Elon Musk just moved to Texas, but guess who’s (reportedly) moving to South Florida? Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen and the asset management division of Goldman Sachs. Those are the boldface names announced in news reports last week alone.
The New York Post recently reported that JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is open to moving his bank to Florida, too, a move he formerly resisted because he said the schools weren’t good enough.
Miami has been dubbed “Wall Street South” since at least 1990.
In the past year or three, the migration of high-profile business to Miami, and to Florida more broadly, has gained steam. There’s no income tax and the politics are perceived as business-friendly. But the state struggles to fund education, environmental protections and mass transit. There’s also climate change, sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion to consider.
Starwood Property Trust is building a new headquarters at 2340 Collins Ave. in Miami Beach and CEO Barry Sternlicht settled in as a city resident in 2018. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn this summer moved Icahn Enterprises from New York City to the Milton Tower, located at 16690 Collins Ave. in Sunny Isles Beach, just north of Miami Beach. Chicago’s Ken Griffin just dropped $37M for property on exclusive Star Island and there are rumors that his firm, Citadel, will relocate nearby.
By publicly bragging about leaving “dead” New York for Miami, entrepreneur James Altucher sparked a fight over the Big Apple that put Jerry Seinfeld on the defensive. Miami is also becoming a hub for Black startup entrepreneurs: tech investor and Founders Fund partner Keith Rabois recently said he would move to Miami, with the fund opening a small office there.
Further north, hedge funds have been migrating to Palm Beach County. Tennis superstar Serena Williams has lived in Palm Beach Gardens for years, and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian Sr., recently bragged on Twitter that people were following him.
Further upstate, Fisher Investments opened an office in Tampa, a city that billionaire Jeff Vinik has been championing for years. He’s building a massive development there with Bill Gates’ Cascade Investments.
According to Bloomberg, 20 bankers with Moelis & Co. told boss Ken Moelis they wanted to move to Florida, and he is allowing it. Moelis & Co. is saving about $30M a year since the company pivoted to Zoom meetings over in-person ones during the coronavirus pandemic.
Business development groups like the Downtown Development Authority and Beacon Council in Miami and the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County have helped grease such moves by identifying and bundling incentives.
There’s one billionaire, however, willing to put the kibosh on the hype: real estate investor Jeff Greene.
“This whole idea that financial services, like hedge funds, are going to be this huge jobs creator is ridiculous,” Greene told the Palm Beach Post. “You’ve got hedge funds that come down with six people and they make a big deal that we need all these office towers for them, and we don’t.”
For instance, Miami Beach recently called for office developers to put new Class-A buildings on city-owned surface parking lots. This angered some residents who feel that the city caters to wealthy developers and newcomers while ignoring the needs of the middle class.
Greene has tempered real estate hype in the past. Speaking on a Bisnow panel in 2018, Greene cautioned that low interest rates and an abundance of capital were leading to overbuilding, while Florida workers were largely low-paid.
Greene told the Post last week that Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon told him the company may move outside of New York, but no location is decided.
“I think some will come down here, they will try it out, move a few people and see if more people come, but I think the idea that every hedge fund is leaving New York City and moving to Palm Beach is just silly,” Greene said. “We will always be a service economy and there is nothing wrong with that.”