Tony Cho
, founder and CEO of Metro 1, ended July with a company record: $80
million in transactions.

It was a milestone for Cho, who started his real estate
career in 2000 with plans to be a “Realtor to the stars.”

Soon after, he would start investing in Miami neighborhoods in the urban core
through large-scale assemblages, adaptive reuse, mixed-use developments, and
hospitality, retail, land and industrial brokerage and management. Cho, who is 
known for his involvement in Wynwood, Buena Vista and neighboring areas, has 
been a big advocate for a massive rezoning of Wynwood, which receive preliminary approval from the city of Miami commission in July. Those changes 
will replace most industrial uses with denser mixed-use, residential 
developments, while maintaining the neighborhood’s artsy allure.

Cho sat down with The Real Deal to discuss his first sale, Wynwood, and why 
he’s taking Metro 1 to Broward.

How did you get into real estate?

I was going to school at Northwestern. I did an exchange program in Argentina 
and ended up staying after the program and working in hospitality in Buenos
Aires. When I came back to Miami, I started doing the same thing – PR, 
marketing and nightlife in the 90s in South Beach. I was in my late teens. 

In 2000, I got my real estate license, because I figured this was something else 
to do. It was a great opportunity. My vision was to be a Realtor to the stars
– Million Dollar Listing-type. The first apartment I sold was an apartment on 
Fisher Island for $1.6 million. But I quickly decided that that wasn’t the 
type of real estate I wanted to be doing. I looked toward [Wynwood], which in 
that time, 2000, 2001, Midtown was just being sold. I was really intrigued by 
the urban core, urban revitalization, what was happening in the Design District, 
in Buena Vista. I bought an apartment on Biscayne and 21st Street for $16,000
with $9,000 I had saved, and a private loan from a Hialeah loan shark for the 
rest of it. A year later, I sold it for $180,000. So I made a nice profit. 

And then I started investing in Wynwood, Buena Vista, Lemon City, Little River.

What are you working on right now?

We are developing the Wynwood Greenhouse, which is an open-air greenhouse, park, 
butterfly and bird sanctuary. We expect to start construction later this year 
and complete next year. I have several projects in Wynwood that I’m 

560 Northwest 29th Street, an adaptive reuse building next to the Miami Ad 

2900 Northwest First Avenue, 28,500-square-foot two-story warehouse right next
to the Rubell Collection for an income-producing property. 

We recently acquired a building in Fort Lauderdale to open our second office, so 
we’re expanding into Broward. We have several development sites and 
assemblages that we’re partners in. In Miami, we’re primarily focused on 
downtown into the Upper East Side. We have a lot of holdings in the Lemon City 
and the Little River area. 

On the brokerage side, we’re doing our first exclusive sales for a 
residential, mixed-use project: Buena Vista Villas, which is now 50 percent 
reserved. It’s different than what most people are used to. It’s not on the 
water, it’s not on the ocean. People want to be in those areas now, which 
I’ve been saying for the last few years, but now people actually do.

Where do you live?

I live in Miami Beach. I used to live in Buena Vista, but I love the ocean. 
Almost everything we do is really on this side. I consider this all the center
part of Miami.

Why expand into Broward?

I think it’s just the right time for us to expand. It’s a logical next 
market. There’s opportunity there, there’s growth and there’s synergies 
between Miami and Fort Lauderdale in terms of client representation, investment 
opportunities. We’ve been in the market actively for the past two years. It 
makes sense. 

We just closed on our office there, but we are looking for more opportunities.

Will it be similar to what you’re doing in Miami?

Hopefully everything I do will be different. And unique. What we’re doing in 
Lemon City and what we’ve done in Wynwood is very different – concept, 
ethos, but very much focused on urbanization, revitalization, business 
development. That’s really the Metro 1 culture. The Panther Coffees, the Zak 
the Bakers.

Do any of them want to expand to Broward?

We’ve talked to several of them and I think some of them are heading to 
Broward. When I left South Beach and moved to this area, a lot of these 
buildings were $10 a square foot. And now they’re $30-plus a square foot. When 
[rents] got to that point, they hopped around to Lemon City. Then where do you 
go? Allapattah, Fort Lauderdale. It’s about the creatives, the artists, that 
are the spark of revitalizing these neighborhoods. 

I like any neighborhood that has its own flavor and feel. All of these places 
have a character. You know you’re in that neighborhood. 

What is your involvement in the Wynwood BID?

I was one of the founding board members two years ago, and I’m on the zoning 
committee that helped spearhead the rezoning efforts. 

Miami is a more mature market, and the areas and submarkets that I’m involved 
in are much more well known and mature than when I first came here 15 years ago. 
Everything that has happened in the Design District and Wynwood has been 

But it’s still just the beginning, and yet people compare it to Williamsburg, 
neighborhoods in Stockholm. To be part of that is an honor and really cool to be 
part of that story. Now that the zoning is going through, you’re going to 
start seeing really progressive, interesting development. We’re able to 
achieve a really progressive zoning overlay and revitalization that you won’t 
see in other parts of Miami. For example, you can build buildings in Wynwood 
without parking – if you’re building units less than 650 square feet you 
don’t need parking.

Do you think that’s a good thing?

I think that’s a great thing. Smaller units means more affordable units. Less 
parking means less incentive to own cars. Less cars on the street means more 
bikes and more pedestrian traffic and creates more of an urban environment. If 
we have two million people today, and you know what the traffic is in Miami, 
imagine when we have five million or 10 million. It’s just not going to be 
able to take it. Without a public transportation [system] that functions, we 
won’t be able to grow much more than we have already.

Source: The Real Deal