The Dealmaker

Because this is her typical morning, Edie Laquer is a very unusual woman. She arises from the exquisitely carved wooden bed in her opulent Coconut Grove penthouse at 3:00 a.m. After a workout, she dresses in a black turtleneck, black blazer, and black skirt. With her kinky auburn and blond-streaked hair cascading onto her shoulders, she climbs into her leased 1996 beige Jaguar four-door, then drives alone through the early morning darkness to a building on Brickell Avenue. She walks across the maroon carpeting of her office, passes a wall covered with sales-award plaques, and arrives at her desk by 4:30. On a table nearby sits a small bronze sculpture of wild-haired woman dramatically pointing a bow and arrow skyward. Like Diana, goddess of the hunt, Laquer (pronounced la-CURE) assiduously stalks her quarry. First she organizes and files paperwork so nothing is on her large wooden desk but projects for the day. "It's total quiet," she notes with pleasure. "Just me and the traffic." She studies aerial photographs of properties she is preparing to sell, writes up real estate descriptions and correspondence to clients, and designs brochures. Everything is under control. But soon the real world arrives. By 8:00 a.m. her secretary is fielding phone calls at a rate of ten per hour.

By 11:30 on this Wednesday in March, Laquer has been on the job seven hours but still is full of energy. She pulls a large plastic-coated photograph of downtown Miami from a file drawer in her neatly arranged desk. "My whole life is aerials," she moans playfully, a braided silver chain with a small teardrop-shape pendant hanging against the fine, ribbed cloth of her turtleneck. With long pink fingernails, she points to a vacant bayfront parcel she is marketing for Boca Raton developer Ned Siegel. Asking price: $25 million. "Jane, can you do me a favor and bring me another stack of One Miami brochure?" she asks her secretary, referring to Siegel's plan for a high-rise residential, office, and retail complex at the foot of Biscayne Boulevard. Then she describes her biggest client, Hank Sopher, a parking-lot mogul from New York City for whom she has assembled $100 million worth of vacant lots along Brickell Avenue and Biscayne Boulevard. His holdings are by far the most extensive of any downtown landowner she represents. "He doesn't buy anything with a bed or desk in it," Laquer explains wryly. "All he sees is parking. He sees it landscaped, lit, striped, and parked."

Once a young cosmetics entrepreneur in Toronto, Laquer, now age 51, has changed the face of downtown Miami. She is one of a small network of people -- brokers, investors, developers, architects, and city planners -- whose collaboration over the past twenty years has developed Brickell Avenue into an international business center. Since her arrival in Miami in 1979, this obsessive, driven, savvy, glamorous woman with a taste for fine cars has brokered lucrative deals in areas including Coconut Grove, Brickell, and old downtown north of the Miami River. She has displayed a keen ability to prosper, whether the real estate market is in boom or bust. Pick a high-profile deal and odds are good Laquer brokered it: from the Brickell Concourse office building in the early Eighties to CocoWalk in the late Eighties, to the ill-fated Brickell Pointe luxury condo project (a.k.a. Miami Circle), to the currently ascending Ritz-Carlton in Coconut Grove, and dozens of properties in between.

Last year she cleaned up at the local real estate industry's version of the Oscars. She won six of seven Pinnacle Awards presented by the Commercial Realtor Association of Greater Miami and the Beaches. Three accolades include top seller of office buildings, retail complexes, and commercial land. She took home another for earning the highest income. And she garnered the Workhorse Award for logging the greatest number of transactions in 1999.

