Matthew Whitman Lazenby, President and Chief Executive Officer of Whitman Family Development, LLC, is the fourth-generation leader in the family owned business that began developing commercial real estate in Miami in the early twentieth century.
Lazenby represents his company in development, leasing, operational and asset-management issues for the international, luxury shopping destination Bal Harbour Shops, and for the 500,000 square feet of retail space planned for Brickell City Centre. The $1.05 billion, mixed-use development is scheduled to open in downtown Miami’s Brickell area in 2015.
He describes the foundation on which his company has thrived as an “unrelenting focus on the distant future.”
“Luxury demands a long-term view,” he said. “It should evolve over time.”
With a meaningful percentage of the retail space at Brickell City Centre dedicated to luxury retailers, and the rest planned as a mix of upscale, upper-moderate or premium retailers, as well as major stores, restaurants and entertainment, Lazenby emphasizes the importance of “the mix and feel of the center and the community that is created by the tenants.”
Those concerns remain central, too, in his plans for a 250,000-square-foot expansion to Bal Harbour Shops, to accommodate a waiting list of luxury stores that want to bring their exclusive brands to this iconic retail center.
Before joining his uncle, Randall Whitman, and grandfather, Stanley Whitman, as a leasing agent at Bal Harbour Shops in 2003, Lazenby had been employed by Robert K. Futterman & Associates, where he was immersed in New York City’s retail industry and came to appreciate the tenant’s perspective in selecting sites and negotiating with landlords. Lazenby had also been a leasing agent for The Taubman Company, a publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), headquartered in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
At Bal Harbour Shops, Lazenby soon rose to director of leasing/general partner and then to operating partner. Meanwhile, the International Council of Shopping Centers in 2012 named Bal Harbour Shops the world’s top-producing shopping center, based on its annual sales per square foot. Since then, Bal Harbour Shops has surpassed its own record. In 2013, Lazenby was named President and CEO of Whitman Family Development.
Of the decision to partner with Whitman Family Development at Brickell City Centre, Steve Owens, president of Swire Properties, told the Miami Herald, “What better way to complement our team than bringing in the number one shopping center developer?”
Lazenby holds a master’s degree in real estate development and urbanism from the University of Miami and an undergraduate degree in English literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He previously taught English at his alma mater, St. Thomas Episcopal School in Miami.
He is a member of numerous trade groups and is active in community organizations, including the Urban Land Institute, the International Council of Shopping Centers, Mount Sinai Hospital’s Foundation Board, the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis’s Board of Directors, and Miami Country Day School’s Board of Trustees.
Lazenby is married to Kristin Arbuckle Lazenby, also a multi-generational Miami native. They have two young sons. The eldest named – in part – after Lazenby’s great-grandfather, William Whitman, Sr., a Chicago native who, in 1912, first visited Miami Beach with his family.