Like Father, Like Son

Gil Dezer learned from his real estate mogul dad, and now he’s built—and continues to build—his own empire.

By Linda Marx

Perspectives1_proof8-2“Even with the state of the economy, we were able to successfully pay off the remainder of the $210 million construction loan for the 384-unit Trump Royale last December,” says luxury property developer Gil Dezer. Indeed, Donald Trump flew down to Sunny Isles in early January of this year to re-enact his 1986 mortgage burning by striking a match to ceremoniously burn the paid-off construction loan for the $350 million Trump Royale condominium tower.

Dezer credits his success to working with solid lenders, plus, he has extensive experience in the Sunny Isles market. “South Americans have helped the Sunny Isles market rebound,” says Dezer. “We are also seeing an influx of Americans purchasing prime waterfront properties. Those units are the first to go.”

In January 2010, Dezer, with a syndicate of 11 participating financial institutions led by Wells Fargo, assumed a $265 million construction loan for Trump Towers, a project they took over from Miami developer Jorge Perez in late 2009. Since acquiring the existing loan, Dezer Properties launched a new sales and marketing strategy for Trump Towers that successfully achieved more than $150 million in sales last year and nearly sold out two of the three 813-unit condominium towers. The real estate background was drilled into young Dezer’s head, just like Trump’s was through his father, who made millions in the industry. Born in Queens, New York, Dezer has virtually grown up in the real estate business, so he comes by his moxie naturally. His father, Michael, who was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, came to the U.S. in 1962 after serving a stint in the Israeli Air Force. In 1970, Michael formed Dezer Properties, a full service real estate company, and became the first developer in New York City to convert factory buildings into luxury office cooperatives that positioned the Chelsea area as one of the most sought-after in the city. Today, Dezer Properties’ New York portfolio includes 20 commercial buildings, eight commercial cooperatives and one luxury residential loft condo.

Gil has always had a keen eye for prime oceanfront property. says Donald Trump.

When Dezer Properties’ vision migrated south, the Trump Dezer partnership researched and spent time looking for growth opportunities in the Sunny Isles area, which was spectacular, but underdeveloped. Since Trump already had redeveloped Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, and owned other land in the surrounding area, he was frequenting the south Florida region. And he soon discovered that working with Dezer was a natural fit. “Gil has always had a keen eye for prime oceanfront property,” says Trump. “Through our partnership, we have successfully delivered Trump luxury to south Florida and have brought an unparalleled level of sophistication to the thriving Sunny Isles real estate market.”

In 2007, Dezer married Lorena, a Miami resident originally from Argentina. Their daughter, Daniela, was born last year and her arrival has changed the life of the hard-working developer. “I used to stay in the office very late each night working on one deal or another,” he recalls. “Now I try and get home before 7 p.m. because Daniela is the greatest thing in my life.”

Dezer attended Yeshiva Dov Revel and later high school in Tenafly, New Jersey. He then enrolled at the University of Miami, earning degrees in International Finance and Marketing. He loved South Florida. “I worked selling real estate in Miami, starting our own division,” he says. “I began working with Donald in 2000, who taught me a great deal about the industry through his business savvy and sharp intellect.”

Dezer has also followed his father’s lead in giving back to the community. He is active in South Florida charities—he’s a founder of the Mount Sinai Medical Center Foundation, a Young President of the Miami Heart Institute, a member of both the Florida Friends of Israeli Defense Forces and Project Cradle in Miami, host committee member of the satellite art fair, Art Miami, and part of One Family Fund Organization. He also supports St. Jude’s Hospital.

For leisure and fun, he enjoys family trips to Europe, Mexico and island destinations. They love Saint Tropez, and enjoy spending summers in different European ports. Travel is part of their lives because it is so enriching. In December, they all flew to Israel for a family Bat Mitzvah. “I also go back and forth to New York City where we have an apartment,” says Dezer who flies by private jet. “Our lives are busy, but we are blessed and happy.”