Laquer does not disclose her earnings but she does boast of more than a half-billion dollars in property sales over her twenty-year career; with commercial real estate commissions averaging between two and six percent of a sale, she has likely earned between $10 and $30 million -- plenty of dough to retire in luxury. So why does she continue to rise at 3:00 a.m. and clock 70 or more hours per week on the job? "That question always astounds me," says Laquer. "First, why would I stop doing what I'm doing? I mean I'm perfectly capable and healthy and able to continue working. I would never put myself in the same category as [billionaire chairman of Huizenga Holdings, Inc., Wayne] Huizenga, but it's like saying to somebody like Huizenga -- and again please make it clear that I do not put myself in the same echelon -- 'Why do you work?' Why would anyone say to anyone who has done well in their particular area of expertise: 'When are you going to retire?'" She quickly offers an explanation. "I think it's because I'm a female... The question is asked of me most often by males. In fact totally by males. And I think it's because they haven't gotten over this gender issue. And I think maybe they think some women are in it to reach a certain plateau financially and then they are out of it. And then we escape and go and have our nails done all day long or we have our pedicures done or God knows what. I always reverse it and say, 'Well, you're doing well, why don't you retire?' and that kind of brings the conversation to an abrupt halt."

When New Times first contacted her for this story last October, Laquer said she was flattered but hesitant. "People who don't know me have this preconceived notion of me flying off to Paris every weekend and spending all my time at Bal Harbour, when in reality, put me in a canoe on a lake or put me in a movie theater with a big box of popcorn and I'm happy," she confesses. "I am so easy to please. And my needs are very few. I live very well. I'm very happy to have a beautiful home, and I enjoy all the other materialistic toys and things that everybody else does. But that's not what really makes me happy. What makes me happy is being with my folks and being with my friends and being out in a simple situation. I'd rather go to a cabin in North Carolina in the mountains than to the Côte d'Azur or somewhere else in Europe."

Although sometimes loquacious, Laquer is not easy to comprehend. During brief telephone conversations, voice-mail message exchanges, and two short in-person interviews over two months, a complex picture emerges. She is energetic, voluble, polite, gracious, and humorous. At one point she offers to stand atop a pyramid of construction workers at the Ritz-Carlton site. But Laquer remains elusive, denying repeated requests to observe her work, citing a commitment to protect clients with absolute confidentiality. At times she tried to control the reporting process, perhaps as she guides real estate negotiations. She is both reticent and demanding. For instance she declines to detail her commercial property holdings. "I don't know whether I want to disclose that in the article," she says sternly. "I'd like to keep the broker hat on. We could allude to some investments that I have. I am a limited partner in a number of investments." One of her major clients, Palm Beach-based real estate investor Stuart "Neil" Fisher, also encourages the omission. "I am partners with her in several ventures," Fisher acknowledges. "But she primarily is a broker, and I think that's where the article should go." He then offers a ringing endorsement of Laquer's talents. "I've been dealing with brokers for 30 years and on a scale from one to ten -- I've never met a ten -- she's an eleven. She's a dynamo."

It also is telling, perhaps, that Laquer became extremely upset when informed that against her wishes, New Times had interviewed her mother, a Nazi death-camp survivor. "I laid the ground rules!" she yelled, referring to a request that New Times not mention her parents wartime experience. "What is wrong with you?" She then called the newspaper's editor to complain.

But on this Wednesday morning in her luxurious office, Laquer is her usual charming self. "You're going to kill me, but I am so late for a lunch meeting," she says, hinting the interview is over. She gets up to shake hands and offers a caveat about her outfit, which is on the cusp of businesslike and sexy. She says she usually dresses more conservatively but this evening, after a fifteen-hour day, she's stepping out. "I'm going to the Forge tonight," she notes with a smile. "The way I used to dress, I looked like a man. Then one day I decided the hell with it. I'm a woman. If they don't like it, tough."

Welcome to Edie Laquer's pinnacle. If you are considering trying to scale it yourself, good luck.

Edie Laquer was born in Paris in November 1948. Before that happy occasion her parents had endured unimaginable sadness and ineffable terror. During the Thirties Laquer's mother, Peggy, spent her early childhood in Zawiercie, Poland, where her family operated a men's clothing store. Peggy was just a child when her mother died. Then in 1939 when Peggy was eleven years old, the Nazi army began its attack. Peggy's family was Jewish; she was taken to Auschwitz along with her father, stepmother, sister, and two brothers. A third brother went to another concentration camp. A fourth brother, Mietek, fled to Russia. "I would have to sit with you for at least a week to tell you things," she says, then offers a litany of atrocities she witnessed. She lost a friend who threw herself against an electric fence to escape the horrors. "It's impossible a human being can go through so much and survive."

