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Feb 19, 2015

Russian condo developers launch firm with new projects in Miami

Russian condo developers launch firm with new projects in Miami
Russian condo developers launch firm with new projects in Miami

A group of Russian businessmen has launched Verzasca Group to build condominiums in Miami-Dade County and it already has a handful of projects on the table.

The Miami-based company is led by Darius Kasparaitis, a former NHL defenseman, Gennady Barsky and Tim Lobanov and is seeking capital from Russian investors, both in the U.S. and abroad. Its goal is to raise $700 million for projects in South Florida and Kasparaitis said it already has more than $100 million.

Russia’s economy is struggling with the drop in oil prices and the decline in value of its currency.

“With the situation in Russia it’s best to keep your money in real estate in a country like the U.S.,” Kasparaitis said. “A couple investors we have almost lost half of their fortune in two months but they are still interested in doing business in the U.S. because no one knows what the future will be in Russia. Lots of them have money outside Russia and don’t want to bring it back.”

Verzasca Group, named after a river in Switzerland, also has an arm that’s making investments in Europe.

In South Florida, its first two projects will be on Bay Harbor Islands. Pearl House will have 15 units and Le Jardin will have 30 units. Kasparaitis said they’ll be priced around $400 per square foot. Both buildings should break ground in July.

“The first things we want to build are more affordable,” he said. “We want to have something we can show people that we are legitimate and we can build.”

Verzasca would like to build a 19-story condo in Sunny Isles Beach, where it has the site of the Denny’s at 17550 Collins Ave. under contract, Kasparaitis said. They’re still working for city approval of that project.

In Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood, Verzasca Group has the site of the City Hall restaurant at 2004 Biscayne Blvd. under contract and would like to build a 60-story building, Kasparaitis said.

“We really have to be into the market first,” Kasparaitis said. “We would need bank or investment support.”

Verzasca Group has nine Miami employees so far, he added.