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Ex-Wynwood owners brand Allapattah today’s bargain

Read the full article at: Miami Today

Roland DiGasbarro was actively looking to invest in Allapattah two years before purchasing his first building there in early 2014 because it’s an important and appealing urban location like Wynwood, he said, but at a fraction of the price.

The owner of Windsor Investments, a family-owned South Florida real estate investment company, Mr. DiGasbarro said he has been very involved over the past decade in the region’s urban locations, including downtown Miami, Coral Gables and Wynwood. At the beginning of the year, however, Mr. DiGasbarro sold his last property in Wynwood, where he owned a number of buildings.

Two years after venturing into Allapattah and buying that first building for $70 a square foot, he now owns almost a dozen properties in the area, which is northwest of downtown and a few miles east of Miami International Airport. Mr. DiGasbarro said he purchased for investment reasons and believes the neighborhood has distinctive qualities.

Geographically, Allapattah makes sense and costs are substantially lower than everything surrounding it, he said. Moreover, Mr. DiGasbarro firmly believes in the area’s appeal.

As Windsor Investments acquires assets, he said, the company continues to improve and renovate them. “We’ve been able to attract a varied tenant base into the area, including artists, restaurants and manufacturers.”

The beauty about this steadily increasing interest in Allapattah, Mr. DiGasbarro said, is that “like us, other local real estate families are aggressively buying for the very long term and who have the intention of improving the area.”

William Betts, an artist who owned buildings in Wynwood, began buying property in Allapattah in 2011 to add to his portfolio. Eventually, he sold his Wynwood buildings.

“The market had peaked and it was hard for it to go up,” Mr. Betts said. He said the buildings he saw in Allapattah were high quality – spacious, in good shape and inexpensive.

“When I bought, the prices were $75-$80 a square foot, which was a great investment,” Mr. Betts said. “Now, it’s hard to find anything under $150 a square foot.”

He owns an entire block near Seventh Avenue, keeping a portion for garden space and renting the rest to automotive tenants; a few warehouses on 10th Avenue that he uses for his own storage and others that he rents to artists; and a number of buildings as investments.

“There’s a working class vibe to Allapattah and I’ve always been attracted to that,” Mr. Betts said. “There’s also a large residential component, which makes it a real community.”

Wynwood is where people come to party, he said, but Allapattah is where Miami works.

“It won’t become a restaurant and club scene but will stay true to its legacy,” Mr. Betts predicts. “More and more artists will be attracted to Allapattah because its spaces are large and it’s affordable by today’s standards.”

Creative types will fit in well with the traditional atmosphere of Allapattah, Mr. Betts said. “It’s the only area in Miami where it feels like people are working and doing things.”

Francisco De La Torre IV, director and curator of Butter Gallery, has also relocated from Wynwood to Allapattah, where he said many important real estate developers have already acquired properties and it is just a matter of time before the area is completely transformed.

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