THE Birth OF A FAMILY BUSINESS
Rabina started with Zrubavel and Thia Rabina in 1956, Mickey Rabina supported the family investments in real estate throughout the 1960s and most of the 1970s. He absorbed numerous lessons from his family’s experiences, lessons about entrepreneurship, the tenacity required to succeed, and the value of forthrightness in dealing with others. These values would form the foundation of Rabina Properties.
Laying a Foundation In New York City
Mickey Rabina founded Rabina Properties in 1979. The firm initially focused on repositioning troubled, neglected or otherwise poorly managed properties on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In this period, Rabina purchased more than half a million square feet of underperforming Upper West Side apartment buildings and transformed them into valuable assets through intensive management. By selling properties with improved occupancy and increased cashflow into a rising market, Rabina was able to grow equity, invest in increasingly larger properties in more prominent locations, and hire a talented team to continue the firm’s expansion. Picking up on signs of overvaluation in the real estate market, Rabina sold approximately half its portfolio by 1987.
Expanding INTO NEW SECTORS AND NEW MARKETS
The economic distress of the late 1980s and early 1990s presented opportunities for investors with the vision and wherewithal to seize them. During this productive period, Rabina drew on its entrepreneurial spirit, long-term investing timeline, and determination to acquire distressed debt, portfolios of assets across all product types located throughout the United States, and institutional quality core assets priced opportunistically.
Between 1993 and 1996, Rabina acquired multiple portfolios of non-performing and underperforming loans with a collective face value of nearly $1 billion. Workouts and restructuring led to the acquisition of valuable assets including a 50% ownership stake in 230 Park Avenue South, a 350,000 square-foot, 14-story office building in New York City’s Flatiron District.
Rabina also acquired several large portfolios of real property located throughout the U.S. Among the most notable, in 1998, Rabina acquired a portfolio of thirteen shopping centers in South Florida that included 500 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach and 500 East Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, both of which were encumbered by long-term leases to a grocery operator. Following extensive negotiations, Rabina succeeded in freeing these parcels so their development potential could be realized. Rabina’s 2001 purchase of the general and limited partnership interests in six million square feet of property included a majority interest in 395 Flatbush Avenue, a 323,000-square-foot office building in downtown Brooklyn. This asset with an investment-grade tenant includes development rights to become a large-scale mixed-use project.
Throughout the 1990s, Rabina continued to make strategic purchases of institutional quality assets where Rabina saw value-add opportunities. Rabina acquired 110 Fifth Avenue, a landmarked, 170,000-square-foot, 11-story office building in New York City’s Flatiron District just as its sole office tenant announced plans to relocate. Rabina fully leased the building within 12 months at rents that set a new record for the neighborhood. Rabina also entered the mission critical business by acquiring a 283,000-square-foot former Wonder Bread Factory in Natick, MA and leasing it for data center conversion to a major telecommunications provider.
By the early 2000s, the Rabina portfolio had grown to include retail, industrial, office and mission critical assets across the United States, including underutilized sites in prime locations ripe for development. The acquisition, management and development of these assets enabled the Rabina team to grow new skillsets and form relationships with some of the nation’s foremost developers and investors. Rabina would call on those skillsets and relationships in the succeeding business cycles, as changing market dynamics forced Rabina’s focus to evolve once again.
In the middle 2000s, Rabina recognized new signs of an overheated market. By 2007, Rabina sold more than 50 assets it had already successfully repositioned. During this period, Rabina drew on its financial resources, geographic reach and wide array of skillsets to diversify its capabilities even further. Rabina grew its mission critical business, made strategic acquisitions of development parcels, and undertook its first ground-up development.
After a successful start on Wall Street, Josh Rabina, co-founded Sentinel Data Centers in 2002, a platform that designs, builds, owns and operates state-of-the-art data centers and mission-critical facilities for a diverse array of Fortune 500 and Global 2000 companies. Initially fixing and repositioning broken dot-com era assets and eventually building ground-up from greenfield, Sentinel was an early pioneer in the design and development of the modern multi-tenant data center and helped catalyze the emergence of the data center as an institutional asset class. Under Josh’s leadership, Sentinel built over two billion dollars of asset value and a reputation for quality, reliability, and fair dealing. Today Sentinel remains an important affiliate of Rabina with a robust development pipeline and a best in-class team of engineers, operators and construction professionals that complements Rabina’s other development activities.
As land values rationalized, Rabina’s focus shifted to growing and diversifying Its development capabilities and identifying and acquiring additional sites that could be developed once market conditions improved. In 2004, Rabina and its partner, the Related Group of Florida, acquired a portfolio of sites along the New River in Fort Lauderdale. Rabina and Related entitled these properties for three waterfront high-rise luxury residential towers, totaling more than 1,000 units, to be constructed in three phases. Rabina additionally constructed a retail building and parking garage of 160,000 square feet at 500 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach at the gateway to South Beach’s retail corridor.
A focus on Development
In the 2010s, rather than chasing properties at very high valuations, Rabina shifted its focus to ground-up development and opportunistic purchases of trophy assets in second-tier markets.
Between 2012 and 2017, Rabina grew a diversified development business, constructing thousands of residential units in New York City and South Florida, numerous state-of-the-art data center projects, and more than two million square feet of industrial distribution. Highlights include QLIC, a 421-unit rental apartment building in Long Island City, Queens, developed with the Worldwide Group and Cammeby International; Icon Las Olas, a 272-unit, 42-story luxury residential skyscraper and the tallest building in Fort Lauderdale, developed with the Related Group of Florida; and an Amazon distribution center in Connecticut developed with Hillwood Development Company.
In 2015, Rabina acquired Charlotte Plaza, a 27-story, 640-000-square-foot Class A office and retail tower in Charlotte, North Carolina. A significant increase in rent and a sharp decrease in cap rates for comparable product in the Charlotte Market has validated Rabina’s thesis.
Grounded in History, Building the Future
In 2019, Josh Rabina became President of Rabina. Mickey Rabina remains active in the management of the company he founded as its Chairman. The firm’s portfolio of current projects includes the development of an approximately 1,000-foot mixed use tower in Midtown Manhattan, the redevelopment of a major mixed use project In Downtown Brooklyn, the continued development of multifamily in South Florida, the conception and master planning of a 170-acre, mixed-use campus on the West Coast and the continued expansion of its mission critical pipeline.
Across the years, Rabina has grown from an enterprise focused on value-add multifamily apartment buildings located in Manhattan’s Upper West Side to a fully diversified real estate investment and development company with a portfolio of assets in every class and a geographic footprint stretching from coast to coast and touching 20 states. Rabina still holds fast to its core identity: doing business with an entrepreneurial spirit, implementing its strategic vision with determination and dealing forthrightly with all stakeholders. Under its third generation of family leadership, Rabina maintains a strong historical foundation to continue to build for the future.