Jamie LeFrak is like a lot of parents. The LeFrak Organization vice chairman wants to keep his kids close.
LeFrak bought waterfront residential land in Miami Beach last year with the idea of building homes for each of his four children, he said at a city meeting this week.
It’s unclear exactly when he would build the homes but he said he is not in a rush. His and his wife’s oldest child is 12 and, “He doesn’t need a house right now,” LeFrak said.
LeFrak received approval from the Miami Beach Planning Board to split the 0.6-acre property at 1120 Bay Drive in Normandy Isle into three smaller parcels. He also owns the 0.2-acre lot next door at 1100 Bay Drive, giving him four home sites.
Speaking before the board, LeFrak admitted it was an “unusual circumstance.” He and his family moved from New York to Miami Beach in 2019.
“I hope for my kids to have the opportunity to keep them here, close to mom and dad, close to their grandparents for as long as we can,” he said. “When we found the house and found it was indeed three lots so we could make a four-lot strip of houses it seemed like this once in a lifetime opportunity.”
An LLC owned by LeFrak and his wife bought the larger lot in July 2022 for $11 million, and in September of last year closed on the smaller property for $4 million. Architect Cesar Molina’s CMA Design Studio designed the planned homes, according to the project application.
Planning board members Yechiel Ciment, Melissa Beattie, Brian Elias, Jonathan Freidin, Tanya Bhatt and Joe Magazine voted in favor of the lot split. Gayle Durham voted against. Ciment, who made the motion, included a recommendation that LeFrak plan landscape design that shields the properties from their neighbors and that LeFrak be a considerate neighbor during the construction process.
The three divided lots will be about 8,900 square feet each.
The existing 4,900-square-foot home, built in 1939, is below the current base flood elevation. LeFrak’s attorneys said that demolishing the existing house would “eliminate a nonconformity and contribute to creating a more resilient neighborhood.”
Responding to a neighbor who was concerned that LeFrak could rent the homes out or sell them, LeFrak said he isn’t a seller and has never sold a home in his life. He also joked that while his company has experience building apartment buildings, he is not a single-family home developer.
“The one time I did build a house on Long island, I got taken advantage of by the contractor just like everybody else,” he said.
After the vote, board member Beattie asked LeFrak who gets the first house — the child with the best grades or the oldest.
“You just put me in a dilemma,” LeFrak said. “Right now the oldest has the best grades.”
LeFrak’s father, billionaire developer Richard LeFrak, said this year that he plans to step down from his day-to-day role at LeFrak. The elder LeFrak, who has Parkinson’s Disease, remains CEO. Richard and his other son, Harrison, own units at the Four Seasons Residences at the Surf Club in Surfside.
The firm, one of the largest apartment landlords in New York City, has grown its presence in South Florida in the last decade.
The firm partnered with Jackie Soffer’s Turnberry Associates to develop the 184-acre, $4 billion SoLé Mia master-planned community in North Miami.
LeFrak is also renovating the Marina Del Rey apartments near the Normandy Shores residential lots, Jamie LeFrak said at the planning board meeting. The company paid $24.5 million for the 108-unit waterfront complex at 1006 and 1022 Bay Drive in May 2021.