Why Related Veteran Carlos Rosso Left the Pérez Court


Jorge Pérez, the founder, chairman and CEO of the Related Group, is commonly referred to as Miami’s condo king, having founded the city’s largest developer of residential towers. For the better part of a decade, Carlos Rosso was his closest court adviser.

Argentinian-born Rosso worked his way up from project manager at Related in 2002 to the president of its condo division a decade later. He oversaw the development of Miami’s most notable towers, including SLS Brickell and Residences by Armani/Casa. The Residences sold out for close to $1 billion.

SEE ALSO: ‘The Backstory’: Commercial Real Estate’s Turnover

Soon after Pérez promoted his son Jon Paul to president in 2020, Rosso left the firm and struck out on his own, launching a residential condo in collaboration with the Standard Hotel in Midtown Miami. 

Rosso sat down with Commercial Observer to discuss his departure from Related and his future projects. 

The following has been edited for clarity and brevity.

How did you get into real estate?

I studied architecture in Argentina. I finished university and left with a scholarship to Europe, spent a year in Europe and started working for a construction company in Brussels. 

Then the Belgian company offered me a job in the Middle East. I spent 10 years between Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Cairo, building airports and hotels. But I wanted to get back into the real estate development side. So I came to the U.S. and I did my master’s at MIT.

The physical world is what we leave behind when we are no longer here. Buildings, cities, art stays on when we disappear. It sort of intrigued me. Both my parents are architects. My grandparents were engineers. So the physical world was a way to relate their stories. I [would drive] in front of a building and my dad told me, “This is the building that we did in 1973,” or, “These are buildings that your grandfather did.”

Any memories from your time abroad in Europe and the Middle East?

In Belgium, people would come to the board meeting with rain boots on. The guy is a billionaire. He just didn’t want to ruin his shoes. It was very interesting.

How did you meet Jorge?

I was finishing my years at MIT in 2001. I got a bank from Chicago, LaSalle Bank, to finance my thesis, analyzing the risk-adjusted returns of investments in Latin America versus investments in the U.S. So we spent three months traveling and interviewing people in those countries and doing an analysis.

We would always pass through Miami, and I met Jorge a couple of times, interviewing him. There was a very strong initial connection. We both spoke Spanish in a city that requires Spanish. So he told me, “Come work for [Related] once you finish writing the thesis that you’re not going to use for anything.” I started working as an assistant project manager for the rental division.

Why did you leave?

I had already spent 20 years at Related. Jorge bought in his sons to start operating the company. I thought, “It’s a good time to fly and start my own firm.” We left on excellent terms.

Is it correct to assume that you left to make space for his son?

I had to make space for myself. After working with somebody and doing all these buildings, I really wanted to see whether I can do this job on my own.

And I no longer wanted to work within the structure of a company. The pace that we were working before was crazy. We worked seven days a week. We visited sites on Saturdays and Sundays. There was really no family time. 

Today, you called me at 10 o’clock [on a weekday] and I had just finished playing a game of tennis. I have never done that in the last 20 years!

Both Jon Paul and his brother Nick will eventually run the company. Do you think they have what it takes?

Jorge’s guiding his kids. I think John Paul is different from his dad. Jorge is a little bit more intense and John Paul is a little bit more cerebral. 

The proof is in the pudding. John Paul is doing more and more every day. I think he’s actually growing the company right now and making his dad very proud.

You’ve been in Miami for more than two decades. Are you astonished by what’s happened in the last two years?

I am surprised. I joked with Jorge, “You remember the drawing we did for 500 Brickell [a luxury condominium developed by Related that was completed in 2008]?” We showed a cool mom walking on Brickell Avenue, wearing yellow leggings while she pushed a stroller. 

We did those drawings in 2006. Back then, there was no one like that in Brickell — the cool guy with a tie walking with his jacket on his shoulder — those guys didn’t exist. Suddenly now they started appearing. 

So I always say we are a little bit like movie directors. We are envisioning things ahead of what is happening. And I have to give credit to people like Jorge, who have been promoting Miami for the last 50 years.

Your first venture outside Related is a Standard Hotel-branded residential condo in Midtown. Why did you choose that project?

When I was at Related, Jorge was never really convinced about [the Midtown parcel]. I really loved it. Midtown has been well planned from day one. It has great bones. It has wide sidewalks that create a very safe environment. It’s a mini residential neighborhood. 

The site has a public parking patch and an agreement to open a door from my building into the public parking. So I said, “You know, what? It’s a great location and I don’t have to build parking.” And the project is very appropriate for me to start. It’s 12 stories, not a huge tower. 

I like [the Standard’s] ethos. They don’t overextend themselves. They’re very boutique in that sense. And I like that it’s an honest brand. They’re not pretentious, but they’re cool and quirky. And I thought the Standard would attract people from New York and the Northeast, who are very familiar with the brand. The units are relatively small, about 600 square feet. This is perfect as a pied-à-terre for a New York guy.

Do you have anything else in store? 

I’m working on a couple of more jobs. It’s a little bit too early to announce, but I’m doing something in North Miami, partnering up with another big group.

But I’m not in a rush to do the same amount of work that I was doing before. I really want to enjoy and take the time. I do the projects that I really like and that are at my scale. I’m not in a crazy growth pattern to do 20 jobs per year. 

Julia Echikson can be reached at Jechikson@commercialobserver.com.