When the war ended in 1945, Peggy and her sister were the only members of the family who had survived the camps. Allied troops relocated them to Munich, where they stayed at a relief facility for war refugees. There they met Peggy's soon-to-be husband Michael, a Warsaw native who was the only member of his immediate family to make it out of the camps alive. The two soon had a daughter and moved to Paris, where Michael had cousins. The family rented a row house. "Without money after the war, it was really hard," Peggy laments. "It was a problem over there if you weren't French. Very hard to get a job and very hard to get a place." In 1948 a second daughter was born to the couple. They named her Edith.

Happily Peggy learned her brother Mietek and his Polish wife were in Toronto. In 1950, two years after Edie's birth, Peggy, Michael, and the two girls moved to the Canadian burg. Peggy eventually opened a women's clothing store, and Michael developed a real estate business. Little Edie had her own childhood endeavors: a chemistry set, a stamp collection, and a zest for fishing. "She was a terrific student," Peggy remembers. "For her everything was so easy." When Edie was eight, she gave her mom a box as an anniversary present. Inside was a rose made from colored tissue, and a single penny. "She wrote a lovely poem," Peggy says. "[It said something] like, 'It's an empty box with one penny but it's still filled with love and devotion.' I still have it."

Peggy didn't push her daughter toward a business career. "When she was eight years old, I said, 'Edie, don't be like me.' Because I could see it. She did a lot of things exactly like me." Peggy thinks Edie was born with entrepreneurial drive. "You are a businesswoman or you are not," she comments. Peggy's suffering influenced Laquer. "She thought of me coming out [of Auschwitz] and having nothing, you know?" the mother says. "How we really tried hard not to ask for help and do it on our own. She always admired me and said, 'You know, Ma, I don't know how you do it. From nothing you make something.'"

Laquer says her parents did not pressure her. "If anything they didn't like to see me get up quite as early or spend quite as many hours poring over books," she recalls. "But whatever I attempted to achieve, they were always right behind me." Laquer also admits she was extremely competitive. She describes a high school nemesis named Marilyn. "She was the kind of person you hate in school," Laquer begins, in a jocular tone. "She was brilliant, very scholastically inclined.... The kind of person you really want to whack. I'm just kidding. But you know the kind. She was a huge girl sitting at a desk and writing these little teenie-weenie letters in a straight little line. And everything was perfect and her hair was perfect and her clothes were perfect. And I hated her." Laquer was so obsessive she had an ulcer by the time she graduated. "I guess it was good to have someone [like Marilyn]," she offers. "You play tennis a little better if you have someone that plays tennis as well as you do rather than someone who can't play at all. So I guess she was my tennis player." Laquer adds that her sister was similarly competitive. The two eventually became estranged.

After high school Laquer attended Bathurst College in Toronto. "I wanted, of all gross things, to be a pharmacist," she admits. "Why, I will never be able to understand." After she left college she and a friend started a cosmetics company. Laquer came up with the name, Visage, which means "face" in French. An acquaintance from an advertising firm designed a logo, and labels were made. The partners ordered lipstick, mascara, and other items from a manufacturer in Union City, New Jersey, and applied the Visage labels. Soon, in the manner of Mary Kay and Avon, Laquer had dozens of saleswomen fanning out across Toronto, selling tens of thousands of dollars per year of Visage cosmetics.

Laquer declines to discuss her three-year marriage in Toronto to a man whose last name she still bears. "She married a nice guy. He was very handsome. He wasn't the right guy," Peggy summarizes. After about three years in the cosmetics business, Laquer also desired career change. "I remember reading books about [real estate mogul] William Zeckendorf and his amazing feats in New York building the United Nations," Laquer says. "I was always fascinated with architecture and development." Her big break came one night in the early Seventies, when a man named Irving Solnick took a shine to her at a party. "He was about 30 years older than I and a very well-known developer," Laquer recounts. "He owned a tremendous amount of real estate -- 100 percent quality locations right in the heart of downtown. It was fascinating to work with him. He was brilliant. So I learned a lot from him. I certainly learned that there was no industry in which you could do as well financially as real estate. The sky is absolutely the limit." With a converted greenhouse for an office, Laquer worked with Solnick for seven years.

