Working for the Related Group has afforded Carlos Rosso a front row seat to Miami’s extraordinary evolution over the last thirteen years. A lot has changed: skylines have mushroomed, significant cultural amenities materialized, and the transition to world-class city completed. 2014 was a significant year for the company and Rosso. As President of Related’s Condo Division, he oversaw the sale of 3,500 condo units to wealthy buyers from 92 different countries, marking Miami’s arrival as a truly global city. “We have people from Singapore, India, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, China… everywhere,” says Rosso, who is clearly excited by all this diversity. “Development brings wealth.”
It’s hard to argue anything to the contrary, as Miami has seen its number of billionaires and multi-millionaires multiply exponentially since the last building boom that began in the early 2000s, when Rosso arrived to work for Jorge Pérez, the CEO of The Related Group.
Rosso hails from Argentina, where Pérez grew up, but, by the time he landed in Miami, had already put a lot of time and distance between him and his native country. Among other things, Rosso had been working all over the world for Besix International, a major Belgian development company. The story of his start at Besix mirrors his arrival at The Related Group. He began at Besix as an intern in Brussels, while he was still attending school in Argentina. “What was supposed to be a 3-month internship, turned into a 10-year position,” explains Rosso, who immediately returned to the firm after going back to school in Buenos Aires to write his thesis and graduate with a Master’s in Architecture.
Rosso’s time with Besix started out in the usual sort of fashion—working on a beautiful project in the old city of Bruges, Belgium, not far from the company’s headquarters. But then the firm landed a contract to build Dubai’s airport and wanted to send him. “I said ‘yes’ even though I had no clue where Dubai was,” admits Rosso. “This was 1990, and Dubai wasn’t really on the radar yet.”
It didn’t really matter where the assignment was, Rosso was game. He had a thirst for travel and new experiences he had not yet quenched. “Both of my parents were architects and university professors, so they traveled a lot all around the world. I was always fascinated by their stories and always hoped that one day I would be able to replicate that.” So he did.
Not only did his work take him to oversee projects in France, Egypt, Mexico and Brazil, but his time off was equally colorful, using his exotic locales as a jumping-off point for even more adventures. “I traveled all over the Middle East… Egypt, Morocco, Guinea. I always had a strong curiosity for these areas that were the cradle of civilization—Israel, Mesopotamia and everything around the Mediterranean Sea. But, after so much travel—and so many projects—Rosso was looking for something more. So Rosso applied to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was accepted into a unique real estate development program. When he told his superiors he intended to leave the firm and head to MIT for another advanced degree, they begged him to stay and plied him with a hefty raise. He conceded; they were, after all, in the middle of a project in Abu Dhabi that Rosso was eager to see through. So he stayed a few more years, but became restless again and finally headed to MIT to get his Master’s degree in Real Estate Development and Finance.
There was something else pulling him to the western hemisphere too—a beautiful, young Argentine woman named Estefania Mai, who would become his wife and mother of his four children. “I had been going back and forth from Argentina for visits when I met her. We started dating and it was getting serious, so I asked her if she wanted to go to Boston with me and she said ‘ok!’” A fellow architect, Estefania found a job immediately and the two settled into domestic bliss in the northeastern city.
Rosso interviewed the company’s founder and CEO, Jorge Pérez, for his thesis paper. The interview wasn’t entirely without ulterior motives. “I was half-looking for a job,” concedes Rosso. The plan worked; Pérez was impressed and insisted Rosso come work for him at Related after he finished the program. So, just like at Besix, Rosso was hired at The Related Group before he had a chance to graduate. He began at The Related Group in August and his first child was born in September. “I missed his birth because he was born on a Friday night and I couldn’t get home. There were no flights,” he says, the family man clearly still feeling a little sad about missing it all these years later. After a few months, Rosso brought his wife and young Lorenzo to Miami for good, becoming one of Miami’s biggest fans. It may be this enthusiasm that led Rosso on a 13-year path from Assistant Project Manager to President, leading a team of nearly 80 people that he feels passionate about acknowledging. “I am lucky to work with them; we are all pushing in the same direction 24-seven,” he says.
There is, of course, a lot to be excited about. Related is in one phase or another of 30 projects, including an exciting new partnership with Terra Group for Park Grove in Coconut Grove. “We’re about 70% sold out on the first two towers,” says Rosso of the three-tower project that, along with Grove at Grand Bay, will redefine the area’s skyline.
“There’s a lot of wealth in this part of Miami and a lot of people are looking to downsize and move from homes into this building. It’s not a huge project, the first tower is only 73 units and we’re doing very well in sales.” While sales are first and foremost, they are not the only thing at which Rosso and The Related Group are looking. Renewal of the neighborhoods where their projects are run a close second and, right now, he and fellow co-developers, David and Pedro Martin, are concerned with rebooting Coconut Grove. “It’s very exciting over there right now. Kevin Spacey is involved with the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Mandolin is opening, we’re getting a Harry’s Pizzeria, and a Panther Coffee.”
Aside from spurring business and renewal in the Grove, The Related Group is looking to improve public areas around all of their developments, including Brickell and Edgewater.
“Miami was actually created by developers—the Fishers, the Merricks, the Brickells, the Flaglers—as a winter destination. It was never thought of as a real urban city before. I think there is going to be more thought put into it now. I think it’s also the first time that we’re seeing other urban pieces being completed in our downtown area to create more interest and activations.”
Related has plans we don’t even know about. Rosso feels that South Miami Avenue, due in part to its street-level retail and that it doesn’t have flooding issues like Brickell, is poised to become the Lincoln Road of downtown. He even hinted there were plans in the works to make the avenue pedestrian. Rosso is expressing sentimats from Pérez and the whole team at Related, who are proponents of a more walkable city. Soon you’re going to be able to walk to the movies,” he promises. It’s all about walking more, and the canopy of mature live oak trees Related planted in front of 1100 Millecento, is part of Rosso’s new Miami we’re very excited to meet.