The name Flagler is part and parcel of Florida’s history.

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Henry Flagler had a vision to develop the east coast of Florida.He started in 1892, and by 1894 had introduced the Royal PoincianaHotel to Palm Beach, followed by the Breakers. As he continued todevelop luxury hotels in South Florida, he also constructed bridgesand railway lines to pave the way for tourists from the Northeastto visit the Sunshine State.

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Today, Florida continues to echo Flagler’s legacy throughFlagler College, Flagler Beach, Flagler County, Flagler Museum andnow Flagler Development Co. and its various divisions. Of course,Flagler Development has itself evolved and continues morphing tomeet the demands of Florida’s cyclical real estate market. Oncecalled Gran Central Corp., Flagler took on its current moniker in2000. Six years later, it merged with the Codina Group of CoralGables and, in 2007, Fortress Investment Group acquired Flagler,starting a new chapter in the company’s history, complete with anew president and CEO, Jose M. Hevia.

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“With the Fortress acquisition, we restructured the firm as aprivate REIT and spun off the railroad operation,” says Hevia, whowas president and COO of Codina before the merger. “Now, we have areal estate company and a railroad company fulfilling theirdestinies. Flagler Development has clarity and a tax-friendlystructure. We became 100% real estate-focused—and for the pastthree years we’ve been working to reposition the company whilestaying true to our historical roots. The biggest challenge wasmoving from a rail-centric mentality to a real estate company. Butwe did it.”

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To read more, please see the December issue of Real Estate Forumonline.

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