She was one of the only women in commercial real estate in Toronto. That would become true in Miami as well.

Edie Laquer's career in South Florida follows the roller-coaster path of Miami's commercial development. In 1979 she moved to Hollywood, which she had often visited as a child with her parents. When Broward bored her, she breezed down I-95 in her purple 1974 Jaguar XKE and explored Miami. She soon bought a luxury condo in Coconut Grove with a bay view for $335,000. In 1980 she went to work for Clark-Biondi, a Miami-based real estate firm (acquired by Grubb & Ellis in 1985). One by one she analyzed every commercial lot east of I-95. She met with city staff, worked with architects, and read the Miami city code. "These ordinances will definitely put you out like a light," she warns. "In these first few years, I just decided I was going to make it my business to understand zoning in every respect and I do, certainly in the areas I work."

In 1983 she created news by selling the Brickell Concourse building for the Prudential Insurance Company to Silverstein Properties for $22.2 million. She toted several million dollars in other sales that year, making her the top earner at her company. Persistence was her secret. Market conditions had nothing to do with her success, she declares. She joined Cushman & Wakefield in April of 1984 and soon made a splash in the local press by assembling a 100,000-square-foot site composed of seven parcels at Grand Avenue and Virginia Street in Coconut Grove. In a Miami Herald story, reporter Seth Lubove described an encounter on the street between Laquer and the distraught owner of Coconut Grove Camera, whom she had persuaded to sell: "She straightens the lapels on his suede jacket, picks at a piece of lint beneath his nose, comforts his hand in hers. Not to worry, she chirps. Selling out will help, not hurt. It's that mixture of schmaltz, confidence, and a hint of sexuality that has earned Laquer respect as one of the most successful commercial real estate brokers in Miami, a field still largely dominated by men." Architect Edward Grafton paid $11 million for the Grove Camera site and six other parcels. (In 1990 Constructa, a French company, built CocoWalk there.)

Her drive also alienated some fellow brokers. Beginning in 1984 she tangled with two Cushman & Wakefield colleagues over commissions and lost. "She put everything behind herself and her career," recalls John Fleeman, one of the brokers. "She made that sacrifice, and it's made her very successful."

In the mid-Eighties she met Lucia Dougherty, then the Miami city attorney, and the two became friends. Through Dougherty she became acquainted with other important city officials involved in development, including city planner Lourdes Slazyk and zoning administrator Juan Gonzalez. Laquer still raves about each. "If she goes I'm changing industries," Laquer says of Slazyk, now assistant director of planning and zoning. As for Gonzalez: "He's a doll." Niceties aside, she is frank about their importance in the development game: "These are the people at the city staff level who really help make things happen, and they make recommendations to the city commission." Dougherty left her city post in 1988 and joined the Greenberg Traurig law firm, where she is one of the premier commercial development attorneys in Miami-Dade.

According to Dougherty this is what is special about Laquer: "Most other brokers get a client and they get a piece of property to sell. Then they find a buyer. Then they leave it up to the buyer to do their due diligence with their zoning lawyer, and they just sit and wait for the thing to close or not close. She doesn't sit and wait. She pushes constantly until the deal is done, and she'll be right in the middle of the negotiations. She'll find out from the buyer that he needs to build 400 units or 350,000 square feet of retail and she'll go back to the seller and say, 'Okay he needs this many units, but you can't provide this many units unless you get this increase in zoning, and therefore you have to give them more time to get this increase in zoning. So she's playing both sides, realizing and recognizing what each side needs. I've never dealt with a broker who did that. Anywhere."

