets and strategies in all asset classes. Guerra has overseen development and construction of several high-rise and mid-rise residential projects totaling over 3,000,000 square feet (over $775 million) as well as property and asset management of residential and office assets in excess of 2,000,000 square feet.

A Q&A session following the panel discussion
A Q&A session following the panel discussion was welcomed by CREW Miami guests and members. | Photo Credit Brett Hufziger

“The math that we’ve done on all of the projects that we’ve analyzed is that you can offset all of the net income particularly when you have debt on properties, but the entire ten year hold period…You can offset and pass through depreciation so you can have no tax consequence of net income for ten years and then there’s no tax on the recapture.”

Art Lieberman?, Director of Tax Services, Berkowitz Pollack Brant: Established in 1980, Berkowitz Pollack Brant (BPB) is a certified public accounting firm with offices in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach and New York City. With nearly 300 accountants, tax specialists and consultants, they are one of the largest accounting firms in South Florida and one of the top 100 firms in the United States. Lieberman has spent more than 30 years assisting large public and private real estate companies, high-net-worth individuals, closely held businesses and not-for-profit organizations on deal structuring, tax planning, tax research, tax controversies and compliance issues. He specializes in complex transaction structuring, real estate and partnership taxation, REIT taxation, international taxation, CMBS/MBS, corporate taxation, low-income housing tax credits and ASC 740 tax accounting.

Lieberman remarked on how much both Rosenberg and Guerra, as real estate developers, have had to learn over the last twelve months to play in the Opportunity Zone space. He remarks, “There are a number of features about the Opportunity Zone legislation that you just don’t see anywhere else in the Internal Revenue code. I think the biggest one is when you compare Opportunity Zone legislation with the traditional 1031 deferral strategy. So, let’s say that you sell a property for ten million dollars and you have a taxable gain of one million dollars. Under 1031 in order to shelter that million dollars in taxation, you had to invest in at least $10 million dollars in a replacement property. With the Opportunity Zone legislation, all you have to reinvest is a million dollars and you get to the same place. You get the deferral by investing a million instead of ten million and the other ten million you can put in your pocket and go invest it in something else.”

Todd Rosenberg, Managing Principal, Pebb Capital: Founded in 2014 by the Rosenberg family, Pebb Capital is an opportunistic multi-strategy real estate and private equity investment firm. Pebb Capital invests across the capital stack and focuses on value-oriented and cyclically-defensive investments that generate attractive risk-adjusted returns. Rosenberg presides over strategic planning, process, and execution of Pebb Capital ventures.

Rosenberg discussed Pebb Capital’s Midtown Delray Beach mixed-use project of which part of it is in an Opportunity Zone. Rosenberg clarified, “The first thing that I’d like to tell everyone is that we are not going to call it Midtown Delray. We’re changing the name to Sundy Village.” He continues, “When I was first looking at the opportunity, the O Zone legislation didn’t exist… The first rule of thumb if you’re contemplating in investing in any opportunity zone, is that the real estate deal has to make sense on its own. You don’t invest in these deals specifically or solely because of the tax benefits because the tax benefits are only beneficial if you’ve made money. If the deal loses money or the bank takes it back, there’s no real tax benefit to that and you’ve just lost your money. The good news is that I liked the deal before it was an Opp Zone and ultimately it just got better when we found out that it was included in what was designated as an O Zone.” Rosenberg would then elaborate on the complication of this deal where a portion of the property was outside of the Opportunity Zone.

 A Look Ahead

October 29thth: CREW Miami Lunch Program

November 6th: Cocktails, Community & Connections – A fundraiser with silent auction event, where part of the proceeds will benefit Women’s Fund Miami-Dade and CREW Miami’s scholarship fund.

Roslyn K. Berrin Real Estate Scholarship Opportunity

DEADLINE October 1st: This scholarship is available to females enrolled as a Junior or Senior-level undergraduate or graduate student with a declared major in real estate-related discipline, at a university or college located in Miami Dade County, Florida; and maintain a cumulative GPA of no less than 3.0.

For more information and to register for CREW Miami events, visit: or call (305) 938-0775. Follow CREW Miami on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn @CREWMiami #CREWMiami and on Twitter @CREW_Miami_FL.

About CREW Miami

CREW Miami is an association dedicated to providing a forum for professionals actively involved in the commercial real estate industry, encouraging professional interaction and networking, advancing educational opportunities, and providing a support network for commercial real estate professionals. Since its inception, CREW Miami, which has served the South Florida commercial real estate community for 30 years, has expanded steadily to more than 265 professionals representing over 40 disciplines in our commercial real estate industry. CREW Miami is a member of CREW Network, which is a national organization comprised of almost 12,000 members worldwide in more than 75 major markets, and focuses on influencing the success of the commercial real estate industry by advancing the achievements of women in commercial real estate.


Media Contact: Lisa Morales, , 786.205.2838

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