Developer Profile: An Interview with Andrew Frey

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Andrew Frey is part of an emerging class of developers with institutional experience and entrepreneurial vision, energy, and creativity. As the market cycle appears to be changing and several iconic developers have announced their upcoming retirements, emerging developers like Frey will help shape Miami’s next development chapter. 

After getting his BA from Boston College and then obtaining his JD from the University of Michigan, Frey began his career as a zoning attorney obtaining more than 2.5MM SF of development approvals and invaluable experience from Akerman and Gunster. Eventually, Frey joined CC Residential, where he would develop more than 1,000 market-rate rental apartments for the regional developer during a four-year tenure.  

In 2015 Frey founded Tecela, a boutique development firm specializing in urban-infill apartments in highly saturated yet underserved markets like Little Havana. Nearing completion of his unique pilot project at 769 NW 1st ST, Frey is looking for his next challenge.

In addition to Tecela, Andrew is involved in several organizations, including ULI, where he was the winner of the Southeast Florida Young Leader of the year award. Additionally, Frey is an occasional adjunct professor at the University of Miami and is involved in several other organizations.   

Crexi: Who are some of the developers in the market you admire?

AF: I admire my father-in-law Armando Codina for how he treats people and what he has built from nothing, and I admire his business partner Jim Carr for his generosity. I admire my former boss Andy Burnham for his foresight. Among other large developers, I admire Craig Robins for his incremental approach and the urban places that have resulted. And I respect everyone in Miami doing fine-grain adaptive reuse and new construction: Joe Furst, David Polinsky, Bill Fuller, Martin Pinilla, Nick Hamann, Matthew Vander Werff, Venny Torre, and others.


Crexi: What is your general thesis as it pertains to parking, something you think differently about?

AF: Get rid of government requirements; let the market decide.


Crexi: If the next time your phone rang it would be your next project, what would you hope for?

AF: I’d love to hear from a reasonable seller of a small lot in Little Havana.


Crexi: What do you look for in a submarket?

AF: Completeness. Does it have dense and diverse residents, proximity to jobs, and convenient retail? Assuming it has a workable spread between land cost and market rent.


Crexi: What is the last great book you read?

AF: “Too High & Too Steep” by David Williams, about Seattle’s civil engineering history, because it has valuable lessons for Miami taking civic action in the face of sea-level rise.


Crexi: What music have you recently discovered or rediscovered?

AF: I’ve been listening to a lot of The Nice, ELP, Yes, and Rick Wakeman solo work, and recently went to Yes and Carl Palmer concerts. This is because, sadly, several progressive rock legends have passed away in the last couple of years. I listened to a lot of this music growing up, and fortunately, my kids are becoming fans. 


Crexi: What is your favorite food city?

AF: I have to admit that I wasn’t much of a foodie before I got to Miami, due to my student budget, so my appreciation has grown with Miami’s quality offerings, which are now so numerous that I can’t imagine better.


Crexi: If you could not pursue business and were proficient at any profession you chose, what would you do?

AF: I’d be a street fashion photographer like Bill Cunningham, but for Miami, riding around on my bike, documenting the exciting people who make up our county.


Crexi: What advice would you give a 20-year-old version of yourself?

AF: Keep loving urbanism, but major in finance.


Crexi: Who was your mentor(s)?

AF: Pat Byrne for pointing me to urbanism, Kath Phelan for guiding my professional education, Neisen Kasdin for combining the professional and the civic, and Andy Burnham for teaching me the business. 


Crexi: How do you look for or find development or investment opportunities?

AF: I use online resources, relationships with brokers, old-fashioned letter writing, and walking or biking around a neighborhood.


Crexi: What is your walk-away number, or the amount of money you would accept never to be able to earn again?

AF: Relatively low. Off the top of my head, whatever pays for shelter, food, and clothes, gets my kids through college, a bike and a community pool membership, a guitar and a music streaming subscription, and a few plane tickets and gifts for my wife each year. I wouldn’t need to earn more, as long as I could still keep building buildings. 


Crexi: What piece of advice do you always carry with you (or first that comes to mind)?

AF: Put yourself in other people’s shoes.


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Eli Randel
Eli Randel

Chief Strategy Officer

Eli leads Strategy for Crexi after 15+ years of CRE and CRE finance experience. Previously, Eli was a Director of Capital Markets at Cohen Financial, launched, and served as Director of Dispositions for Invitation Homes.

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