Laquer also played hard, sometimes attending the now legendary wild parties at the Mutiny Hotel bar and the Grove's private clubs, such as Stringfellows, Faces in the Grove, and Cats. "When I moved here I realized how innocent and conservative my lifestyle in Toronto really was, particularly moving next door to the Mutiny Hotel, but that's another story." She witnessed the legendary piles of cocaine on the bar. "Well, we would never want to discuss that as part of this [story]," she insists. "But yeah, what I saw was a very fast lifestyle."

Laquer was a prominent player in high society, working for the Miami Film Festival and attending fundraising bashes. In 1985 she even thwarted Elena, a tropical storm that threatened to scuttle an Easter Seals benefit party slated for a tent on Fisher Island. Laquer launched an eleventh-hour search for a hotel that could accommodate 500 revelers. She succeeded in contracting the Biscayne Bay Marriott.

Jack King, the perspicacious and occasionally ribald former publisher of the now-defunct Coconut Grover monthly, says Laquer always seemed to float above the fray. "She was never, like, drunken with her dress up over her head or anything like that," observes King, who notes such indecencies were commonplace on those libertine nights of yore. "She was always absolutely immaculate. I never saw her go home with four guys. She was a real pro, and she always seemed to know what she was doing. She'd show up for a cocktail party for some function at six o'clock after working fourteen hours and would look like she had just stepped out of the beauty parlor. I always thought she was the consummate professional real estate person in a world that was dominated by men."

Although she has no regrets, Laquer is relieved the era has ended. "What other time would there have been to have witnessed the Roaring Eighties or whatever we call them?" she ponders. "It was wild; it was crazy. It was an interesting time. It was certainly educational for me. And I met a lot of interesting people. But I'm glad the Eighties are over. Because dancing until three in the morning and getting up at four didn't work very well.... We all did it and I wouldn't change it; I wouldn't change a hair. It was great. But I got tired of it."

In 1987 Bayside Marketplace signaled new possibilities for Biscayne Boulevard. But as the decade wore on, the commercial real estate market faltered and prices fell. "It takes a long time to make history," Laquer told the Herald, trying to maintain a positive spin on the recession. That year she had no luck trying to attract $13.5 million for a two-acre parcel at the mouth of the Miami River now known as the Miami Circle site. But the owner, Sol Luger, one of the developers of the Atlantis luxury condominium high-rise farther down the avenue, persisted. So Laquer proposed a swap: The City of Miami would move Brickell Park to the riverside spot and she would sell the old park's two acres of prime commercial land. The city tried to accomplish the swap but dropped it after a legal challenge by the Brickell family. (A decade later she finally cashed in, brokering an eight-million-dollar sale of the site at the river's mouth to developer Michael Baumann. Ironically with Baumann's plans blocked by the discovery of historic artifacts on the property, Laquer's idea of a park there may come to fruition.)

In 1989 Laquer left Cushman & Wakefield for the Doran Jason Group, a smaller brokerage and development firm on Brickell Avenue. Laquer found new ways to make handsome commissions and sometimes took on work outside her downtown domain. As the decade came to a close, she brokered what was then the most expensive rental agreement in Dade County history: Carnival Cruise Line's $100 million lease of a west Dade building.

Even in an early 1990s recession, Laquer managed to prosper. The savings-and-loan crisis of the late Eighties had created new opportunities for commercial brokers. Working with Peter Andolina, a former Cushman & Wakefield colleague who followed her to Doran Jason, she began to sell properties the federal Resolution Trust Corporation and the FDIC had acquired as collateral from failed S&Ls and banks. When Jason, a 30-year real estate veteran, became cash strapped Laquer moved on. In 1992, while showing a piece of property in Brickell, she met former Florida Secretary of State George Firestone and Richard Millard, the owners of Tecton, Inc., a small Miami-based real estate firm. They didn't buy the building but were sold on Laquer, so they invited her to join their company. While Millard and Firestone concentrated on buying and selling hotels, Laquer kept her sights trained on RTC-acquired office buildings, vacant land fertile for high-end development, and dilapidated structures that were ripe for razing.

With demand for downtown office space and condos on the rise, 1993 was a banner year: A $3.3 million sale of a Brickell lot here, a $2.1 million sale of an acre of Brickell Key there, a $5.7 million sale of a Brickell office building over there, and many other deals left Laquer's bank accounts brimming. She also occasionally brokered high-end residential sales, like the $2.35 million deal for a seven-acre estate in Coconut Grove to then-Burdines president James Gray and his wife Sheila in 1993. The couple needed a new home because they had sold their previous residence to Madonna for $4.9 million. "I still was my own show," Laquer says of her tenure with Tecton. "I did my own thing. I stayed very focused in my area and didn't deviate from it. We were really just sharing office space."

When she could not satisfy her taste for grandeur in the Magic City, she still found buyers. For more than a year she marketed three and a half acres of RTC-acquired land at South Dixie Highway and 27th Avenue. She envisioned an upscale office and residential complex connected by overpass to the Metrorail station. In 1993 she brokered a three-million dollar deal that brought a Shell gas station, a Pollo Tropical, a strip mall featuring a Pet Supermarket, and a mattress store to the location. Beginning in 1995 she brokered two similar projects in Brickell for developer Harvey Taylor: the $2.4 million sale of property for Publix and Blockbuster stores on Coral Way, and a three-million dollar transaction that brought an Eckerd drugstore and a McDonald's to SW Eighth Street a few blocks away.

She also displayed tenacity in court. In 1996, when Arturo Comas ignored a contract with Laquer and sold a vacant parcel at Grand Avenue and McDonald Street in Coconut Grove to developer Bruno Carnesella, she sued Comas. A court ordered Comas to pay Laquer a $105,000 brokerage fee and $40,000 in attorneys' fees. These days the lot remains unrepresented by Laquer and undeveloped.

When Firestone retired in 1998, she left Tecton and hung her own shingle. Millard is a huge fan: "She was incessant. She never stopped working. She never let go. She was very thorough, very detail oriented. She knows what she's talking about. She knows everybody. She's not afraid to talk to anybody in the entire world. She has time for everybody. She keeps unbelievable records. She's great to work with. You ask Edie to do something and it gets done. I was very impressed with her. And most of us couldn't keep up with her. She is a machine." He continues: "She didn't have a lot of time for any nonsense. I don't think I ever walked into Edie's office when she wasn't on the phone talking business." She was also thoughtful. "She never forgot anyone's birthday. As a matter of fact it was my birthday last week. There was a message on my voice-mail from Edie."

Wealth and success came at a cost. She has never remarried and never had children. "I did devote lots of beautiful sunny weekends -- many of them -- to working," she laments. "I would be here on a Sunday assuring all my clients were well attended.... Someone hands you a $20 million asset or a $10 million asset or any kind of an asset, that's a tremendous responsibility. There's pressure and there's this need for me to be sure their needs are taken care of impeccably, that there's no mediocrity in my work ethic at all. It's 100 percent all the time." That ethic has allowed her too little attention to her beloved hobbies: painting and playing the piano.

But she insists she has no regrets. "I look back and I don't see it as a waste," she says "I keep saying everything in life is there for a purpose. I couldn't be possibly enjoying myself now as much as I am and appreciating my weekends and short trips here and there, or long ones to Europe if I hadn't gone through the investment in my career that I did."

There's another reason to be happy. After years of being "off men" Laquer says she now has a nice, sweet guy to ride along in her Jaguar. She declines to identify him other than to say he is an executive with Turner Construction, a major South Florida builder.

The Residences at Ritz-Carlton project, currently under construction in Coconut Grove, represents the culmination of Laquer's twenty-year odyssey in Miami. To pull it off, she had to apply her frenetic drive, powers of persuasion, cunning, and patience. Indeed, for convincing 26 owners on a block at Tigertail Avenue and SW 27th Avenue to sell their properties, she won the Deal of the Year award, which is handed out by the South Florida Business Journal, in 1997. Her client is Neil Fisher, a controversial investor who lives in Palm Beach. Fisher is one of several buyers who paid a total of $18 million.

In 1997 Fisher saw one of Laquer's signs on the property and called her. Initially he had envisioned a high-rise condo. But at a cocktail party Laquer soon learned Ritz-Carlton was looking for sites in the Miami area. "I don't think there is anybody who could have put together the Ritz-Carlton deal like she did," marvels Dougherty, who did the legal work for Fisher. "It's amazing that she could go from one parcel owner to another and make sure that they didn't tell each other, so that they didn't know that the price was going up.... It really takes some strategy about who you go to first, how you do it; and she did it without telling anybody. I didn't even know it. And then all of a sudden it's done."

One of Laquer's long-term contacts paid off when one landowner's reluctance to sell a 20,000 square-foot parcel put the project in jeopardy. The holdout was Gus Harrison, the 73-year-old CEO of the Coconut Grove Bank, which is adjacent to the Ritz-Carlton site. "Edie and I have been on a first-name basis for about twenty years," Harrison says. After Laquer introduced Harrison to Fisher, they agreed to swap the coveted parcel for a 40,000-square-foot tract adjacent to the bank. Dougherty says Laquer's presence was crucial. "[Harrison] is not easy to deal with," Dougherty notes.

Since the Ritz-Carlton deal, Laquer has begun to play the role of developer. She and Fisher became partners in a land-investment company called Grove Properties Group. One of its potential targets has been a one-acre vacant lot kitty-corner to the Ritz-Carlton site in Coconut Grove, which Laquer once estimated could garner eight million dollars as an office site. Fisher stands to gain in other ways from his association with Laquer's respectability. For the last twenty years he has been involved in developments in New York, Virginia, and Maryland that ended in bankruptcies, contractual disputes, and lawsuits alleging fraud.

In the past two years Laquer has brokered numerous other deals that are about to change the landscape in Brickell, downtown, the Omni, and Edgewater areas. Here are a few of them:

•$6.2 million for two and a half acres along the southern bank of the Miami River, a few blocks west of Brickell Avenue, where Terremark Group plans to build a retail and entertainment complex

•$6.2 million for three acres near the Brickell Publix, where an office, retail, and hotel complex called Coral Station is envisioned

•$3.7 million for two acres on the north side of the Miami River next to the Hyatt Hotel for a large retail and office complex.

•Nearly two million dollars for less than an acre of land adjacent to the future Performing Arts Center, which developer Sopher hopes to sell as a hotel and office site

•One million dollars for less than an acre of land at 1751 Biscayne Blvd., where the historic Les Violins nightclub was demolished in 1998 to make way for a future retail development

Although Laquer is the preferred broker for big-time developers, even critics of Miami's penchant to pave over its heritage sometimes praise her. Historian Arva Parks recently attended a meeting at Laquer's office to plan an archaeological survey of the One Miami site. Also present were developer Ned Siegel and former Miami-Dade County archaeologist Bob Carr. According to Parks Laquer led the encounter. "I think there was a real interest in trying to do things right," Parks recalls, "to do a thorough investigation ... and not being put in a position of doing things [incorrectly], like say the Circle site."

Over the next few years Laquer is poised to make millions more in commissions as she sells property for Quik Park CEO Jacob "Hank" Sopher. Sopher, who hails from New York City, works from his $2 million home on Fisher Island. Sopher's land holdings, worth about $100 million, are among the most substantial in Miami. "Hank uses Edie exclusively because she's the best," Fisher explains. "He came to Miami and where does he end up? Not with Coldwell Banker or any of the other big names; he ends up with Edie Laquer. I think her name is synonymous with big projects and who is the best. She's the Rolls-Royce of the industry." (Sopher did not return several calls seeking comment for this story.)

With her flair for humble pride, Laquer adds her own assessment: "There's no secret. There's no magic to this industry. It's just hard work. I know this sounds terribly pompous -- you can quote me saying it sounds terribly pompous -- but I don't have any competition. Because no one does it the way I do it, and I'm not too shy or too humble to say that."

"I'm really proud," says her mother. "Not because she's so successful. I'm just proud because she's a good girl."


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >